December 6, 2021|Kim's Blog, Marketing|
Future Marketing (Business Development) Manager – Theory, positive outlook, engaging juniors, planning and emerging opportunities (November 2021)

Mazars  hosted for our first post-Covid in person Future Marketing (Business Development) Manager workshop from the Professional Marketing Forum. The workshop was held in a light airy room with fabulous views of St Katherine’s Dock and Tower Bridge. The fully packed, experiential day focused on “hard” issues (management, leadership, strategy, marketing theory, finance and marketing/BD plans) in the morning and then shifted to “soft” issues in the afternoon with sessions on perception, promotion, team management, stakeholder engagement and motivation. This article summarises the main themes arising and the results of the various exercises and break out groups during the day: Future Marketing (Business Development) Manager – Theory, positive outlook, engaging juniors, planning and emerging opportunities.

Themes emerging 

During the session, a number of themes emerged:

Balance marketing theory and practice

There was a debate about the relative importance of marketing theory compared to practice and experience. As we serve fee-earners who have a high regard for professional qualifications, it helps our image and confidence if we too have relevant qualifications and use proven marketing theories.

Marketing theory provides us with frameworks and a tool box to help us in both strategy and tactics. Theory provides “tools not rules” – they should guide us but not hinder us. Professional services marketing means that some theories don’t quite “fit” what we do. So we have to choose carefully what theories might help us. But there are certain fundamental principles and processes that we should always follow. However, at the end of the day we are judged by the outcomes and results we achieve.

Amongst the most commonly used frameworks and theories identified by the delegates were:

Be pragmatic and aligned when planning

We need to be aware of the business plan and the plans for particular sectors, practice groups or territories when we develop a marketing and business development plan. We need to ensure we are focused on the business goals and align our strategies, tactics and actions accordingly.

We rarely have time to produce fully-blown marketing plans and these are for the use of marketing and business development professionals anyway. Fee-earners may need a shorter, action-oriented version. Bite-sized pieces.

There are certain elements that should always be considered though. The simplest framework requires us to explore:

  1. Where are we now?
  2. Where do we want to be and what do we want to achieve?
  3. How will we get there? (which strategies and tactics will help us?)

Others expanded this list to: the objectives, the target audience, the core messages, the key channels and the call to action (CTA). We must seek the relevant data, information and insights on which to base our plans to avoid “data-free marketing”. And consider what time and cash will be invested to achieve the desired outcomes.

There’s information on simple to complex marketing planning processes  and on campaign planning.

Be alert to emerging opportunities

Yes, we need plans. But our fee-earners are on the coal-face working in our markets and clients all the time and are therefore well placed to spot weak signals and emerging opportunities.

So we can’t just stick rigidly to the agreed plans. We must be flexible. We must assess new opportunities against our overall aims and position and conduct risk assessments on proposed new initiatives. Sometimes, early action or adoption of a new initiative gives us first mover advantage. Many delegates found the Mintzberg emerging strategies model helpful.

Furthermore, the world has changed and continues to change in response to shifts caused by digital disruption and the Covid pandemic. As we emerge from lockdown – where many firms and individuals were in survival mode – we expect to see many more changes unfold. And we need to try to anticipate them. Opportunities quickly become threats if we do not act fast enough.

Engage junior team members in the strategic process

Whilst it is tempting to simply delegate specific tasks to juniors, they need to understand the big picture and to see how their work contributes to the overall goals and strategies. Then they will feel connected to the strategic process.

It does, of course, take time to do this – and few of us have that luxury. So we must encourage junior team members to think about the bigger picture and how their work contributes to the success of the team and the firm. Clear job descriptions and up-to-date KPIs assist with this.

We talked about the need for good delegation skills  and to provide regular feedback (including lots of positive appreciation)  for junior team members.

Maintain a positive outlook

With an ever-increasing workload and a constant stream of fee-earner requests – and sometimes a reluctance to allow us to offer guidance and ideas – it can be hard for M&BD professionals to remain positive and motivated at times.

However, research suggests that the most successful people have a positive outlook whilst also being aware of the obstacles. Motivating ourselves, those in our teams and our fee-earners is a key part of our role. We discussed some ideas about motivation – including the need to set realistic goals (to manage expectations and measure results) and to take time to reflect on past achievements and successes as well as the work to be done in the future.

Additional resources mentioned

There was mention about a recent talk at the PM Forum by Gavin Brown about hybrid events and presentations.   Key points included:

  1. Hybrid materials – Ensure slides have one core objective each (he suggests cutting the content of each slide in half) and work on both large and small screens
  2. Hybrid types – Adapt to different types of hybrid events: livestream, recorded, in room, multi-location remote, audio only etc
  3. Audience segmentation – Consider their location and type and whether you can to see them all on screen
  4. Strategic sections – Focus on starts and endings (he stresses the importance of punctuality for remote users)
  5. Energy – Use voice and body language (he mentions the canyon technique – a 3m gap between in room guests to ensure voice projection)
  6. Hybrid engagement – Start early so it’s embedded, polls for remote users and show of hands for in room guests

A delegate mentioned the HubSpot Content Management Workbook with sections on:

  • Building a content creation framework
  • Planning a long-term content strategy
  • Generating content ideas
  • Creating quality blog content
  • Blogging for rankings on Google
  • Repurposing
  • Topic clusters and pillar pages
  • Video marketing strategy
  • Guest blogging strategies by SEO
  • How to effectively promote content
  • Measuring and analyzing your content

Checklist for promotion

A checklist to be promoted to a Marketing (Business Development) Manager was crowdsourced by the delegates:

  • Knowledge
    • Be an expert in your field
    • Know your firm’s values, brand, differentiation and services
    • Keep up to date with developments in the wider environment, markets, competitors and clients
    • Be commercially-aware and business-savvy to spot opportunities
  • Challenge
    • Do not be afraid to challenge ideas and requests
    • Always seek new ideas and adapt to changing environments
    • Set higher goals
    • Be a forward thinker
  • Relationships
    • Introduce yourself to everyone – relationships are key
    • Build you network – internally and externally
    • Understand the goals of your stakeholders and how you can support them
  • Continuous development
    • Take time to reflect and evaluate successes and failures

There is a similar list on how to get promoted from a previous Marketing and Business Development Manager workshop.

Key images, ideas and actions

At the end of the session, each delegate was asked to identify the key image, idea and action that they took away. I can’t reproduce their excellent drawings – they were so good!

Image Idea Action
St Katherine Dock (view) Marketing theory Chat about colleagues
Sniper (difficult relationships) Emerging strategies and entrepreneurial partners Read article about AR, VR and ER in events
“Difficult” personalities Align team structure to strategy Read suggested articles and watch videos
City skyline (view) Review marketing theory and strategy Read post on professional services marketing plans 
Drowning puppies (HR and performance management) Personal branding Improve personal confidence and positivity
Scales (balance between strategy and tactics) Emerging strategies responding to weak signals in the market Read suggested articles
Connections between marketing and sales/business development Power of praise and appreciation in motivating team members Wider reading around the topics
“Perfect” manager drawings Helicopter view in the Board room (strategic thinking) MBA course research
Happy fee-earner Non-Verbal Communication (NVC introductory video) Read emotional intelligence book 
T-shaped people Brand (Brand basics video) Speak to the Finance Team to understand the numbers better
Different personalities (see introductory personalities video) Online research Develop our strategy agenda
Strategies for dealing with “difficult” behaviours Develop a view of the type of manager I want to be Build a business development network
Goals Personal values and personal brands Review current marketing and business development plans