Checking in from the Marketing

Checking in from the Marketing Partner Forum ::: I’m in Naples again (one of life’s cruel ironies – it’s at the same not-ready-for-prime -time Ritz Carlton Golf Resort I was at two weeks ago), this time for the Marketing Partner Forum. Keynote speaker is David Maister – who was hawking his new book (First Among Equals) and talking about the key characteristics needed of managing partners in professional services firms.

Not entirely surprising, but no less revealing, statistics revealed during polling of the audience (in no particular order):

  • More than 1/3 of the firms surveyed (about 200 are in attendance) don’t formally track results of marketing campaigns
  • 87% of firms surveyed see their marketing budgets increasing next year
  • Marketing technology represents the largest segment of FY 2002’s budget increase
  • Nearly half of the firms surveyed report no formal compensation “rewards” for marketing activities of professionals
The morning panel (moderated by Maister) included Christine Lagarde (managing partner at Baker & McKenzie), Allen Chichester (CMO at Piper Marbury), Daniel Dooley (managing partner, PWC), Diana Kempe (CEO, Appleby & Spurling) and Diane Hamlin (Chief Strategic Officer, Fenwick & West). Some highlights:

  • Chichester: Any firms looking to succeed in changing the culture must have a belief you can change, a desire to change, and a commitment to change. Not earth-shattering, but all panelists pointed out that it’s often the basics that firms overlook. Don’t try revolution – just try to achieve incremental results.
  • Lagarde: compensation, coupled with technology and marketing expertise are what allow professionals to be effective marketers. Without the technology to do some of the heavy lifting and compensation aligned with the corporate objectives, marketing efforts will fail.
  • Dooley: PWC realigned compensation, moving away from a pure equity model and towards a blend of equity, firm’s global performance, individual performance against personal plan, and practice group performance. (Most heavily weighted: practice group performance.)
  • Chichester: Professionals strive for perfection. In marketing and business development, mistakes “happen and do not matter.” They are to be expected, and should not be focused on to the detriment of the overall marketing effort.
  • Hamlin: cited the recent BTI survey, which looked at how law firms are hired. Skill isn’t a differentiator – all firms should have good lawyers. Client responsiveness, having a single point of contact at the firm, understanding clients’ business models, and providing value for the $ are all differentiators.
  • Lagarde (who is French): marketing is the icing on the cake. This isn’t derogatory: without the icing, buyers won’t make buying decisions. Marketing must get buyers to make the buying decision… if the cake isn’t any good, the buyers won’t come back. So both must exist and complement each other. (And without each other, the individual parts can’t fully realize their potential.)
  • Hamlin: cited Good to Great (Diane is who originally turned me on to the book; she saw Collins speak six months before the book’s publication and summarized some of the more salient points): professionals must create a “stop doing” list to improve behavior and generate better results.

More later…

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