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Client at the Core: Marketing and Managing Today's Professional Services Firm

ISBN: 978-0-471-68187-8
352 pages
July 2004
Client at the Core: Marketing and Managing Today


"Clients At The Core is an essential blueprint to helping us all take the next steps. The authors, battle scarred by the evolution of professional firm management and marketing from then to now, have captured the changing needs of the firms in this turbulent new economic era. This is a well-written book that uses plain language to convey practical, well thought-out ideas."
-Patrick J. McKenna, a leading international consultant to professional service firms

"The authors have captured the changing role of professional services marketing and firm management. There is valuable insight [in this] down-to-earth guide to competing successfully in the new environment."
-David Maister, author and consultant

"The book is a masterpiece! Aquila and Marcus have produced the essential guide for managing a professional services firm. They've marshaled their considerable real-life experiences and far-reaching vision into a veritable operating manual for the successful firm."
-Rick Telberg, Editor at Large, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

"At its heart, this book is the running shoe for legal and accounting professionals who want to put the client first. Following the evolution of the industry over the past twenty-five years, this must-have for every professional services firm is the key to leading in the turbulent and highly competitive waters ahead."
-Richard S. Levick, Esq., President, Levick Strategic Communications, LLC coauthor, Stop the Presses: The Litigation PR Desk Reference

"Client selection and retention is one of the critical success factors for a professional services firm, and Aquila and Marcus do a masterful job at educating us on the necessary ingredients of each. The chapters on firm governance and paying for performance are thought provoking and certainly challenging to the conventional wisdom. If you want a better understanding of marketing and leading a professional firm in these turbulent times, this book is essential."
-Ronald J. Baker, author, Professional's Guide to Value Pricing and The Firm of the Future

"Client at the Core is a commonsense approach to keeping your professional services firm relevant in the twenty-first century's client-driven economy. Aquila and Marcus have hit a home run with their insightful analysis and poignant prose."
-Jeffrey S. Pawlow, Managing Shareholder, The Growth Partnership, Inc.
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Table of Contents




PART I: Professions and Professionals in Turmoil.

1. If Something Can Change, It Will
Strategic Factors in a New Environment.

PART II: Clients—Who They Are and How to Find Them.

2. What a Client Really Wants
Listening to the Client for Fun and Profit.

3. Are We a Client-centric Firm Yet?
Organizing to Meet Client Needs.

4. Now, Here’s My Plan . . .
Defining the Right Client for You.

PART III: Making Your Vision a Reality.

5. I Can See Your Future from Here
Vision? A Working Tool?

6. Seizing Those Opportunities
Making the Vision a Reality.

7. Making Marketing a Nice Word
Building a Client-centric Marketing Culture.

8. It’s the End Game that Counts
Contact—Turning the Prospect into a Client.

PART IV: Marketing Tools and How to Use Them.

9. Hang High the Rafters, Carpenter
The Tools of Marketing that Build the Marketing Program.

PART V: Managing the Client-centric Firm.

10. Turning Recipes into Cakes
Managing for Results.

11. Who’s at the Helm and Who’s on the Bridge
Firm Governace and Structure.

12. Holding a Handful of Mercury
Managing the Knowledge Worker for the One-Firm Firm.

13. For Love or Money—or Both
Paying for Performance.

14. Didn’t We Tell You What We’re Doing?
Internal Communications—Let Me Count the Ways.

PART VI: Economics in the Client-centric Firm.

15. A Farthing for Your Goat
Pricing in a Client-centric Firm.

16. What Did I Get for My Money?
Measuring the Marketing ROI.

17. Cash Is King
What’s the Lifetime Value of Your Clients and the Financial Health of Your Firm?

PART VII: What Will We Do Tomorrow?

18. The Future for Professional Services
Are We There Yet?

Appendix A: The Balanced Scorecard.

The Balanced Scorecard—Financial Measures.

The Balanced Scorecard—Client Measures.

The Balanced Scorecard—Internal Business Process Measures.

The Balanced Scorecard—Marketing Measures.

The Balanced Scorecard—Employee Growth and the Learning Measures.

Appendix B: Managing the Knowledge Worker.

Take the Pulse of Your Staff.


Career Advancement Opportunities.

Firm Culture.

Appendix C: Pricing in a Client-centric Firm.

Analyzing Price Sensitivity.

Appendix D: Accounting and Law Firm Benchmarks.

Accounting Firm Benchmarks.

Bibliography and References.


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Author Information

AUGUST J. AQUILA is one of the country’s leading consultants in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, succession planning, and management issues for professional services firms. He was an early pioneer and leading force in the accounting profession’s consolidation movement. In 2003, he was inducted into the Accounting Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame.

BRUCE W. MARCUS is a widely published author and consultant to some of the nation’s largest corporations and professional services firms. The author of hundreds of articles and more than a dozen books on marketing and marketing-related subjects, he is the editor of the Marcus Letter on Professional Services Marketing, read internationally by more than 22,000 lawyers, accountants, consultants, and professional marketers.

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