Last month’s Snapshot survey on where marketers add value, as presented at the Forum’s Annual Conference, attracted responses from 500 MPs, marketing leaders and team members, a nearly 300% increase on 2009.
Commercial priorities Respondents were asked to rank 15 commercial activities perceived to be of relevance in marketing a professional firm. Marketing leaders and marketing team members held similar views so the focus was on the differences between MPs and marketers:
- Both groups saw the top commercial priorities as being: ‘rapport between management and fee earners’; ‘developing relationships with targets’; and ‘communicating clear value propositions’.
- There was divergence as to the next set of commercial priorities. MPs favoured: ‘encouraging referrals’,‘improving partners’ BD skills; ‘creating resonance with clients’; and ‘profile raising’. However, marketers favoured: ‘authenticity in relationships’, ‘identifying and researching targets’, ‘fee earners willing to listen to advice’; and ‘making persuasive pitches’.
- Both groups saw the lowest commercial priorities as being: ‘Clarifying needs’; ‘Protecting fee rates through negotiation’; ‘Management decisions involving suitable consultation’; and ‘Using social media in relationship development’.
One might expect that MPs would see marketers as needing to be most involved in the most important commercial priorities. In practice, there is agreement over marketers’ key role in ‘communicating clear value propositions’,‘profile raising’ and ‘building rapport with fee earners’. However, for three high priority commercial activities (‘developing relationships with targets’;‘creating resonance with clients; and ‘encouraging referrals’), MPs do not see marketers as being that relevant and marketers are currently hardly involved.
When ranking the views of MPs and marketers on the commercial activities where marketers should be most involved, three are common to the top five for both groups:‘profile raising’;‘communicating clear value propositions’; and ‘influencing fee earners’. MPs suggest that marketers should concentrate more on ‘building rapport with fee earners’ and ‘identifying and researching targets’, while marketers favour ‘improving partners’ BD skills’ and ‘contributing to management decisions’.
MPs and marketers hold similar views on where marketers are currently most involved with implementing commercial activities, other than ‘clarifying needs’ where the actual involvement of marketers was higher than MP perceptions, and ‘creating resonance with clients’ and ‘authenticity in relationships’ where the converse applied.
Another important area of activity for marketers is participating in pitch teams; direct conversations with clients and targets over needs; and conducting client satisfaction surveys.
- MPs were consistently less convinced than marketers of the need for marketers to be definitely involved, other than pitch teams where both groups held similar views.
- Huge variances emerged when comparing marketers’ model and current involvement. For MPs, marketers definitely discussing needs with clients came to 32.4% in an ideal world v only 5.9% of marketers constantly doing it; discussing needs with targets were 29.4% v 8.8%; participating in pitch teams were 41.2% v 20.6%; and conducting satisfaction surveys were 44.1% v 11.8%.
- Perceptions by MPs over current levels of involvement were close to marketer’s views, except for satisfaction surveys where MPs underestimated current involvement.
MPs and marketers agree that the communities with whom marketers need to share the closest relationships are senior fee earners, fellow marketers and the management team. However, MPs consider fewer marketers to have very good relationships with these people than do marketers – senior fee earners were 35.3% per MPs v 53.4% per marketers; peers were 48.1% v 21.2%; and management team members were 22.0% v 8.8%.
Life is about making choices in a world of limited resources. Setting priorities is critical. Messages from the survey include:
- Give greater importance to ‘encouraging referrals’, ‘improving partner BD skills’ and ‘creating resonance with clients’ as this will help align your commercial priorities with those of your MP.
- Look for ways to get more involved in ‘developing relationships with targets’; ‘creating resonance with clients’; and ‘encouraging referrals’ as this will increase your value to the business.
- Give greater importance to ‘building rapport with fee earners’ and ‘identifying and researching targets’ as this will help align your marketing priorities with those of your MP.
- Look for ways to ensure that your MP is aware of your current involvement in ‘clarifying needs’ and ‘conducting client satisfaction surveys’, and recognises your potential role in conversations with clients and targets over needs and with clients over satisfaction.
- Work on your relationships with senior fee earners, fellow marketers and the management team as your MP may see these relationships as being weaker than you believe them to be.