Wednesday 03 April 2019, Dublin

What does 2019 have in store for marketing in professional services? That was the focus of the discussion at the April PM Forum event in Byrne Wallace.

Alastair Beddow of Meridian West talked us through the latest analysis from the PM Forum Marketing Leaders’ Benchmark Survey, now in its seventh year.  To answer the question, Alastair advised that the sector is in for another unpredictable year. While current challenges, including Brexit, encourage demand for professional services, they can also make planning more challenging.

Key takeaways from the survey included:

Results from the survey found that two thirds of people said growth was their strategic priority and in order to encourage this growth. When it came to marketing and business development priorities client experience came out on top as something marketing leaders plan to do more of, it was also highest on the priority list at 22%. Other results included:

60% said they would invest in technology to deliver client services more efficiently and effectively

47% were looking to lateral hires – hiring individuals or teams from other firms

38% were aiming to develop new service offerings or propositions

And 24 % were looking to refresh the strategy at their firm.

Alastair advised that Marketing and Business development have a key role to play in driving this agenda, with one respondent of the survey commenting “Our business development and marketing plans are aligned with achieving these goals.”

The survey for 2019 revealed marketing budgets have increased year-on-year by 2.4% on average and marketing salaries are up by 3.1% - these metrics are the highest they’ve been since 2016. To fulfil their growth aspirations, marketing leaders need to make the case for continued investment to fund the initiatives that will support firm-wide goals.

Panel Discussion

The survey presentation was followed by a panel discussion with Róisín Grant, Founder of Grant Marketing and Communications; John Boyle, Director of Business Development and Marketing at William Fry and Karen Lowey, Director of Marketing at EY Ireland. The discussion focussed on the Irish market and the effects of the current economic climate in Ireland and their own experience in marketing and business development. Reflecting on the survey Alastair checked in and asked the panellists if they were optimistic of the year ahead?

John Boyle said about the Irish market: “There is a lot of cautious optimism at the moment. Look at consumer and business sentiment – both are down. Highlighting a lack of preparedness for Brexit.”

Róisín Grant agreed saying: “I’m particularly seeing with my clients that it is a wait and see approach. What I’m seeing is no one is taking their foot off the throttle. There is a bit of optimism with people hoping its not going to be as bad as they think.”

Karen Lowey joined in the conversation by mentioning her firms continued growth despite impending Brexit: “In terms of the economy, it’s been challenging to think of things in different ways. We are in a high growth phase, taking on a lot of people and a lot of new services. There is no internal slow down, but there is pressure on our teams and our clients.” Karen also discussed bringing marketing to the forefront of strategy development, she said “it’s interesting to see the stats and where marketing is amongst the fee earners. We’ve been trying to up the ante and drive the strategy at the firm. That continues to be a challenge.”

Grace Cooney
Account Director, Drury Porter Novelli
PM Forum Ireland Regional PR