DiamondCluster International, a $200 million global management consulting firm, wanted to increase market awareness of its expertise and leads for its consulting services. The firm had been getting inconsistent results from prior initiatives, and in 2005 turned to The Bloom Group for help with its intellectual capital development and marketing.
The Bloom Group was asked by DiamondCluster’s senior director of marketing, Julia Potter, to help its financial services and health care practices create and market “thought leadership.” Knowing that compelling points of view are crucial for creating demand for professional services firms, we set out to help the firm create novel, relevant points of view that would capture the attention of target senior executives and, importantly, also open the door for new business.
The first step in that process was the discovery of white space: finding an issue that was both important to target executives and was not sufficiently covered by DiamondCluster’s competition. The firm had already determined that the issue of electronic payments had significant importance to banks. Specifically, as customers increasingly chose electronic forms of payment like debit cards over paper forms like checks, financial services firms would need to have new strategies in place to maintain growth. The issue was far from academic: payment processing fees account for nearly 40% of revenue for many banks. In addition, possible solutions to the payments issue required the integration of business and technology—directly in line with DiamondCluster’s overall market positioning.
Agreeing with DiamondCluster on the value of the topic, The Bloom Group utilized primary research, conducted additional secondary research, and carefully structured workshops with key client personnel to formulate DiamondCluster’s unique point of view. Case studies were conducted with executives across all aspects of the payments supply chain: retail, payment processing, and banks. The end result of this process was a novel and comprehensive point of view. Most importantly, by getting DiamondCluster’s busy consultants to participate in a structured way in the intellectual capital development process, The Bloom Group maximized their contributions while minimizing their time commitments.
The Bloom Group also created an integrated public relations and marketing plan to guide promotion of the point of view to prospects and key media outlets. In April 2005, three weeks after publishing the point of view, DiamondCluster received 144 requests for the study, placed a bylined article about the point of view in nine target publications, and held four in-depth conversations with prospects. Over the course of 2005, the point of view provided the opportunity for the firm to propose on seven new pieces of work, and the piece continues to be a major magnet for prospects.
As Julia Potter, DiamondCluster’s director of marketing, said: “The payments point of view balances innovative thinking with practical, pragmatic solutions, and it leverages our positioning as well as our skill set and translates directly into consulting services for us. It has provided us market exposure and more importantly, it resonates with our target audience and has led to real business opportunity and bottom-line revenue for our firm.”
DiamondCluster’s work with The Bloom Group provided a controlled, fixed-investment opportunity to test the power of intellectual capital-based marketing. This project’s clear return on investment has generated widespread interest among the firm’s consultants to develop and publish their points of view—consultants that previously had been skeptical of the value of intellectual capital development and “thought leadership.”