PM October 2017

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Professional Marketing for PM Forum members Volume 25 | Issue 3 | October 2017

Your future colleague? We look at how AI could D̆HFW WKH ZRUNSODFH

Plus Who owns pricing? Putting PAs back at the heart of client service, $QG :LONLQV .HQQHG\ SUR¿OHG«

Want to learn something new?

Take a look at PM Forum training workshops: The Future Marketing Manager Thursday 19 October – Full day

The effective marketing and business development PA/Secretary Thursday 2 November – Half day

Practical and professional skills for marketing and BD assistants Wednesday 22 November – Half day

Delegation, coaching and team management Tuesday 5 December – Half day

The Proactive Marketing Executive Wednesday 7 February 2018 – Full day

Marketing and BD planning in a nutshell Tuesday 20 February 2018 – Half day

Being more strategic Thursday 1 March 2018 – Full day

New Impact, assertiveness and effectiveness for assistants and executives Tuesday 13 March – Half day

Client Experience Management and onboarding Thursday 26 April – Half day

Marketing and business development writing workshop Wednesday 9 May – Full day

Find out more on these and other workshops at

10.17 contents Professional Marketing for PM Forum members



18 Cover story Use AI to improve your marketing

Sue Bramall provides a no-bull guide to AI for professional services marketing.

04 Who owns pricing?


At a time when professional services firms are striving for sustainable profitable growth, Daniel Pembroke looks at pricing and asks: “Where does pricing sit alongside other drivers for profit?”.

07 GDPR – everything you ever wanted to ask


Simon Morrissey answers members’ burning questions about GDPR – the hot topic taking over from Brexit in every marketing department.

10 Putting PAs back at the heart of client service

Louise Field and Nancy Elliot explain how the need for a refocus of the legal PA role and a higher demand for Client Relationship Executives created an award-winning programme.



14 Prioritising communication As the UK’s business community prepares to leave the EU, opportunities continue to flourish in its wealthiest zone, according to Tom Govan, Marketing and Communications Director, of accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy.

23 The value of business research

Lee Frederikson answers the top 10 research questions that can drive growth and profitability.


Reading PM contributes to your CPD under the CIM’s category 9 (private study) to a maximum of 8 hours

02 03 06 09 12 16 21 28

Plus Leader Global village Network Review Research report Management focus Careerwatch Second opinion

pm | October 2017


Digital mastery – are you ready? leader


Claire Fowler, Regional Director, PM Forum South West

’ve heard a lot of people talking about ‘digital’, but many think that updating their LinkedIn profile will be enough. The reality is not nearly so simple. With the digital world encompassing so many areas of our lives now, it’s important to pay it more than lip service. So how can we ensure we’re doing the right things? It would be easy to spend all day getting lost down the internet rabbit hole (now why didn’t I get a photo shoot like Beyonce’s when I had my kids?) but obviously it requires some focus. And if you think that social media isn’t relevant for professional services, then think again – social selling is growing in acceptance, and fast. Recent stats from the International Data Corporation tell us that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions, so if your clients are there, then you should be too. Often, finding the time is the challenge, especially for fee earners. If you’re working in a larger firm, perhaps you’ve got some specialists in house who can help. Make the most of those newer into the team who have grown up on social media and know how to navigate it intuitively. It’s not all about emojis and gifs – smart use of hashtags and Twitter lists can build soft connections with clients and prospects that carefully support your other communications. Encourage team members to build their own profile by helping out fee earners who are more reluctant. Beware of consultants who claim to be broad ‘digital experts’ – in my experience that’s unlikely. They may have a general awareness of the different areas, but look for specialists in what you really need as SEO, PPC and content are all unique things.


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If it sounds like common sense, then that’s because it is.

Managing editor Nadia Cristina Publisher Richard Chaplin Editorial consultant in chief Kim Tasso Regional editorial consultants Australia – Dianne Davis Canada – Larry Stroud USA – Larry Bodine Membership enquiries Cover design Mytton Williams

Join our group on LinkedIn In a smaller firm, you can employ external social media management, or use the free tools that are out there (such as Hootsuite or Buffer). Either way, make sure that you are integrating social into everything you do – if you’ve written a blog, then share it. Is your lead generation being followed up with emails and linked with social profiles? If you’re following a client on social channels, comment on their success. Connect with people you’ve just met at a networking event – if it sounds like common sense, then that’s because it is. Passle share some great tips on this sort of thing, so look out for best practice guides. I currently manage 10 social media accounts from my phone, as I find it’s the quickest way to switch between profiles and the notifications mean I don’t miss out on anything. All I have to remember is whose voice I’m responding with! At PM Forum South West, we recently had a presentation from David Bittiner on personal branding and in his article this month he defines a successful personal professional brand as being “all about the art of communicating with intent” – so get out there with intent and use whatever tools you can. Don’t let social selling evolve without you being a part of it.

