Legal marketing case study – Clark Hill redesigns its marketing and BD team

In September, the international senior marketing and business development team at Clark Hill  presented a webinar for the Professional Marketing Forum. The topic was “Clark Hill redesigns its marketing and BD team”. The work to re-imagine its marketing and business development (M&BD) team won Clark Hill the Best Marketing Initiative Award at the 2020 Managing Partner Forum Management Excellence Awards.

Re-imagining the marketing and BD team

There were previously misconceptions about the function and contribution of the M&BD team. So they started with a strategic analysis of all the data and developed guiding principles for the re-structuring which covered:

  • Strategic data leverage – using the power of the data (digital transformation)
  • Full cross-functional collaboration
  • Clear client-centric approach
  • and this was extended to develop a Covid-19 playbook

Marketing vs business development

It was interesting to see how they initially cast marketing as the strategic activity and business development as tactical. Then they created two teams:

 Business development

  • Growth strategy
  • Strategic BD coaching
  • Prospects
  • Practice groups
  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Client teams
  • Client interviews
  • Thought leadership


  • Communications
  • Regional support

Linking the two was strategic investment in profile raising and client growth. One of the speakers explained “Marketing shows you the door, and BD walks through it”.

Transformation process

The transformation journey comprised the following stages:

  • Tactics/profile raising
  • Purpose
  • Infrastructure (people and technology)
  • Strategy and tactics
  • Process
  • Purpose, Tactics and Process (Why, What, How)

The aims of the transformation were to:

  1. Transform the team’s culture and operations
  2. Become more flexible, nimble and effective
  3. Fully leverage skills by empowering individual professional development
  4. Release the value and power of data through the innovative use of technology

The transformation process started two years ago where directors and managers attended a two-day whiteboard session to critically review operations and deconstruct the model. The following critical areas were identified:

Marketing and brand

  • Brand
  • Web site
  • Events and sponsorship
  • PR
  • Communications

Strategic business development

  • Business plans and coaching
  • Pitches, proposals and pricing
  • Client feedback
  • Client and industry teams
  • Client pursuits and cross-selling

Unifying aims

  • Target market share
  • Growth and performance
  • Sustainable client relationships

Marketing and BD brand

Part of the transformation process was developing the brand of the M&BD team. This was achieved by articulating the values, preparing a team charter and a code of behaviour. There were discussions on how the M&BD wanted to be perceived by others in the firm.
The values for individuals were: innovative, resourceful and collaborative
The values for the team were: collaborative, strategic and trusted
There was a focus on the technology and processes in use and the management reporting and budget. A growth plan was created. High priority areas identified were: leveraging strengths, setting standards, evolving thinking and team communications.

Data analysis and reporting

They started with an audit of all the data – where it was, who had it, how it was collected, how it was organised and which reports it was used for. Across 25 offices there was significant analysis to find the strategically valuable information and data to support ROI calculations.
A centralised M&BD database was established with seven pillars:

  1. Proposals and presentations (including biographies, business unit descriptions and document generation)
  2. Business development client teams, BD plans, events and training
  3. Libraries of proposals, presentations and pitches
  4. Report data – data, trackers and report generation
  5. Calendar – events, proposals, training and web updates
  6. Business development contacts and processes – who to call
  7. Tips for success

They then examined all of the processes and looked at where they could be improved – for example, an end-to-end proposal preparation methodology. Standard forms and templates were established in Asana and central opportunity trackers were set up in SharePoint.
They established data validation processes and created a data hygiene role. They developed real-time infographic dash boards for management information.


Stakeholder management and collaboration processes were established for the Executive Committee, HR, IT, operations, business unit leadership, finance and analytics and senior leadership teams.
There was strategic alignment with different groups and efforts were made to understand their goals so that shared objectives could be created. The vision of a modern marketing team was co-created so that they achieved a seat at the decision-making table.
A marketing engagement strategy was developed which covered: positioning (brand), understanding (target sectors), strengthening relationships, learn (SWOT for sectors and clients), strategize (organise a game plan) and engage (particularly important to build industry reputation and the institutional client base).

Covid response

The firm’s Covid strategy and services were described and included:

  • Client response teams
  • Client webinars
  • A Covid-19 resource centre on the web site
  • M&BD internal webinars
  • Internal education for all firm’s business units
  • Bi-weekly COO communications
  • Bi-weekly “ASSET360 Views” service
  • Personalised client engagement
  • Thought leadership

They achieved over a million views of their social media posts during the crisis.
I previously wrote about how to redesign your marketing and BD team in November 2015.

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