"When no one knows where else to go, they give it to marketing. That takes away from them really adding value." says Sadie Baron, CMO of Reed Smith, neatly summing up a core frustration for marketing teams in Professional Services.
In Professional Services firms, the marketing team has two quite different roles. First, all of the brand and strategic marketing initiatives that are required by, in the case of Reed Smith, a $1.2 billion firm. And second, enabling the fee-earners to sell their services.
By contrast to the first role, this enabling function can be relatively low-level - organising networking events or generating content to demonstrate expertise, for example. Though it may not be glamorous, this aspect of the role is extremely effective. People buy the expertise of the fee-earners.
But the problem - as pointed out in the quote below - is scale. As things get bigger, it becomes increasingly difficult to deliver a consistent, high quality experience with all of these steps are being taken individually. And from a management point of view, it becomes difficult to know what is working well, and what is not.
It is here that technology in Professional Services marketing really has a role. Firms like Vuture and Concep, for example, have email platforms that make events very much easier to organise. Of course, the marketing team can send out updates on speakers, times and reminders to all the multitude of events - but it is inefficient and, if done at scale, likely to be done poorly in some areas. Much better have the technology organise it - it's not going to get sick on the day of the key follow-up emails. And it's not going to forget either!
We, at Passle, scratch a similar itch. It is not that the lawyers CAN'T create relevant insights on their own, or record a podcast series or send out 'I saw this interesting article, and I thought of you' notes to their clients. It's just that, without the infrastructure to help them, it is really hard. So hard in fact, that they mostly give up.
To return to Sadie's quote at the top, we like to think that our software means that, whether the fee-earners are at their desk or on the move, if they want to create some commentary on their market, they don't talk to marketing. They click on the little octopus, create their insight, and get back to their day job.
We didn’t have the right technology support for the function. Consistency and quality were patchy, which had a lot to do with legacy processes. I was a bit surprised by the lack of infrastructure. The role has evolved because we have invested in technology.