PM is published ten times a year and distributed by Practice Management International LLP, 422 Salisbury House, London Wall, London EC2M 5QQ, UK 020 7786 9786 ISSN 0969-1847 © Practice Management International LLP 2017. All rights reserved. PM (Professional Marketing) accepts no responsibility for loss of or damage, however caused, to any material submitted for publication nor for consequences resulting from the use of the information in this magazine, nor in any respect for the content of such information. Neither PM nor the PM Forum endorses the opinions expressed or any products or services advertised in this magazine or on its website. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, except for permitted fair dealing or fair use under applicable law, without the prior permission of the publishers.

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global village

On the move… Nicola Purdue has joined HW Fisher & Company as Head of Marketing. She was previously with Smith & Williamson.

Charlotte Green has joined Bird & Bird as Interim Head of Practice and Sector Business Development. She was previously Head of Client Services at Nabarro prior to its merger with CMS and Olswang.

David Edwards has joined VISTRA in Jersey as Chief Marketing Officer. He was previously Director of Business Development, Marketing and Communications at GVA UK.

David Staiano has joined Ashurst as Global Director of Business Development and Marketing, based in London. He has previously worked as Director of Marketing and Business Development at Simmons & Simmons, where he sat on the Board.

Nicola Purdue

Charlotte Green

David Staiano

Susanne Pugsley has joined Royds Withy King as Business Development Consultant. She was previously with Howard Kennedy.

Deborah Farone, the longtime Chief Marketing Director of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, is leaving to open her own marketing consultancy for professional service providers, Farone Advisors.

Previous Head of Programming at PM Forum, Helen Trudgeon has joined TFPL as Head of Marketing and Learning.

Susanne Pugsley

Deborah Farone

MPF Awards For Management Excellence 2018

Open for submissions at www.mpfglobal/awards

Firms not realising their digital potential

New research has revealed huge potential for digital innovation among the UK legal sector. The Legal Innovations Survey, by digital consultancy Industry Innovations, – conducted amongst over 100 digital decision makers from the UK’s legal sector – explored the priorities for adoption of digital technology, from servicing clients to retaining talent to securing new business. With over 80% of firms agreeing that digital is of paramount importance to securing new business, and 60% confirming that digital innovation plays a major part in the five-year business plan, the race to innovate is hotting up. However, despite this general consensus, almost 90% of participants agreed that no one firm is using digital technology effectively. And less than a third of firms were able to boast the development of a documented digital roadmap. The lack of strategic direction for digital innovation among law firm leaders highlights the opportunity, and threat, for digitalsavvy challengers to disrupt the UK market in a meaningful, and probably irrevocable way. Dominic Zammit, Strategy & Content Director at Industry Innovations, said: “With evermounting pressure from digital disrupters and increasingly sophisticated client demands, there appears to be a lack of digital strategy underpinning law firm business plans.”

For more information about the survey or to request a copy of the full report, contact Dominic Zammit at


Vacancies on the PM Forum job board include…

Digital Marketing Executive – Law Business Research, London, c£25,000

Member Marketing Specialist – Accountancy, London, £36,000

Marketing & Communications Executive – Law, Manchester, £25,000 to £32,000

Marketing and BD Manager – Law, Manchester, £negotiable

PR & Comms ExecutiveLeading Chartered Accountancy, London, £38,000 to £42,000

Senior BD Manager – Law, London, £competitive

PR & Communications Executive – Accountancy, London, up to £45,000

Senior Internal Communications Manager – Law, London, £competitive

Marketing Manager – Law, Manchester, £30,000 to £35,000

Marketing Project Manager (6 month FTC) – Law, Worcestershire, £42,000 to £48,000

Client Relationship Manager – Law, London, up to £60,000

For free email alerts, visit pm | October 2017


Who owns pricing?


