The PM Forum Proactive Marketing Executive workshop has been running successfully for many years. We update the content regularly to reflect the changes taking place in marketing, digital marketing, the professions and the world at large. We cover a wide range of topics on strategic marketing, tactical marketing as well as working collaboratively with our colleagues, the fee-earners and clients.
Many of the topics generating most interest amongst the new generation of proactive marketing executives remain surprisingly similar. Here are seven standout subjects from a session in February 2017.
1. Be proactive
I don’t like the word “proactive”. It’s one of those horrible cliché words that everyone uses. I’d be delighted if someone gave me an alternative. Yet it is important as it reflects the fact that many young marketing executives find themselves constantly reacting to fee-earner requests. This is sometimes because they don’t have the knowledge or confidence to channel and challenge the constant flow of requests they receive. Sometimes it is because the culture of the firm demands that what the fee-earner wants, the fee-earner gets.
But marketing is defined as “The management process responsible for anticipating and meeting client needs profitably”. Therefore, this forward-thinking and anticipatory mind set is what should drive the marketing process.
2. Learn marketing theory (and gain professional qualifications)
Whilst some argue that professional marketing qualifications (such as those from the Chartered Institute of Marketing) might not be appropriate for those in professional services marketing (despite the fact that the Cambridge Marketing College and PSMG have a tailored version of the qualification for marketers in the professions), marketing theory is important. It underpins much of what we do.
There are many books to help both beginners and more advanced executives. An up to date reading list is provided at the course (for an earlier version of this list see here http://kimtasso.com/faq/what-books-should-someone-read-if-they-are-starting-out-in-professional-services-marketing/)
There are lots of excellent case studies from the leaders in professional services marketing in the Professional Services Marketing Handbook http://kimtasso.com/book-review-professional-services-marketing-handbook-edited-by-nigel-clark-with-charles-nixon/.
For those who want to get up to speed on digital developments – the book by Damien Ryan is a good starting point http://kimtasso.com/book-review-understanding-digital-marketing-marketing-strategies-for-engaging-the-digital-generation-by-damian-ryan-third-edition-kogan-page/
Laurie Young’s book is a more academic review of fundamental marketing theories which is suitable for qualified and experienced marketers http://kimtasso.com/book-review-the-marketers-handbook-reassessing-marketing-techniques-for-modern-businesses-by-laurie-young/
3. Let marketing planning drive the process
The marketing planning process enables us to take the lead and guide fee-earners through a systemic process that should result in an effective plan.
First we analyse the situation – the broader economy and technological and political and sociological trends as well as our competitors and changing client needs. Then we set goals – to manage expectations and to measure progress and results. We then agree an overall strategy – and strategy means choice. And focus. Strategy may require creativity. And then we help craft a campaign where we use the appropriate tools, content and channels to move prospective clients through the sales pipeline. As we develop the campaign, the budget required (both cash and time) becomes apparent. Then we monitor progress and measure results – and our return on investment.
But the marketing plan is not the property of the marketing or BD team. If we guide our fee-earners through the process, they will see the trends and gain insight themselves. The fee-earners will help decide on the best strategy and tactics. And if the fee-earners have played a major role in developing the marketing plan then there is a reduced need to achieve buy-in – as they are already committed.
The following blogs give insight on marketing planning issues:
And this blog provides the reasons why fee-earners should allow marketers and BD people to help them build campaigns http://kimtasso.com/dear-fee-earner-love-from-leeds-why-you-should-allow-your-marketing-and-business-development-team-to-help-you-to-develop-campaigns/
Then there is a raft of theories and frameworks to help us in selling and converting interested prospects into clients. There’s yet more help in managing client relationships and developing key accounts. These areas – selling, relationship management and account management – are less familiar to professional services marketers who are often focused on strategic or marketing communications activities. Yet in business-to-business markets, selling and relationship management are critical. This, admittedly rather old, blog and its associated links signposts a lot of material on selling and relationship management http://kimtasso.com/faq/what-are-the-most-appropriate-selling-frameworks-or-models-for-professional-firms/
4. Use segmentation and personas
A critical element of marketing planning is the process of segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP). Whilst many in the professions have shifted to a sector focus with “go to market” strategies based around industries, others segment their markets by size – yet there are some who still use their internal specialist or service line organisation http://kimtasso.com/back-basics-importance-segmentation-personas/
More sophisticated firms – especially those with a significant consumer client base – are developing detailed personas to shape their marketing, content and communications strategies and increase their digital marketing effectiveness.
There was a lot of interest in the responsibilities and regulations surrounding Data Protection – especially in view of the imminent GDPR https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/overview-of-the-gdpr/
5. Develop relationships with fee-earners
A significant challenge for all those involved in marketing and business development in the professions revolves around their relationship with fee-earners. The starting point has to be around developing empathy with the fee-earners – understanding their priorities and perspectives. The importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) skills was discussed. See http://kimtasso.com/faq/emotional-intelligence-eq-important/ and http://kimtasso.com/book-review-emotional-intelligence-2-0-travis-bradberry-jean-greaves/
To have credibility with the fee-earners we need to understand the nature of their work – by building our product knowledge of their technical services. We should also add value through research by gaining a deep understanding of the markets and clients that they serve.
There was also discussion about how to improve confidence and self-confidence and to challenge and offer suggestions and alternatives. We also looked at the importance of face-to-face communication and techniques such as reframing. http://kimtasso.com/two-big-guns-of-communication-face-time-and-reframe/ Persuasion and achieving buy-in were also major topics of interest (see some of the many blogs on this topic: http://kimtasso.com/getting-it-past-the-partners-all-about-buy-in/ and http://kimtasso.com/faq/how-can-i-improve-my-persuasion-skills/)
The development of coaching http://kimtasso.com/12-tips-from-a-coaching-and-mentoring-skills-course-2015/ and consulting skills for more experienced marketing and business development staff is an important area.
6. Manage yourself
Most proactive marketing executives find that they have too much to do and too little time. We explored the importance of business, marketing and personal goals to help focus and prioritise activity. Many time management techniques are explained here http://kimtasso.com/time-management-35-top-tips-and-techniques/
We also talked about some of the ideas (e.g. important vs urgent, circles of concern and influence etc) in Steve Covey’s book “Seven habits of highly successful people”). And the need to continuously “sharpen the saw” by constantly updating our skills. Chartered Marketers have to complete CPD (Continuing Professional Development) just like lawyers, accountants and surveyors – http://kimtasso.com/continuing-professional-development-cpd-lawyers-and-marketers/
Self-care is also important in the often high pressure professional services environment. We considered resilience http://kimtasso.com/10-tips-to-increase-your-resilience/ and talked about stress. I particularly like the book by psychiatrist Dr Edward Hallowell about managing the pressures of our modern world http://kimtasso.com/crazy-busy-overstretched-overbooked-and-about-to-snap-book-review/
7. Write a career plan
Digital marketing is moving at a pace. There are vast developments in marketing automation and analytics. The nature of our markets and clients are changing. The expectations of business development and marketing staff are changing. Our marketing and BD team structures are always shifting to align with new organisational objectives. No one can be complacent.
Taking responsibility for your own learning and career development is vitally important. We used the same planning framework – Where are you now? Where do you want to be? How will you get there? to start producing a career development plan. Here’s some further guidance on career planning http://kimtasso.com/career-coaching-counselling-kim-tasso/
Details of future Proactive Marketing Executive workshops http://www.pmforum.co.uk/training.aspx