It's a sign that a sector is maturing when someone begins to study and write about it -- in this case, professional services.
It's a better sign when someone looks at that sector by geography -- in this case, Asia.
But it's an even stronger sign of the significance of the sector when someone begins to look at a function within that sector -- in this case, marketing -- through the lens of geography.
Robert Sawhney's new book, Marketing Professional Services in Asia (LexisNexis: 2009), does just that. To use a thoroughly American expression, I send "high fives" to Bob. (Alright, how about the more international "kudos" instead?)
Sawhney makes well supported points, right away in his first chapter, that professional service marketing in Asia must be considered differently than one might consider it in the Western world. As an author myself, I always appreciate it when another writer backs up his or her points with credible evidence beyond his or her own opinion. Sawhney does that well. I'll wager that many Western PSF marketers could trim hours off their learning curve (and avoid costly mistakes) if they'd read just this chapter alone. A few chapter 1 points caught my eye (rely on word of mouth, not advertising; be careful when trying to measure client satisfaction).
Sawhney's chapter 11 -- a substantive exploration of targeting, segmentation, differentiation and positioning -- was a bit non-Asia specific. Too bad. I'd have liked to hear Sawhney's views on differentiation in Asian PSF marketing strategies. Maintaining a pre-emptive distinction is a vexing challenge for PSFs that do business in Asia. Does a marketer need to think about differentiation differently when considering an Asian marketing strategy? Robert, tell us more about this! (Full disclosure: Sawhney cites some of my own research in his discussion of differentiation, although I didn't know this when I began my review of his book. And my research was not Asia specific.)
Robert, please write and research more on professional service marketing in Asia!