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“It’s really an exciting time to be in marketing because of the paradigm shift we can achieve inside professional service firms that leads to growth.”


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Dawn Wagenaar has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas and has led the marketing and PR efforts at several firms over the past 18 years.

Accounting, Law, Engineering, Banking, Financial Services, Architecture, Management Consulting, Nonprofits and Technology – if you lead a service-based organization, Ingenuity is your marketing strategy partner. Choose from four programs, each customized to help you meet goals and grow.

MO: Can you give our readers a breakdown of your four strategic marketing programs geared toward professional service firms with different needs and a bit about the development process behind them?

Dawn: We find that many professional service firms either have no marketing department or have a small staff tasked with both marketing and business development initiatives. Ingenuity can be their outsourced marketing and growth partner or support their internal staff with partner buy-in and strategy. Our four programs grew from the biggest areas where professionals can maximize their business opportunities: branding, growth strategies, media visibility and implementation of consistent marketing activities throughout the firm.

Our InGenius GrowING™ program sets clear growth goals and accountability through a 12-month or longer strategic marketing and business development plan that includes the whole firm — not just overworked partners and executives. We offer sales training, personal business development plans, a 12-month growth plan with implementation strategies and accountability as well as ongoing coaching of leaders for lead generation and lead nurturing.

Our InGenius BrandING™ program is all about consistent branding and reputation management. Too many firms have outdated websites, inconsistent collateral materials and no idea how they are communicating competitive difference to prospects. We offer market research consisting of leadership interviews, client interviews and competitive analysis to learn exactly how the firm shows up in its ideal market spaces, then we provide training on the firm’s competitive difference and key market messages as well as design and launch of new brands and identity materials.

The InGenius AttractING™ program is all about being visible to the right audiences at the right time. Technology is allowing people to pay attention to fewer information sources, so we assist firms with media strategies that help them stay in front of people. We show them how paid media, traditional media outlets and social media combined — a triple threat —can help firms gain influence and attract the best clients.

And finally, our InGenius MarketING™ program offers all of the marketing tactics that firms may need at one time or another to augment what they are already doing in-house. It may be content creation, training, design, a marketing contest, advertising or market research that can be added somewhat a la carte. We find that sometimes larger firms want to “try us out” with a specific project, and we want to provide that option.

MO: What advice would you give a new lawyer looking to promote their services?

Dawn:  New attorneys are focused primarily on building their book of business, but are not always interested in traditional strategies like happy hour networking or professional associations. Fortunately, social media offers more ways to share an attorney’s knowledge through online networking via LinkedIn and creating a microsite bio. Bios have gone beyond an online resume to include representative matters, awards, white papers or links to videos or articles. We also recommend that attorneys include some personal information about their hobbies, pro bono work or other volunteering to create a warm impression. In addition, we recommend that younger attorneys look for speaking opportunities to share knowledge with their target audiences.

MO: Can you share your experience of what it’s been like to be among the first professional service marketers in the country and the lessons that you’ve learned along the way?

Dawn:  I think we’ve learned mainly that cultural change is a slow process. Some firms still have zero marketing culture, and partners struggle with how to motivate younger professionals to support business development. Or it’s the opposite: younger professionals want the culture shift but partners are too comfortable in their ways. Our job is to strike that balance between the comfort level of traditional business development with a few new strategies. As we show successful results with the new strategies, then we can introduce more ideas and increase the comfort level with change. It’s really an exciting time to be in marketing because of the paradigm shift we can achieve inside professional service firms that leads to growth.

MO: Congratulations on being named one of the top 100 companies to work for in Minnesota. What makes your work environment so appealing and sets you apart from the competition?

Dawn:  My partner Wendy Nemitz and I envisioned a company where we and our employees could have lives outside of work. We’re entrepreneurs, but we’re also parents and daughters. We understand the complexity of raising children and taking care of parents. Many of our employees work remotely and come into the office just once a week for a staff meeting. We offer autonomy, flexibility and opportunities to expand skills and enjoy great co-workers. I think that’s part of why our employees enjoy our work culture so much. We often hear from people who say, “I want to work at Ingenuity. It sounds like you have so much fun there.” We do have fun, but we also work really hard, and we have people who understand that flexibility also requires responsibility. It’s still about doing great work for clients.

MO: What are your top three social networking tips for managers?

Dawn:  Use social media to leverage any media attention you get. We are advocates of linking to articles, videos and interviews from LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to expand the potential audience. I would also say that quality connections are better than quantity. It might look good to have 500+ connections, but if they aren’t your target audience, then you aren’t gaining the visibility you truly want. Also, never ever use social media to hard sell. People will unfriend you and disconnect in a heartbeat if they start getting spam from you. Social media should be used to network and share information, not products or service hype.

MO: Congratulations on your new site! Can you talk about the inspiration behind it and the process of developing an on-line resource for your customers?

Dawn:  We developed MarketingYourPeople.com a while back to serve as a microsite and search engine optimizer for our company website, ingenuitymarketing.com. But it has been reborn as a lead generator, client resource and testing ground for new technologies that could potentially support our clients. We offer social media video tutorials, a new networking e-book and Top marketing stories e-book and other features that drive attention to our firm services. We have a goal of increasing our percentage of business development from online leads significantly in the next three years. Interestingly enough, we recently obtained a client who basically called and said, “I’ve seen all of your work online and we want to hire you as our marketing agency of choice.” It was incredible to learn that market visibility combined with proper online lead generation and nurturing does work for services when you know how to position your firm as a high-value provider. We practice what we preach with our own firm and it’s producing great results.


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