Simons Marketing Information Synthesis Professional Services CPA Lawyer Insurance“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely”  said E. O. Wilson, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize born in 1929.  He’s living proof of his own theory as he is also a 2007 honoree of a TED Prize in 2007 – still notable and modern at 78 years old!  Well done, sir!

Professional services firms need to embrace this idea of being “synthesizers” of information for clients.  Robotics and AI are taking over the data dumping and basic analysis.  And thank goodness!  We have more data than ever, and the pace of data creation continues to increase.  Clients feel the data overload and just want someone to help them get to the point so they can make good decisions.

Instead of marketing the final deliverable – an insurance policy, financial statement, or estate plan – focus on helping the client understand the critical thinking process that goes into the creation of the final deliverable and promote the knowledge sharing that follows your information synthesis.  After all, you started with a pile of information (hopefully using robotics and AI in your favor), and then sorted, evaluated, considered, questioned, analyzed, prioritized, synthesized, and finally understood the critical factors so that you could deliver a document that is easy(ish) to understand and share with others.  That’s powerful!  If you’re promoting the final document, you made it look too easy!  And people don’t want to pay for easy.

Promote what the client will be able to do as a result of having gone through this process.  That’s where the true value lies!  Insurance policies, bookkeeping reports, and estate plans (etc.):  Done right, they are the synthesis of information, critically examined based on years of experience in a specialized field, delivered with careful communication so clients can understand their options and make wise choices.  Your marketing should promote them this way!  People will pay for this!  Don’t be bashful!

Here’s the tough part – it’s a training process for your prospects.  They’re going to market looking for “insurance” or “bookkeeping” or “estate planning” so, of course, we need to make it seem like this is what we provide.  But when we get the chance to talk with them, it’s important to then change the dialog to center around the “synthesis” of information.   Think of it as “data in, knowledge out.”

Information synthesis is why a marketing strategy based on differentiation and specialization (niches) is so important.  Your clients want to know that you understand their business better than they do so that you are able to bring them new ideas and perspectives.   You can’t do that if you’re spread too thin or the Jack of All Trades (Master of None)!

Information synthesis is why your proposals are so important.  A proposal is the final document a prospect receives.  It’s intended to convince someone that your firm is best suited to helping meet a need and that your fee is justified.  Be clear that it’s justified because of information synthesis!

Information synthesis is why your consulting practice should get your primary attention – and why you should bill for your ideas.  In your firm you’re surrounded by people who have very similar levels of intellect and knowledge.  I think professional service providers often forget that they really do know a LOT more than the average person in their area of focus.  This has value when shared!  Don’t give it away!

Information synthesis is why you need a robust thought leadership program (blog/newsletter) to showcase your knowledge.  Gen X and Millennials are tech-confident self-educators so they will review what you have (or haven’t) written about and make a judgement about your knowledgebase.

Most importantly, information synthesis is why professional services firms won’t be eliminated by robotics and AI.  Firms should focus on providing elevated services using robotics and AI as tools when needed.  In fact, by promoting your use of robotics and AI, you’ll differentiate your information synthesis from their data sorting.  Client will then understand the difference and remain willing to pay for it.

Those are my thoughts today on this topic.  What do you think?  How can I help?  Enjoy the rest of the summer!  – Alison

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Alison has more than ten years of professional services marketing and business development experience. She is a Double Eagle, holding both a BS in Management with concentrations in Marketing & Information Systems, and an MBA from Boston College. Alison is a member of the 2009 Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 class of honorees. Visit Alison on Google+.