March 24, 2023|Kim's Blog, Marketing|
Roles, satisfaction and aspirations of Marketing and Business Development (M&BD) Assistants

It was a full house at the March workshop on “Practical and Professional Skills for Marketing and Business Development (M&BD) Assistants” although almost all delegates were from law firms across the UK. The discussions and polls (see below) provided interesting insights into the roles and aspirations of those entering professional services marketing. Dates for future sessions are shown at PM Forum. Roles, satisfaction and aspirations of Marketing and Business Development (M&BD) Assistants.

No typical M&BD assistant role

M&BD assistants are at the entry point of a career in professional services marketing. Yet while there is a significant variety in their roles, expertise and aspirations they were all keen to know more about how M&BD is applied in different professional services firms.

As the poll results below indicate, their roles are varied. Nearly 40% said the majority of their time was spent supporting M&BD executives and managers. Many reported that most of their time was work such as tactical marketing promotions, client and referrer relationship management and internal marketing. A quarter said that the majority of their time was on drafting and editing content.

Less than half had a formal marketing qualification. Yet 76% felt that they had good or OK knowledge and were familiar with most marketing theories and frameworks. Around two thirds felt they had low or very low skills or abilities in sales and selling which isn’t a surprise – but it would be interesting to know how firms provide the relevant knowledge, skills and behaviours as they progress in their careers.

Delegates were interested to know how different firms structured their M&BD teams as this had a major impact both on how they managed their workload, learned from more senior and specialist M&BD colleagues and shaped their development and promotion prospects. Many reported that their M&BD team spanned numerous specialist teams including: marketing communications, digital marketing, events and design. There are some posts about M&BD team structures:

How to design a marketing and business development team (

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

Event management activity

Although delegates indicated that events were not the primary focus of their roles – and many had dedicated events specialists in their firms – most had some involvement.    17% indicated they would like to spend more time on events, seminars, webinars and contact programmes.

Events ranged from major conferences for 300+ people to seminars and webinars for around 30 to small group entertaining. One delegate was organising a Poker Night that evening. Their views on what was key in successful event management included:

  • Change the work culture (to encourage advance planning and integration with supporting M&BD activities)
  • Allocate one person with overall responsibility
  • Engage with fee-earners (and guests)
  • Co-ordinate and collaborate across teams
  • Be clear on the purpose, aims, benefits and format for the event
  • Produce a bespoke list of invitees (confirm data accuracy and compliance e.g. with GDPR)
  • Anticipate environmental factors (e.g. train strikes, adverse weather, technology)
  • Confirm the most popular days and times with data and research
  • Test alternative invitations
  • Be organised in managing timelines and deadlines
  • Prepare materials, collateral and speakers/hosts well in advance
  • Ensure the home team are briefed and attending
  • Organise structured follow up programmes
  • Find creative ways to obtain feedback on the event

Satisfaction of M&BD Assistants

Many commented that they were stretched in their roles – having to respond to so many requests and tasks (at one firm there are just two assistants supporting a team of 60 M&BD professionals). Although all assistants said that they enjoyed the variety and pace. Another well-liked feature of their roles was client contact – for example, at events.

The volume and diversity of tasks also meant that some were unclear of expectations and how to prioritise. The variety also meant that often they only saw one facet of an overall programme or campaign. So they were keen to gain an overview of M&BD strategies and processes within professional services firms and to learn how assistants in other firms operated.

Interestingly, just under 40% felt that their firm’s digital marketing strategy was brilliant or really good. But, in an improvement from past results, 50% were really happy or happy with their firm’s CRM and integrated systems and a third felt it was OK. CRM systems mentioned included InterAction and there were favourable comments about Intapp.

Views on the extent to which they felt their fee-earners were engaged with M&BD varied. Nearly half felt that between 10%-40% of fee-earners were engaged, 18% felt it was around 50% of fee-earners and over a third felt that 50%-70% of fee-earners were engaged.

Aspirations of M&BD Assistants

Many of the delegates were keen to learn how to become more proactive and efficient.

When asked about their key takeaways and planned actions after the workshop there were two themes emerging. One was around the need to engage with and develop stronger relationships with fee-earners and the other was to spend time exploring the firm’s M&BD and key client plans. 

With regards to how they would like their work to evolve, a third want to spend more time on profile-raising and PR activities (which is often completed by those with specialist roles) and just over a third want more involvement in internal marketing.

Happily, most M&BD assistants (59%) felt that their firms supported their development and progression although only 12% felt that there was a clear path for their promotion.

About the M&BD Assistant delegates (Poll results)

During the workshop, delegates responded to a number of polls. The responses enable M&BD assistants in different firms to benchmark and compare their roles.