At a time when professional services firms are striving for sustainable profitable growth, Daniel Pembroke looks at pricing and asks: “Where does pricing sit alongside other drivers for profit?”


hat is Business Development’s relationship with pricing? That was the topic for discussion when I sat alongside Richard Burcher of Validatum, the pricing consultancy, at a recent PM Forum event in London. My view may be tilted toward law firms in particular, but let’s explore some of the themes that evolved that night starting with a historical tale of business need. Let me start by winding the clock back 25 years to a time when cash-flow was at the fore-front of many professional service firm agendas. Clients’ willingness to pay was receding so firms introduced a, then radical, technique called ‘credit control’ or ‘asking clients to pay their bills’ for want of a better description. This had a positive impact but it was not enough. Those working in credit control could see that improvement was needed earlier in the order-to-cash process to ensure that bills were accurate, timely and actually sent out with the goal of closing the gap between work being done and cash coming into the business. Billing teams also quickly realised that they could not bill time that had not been recorded. Fee earners needed to understand the necessity for accurate and prompt time recording and so tools and training were developed to help that behavioural change. All three components had an impact


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In the strongest relationships money is covered off swiftly and equitably because steps have been taken to ensure that both parties’ expectations have been met or exceeded.

on improved cash flow and a knock-on improvement in profitability. Roll forward 20 years or so, when clients began to raise their expectation of external counsel, and profitability returned to the top of the agenda for the Boards of professional service organisations in ultra-competitive markets driven by globalisation, improved information flow and financial markets in turmoil. Pricing was then heralded as the solution and firms quickly responded by engaging pricing consultants and hiring pricing professionals, or creating whole teams, with the hope of immediate improved returns. But, if you ask anyone working in pricing, they will tell you that pricing is only one driver for profitability. In simplistic terms, the others are a) volume or, to put it another way, sales, and b) the cost of delivery, being not only the cost of resource (human, technological or other) but how the services are delivered. We need to be careful not to focus on any one area in isolation. All levers and drivers must be considered together as one combined mechanism. Diving deeper, Sales already has a home in professional services businesses: primarily, sales are the responsibility of the owners of the business – the partners. The Business Development and Marketing functions will support them but those staff are paid regardless of whether profit recedes or grows. Only


partners share the real risk of success or failure. In addition, it is the partners in law firms who own the client relationship – much more so than other professional service businesses. Rare is the law firm employing sales professionals or even dedicated, client facing account managers. What transpires in relation to the Cost driver is that it has no single home. Is the work-force requirement managed by HR? Do they monitor capacity and skill-sets, and distribute accordingly? Is the technology resource managed by the IT function? Does the data needed for analysis and forecasting sit with the Finance or Knowledge Management functions? Are each of these elements ‘owned’ exclusively? If, as is arguably the case in some firms, ownership of each element is exclusive then protectionism sets in. Power becomes an issue and strategies will become mis-aligned resulting in unfulfilled potential.

Maybe a re-think is needed

Could the commercially focussed elements of each separate business services combine to create a team that pulls together, collaborating to provide demonstrable value for the client and the firm? Desirable or not, the size of the firm will have an impact. Exploring that theme, let’s take a look at each element of the sales cycle to understand who takes responsibility: • Pipeline – partners and relationship partners; bids teams; business development managers; client relationship teams; practice and sector heads. • Analysis of client data and client business knowledge – finance teams;

• •

• •

knowledge management; client relationship teams. Client conversation – client relationship teams; matter partners; pricing (for want of a better client facing description). Scope – matter partners; pricing; project managers. Pricing – matter partners; pricing; practice and sector heads; executive officers. IT requirements – matter partners; project managers; IT teams. Service delivery – matter partners; human resources; project managers. Client communications – finance reporting; client relationship teams; IT solutions; matter partners. Review scope and price – matter partners; pricing; project managers. Complete delivery of service – matter partners; human resources; project managers. Measure success for client – client partner; client relationship team. Client feed-back – client listening team/client relationship team. Measure success for firm – finance teams; client relationship teams; practice and sector heads. Disseminate lessons learnt – client relationship teams; practice and sector heads.

You could dispute or enhance how I have allocated each element but, acknowledging that different firms have different nomenclature and role descriptions, you can see how complex the whole process is and how many different elements of the firm are or should be involved. Wrapping this up, until there is a

future state that combines all of these elements in a seamless manner then firms will need to rely on the individuals involved, and their ability to influence through ambiguity, to continue to develop a sales process that works for the firm and demonstrates true value to every client. Working together as one firm, regardless of internal labels, is clearly the only way forward. Practically speaking, getting the conversation about price and overall cost right is the biggest challenge and greatest opportunity in any relationship. Get it wrong and it can affect all other facets of the relationship. On the flip side, in the strongest relationships money is covered off swiftly and equitably because steps have been taken to ensure that both parties’ expectations have been met or exceeded. Historically, lawyers have a reputation for not wanting to talk about money with their clients to the point that they would rather write off an old unpaid bill than challenge the client to pay. Ascertain what your client’s financial needs are during the initial scoping conversation – after all, how can anyone decide what they want without knowing how much it will cost? This is an area where the greatest level of transparency can make the biggest difference so be brave and talk ‘money’ with your client today. Daniel Pembroke is Head of Pricing at Norton Rose Fulbright.

