Future Marketing Manager – New product development and other questions

The recent “Future Marketing and Business Development Manager” workshop from PM Forum  was held on Budget day – so we were lower than usual on delegates from accountancy firms. Thanks to Orrick who hosted the session – providing amazing views over Central London. Future Marketing Manager – New product development.

About the Future Marketing/BD (MBD) Manager delegates

Delegates often want some “heads up time” to “tune out the noise” and consider their contribution and future career. Many were interested in how they could develop their personal brand. As this is a frequent request from MBD professionals as well as fee-earners, I will prepare a separate post on this topic in due course.

It was also interesting that so many used the word “resilient” in their personal three-word summaries – a growing trend for the latest generation of MBD managers. Resilience also emerged as a key theme in March 2023 Future Marketing/BD Manager – Build resilience (kimtasso.com)

We expressed huge admiration for the delegate who attended while on maternity leave – bringing her husband and four-month-old baby to the venue. And we appreciated the insights from another delegate who had moved recently from Boston to share her insights into US and UK firm cultures.

Whilst some delegates had been in professional services marketing for a while, others were new to the sector. One was a former solicitor, a few had agency backgrounds and others had experience in the technology sector, luxury brands and radio.

New product (service) development

At each session, we select a topic raised by delegates to explore in a bit more detail – new product or service development on this occasion. We observed that management consultancies are typically more advanced in how they identify, package, price, promote and deliver new services.

Theory of new product development

The theory supporting new product or service development is typically under the broad heading of innovation in marketing. Innovation in Marketing (kimtasso.com).

At a strategic level, Ansoff identified new product development as one of four growth strategies (the others in the markets vs product matrix are: penetration (existing products into existing markets), new market development (existing products into new markets) and diversification (new products into new markets).

In these days of rapid technological change – particularly digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI) – you would expect to see a high level of new product or service development in professional services. This is certainly apparent in lawtech.

In industry, organisations often have a research and development (R&D) function. But this is rare in professional services. I’ve long advocated for the innovation function to be driven by those in marketing and BD teams – although most firms have separate innovation teams. Or entrepreneurial firms allow new product and service initiatives to be led by specific practice areas or partners. “Cannibalism” (new products taking revenue from existing products) is often a concern.

The phases of new product development:

In marketing theory, the phases of new product development are broadly:

Idea generation

  • Market intelligence
  • Environmental scanning
  • Competitor analysis
  • Client feedback and research
  • Market opportunity assessment
  • Feasibility studies
  • Innovation projects

Product specification

  • Screening
  • Design process
  • Co-creation and joint ventures
  • Business case
  • Prototyping
  • Trialling and testing

Commercial launch

  • Product plan
    • What is the target market?
    • What is the value proposition? Malcolm McDonald on value propositions – How to develop them (kimtasso.com)
    • How does it fit with corporate strategy and branding?
    • How does it fit with rest of the portfolio?
    • What is the competitive differentiation and positioning?
    • What is the price, and how is it justified?
    • What are the channels that will be used?
    • Addressed all issues (legal, delivery resources, technical support etc)?
  • Marketing and sales plan
    • Infrastructure development
    • Digital product definition – service agreement, documentation, demos, support
    • Internal communication
    • Cross-selling and testing with existing clients
    • Referrer and intermediary relationships
    • Marketing communications campaigns
    • Break into new markets (taking care with diversification)
    • Roll out
    • Satisfaction assessment
    • Monitoring and reporting
    • Integration with existing portfolio

Practicalities of launching new products and services

We also talked about the practicalities and realities of “launching” new products and services in the professional services sector. There are many awards in professional services for innovative firms and initiatives which are a source of information on new products and services.


Sometimes new product ideas emerge passively during client listening and service review programmes. Clients may indicate where there are service issues, new needs or would like to see improvements. Analysing outliers and critical service incidents is a related source of ideas.

Similarly, ideas for new products and services might emerge from collaboration activities with key clients and referrers during KAM and ABM initiatives.

