How to survive professional services marketing

As an in-house marketer, entering into the realm of professional services is no walk in the park. With over 12 years’ experience, many of them spent in both corporate law firms and accountants, as well as small high street practices, there are several general assumptions you can make as you walk through the door on your first day:

1. The managing partner and indeed majority of the board will likely be male (controversial but true)

2. Partners will be considerably more respectful towards secretaries than the marketing team

3. There will be a handful of partners who joined the firm in 1823 as juniors and never left

4. You will, at least once every few months, be asked to organise a golf day

5. You will (or a member of your team will), at some point in your career with the firm, be asked to do admin work as a secretary is off sick

6. At the mention of organising or attending a networking event, faces will pale and at least two partners will need to leave the room

7. You will find that attendance at scheduled marketing meetings is not taken particularly seriously by the board

8. Many marketing meetings will disintegrate into an argument, not about marketing strategy, but about whether the firm should have a golf day or day at the races

9. The argument about who should have promotional brollies will rage on for eternity

10. You are unlikely to be involved in top level strategic discussions

Of course, not all professional services organisations are the same. If yours is considerably more forward thinking and marketing savvy, that’s fantastic! However, I have worked for and advised many such firms – and found the same culture and belief set in each, regardless of its size.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will address each point in turn and try to provide some answers, to help you on the way to building an integrated strategic marketing function within your firm. I don’t pretend that I can solve your problems in a simple blog, but at least you can smile in recognition and know you’re not alone! I’d love to hear whether or not you agree with my observations and listen to your own stories, so please do post your comments.

Yours, in sympathy

Claire Shiels Marketing


8 thoughts on “How to survive professional services marketing

  1. How about:
    1. Be prepared to work without a plan. And without data.
    2. Accept that your emails are invisible
    3. Remember fee-earners will always find the tiny error & fail to value the brilliance of the big idea
    4. Marketing in the professions is not about creativity and innovation – they want to know what other firms have done it first
    5. If it fails it’s your fault, if it succeeds it’s to the partners credit
    (Typed on my teeny tiny iPhone keyboard)

  2. Still advising many professional services firms, Ian. Unfortunately, it’s a passion of mine – or perhaps I’m a sucker for punishment?!

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