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Why a business anniversary is a powerful opportunity Ten years’ or 200 years’ service, depending on your industry, are achievements in their own right. After all, business survival rates are still averaging around 50 percent in the US/UK at the five-year mark. As such, you’ve achieved a milestone. So, of course you want to stick out your chest and profess your acumen from the rooftops, presumably on the premise and promise that stability and good governance got you this


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far, and as such are good indicators for the future. Clients should take note, right? They’re in good hands. But quite often the unspoken client response is “That’s great. But why should I care?” You need to think about this carefully. This is an opportunity, and the good news is, there are others, if you think more ambitiously about your organisation’s milestones.

Milestone opportunities abound

Many anniversaries are given the same amount of consideration as the vegetarian option at a Texan barbecue. The full extent will usually be a logo, a party for clients, and not much else. In many instances, the organisation is already in its anniversary year before it has even begun to think about how to mark — and market — the occasion. Don’t be that business. Be the alternative. I believe that anniversaries present genuine opportunity for organisations, and here’s why: Milestones are reassuring. You get kudos and credibility for surviving (and hopefully thriving) in recent years. A milestone says you are stable, consistent, dependable and, to a degree, commercially savvy. This resonates not only with clients but with prospects, staff, potential hires and the wider market in which you operate. Perhaps equally importantly, a well-planned and well-executed campaign around your milestone provides a year-long series of opportunities — both internally and externally — to: • Resurrect and deepen connections with past and present clients • Broaden clients’ knowledge of you by sharing your vision, the breadth of your services, and your wider capabilities (since the business you are now, and might be in the future, can differ vastly from the one they think they know) • Remind everyone of the journey you’ve been on and all that you have achieved — sometimes against the odds • Acknowledge past and current talent in getting you here • Restate your purpose, your values, your agenda and, most importantly, your relevance to employees,

prospects and clients going forward (possibly the biggest opportunity of all!)

Maximizing the milestone mindset

Here are my top five tips for maximising milestones such as anniversaries: 1 Plan at least 18 months in advance 2 Be future focused, not just retrospective 3 Be inclusive — think about your staff, alumni, current and past clients, and prospects 4 Stay focused on the current needs of your audiences (relevance, relevance, relevance …) 5 Budget properly and put metrics in place

Whether you appreciate it or not, a milestone allows you to connect in a different way with your audience than standard marketing activities do. Mindset is important here. In this age of inbox inundation, cold-calling and mass messaging, celebrating an anniversary instills a much greater sense of openness and engagement in the minds of your target audience. It’s intuitive. Make the most of your captive and engaged audience while everyone’s a little more open and supportive. In a recent client campaign, we even managed to capture on film some clients of our client extolling examples of excellence in service, stoic commitment to values and brilliance as experts. As part of a year of celebration, we helped our client recount their achievements, prove their capabilities and set out their ambitions. Marketing gold, I think they call it. Cameron Webb is Director and Head of Branding and Creative for Infinite Global based in London.

opinion If someone is a client of ours already in what circumstances do we need to get express consent to send them electronic marketing communications? Are we allowed to send them information relating to the services we provide for them even if those materials are considered to be marketing materials?

GDPR – everything you ever wanted to ask

Simon Morrissey answers members’ burning questions about GDPR – the hot topic taking over from Brexit in every marketing department.

There is no legal requirement to obtain prior consent to send electronic ‘marketing communications’ to a ‘corporate subscriber’. The legal definition of ‘marketing communications’ is quite wide; it includes communications asking the recipient to select their marketing preferences and it could also include newsletters depending on the nature of their content. A ‘corporate subscriber’ means a limited company or limited liability partnership. The only legal requirement is that the sender must identify itself and provide contact details. However, corporate subscribers do not include sole traders and some forms of partnerships, where the rules applicable to marketing to consumers apply. If the marketing communication is sent to a named individual at a corporate subscriber then such individuals do have a right to object to the receipt of further marketing communications. Therefore such communications should also include an unsubscribe function. Whilst the rules on business-to-business electronic marketing are more relaxed than the rules applicable to business-to-consumer electronic marketing, the sender should ask itself whether it is good marketing practice to send marketing communications that the recipient has not requested. Therefore, in many cases, businesses choose to adopt the rules applicable to business-toconsumer electronic marketing when marketing to their business customers and contacts.

