Like many of you, I had no idea that professional services marketing was a career path when I was in college. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in communication studies with a concentration in public relations, and upon graduation, landed randomly in the marketing department of a national architectural practice. I was, therefore, brought up in the industry via a combination of SMPS educational programs and the good old school of hard knocks. Imagine my delight when SMPS launched SMPS University. After quietly watching the program unfold over the past few years, in 2015, I made it my mission to attend the program, and at long last, intentionally study the field that had chosen me for my career. I applied for, and was awarded, a scholarship from SMPS.The lessons I learned over the course of those two intensive, two-day sessions were incredible. Our studies were focused on Service Marketing Strategy and Service Blueprinting; Financial Management Fundamentals and Quantifying the Value of Marketing; Client Survey Research; Service Innovation and Customer Centric Marketing; and Leadership. During the first session, we were assigned our Active Learning Project (ALP), and asked to break into small teams to collaborate and complete our ALP.While I learned a lot that I plan to implement at my firm, I’m especially proud of my ALP team’s Service Blueprint. The purpose of developing a blueprint is to create a well-designed service or process that clients will enjoy experiencing. Together, my teammates and I developed a blueprint for strategic relationship development, to be used as a tool in order to implement a thorough business development process within a professional services firm.Our blueprint sheds light on where firms need to focus resources during the various stages of client-relationship development. The surprise for everyone within my team was that the involvement of the marketing and business development professionals shouldn’t end at the conclusion of the selection process and de-briefing. In order to maximize the marketing and publicity value of the project, marketing and business development professionals need to remain looped in as it progresses through key phases until completion. Currently, we are in the thick of incorporating this process into my firm’s approach to business development, which will help to differentiate our firm from competitors.Service blueprinting is just one best practice you can expect to learn at SMPS University. The experience provided me with a broader picture of professional services marketing and strategy. It elevated me from the mundane into a whole new realm of possibility and excellence for which to strive. This program is an absolute must for anyone planning on growing their career as a professional services marketing/business development professional.
Tonya Dooley, CPSM, is the regional marketing and business development manager at NAC Architecture, an architectural and consulting firm. She can be reached at 323.475.8018 and [email protected].