All part of the team

Whilst running a BD programme recently the conversation turned to the need for an increased focus on marketing and improvement from the marketing teams. This is something that I often hear from professionals and it is usually borne out of a misunderstanding of what marketing actually is, and people’s roles within the marketing machine.

If the purpose of your firm is to get and keep clients, then marketing, in it’s absolutely simplest form, is about deciding what you should do to achieve that purpose! It’s about knowing who you want your clients to be today and tomorrow. And developing services that will satisfy clients and prospect’s wants and ‘helping to make selling happen’.

If we think of marketing in the context of football, then marketing activity is the football pitch, exploring the opportunity is the penalty area and the pitch, proposal or request for work is shooting towards the goal.

We asked the programme attendees ‘How many client facing people do you have within the firm and what is the size of the marketing team?’. The answer was x hundreds of professionals supported by a team of 22 in marketing.

If the widespread belief is that marketing is the responsibility of the dedicated marketing team then there may be a lot of frustrated people! Everyone with any aspect of client or prospect contact is in the ‘marketing team’. It is vital that people understand this and take responsibility for driving growth.

For those firms lucky enough to employ knowledgeable, professional and enthusiastic people in dedicated marketing positions, then fantastic. Using the football analogy, they are responsible for devising the marketing strategy, plans and activity to get the fee-earners quickly and effectively into the ‘exploring the opportunity’ (penalty) box. And then advising, supporting, coaching and driving them to enable a successful score.

Dedicated marketing teams do fantastic things to ensure that targets know the firm exists, what it does, and that it is good at doing it. Fee-earners can have false hopes that this focus will lead to increased business development activities. What these activities do is put the fee-earner into a fantastic position to ‘woo’ those targets.

Despite all the marketing mediums, including social and digital platforms, the vast majority of prospects will still choose to buy based on the human element. Most prospects are converted through effective contact marketing as professionals get closer to prospects.

So the people who can have the biggest impact on marketing are fee-earners. Firms need to look closely at the way their messages are defined and articulated by everyone with client contact. There’s a need to focus on building skills and confidence in communication, personal impact, business conversations and relationship building… perhaps this should be the main investment area for the marketing budget!

Kate Hennig, Regional Director, PM Forum East Midlands