Have you ever systematically considered whether your firm’s marketing is gender-neutral, biased or geared towards men?
Moreover: are you doing enough to speak to potential female clients?
These are the questions Beaton is asking with a new market research product that investigates the differing preferences between genders – plus the business opportunity in differentially tailoring service to male versus female clients of professional services firms.
What is a Beaton Gender Report?
A Beaton Gender Report will segment your firm’s client satisfaction feedback data into male and female results. The report will highlight how male clients rate certain aspects of your firm’s service in comparison to female clients.
Crucially, Gender Reports can benchmark the male and female client feedback for a firm against dozens of competitor firms across the same industry (accounting, law, architecture, consulting engineering, etc). This allows firms to drill down into the areas they might target to improve in order to grow their client base among women or men.
“We have found an attribute like excellent communication rates higher for women clients than it does for men,” said Paul Hugh-Jones, a Beaton partner with more than 20 years’ experience in international sales and marketing roles.
“Women – more than men – tend to want to work with a firm where the culture matches their own.
“For male clients, they place less value on communication but tend to rate reliability very highly. In general, men value reliability from their practitioners as more important than women do.”
The $$ opportunity of market research split by gender
Hugh-Jones previously held the title of Chief Marketing Officer at some of Australia’s top-tier law firms, so is uniquely acquainted with the large potential profit margins that are associated with a firm’s female client base. He said there is a strong business case for firms increasing their marketing to women and improving the client experience specifically in areas that female clients value highly.
“This market research is not just about improving the culture, talent and brand strategy. There’s a commercial end here in terms of winning more work from a female buyer audience,” Hugh-Jones said.
“As an example, a large international firm came to Beaton with a strategy to differentiate its work from the its major competitors, by positioning itself as more attractive to the female buyer market … This firm has put together a business case for tens of millions of dollars behind being able to market better to and serve the female audience.”
Professional services firms in all sectors are increasingly realising the potential strategic and financial gains to be made by employing and promoting more women and diversity. However, few are looking at the flip side of the coin and asking, “How are we catering to the female or other diverse markets?”
Beaton research finds female clients value communication and cultural fit from their service providers; moreso than male clients.
The rise of women in key corporate decision-making roles
Market research into female client preferences is pertinent given the recent rise of women in leadership across the corporate world.
Women are increasingly being appointed and promoted to CMO, CEO and board positions compared to the past. University of Queensland Business School research shows Australia leapt from 8.3 per cent women on ASX200 boards in 2008 to 33.6 per cent in 2021.
Professional services firms need to consider this impact on their work with businesses: an increasing number of key clients, decision makers and stakeholders will likely be women.
Hugh-Jones said law is an industry that could benefit greatly from an evidence-based analysis of female client feedback. Large and medium-sized law firms typically have more men in leadership positions (female partners make up 32 per cent of partnership in large Australian firms, according to the Australian Financial Review’s 2022 Law Partnership Survey).
“Law is an obvious profession, because there’s been such a movement for female lawyers to go from firms to in house roles,” he said.
However, he noted other professional services were ripe for improving their marketing to female clients. Built and natural environment consulting is a prime example. Women have long been outnumbered by men in professions like engineering and architecture (women make up about 30 per cent of the Australian architecture population according to Parlour Census Reports) – yet the gender balance in clients of the firms is often closer to 50-50.
Beaton’s Gender Reporting can distil these issues with clarity; highlighting whether firms are fulfilling their potential in the female market and offering honest feedback on whether, and in what areas, women clients feel included.
“How do you take diversity to another level in terms of meeting the needs of your diverse audience and client needs? And can you also become more commercial about the strategy?” Hugh-Jones said.
“Trends would indicate that the size and importance of the female market is only growing. Firms should be aware and responsive to that.”
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Paul consults with Beaton’s clients to help them develop superior growth strategies and programs, using Beaton’s suite of market, client and competitor information products and research insights. Paul has led successful change programs using this approach, both as a CMO within professional services firms and as a consultant to firms.Full bio