Book review: How to advance your career in professional services marketing by Dominic Ayres

This article was published in the April 2022 edition of PM Magazine. A book review: How to advance your career in professional services marketing by Dominic Ayres. It’s a useful and timely book for those planning their careers in professional services marketing and business development. It starts at launching your career and progresses through promotion to Head of Business Development/CMO roles and beyond.

There are contributions from many people – although there is a focus on global legal firms. These contributors read like the Hall of Fame of professional services marketing. There are some insightful international contributions although few from smaller professional service firms – and none from the real estate sector. There are also insights from recruitment specialists and leading consultants. The contributions act as an echo chamber and reinforce the author’s main themes.

It’s practical. And common sense. There is plenty of advice on how to tackle common situations. And it’s encouraging, citing Reuter’s 2021 report: “most companies (63%) promoted internal candidates to open CMO positions”.

There were some parts of the book that I particularly liked:

  • The first 90 day plan (acclimatise, establish, beyond)
  • Leor Frank on the Client Favourability Journey (recognition, reputation, relationships, revenue)
  • Heather Reid’s mantra of “Small Consistent Daily Actions”
  • Tech systems described by Alexander Low
  • The Smart Collaborator tool mentioned by Heidi K Gardner
  • Running an “ideas lab” to identify and refine thought leadership topics with stakeholders from Ben Kent
  • Strategies for maintaining visibility when working remotely
  • Developing a career across borders

The author uses Gartner’s description of a CMO’s primary responsibility: “generating sales by brand management, marketing communications, market research, product marketing, distribution channel management, pricing and customer service”. But felt he missed a trick here to reflect the professional service sector.

There are many comments that allude to the tensions we grapple with in professional service marketing: specialisation and generalisation, centralisation and decentralisation, long term strategic direction versus short term tactical impact (“do the little things well and deliver them on time”), market versus marketing knowledge and planning versus adaptability (“annual strategic reviews are now largely obsolete”).

Amongst the key themes are: manage your profile and brand internally, take responsibility for your career development, align with the firm’s aims and strategy, communicate, build relationships across the firm, focus on your most important stakeholders, develop trust and buy-in and then be proactive, break down silos, define your role and input on each task, balance strategy and execution, concentrate on key projects (there’s advice on saying “No” to avoid being a busy fool), manage your team, provide evidence of your results, seek feedback and collaborate.

Contributors mention other topics such as: authenticity, commerciality, curiosity, confidence, delegation, expert power, international mind set, listening, resilience, self-care and visibility. The impact of Covid on marketing appears in a number of contributions.

The author doesn’t address the culture shock that many experience when they enter the professional services environment. Nor the challenge of managing both B2C and B2B roles for those in smaller law and property firms. Nor does he directly address the unique challenges such as the partnership culture and frequent lack of reliable data upon which to base proposals and ROI calculations although there’s material in the contributions.

And whilst the author urges readers to adopt a lifelong learning approach and to be constantly updating their skills, there is only a short list of what fundamental skills they might tackle. Whilst various professional bodies (such as the CIM, which is mentioned indicate core, technical and behavioural competencies these are not adapted for the professional services environment. But there’s a good list of upskilling ideas. The final section on “Pulling it all together” is just a page and half which doesn’t do justice to all the valuable information in the book.

At 240 pages it’s quite a long book – and a little repetitive and wordy in parts. But junior marketers will appreciate the detail and reinforcement. The helpful “key points to remember” at the end of each chapter allow you to speed read. There’s a huge amount of wisdom in the book – from both sides of the Atlantic as well as Asia. The author also offers suggestions for recommended reading and

Contributions from firms include

  • Addleshaw Goddard
  • Allen & Overy
  • Aon
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
  • Carter Murray
  • Clark Hill
  • Clifford Chance
  • Deloitte
  • DLA Piper
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • EY
  • Grant Thornton
  • Harvard Law School
  • Howes Percival
  • Kingsley Napley
  • K&L Gates
  • KPMG
  • Latham Watkins
  • Linklaters
  • Meridian West
  • Reed Smith
  • Ropes & Gray
  • Simmons & Simmons
  • Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom
  • Slaughter & May
  • Thomson Reuters

Favourite quotes

  • “Pursue the vital few over the trivial many”
  • “You should always ask ‘how does this help our clients, and why should they care about this?”
  • “Stop trying to be perfect”
  • “Traditional marketing techniques like sponsorship, print advertising, public speaking and networking are still largely unquantifiable marketing methods, making it difficult to quantify whether you have been successful”.
  • “To develop my internal network around the globe and increase visibility, I utilised LinkedIn to connect and stay connected with my stakeholders”

Contents of “How to advance your career in professional services marketing” 

Part One – Making an impact in your career

  1. Launching your career in professional services marketing
  2. Making an impact in your role
  3. Preparing for promotion
  4. Climbing to the top
  5. The CMO of tomorrow

Part Two – Alignment with your firm’s strategy

  1. Critical thinking and knowledge
  2. Planning and delivery
  3. Results driven by data

Part Three – Working together as a team

  1. Collaboration
  2. Performing effectively
  3. Generating ideas
  4. Managing people and leadership

Part Four – Internal Stakeholder Management

  1. Developing your internal brand
  2. Influencing others and avoiding conflict
  3. Managing and organising stakeholders

Part Five – Proactive Career Management

  1. Proactive career planning
  2. Personal development
  3. Maximising performance appraisals
  4. Resilience and recovering from set backs
  5. Establishing and managing your reputation

Conclusion – Putting it all together

Related articles on M&BD careers in professional services

Proactive Marketing Executive – Plans, Budgets, Relationships and Career (

Career coaching and counselling with KIm Tasso

Moving your career beyond “Head of Marketing” by Kim Tasso

Emerging marketing and business development roles (

Cambridge Marketing College on soft skills for marketing professionals (

you’ll need soft skills to make an impact (

Marketing Manager Apprenticeship – a Level 6 Qualification (

What are soft skills? And why are they so important? (Video) (

Future Marketing Manager – T-shaped people, senior promotions (

Digital and soft skills – Microsoft on skills needed for an inclusive economy (

Future Marketing Manager – success and how to get promoted (

Range – How generalists triumph in a specialized world” by David Epstein (