Increasing your value

The Forum’s 2011 annual survey on where marketers add value attracted responses from well over 200 MPs, marketing leaders and team members. Richard Chaplin reports that generally there was little change from 2010.

COMMERCIAL PRIORITIES

Respondents were asked to rank commercial activities perceived to be relevant in marketing a firm.The focus was on the differences between MPs and heads of marketing:

  • Both groups saw the top commercial priorities as being: ‘rapport between management and fee earners’; ‘developing relationships with targets’; and ‘client service’.
  • There was divergence over the next set of commercial priorities. MPs favoured: ‘investment in people’; ‘making persuasive pitches’; and ‘creating resonance with clients’. Marketers favoured:‘identifying and researching targets’; ‘fee earners willing to listen to advice’; ‘clarifying needs’; and ‘improving partners’ BD skills.
  • Both groups saw the lowest commercial priorities as being: ‘Profile raising’; ‘corporate image’; ‘media profile’; ’online presence’; and ‘community engagement’.

MARKETING PRIORITIES

Both groups agreed that marketers had the leading role in activities with the lowest commercial priority – as listed above – other than ‘community engagement’.

MPs saw marketers as having a very limited contribution to the commercial priorities with the highest priority: ‘client service’; ‘developing relationships with targets’; ‘investment in people’ and ‘encouraging referrals’.

The mid priority commercial activities where marketers were seen by MPs as being most relevant include: ‘Rapport between management and fee earners’; ‘Making persuasive pitches’; ‘Fee earners willing to listen to advice’; and ‘Identifying and researching targets’.

The most depressing activity is ‘clarifying needs’, an issue of vital importance to marketing. This was given low commercial priority and seen as low on the list of the activities in which marketers should be engaged by both groups.

CURRENT MARKETING ACTIVITY

Both groups hold similar views on where marketers are currently most involved in implementing commercial activities – the top five being ‘Profile raising’; ‘Corporate image’; ‘Media profile’; ‘Online presence’ and ‘Persuasive pitches’.

Most other activities received a similar ranking except for the involvement of marketers in ‘clarifying needs’ which was much higher for marketers than perceived by MPs, and ‘encouraging referrals’ and ‘improving partners’ BD skills’ where the converse applied.

PARTICIPATION WITH CLIENTS

An 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 are consistently less convinced than marketers of the need for marketers to be definitely involved in these activities.
  • However, perceptions by MPs over current levels of involvement by marketers consistently overestimate marketers’ involvement.
  • Variances emerged when comparing marketers’ involvement. 84% of MPs felt that marketers should be involved in ‘discussing needs with clients’ whereas only 60% of marketers are currently so involved. The comparison is 81% v 57% for ‘discussing needs with targets’; 68% v 48% for ‘participating in pitch teams’; and 97% v 64% for ‘conducting client satisfaction surveys’.

RELATIONSHIPS

Both groups agree that the communities with whom marketers currently have the closest relationships are fee earners, fellow marketers and management team members. But marketers believe that they have better relationships than MPs perceive to be the case – with senior fee earners: 42% per MP v 46% per marketers; with peers: 10% v 32%; with management team members: 7% v 21%. The lowest scoring community was relationships with peers at clients with an average score half way between ‘average’ and ‘poor’.

SUMMARY

Life is about making choices. Setting priorities is critical. Messages for marketers from the 2011 survey include:

  • Give greater importance to ‘investment in people’; ‘making persuasive pitches’; 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 ‘client service’; ‘developing relationships with targets’; ‘investment in people’ and ‘encouraging referrals’ as this will increase your value to the business.
  • Give greater importance to ‘Rapport between management and fee earners’; ‘Fee earners willing to listen to advice’; 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 ‘encouraging referrals’ and ‘improving partners’ BD skills’, and recognises your potential contribution to conversations with clients and targets over needs and clients over satisfaction.
  • Look for ways to develop relationships with your peers at clients. The recent FT/MPF Report on effective client/adviser relationships indicates that they may be surprisingly warm to your approach.

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