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This article is taken from a brand new column series in PM Forum Magazine, called Marketing Lessons (out this week), written by owner of Elephant Creative, Helen Hammond. This month Helen takes a look at what is going on in the wider marketing world and draws out some lessons for those in the professional services.

It has long been the case that, often, if you take the logo off a professional services website, it can be impossible to recognise the firm.  In these days of social and digital technology, however, consumer awareness has changed.  Prospective clients no longer judge communication approaches and branding by comparing it singularly to the activities of other firms… they’re looking at the other brands that they see around them.  That means that the vote of marketing success is cast alongside Starbucks, British Airways, Sainsbury’s and possibly even Ugg.  So what can we learn from some recent marketing campaigns?


1.     Ziferblat and charging for the valuable things

Alternative pricing structures have been talked about to death but they seem to be moving into the most unlikely areas.  Russian-owned Ziferblat made the news this week by opening a London-based café that charges people not for the tea and coffee but for the time they spend in there.  With the increase in numbers working from café chains, this 10-branch brand recognised that the real value lies not in the produce but in the ability to spend time there.  Considering value, rather than ‘how we’ve always charged for things’ is a concept at the heart of the future of professional services, in my opinion.


2.     Budweiser gets us sharing a bit of puppy love

As I write this we’re only a few hours away from the Super Bowl and, as with every year, we’re all talking about the advertising.  Once again Budweiser has thought long and hard about who actually buys the beers (mum) and come up with a video that, as of 1st February, had been viewed almost 30m times.  Whilst your average law firm or accountancy practice might struggle to get clients crying over an advert (rather than the bill) we can learn from this.  Developing communications that plays to people’s heart-strings (in our case the things clients worry about) in an easy to understand and share format gets real marketing traction… and did you know that 54% of people that view commercial videos click through to the organisation’s website?

YouTube Video


3.     It can be sexy to be a stereotype

Whilst we’re on the subject of the Super Bowl, I would be remiss in not including a brand that many of us like to pretend is still British.  The Jaguar F-type Coupe advert asks the question “Have you ever noticed how, in Hollywood movies, all the villains are played by Brits?”  It goes on to show the obligatory fast car, moody lighting, roaring engine, jet aeroplanes and well-tailored, smooth actors.  But what can we learn from this fantastic piece of advertising?  It’s the list of stereotypes that they reel off that fascinates me.  All of a sudden you realise that whilst they may be listing the things that make a good villain, they’re also describing a car that most of the male population of the USA (and some of the females too) now really, really wants.  Why are we so afraid to play to our stereotypes?  The things that made the professions great, reliable and needed 100 years ago have become so unfashionable.  Maybe it’s time to be proud of our skills and start marketing them innovatively, rather than trying to pretend they’re things to be ashamed of?

YouTube Video


4.     King of Shaves proving (rather than telling us) how great they are

I spend a lot of my time explaining to my clients that it’s important to show rather than tell.  How many firms shout out that they’re experts without actually proving it?  King of Shaves has just launched its new Hyperglide razor with a truly elegant advertising campaign.  The whole premise is that this is a razor that only requires water… no gel or foam needed.  And how have they launched this?  With a video showing a man shaving underwater, of course.  It’s utterly mesmerising.  It isn’t complicated or flashy but it shouts out quiet confidence in being able to prove that what they’ve got is really something special.  This is a real lesson for the professional services – stop telling us you’re so great and start showing us what this looks like .

YouTube Video

If you’d like to suggest campaigns that have caught your eye you can contact Helen through Twitter on @helenhammond or via email on