On a more proactive basis, client focus groups might be organised to assess interest, needs and ideas amongst specific segments. Some firms have developed networks and groups amongst existing client groups to provide a more formal channel for such communications. And you might identify opportunities through competitive research Pitching, differentiation and competitor analysis (kimtasso.com)

Marketing strategy and plan

The MBD team will need to analyse external and internal information, set objectives and agree an overall strategy (supported by tactics, project plans, budgets and monitoring and control systems) for the new product or service launch and ongoing marketing and sales activities.

Book review: The Strategy Book by Max McKeown (kimtasso.com)

Book review: B2B Marketing strategy (kimtasso.com)

Marketing planning in a nutshell – simple and complex plans (kimtasso.com)

Internal communications and engagement

Internal communications and engagement tailored to different stakeholder groups throughout the research, new product development, launch and delivery stages will be a major part of any new service or product initiative. So there is often a separate internal engagement campaign for new products and services.

Once senior buy-in and sponsorship is achieved, there will be briefings on internal media and at relevant meetings to maintain awareness and interest. These will be supplemented with early reports on market reaction and success stories. Fact sheets and service description support materials will supplement internal training and skills development programmes.

There will be internal mechanisms to support feedback loops for those exploring reaction to new product concepts and first experiences. And processes to assimilate and act on market and client feedback.

Briefing packs, presentation materials and other resources will be developed to support fee-earners in conversations with existing clients on the new product. Account managers will help schedule and integrate new product conversations with existing (key) clients as part of KAM and ABM programmes. And there is likely to be a host of cross-selling initiatives to promote new products and services to existing clients.

Infrastructure alignment

Numerous organisational adjustments will be required to accommodate new products and services. Including fee-earner targets and reward systems. One large accounting practice adapted its partner remuneration systems to drive partners to ensure that a proportion of their new business targets were achieved with a major new (legal) service.

The firm’s contracting and financial systems may need to be updated to accommodate different service agreements. New pricing models (e.g. subscriptions), introductory price offers and free trial periods might be used to encourage experimentation and take up of new services.

Financial and CRM systems will be adapted to record and track information of new service opportunities, costs, fees and profits. Web and intranet sites will need to include details of the new product or service. Reporting systems will need to be adapted.

Branding and collaboration

There will be discussions about how to brand new products and services – under the firm’s existing name or to create a new name. Leverage the firm’s existing brand awareness or reduce risk by creating a new brand? So compliance with existing brand guidelines or the creation of new ones will be a consideration.

If selecting a new name or brand then there will be a host of legal issues to navigate to check the name hasn’t been used elsewhere and that it will translate into international markets. So brand consultants and intellectual property advisers may be required to assist. Domain names will also need to be secured.

LawTech organisations often uses product branding and sub-branding strategies (e.g. Ashurst Advance | Ashurst or Alternative legal solutions platform | Fieldfisher)

New products and services are sometimes developed in collaboration with key associations – particularly those with a sector focus. Sometimes with firms providing complimentary services – leading to multi-disciplinary services (e.g. legal and tax, legal and PR, legal and property, accountancy and law etc).

The joint branding in these situations often results in the additional benefits of the halo effect (enjoying the benefits of association with a leading brand) and instant access to a key community.

Book review – Managing Brands (kimtasso.com)

Thought leadership

As well as being used to drive research, thought leadership is a key strategy used by firms when both developing and promoting new products and services.

This approach also has the benefit of shining a light on and positioning key experts and opinion-leaders in the space. Thought leadership manual by Tim Prizeman (kimtasso.com)

Major thought leadership campaigns may have several phases and contain multiple communications campaigns and events within the mix. Firms may use new software tools to support ongoing research and user engagement such as that available from Cogniclick System review: CogniClick for instant, personalised research (kimtasso.com)

Campaign development

Most new product launches will require integrated marketing communication and sales campaigns – possibly with stages before, during and after launch. Most will follow the early stages of the buyer journey (Reach, Act, Convert, Engage) – focusing on awareness raising. Although some will attempt  to generate enquiries and leads and encourage demonstrations and trial.