Are we able to send out a repermissioning email communication to the contacts in our CRM system after the GDPR legislation comes into effect?

As stated above a re-permissioning communication is deemed to be a ‘marketing communication’. Therefore, if your contacts are ‘corporate subscribers’ you will be able to send a re-permissioning email communication to them after the GDPR comes into effect, unless pm | October 2017


opinion they have unsubscribed from further communications from you. However, the position for re-permissioning of contacts who are not ‘corporate subscribers’ is trickier: there is no ‘grandfathering’ provision in the GDPR which means that you must comply with the marketing rules in force at the time the GDPR comes into effect. The GDPR prohibits the use of pre-ticked opt in boxes to indicate consent to receive marketing. The ICO’s draft Guidance on consent under the GDPR also states that an implied opt in approach to consent to marketing is also prohibited. Therefore, if you wish to send a re-permissioning email to a non-corporate subscriber where you hold their details under a preticked, or implied opt in, consent to marketing you will not be able to send them a re-permissioning email based on such consents after the GDPR comes into effect.

What changes will I need to make to my data capture scripts and privacy policies on our website?

The GDPR is far more prescriptive with regard to the content of privacy policies compared to current legal requirements. In particular, it is a requirement that privacy policies set out in clear terms the legal rights that a user has in their personal data (such as the right to object where their personal data is used on the basis of consent). It is also a requirement that for each purpose personal data is processed the privacy policy must set out the legal grounds relied upon to legitimise such processing such as consent, legitimate interests or contractual necessity. Above all the information you provide in your privacy policies has to be clear, concise and easy to navigate: burying large amounts of legalese in your privacy policies will not be compliant with the GDPR. As far as data capture scripts are concerned, these must align with the new rules on consent under the GDPR: for example, your data capture scripts cannot be accompanied by the use of pre-ticked opt in boxes and the scripts themselves will need to contain more detail than has previously been the case, especially where intrusive or unusual processing may arise such as data profiling and aggregation of first party data with a third party data source(s).

A partner met someone at a conference who gave the partner their


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Is it good marketing practice to send marketing communications that the recipient has not requested?

business card, what’s best practice in terms of gaining their consent?

It would be reasonable for the partner to conclude that the person handing over the business card is indicating their consent to be contacted by the partner. However, it would be good practice to ensure that the first communication sent by the partner provided the recipient with the opportunity to specifically opt in to the receipt of further marketing communications in general or, preferably, marketing communications about specific services via specific communications channels and possibly even the frequency of such communications.

If someone asks to be deleted from our system are there any circumstances when we can ask them if we can keep this data for the purposes of future suppression or do we have to delete them?

Where an individual has requested that their details be removed from your systems you will need to make it clear to the individual that if you delete all data relating to the individual, there is the possibility that you may obtain and process data about that individual in the future. Alternatively, you could inform the user that to action their request you will need to keep a record of their identity and request to ensure that you are able to delete further data about the individual that may come into your possession in the future. However, you should only keep the minimum data that you require

in order to comply with the request. What information are we required to hold when it comes to demonstrating whether someone has given their consent or not?

One important change in the GDPR is the record keeping obligations imposed on data controllers and their data processors in relation to the processing of personal data. In particular, where a data controller relies on consent as the lawful ground to process personal data the ICO Guidance on consent requires that a record is kept to demonstrate what the individual has consented to, including what they were told, and when and how they consented. Many existing CRM systems do not have the ability to record this additional information. However, we are beginning to see a number of technology solutions entering the market which contain ‘consent management’ functionality. These are designed to plug into existing CRM systems but you should carry out a careful evaluation to ascertain whether they do comply with the record keeping requirements of the GDPR. If someone moves company and they have previously given their consent to receive marketing communications from us, do we need to re-solicit consent?

This will depend on the channel used to market to the individual and the scope of the consent originally obtained from the individual. If the individual is marketed to via their business email address then, from a practical perspective, you will only be able to continue to market to that individual if you have their new email address. Whether you can contact that individual at their new email address depends on the scope of the consent previously given by the individual: whilst prior consent is not required to send an individual marketing communications if they qualify as a ‘corporate subscriber’, if you have instead sought their express consent then it would not be appropriate to send marketing communications to that individual at their new company if in doing so this conflicted with the scope of that consent. Simon Morrissey is a Partner and Head of Data and Privacy Lewis Silkin LLP.


