At the recent Professional Marketing Forum conference  I was asked to facilitate a session with Kevin Doolan of Eversheds on “How does the marketing team drive the new client agenda?” – and consider the future agenda for marketing in the professions. The topic was selected by Richard Chaplin of the Managing Partners Forum in response to the FT/MPF annual research where clients had indicated the importance of working with “well managed” firms.

We argued that there were four main activities to be addressed – two of which were strategic and two which were operational. And all required the marketing team to act as integrators across multiple departments across the firm:

Position – With a mention of Michael Porter’s generic strategies we reflected on how few professional firms had real clarity on their position in the market. Differentiation is tough. Particularly so when professional firms still tried to be “all things to all men” when there was a need for focus. We considered examples from other sectors who often had sub-brands to address the different needs of significantly different segments.

Proposition – Research into current and emerging needs of the market was needed – and often to a deep level – in order to develop propositions at a brand, market, team or individual client level. We touched here too on how marketing can contribute to the research and development and new product/service development process. We looked at some examples where professional firms – lawyers, accountants and surveyors – had gone way beyond their normal arenas to create valuable and differentiated propositions.

Partnerships – Client relationships remain crucial but loyalty will only ensue where there are valuable, collaborative partnerships where additional value is co-created and/or an outstanding client experience is at the core of the service.

Promise – The position and proposition are encoded in the brand which is a promise of what will be delivered in the future. Marketing’s role in helping every part of the organisation engage in and play its part in service delivery – and the new skills required by fee-earners – was examined.

A summary version of the slides used are available in SlideShare:

Position Proposition Partnership Promise Oct 2013