These campaigns will be supported by lead evaluation, lead nurturing, sales support, sales coaching and pipeline management processes. So the necessary infrastructure, processes, systems, data and training will need to be integrated.

Early campaigns might focus on assessing reactions and the needs of existing clients and referrers. They might integrate with or extend existing cross-selling and key client relationship programmes. Later campaigns might focus on reaching new markets, clients and referrers.

Campaigns may draw on many marketing communications activities and sales channels and techniques – for example: 

  • Materials The development of brand, design and tone of voice guidelines, approved digital assets (fliers, infographics, slidedecks, merchandise, proposal templates etc) and images. Some firms will invest in the development of video and podcast series to support new products and services – others might integrate new products and services into existing series. Client case studies and testimonials may also be produced. 
  • Media relations Firms often have separate PR and communications teams who will have specialists to manage communications with journalists and correspondents in international, national and specialist media. 
  • Web site – New pages or sub-domains for the new product or service will be set up. There will also be an integration plan to ensure that links to the new material appear throughout the existing site. New landing pages for advertisements and other campaigns will need to be created. Some new products and services may require a dedicated client portal. 
  • Analytics – Reporting systems will need to be adjusted to track progress of campaigns and promotions in support of the new product or service. 
  • SEO – Keyword research to identify appropriate phrases for promotional campaigns and to optimise web pages for search engine performance. Sometimes this requires external expertise. 
  • Internal communications (see above) 
  • Emails CRM data and systems will drive email engagement with alerts, newsletters, invitations, surveys and offers. Where the new product or service is targeted at new markets and customers there may be initial efforts to harvest permission and email details to comply with GDPR. 
  • Social media – The creation of separate social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc) might be considered as well as integration within existing accounts. Social will be addressed within the overall content management plan for the preparation, scheduling and distribution of content. Some campaigns may develop new or select existing hash tags 
  • Referrers – Some firms may focus on indirect channels to market and concentrate on referrers and intermediaries to promote new products and services 
  • Online communities and influencers There may be potential for creating new communities or integrating with existing ones. There may be communications activities to engage key influencers 
  • Advertising Both traditional (e.g. print, transport) and digital advertising campaigns. The Deloitte Green Room podcasts made great use of transport advertising to promote engagement in May 2023 Making it matter in the Green Room | Deloitte UK 
  • Apps Increasingly, firms create smartphone and desktop apps to streamline information, communication and engagement through a single channel 


A key element of most campaigns will be events.

Industry events – Asses which industry events – whether conferences, exhibitions or user group meetings – might be appropriate. This is particularly important for reaching international audiences. International trips will need significant advance planning to make use of local referrer and client meeting opportunities.

Referrer and intermediary events – Tap into events organised and hosted by key referrers and intermediaries across different segments such as public sector, lawyers, accountants, consultants, banking and finance and not-for-profit organisations.

Own events – Most firms will create their own events possibly collaborating with third parties and external speakers. There are numerous formats for in person events (e,g conferences, seminars, roundtables etc) and digital channels (e.g. webinars, metaverse, live social media events).

Sales team support

Marketing and promotional campaigns will generate leads and the sales process needs to be aligned to accommodate the new service or product.

Tracking, assessing, valuing and prioritising leads and conversion will be a significant part of this to support Return on Investment reporting.

The MBD team will need to provide support and coaching for sales visits and demonstrations to guide opportunities through the sales pipeline.

New product development case studies

There are some publicly available professional services new product development case studies:

Mishcon de Reya launches Hong Kong based business insights consultancy, MDRi March 2024

Case studies: Marketing and Business Development at law (kimtasso.com) November 2023 Schillings reputation service

Professional services marketing/BD case studies (kimtasso.com) August 2023 Capsticks health and care training diplomas

Legal marketing case study – Thought leadership campaigns (kimtasso.com) November 2022 Howard Kennedy business agility

Dentons Global Advisors was launched in June 2021.  A new service was launch in January 2024 Dentons – Dentons and Dentons Global Advisors launch Market Disruption Readiness solution

Royds Withy King private client wealth proposition and new product (kimtasso.com) April 2019 RWK Goodman private client product

Professional services leadership handbook – Book review (kimtasso.com) October 2018 Case study of innovation at Allen & Overy

Other future MBD manager delegate questions 

A number of other questions were raised by delegates at the session. 