Professional Services Leadership Handbook

Nigel Clark, Ben Kent, Alastair Beddow, Adrian Furner Kogan Page £29.99

“Effective leaders are catalysts for change who ensure their firm keeps pace with their clients and markets”. Those moving into leadership positions in mid or smaller firms will find a wealth of ideas here, as will BD leaders seeking a broader business overview. While subtitled “how to lead a professional services firm in a new age of competitive disruption” the focus is on what leaders should do to be effective, so areas of disruption are only mentioned briefly. The book follows the familiar publisher format of digestible chunks. Four themes are held together in a simple Leadership Triangle framework. The three corners consider how to create a strategy that will generate long-term profits, how to embed client focus, and how to engage people and drive high performance. The fourth central element encourages self-reflection, an area far too frequently crushed by workloads. “Creating strategy is one of the most important tasks for a newly appointed leader.” Here a bow-tie frame is nicely reused for the visioning and planning process – analysis, consult, decide, constricting down to a central plan, then expanding out to cascading, implementing and monitoring. It is refreshing they say the plan should be condensed to a page or two so it is capable of communication: I was not entirely convinced by the example template, but much will depend on how you communicate. Innovation is not easy to delivery. Help is at hand with an excellent section outlining a clean process and a ‘sandbox’ where ideas can be explored. The stalwart Maister profitability model is updated to include active scoping and project management and client and work-type selection. Leaders are encouraged to link performance management to the profitability of work, rather than just revenue. It is curious firms still do not do this, just be warned professionals are highly skilled at gaming systems so be alert!

The book covers familiar CRM territory, yet brings leaders back to why this matters: you cannot define a strategy without a clear understanding of which clients and work contributes most to profitability. Reference is made to mapping the customer journey, but rather too little is said for leaders to get a sense of what that might involve. Turning to People, they point out that changes in client expectations require changes in people development. This section includes a good outline of what ‘being more commercial’ might actually mean, and what practical steps you can take. Finally leaders are encouraged to be adaptable. It briefly touches on leadership styles and promotes setting aside time for self-reflection. Part of that includes considering which style might be best for what context, but we all tend to use habitual default styles so expect this to involve more effort than it might appear. Leaders want to be accessible to others yet have many calls on their time: the answer, they point out, is to ensure you share your priorities as leader and so where you must prioritise your own time. This book covers a lot of ground, so only goes so deep. But it can justifiably be called a Handbook, and newer leaders will keep picking this off their shelf for quite some time.

Neil May


To win a copy of this month’s book, give the full name of the consultant whose ‘profitability model’ is mentioned.

Send your answer, by 16 October, to

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Putting PAs back at the heart of client service

case study

Louise Field and Nancy Elliot explain how the need for a refocus of the legal PA role and a higher demand for Client Relationship Executives created an award-winning programme.


e’re both passionate about client service – and the vital role that PAs can play at the heart of a firm’s most important client relationships. Winning the MPF Award for Most Innovative Client Service this year was a thrilling climax to a two year collaboration that has resulted in a more sophisticated and proactive level of service to our clients. Bird & Bird’s innovation was our Client Service Skills Training programme for PAs – eight modules designed to help PAs confidently embrace their rightful place at the heart of client teams. The programme grew from our shared vision of Legal PAs working in harmony with my Client Relationship team to support our lawyers and create distinctive experiences for clients. The catalyst was two significant operational challenges that were facing our business.

Twobirds with one stone?

Back in 2014, Nancy and I each had a major challenge to grapple with. One day over coffee we swapped notes and an idea was born. Nancy’s challenge was a review of business services, which had identified that technological advances were eroding the traditional role of Legal PAs and the value they could deliver to our business. My challenge was a sudden tipping point in partner demand for Client Relationship Executives: members of my team who were helping to strengthen and deepen client relationships – a team already at full capacity. How could Nancy reestablish the relevance of the Legal PA role? How could I provide more of our clients with a personalised, five-star service (without simply increasing headcount)? Many of our best performing Client Relationship Execs have come from a Legal PA background, so what if we could distill their experience to encourage and empower all PAs to undertake a more client-focused role? This could neatly address both of our challenges!

Top tips, tools and tricks

I’m not going to lie to you – developing the training programme took blood, sweat and tears and lots of late nights over many months.


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Within a year 80 PAs had been through the programme, across eight European offices. Latest figures as we go to print are 150+ PAs across 12 offices. We had to set the bar high with some seriously impressive content, and take a fresh approach to capture the hearts and minds of our PA audience. The messaging had to be appealing, inspiring but not overwhelming. The sessions had to be more practical, relevant and accesible than any training PAs had received before. Not just ‘how to’ but also ‘why’. Not just ‘what you need to do’, but ‘who and what can help you’. We pulled favours from every team across business services: HR, IT, Finance, Risk, Knowledge and Learning, BD, Marketing… all were persuaded to contribute their time, energy and expertise to the cause. Throughout, Nancy was our guide and user tester, keeping it focused and on message. And at the same time, she was working with HR who built the notion of supporting clients in this way into a refreshed Competency Framework for our PAs. By Spring of 2015 eight modules were ready to go, including: getting to know your client, financial management and tailoring our knowledge sharing. Every module included top tips, tools and tricks that participants could use as soon as they returned to their desks.