Qualifications and experience

53% had not formally studied marketing

After reviewing some key theories and frameworks used in professional services marketing, they rated their knowledge as follows:

  • 41% OK knowledge – I’ve just learned quite a bit
  • 35% Good – I am familiar with most ideas
  • 18% Need improvement – I have a lot of learning ahead
  • 6% Really good – I knew much more than I thought

The delegates rated their skills/abilities in selling as:

  • 53% Low
  • 20% Very low
  • 20% Good
  • 7% Average
  • 0% Very good

Impact of Covid/WFH

13% felt Covid and WFH (Working From Home) had completely changed their roles, compared to 13% who said it changed a lot, 31% quite a bit and 31% a little bit. Only 13% felt Covid/WFH didn’t change their role.

M&BD Assistant time use

The delegates indicated that most of their time was spent:

  • 53% Tactical marketing/Communications
  • 18% Client and referrer relationship management
  • 12% Strategic marketing
  • 12% All aspects

And broke this down further when asked where most of their time was invested:

  • 38% Supporting M&BD Executives and Managers
  • 25% Drafting and editing copy/content
  • 13% Organising events
  • 6% Preparing pitches and tenders
  • 6% Managing data, databases and systems
  • 6% Supporting internal communications
  • 6% Answering queries from fee-earner

This was reflected in how involved they have been in developing marketing and BD plans

  • 50% A little involved – but mostly when discussed at meetings
  • 22% Some involvement – mostly data analysis and research
  • 22% Not at all involved
  • 6% Had responsibility for developing plans

The areas where they would like to spend more time included:

  • 33% Profile-raising, PR and media relations
  • 28% Internal engagement, internal marketing/communications
  • 17% Events, seminars, webinars and contact programmes
  • 11% Digital marketing, content management and social media
  • 11% Other (Project management)

How they felt about their career development prospects:

  • 59% My firm supports my development and progression
  • 24% I have a lot to learn and do before I will be promoted
  • 12% There is a clear path for my promotion
  • 6% Confident I will be promoted in the short-medium term

No one expressed a desire to specialise in a specific area of marketing and none felt there was no progression opportunities for them

Marketing technology and systems

In terms of how happy they were with their CRM and integrated systems:

  • 44% Happy
  • 33% OK
  • 11% Unhappy
  • 6% Really unhappy
  • 6% Really happy

When asked how they rate their firm’s digital marketing strategy

  • 56% Average
  • 33% Really good
  • 6% Brilliant
  • 6% Needs improvement

Word cloud words to describe M&BD assistants (from delegates)

Delegates were asked to identify three key words about their roles:

  • Strategy, Communications, Internal Communications
  • Internal Communications, Strategy, Creative
  • Social, Business development, Strategy
  • Events, Brand, Strategy
  • Legal, Events, Proactive
  • Memberships, Sustainability, UX
  • Clients, Coordination, Projects
  • Internal/external communications, Social media, Content
  • Communicator, Adaptable, Professional
  • Branding, Creative, Social media
  • Innovation, Social media, Communications
  • Creative, Analytical, Internal/external communications
  • Creative, Pragmatic, Commercial
  • Office dynamics, in person/ online events

How delegates think their fee-earners would describe the M&BD team

  • Reliable
  • Supportive
  • Collaborative
  • Eager
  • Engaging
  • Enthusiastic
  • Helpful
  • Understanding
  • Reliable
  • Supportive
  • Responsive
  • Client-focused
  • Costly
  • Slightly demanding
  • Bossy

What percentage of your fee-earners do you think are engaged with and keen to do M&BD?

  • 47% 10%-40% of fee-earners
  • 35% 50%-70% of fee-earners
  • 18% About 50%

Comparing personality types:

Personality type M&BD assistants Fee-earners
Dog 76% 6%
Cat 24% 53%
Bear   41%

 Top takeaways from M&BD Assistants


  • Generate more fee-earner engagement
  • Build strong relationships with fee-earners
  • Speak to people in person more
  • Raise my profile with fee-earners
  • Be more confident in my suggestions and opinions around more senior people in the firm

Plans and processes

  • Find out more about our marketing & BD plans
  • Ask my team about our approach to our clients
  • Review our key client plans
  • Revise the marketing models
  • Map the client journey
  • Find out more about our sales process
  • Have more clear plans/processes
  • Develop an updated digital ‘voice’ for our social media to make it more engaging

Personal development

  • Develop my personal brand
  • Create a career progression plan

Related posts

Insights into the needs of the latest generation of M&BD Assistants ( September 2022

New Marketing and Business Development Assistants ( March 2022

Marketing and Business Development Assistants: The impact of Covid ( March 2021

Six insights from marketing and business development assistants ( November 2019

what marketing and business development assistants would like to say ( December 2018

practical and professional skills for marketing assistants ( November 2015