What will MBD roles look like in 10 years? 

This was a great question prompting lots of debate. Naturally, there was a focus on AI-powered MBD professionals.

We speculated on the divergence of digital and people skills. And on increasing strategic input to integrate marketing and selling initiatives. There was also a discussion about MBD professionals moving into more front-line client and sales roles.

This topic was discussed at a PM Conference session last year – which I co-chaired a session with Julie McConnell of White and Case Preparing M&BD professionals for the future – learning, skills (kimtasso.com)

Also through considering how MBD teams are being structured: marketing and business development (M&BD) team structures (kimtasso.com)

Main considerations when selecting a marketing strategy?

We reflected that there were a limited number of strategies available (summarised here: Strategies for developing a private client practice – Business development (kimtasso.com))

The textbook answer is to look at the conclusions of your situational analysis (SWOT and TOWS analyses) and then match these against firm’s goals and the resources available. Helpful tools include: McKinsey 7S, VIRO and 5Ms.

Being pragmatic, we can use the principles of project management: How much do we want to invest, what quality of delivery is required and how quickly so you want to achieve results?

How practical is it to implement a strategy when fee-earners want results now?

The strategies that will develop profits most quickly and efficiently will focus on delivering existing services to existing clients and markets. Strategies for new market or product/service development will naturally take longer and more resources.

The key here is education. Understand fully what is expected by fee-earners and then explain the options – and the associated time and cost requirements. There is always an element of compromise and negotiation between what is expected and what is feasible and realistic.

What is gearing?

In finance, gearing relates to the level of debt compared to equity.

In professional services firms, it can relate to the ratio of partners to fee-earners. This refers to the  profit triangle or profit pyramid – suggesting the most profitable firms have a high number of fee-earners to partners. Lawyer-to-Partner Gearing or Leverage. Yes or No? – Edge International

Which are the most popular marketing theories and frameworks?

To review and refresh our knowledge of marketing theory, groups explored the frameworks that they used most often:

SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (and how TOWS converts these into possible strategies)

PESTLE – Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legislative and Environmental

SOSTAC – Paul Smith’s marketing planning framework used in CIM and apprentice courses. Situation, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action and Control.

Other frameworks mentioned included: SMART objectives, sector matrix, gap analysis, type marketing (other territories, sectors and services), STAR, Ansoff and BCG portfolio.

These models are explored further: Marketing planning in a nutshell – simple and complex plans (kimtasso.com) and Book review: The Strategy Book by Max McKeown (kimtasso.com)

Roadmap from executive to manager and beyond

We crowdsourced the things you need to do to move from a marketing/BD executive role to manager and beyond:

  • Marketing Executive
    • Develop knowledge of the business overall
    • Develop empathy with fee-earners and other functional experts
    • Be present and visible in the office
    • Communicate up and down
    • See both points of view
    • Be organised
    • Meet face to face with partners
    • Be reliable to build trust
    • Listen
    • Take responsibility for yourself
  • Senior Marketing/BD Executive
    • Manage expectations
    • Appreciate every moment
    • Adhere to budgets
    • Cross-pollinate
    • Manage priorities and workloads
    • Support others
    • Collaborate
    • Be proactive
    • Focus on solutions
    • Be creative
    • Be approachable
  • Marketing/BD Manager
    • Take responsibility for the team
    • Engage the senior team
    • Take the lead
    • Delegate
    • Build confidence of others
    • Lead by example
    • Coach others

Future Marketing Manager – success and how to get promoted (kimtasso.com)

Delegate key takeaways and actions

Key insights 

Key actions 

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