And they’re off

The first series was piloted successfully in London, and from the Autumn we began rolling out internationally. In each office, we worked with local office mangement and business services to tailor the content and to co-present the training sessions. As a native speakers, we’re continually humbled by the high level English language skills of PAs across the firm, but even so, working with a native language speaker was key to this stage of the rollout. Participants could pause the training and ask ques-

case study

tions in their own language to get clarification. Within a year 80 PAs had been through the programme, across eight European offices. Latest figures as we go to print are 150+ PAs across 12 offices.

A strategic initiative

This initiative aligned with our CEO David Kerr’s vision that everyone in the firm has a role to play in delivering distinctive service to our clients. So it was welcomed enthusiastically by management from the start and supported throughout. PAs are not the only group becoming more client-facing: in recent years partners have delibrately extended our client relationships to more junior lawyers and to professionals from other disciplines (eg. Finance, IT, Learning & Development). These broader teams can better support a client as business partners as well as legal service providers. Working together has brought success in winning pitches, strengthening relationships and improving our understanding of each client’s unique needs. This innovation also reflects Bird & Bird’s particular expertise: we specialise in advising organisations being changed by technology and the digital world – so we’re predisposed to notice opportunities arising from the technological advances affecting our own business, and to meet these changes in a positive way for our people and our clients.

What difference has it made?

Let’s start with clients. Some have long enjoyed a personalised, proactive service from our firm, made possible by Client Relationship Executives working alongside their Bird & Bird partners and teams. Now that PAs have the tools and skills to deliver many of the same services, more partners are introducing the benefits to more of our clients. Our clients typically enjoy receiving regular, transparent financial and matter reports; sharing information with us easily using simple technology and seeing their needs and preferences reflected in the way we work with them. The firm has benefitted too: we’ve adapted a traditional support function to meet changing firm and client needs without

significant restructuring. We’ve reduced administrative ‘noise’ for partners, who can now hand some important non-billable activities to their trusted PA to manage for them. This successful model of administering complex and demanding client relationships allows partners to pitch for and win more complex mandates, which are typically more profitable for the firm. Many PAs have positively embraced the new skills, tools and tips – finding they can answer more of their clients’ and partners’ questions more quickly, or that they can now ‘phone a friend’. This has also provided career progression within the PA job description, enhancing their role in client service teams. We are hiring new PAs with this client service element in mind, explicitly outlining this when recruiting, which helps us attract the best talent. The programme has even helped us identify great internal candidates to fill Client Relationship Executive vacancies when they arise! And there’s a positive message for everyone who sees that our firm is working to re-orientate roles and provide new career opportunities.

But don’t just take our word for it!

Here are a few of the comments we’ve received about the Client Service Skills Training for PAs: “Really good session today – I don’t think my partner realises what this tool can do!” “I found this very useful… I now understand WHY we are asked for certain information, why it takes so long, and why it can be so complex.” “I don’t have enough hours in the day. This has shown me how to get financial information quicker and get bills off my desk faster so I can move on to the next task on my to do list.” Nancy Elliot is Executive Assistant to Bird & Bird’s Head of London office and leads a team of 19 London Legal PAs. Louise Field is Head of Client Service, responsible globally for key accounts, client feedback and CRM.

pm | October 2017


Risky business

research report

Gus Sellitto and Bethaney Hallifax take the pulse of reputation management in the professions.


hen compared to the experience of other professional industries, public relations (PR) within the legal sector could be considered still in its infancy. However law firms’ increasing investment into growing and protecting their brands in recent years is evidenced by the number and calibre of the in-house PR teams now found within them. Increased competition and risk, a rush to internationalisation and more intense scrutiny from the regulators and the media have all meant that reputation management within law firms is now maturing. Is PR now seen as a vital part of the top firms’ strategies? To understand the sector’s current approach to reputation management, we partnered with Legal Business to produce a report entitled ‘Risky Business – taking the pulse on law firm reputation management’. The survey contains insights from 50 of the Top 100 in-house PR professionals, and case studies and interviews with a range of in-house PRs and managing partners. 60% of respondents felt law firms now take reputational risk as seriously as other organisations. This development is timely, as whilst the nature of reputational risk can differ for each individual firm, the consensus amongst respondents is that reputational risk is on the increase. 36% of respondents stated they had managed more reputational risks in the past two years than before, while less than 10% (6%) reported a decrease.


