Jo Macauley-Weeks is a Brand Engagement Executive at Irwin Mitchell LLP. I couldn't resist asking her a few questions about B2B marketing and thought leadership...

Claire Trevien: First of all, I love that your marketing experience isn’t just limited to professional services – you’ve worked in the charity and beauty sector too – do you think this gives you a different outlook to a more ‘traditional’ marketer?

Jo Macauley-Weeks: I fell into marketing quite by accident, driven by a strong desire to understand what makes people tick, and I think that's key. Taking the time to listen to and really understand your audience, whether it's B2B, B2C or whatever else, is probably the most important part of the process for me. And in reality, it's actually all very simple. We're all humans and we all share common drivers. We want to be heard, we want to trust that the service or product on offer will deliver what we need it to, and we want to feel that our relationship with the brand matters to them. 

CT: I know that thought leadership is at the core of your work at Thomas Eggar (a trading style of Irwin Mitchell LLP) – how difficult is it to engage busy experts into demonstrating their expertise?

JMW: Again, I think understanding the people you're hoping to engage in a process is the most important part. Listening to them about what they hope to achieve and delivering solutions in a way that is mindful of their approach and their sensibilities is vital to producing good content. So much of thought leadership is enabling those experts to really feel like thought leaders - there's is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to get content to page, and it is the most enjoyable part of the process for me! Not everyone is a natural communicator, but I believe that anyone who is willing to learn can become great at talking about what they do.

CT: Do you think that you can be a successful lawyer today without being online?

JMW: Interesting question. I think it depends very much on your practice area, the type of firm you work at and the clients you hope to engage with. Traditionally, transactional instructions can often rely heavily on positive word of mouth marketing and less broadcast-heavy approaches, but if you're looking to begin a long relationship with a potential client - a hugely rewarding process for private client lawyers, for instance - then it certainly helps to be able to demonstrate your expertise in a way that is widely and instantly accessible to people who are looking for a deeper client/lawyer relationship. Passle has been great in terms of increasing sentiment and broadening the reach of our work, and it helps that it's so efficient and easy to use for all involved.

CT: What piece of advice would you give a budding professional services marketer?

JMW: I would say this: Listen. Listen to your firm and what it needs. Listen to your clients and the market. Don't be afraid to try new things and stand by your expertise as much as possible if you encounter doubt. Often people don't really know what they want to achieve from their marketing beyond broad terms like 'profile' and 'more instructions', and it's up to you to sell your knowledge and experience as an asset to the organization. I'm very lucky to work for a firm that values its Marketing teams as the key to its continuing success. It's been incredibly challenging but ultimately empowering and hugely rewarding.

CT: Finally, what tools or concepts in marketing are you particularly excited about this year?

JMW: I think that more and more, we as marketers are understanding that people enjoy and relate to stories. As a race, we've been telling stories for as long as we've existed, and if you can tell a good story or respond well to one that excites you, you're halfway to really speaking to your audience and demonstrating your desire to have a conversation with them, rather than talk at them in a language that doesn't resonate. It's a nuanced skill, and it's not always easy to measure the ROI with storytelling content but I believe it has real, long term value to any business if you are prepared to adopt it as a tool.