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66% of PRs say social media has made dealing with reputational risks harder.

Whilst over three quarters (82%) of the PRs we surveyed felt that the lawyers themselves consider the firm’s reputation to be of high importance, particularly for winning work and attracting talent, there was a paradox apparent wherein the same lawyers also did not consistently involve PR professionals in decisions which could reflect on the firm’s reputation. Indeed, only just over half (58%) of respondents stated their views are sought in partner-level decisions which could affect the firm’s reputation. The level of engagement that PR managers have from the firm’s senior management is clearly a significant issue. When asked how they would like to see their firm’s reputation management evolve over the next two years, the most popular request, chosen by 42% of respondents, was for earlier consultation on law firm decisions, closely followed by a place on the management board to discuss reputation management (40%) and the introduction and regular testing of reputation management protocols (40%). Whilst PR is now seen in corporate organisations as something which should be at board level, law firms need to follow suit and offer their PRs perceptible buyin and support from senior management. The media landscape is always evolving, and technology brings new threats and reputational challenges. For most respondents, social media is seen as a growing risk, with over a quarter (28%) expecting it to cause greater risk in the future. Social media has the potential to

research report

cause severe embarrassment and damage to both individual lawyers and their firms. Consequently, most firms offer some form of social media training designed to help their lawyers recognise potential pitfalls and avoid mistakes. It is crucial to help individuals recognise that an ill-judged post, whether sent from a personal or professional account, enters the public domain. Whilst the risk of individuals saying something inappropriate predates the internet, social media’s capacity to amplify any ill-judged comments and share them instantly with a vast audience represents a significant organisational risk. It is therefore no surprise that 66% of PRs say social media has made dealing with reputational risks harder. Given that the law is ultimately a people business, the human element of reputational risk is inescapable. Indeed, 34% of respondents said that lawyer and staff misdemeanours have been one of the biggest causes of reputational risk over the last two years. However, when it comes to expectations of future risk, cyber security eclipses all, with 64% seeing it as a major cause for concern. At the front of many people’s minds will be 2016’s Panama Papers scandal, where 2,600GB worth of data was taken from law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co and leaked to the world’s press. Malware attacks are becoming more prevalent, and the recent attack on DLA Piper is a case in point. It is important that firms affected do

not feel rushed into a response. When an attack happens, whilst it is important not to have an information vacuum, it is also important not to give news until you know the scale of the situation. The key people in the firm need to come together to assess what the risk is, and then start communicating, after establishing a chain of command. It’s important to be seen to put a face to a name, with a Managing Partner publicly making assurances. Where there are international offices to co-ordinate, it’s important to have a number of strong, media trained spokespeople available to reassure key stakeholders. Preparation for a cyber-attack is crucial and the best way to achieve this is through regular training, scenario planning, and meetings with other key departments in the business. 78% of respondents stated they have a clear strategy in place to deal with reputational risk, and well over half (70%) work closely with other teams, such as HR, IT and compliance when considering reputational risk. However, there is still a sizeable minority of firms who do not update their policies on a regular basis, and 22% of respondents claim to have never done so. This might be due to issues with capacity or budget internally, and it is here that external consultants can add value. While a concerning 18% of respondents claim that their senior management team never receives training to deal with reputational risks, nearly half (44%) of

respondents receive training from external consultants. External consultants are a popular option, with 76% using PR agencies for broader profile raising. The largest factor in the decision to bring in external PR advisors when a reputational crisis hits is the seriousness of this issue, followed by the consultant’s experience in dealing with that type of issue, the internal team’s capacity and the objectivity an external adviser brings. Whilst there are benefits of having an external sounding board in a crisis, the best strategy is still to be proactive rather than reactive. Risk management should be regarded as good business management, not an emergency response. This will help ensure that the necessary investment is made into preparation and resources, whether through internal or external PR teams. With technology and communications evolving on an almost daily basis, staying on top of the changing nature of risk is essential. Change however, brings risk and this needs to be anticipated with constant training from top to bottom. Senior management at most firms now recognise how important this is for protecting the brand, as building and protecting the firm’s reputation cannot just be the job of the senior partner or PR department. Everyone in the firm has a role to play, and law firms have improved in their recognition of the issues, professionalisation of their approach, and understanding that reputations have to be consistently enhanced if they are not to stagnate. One of the best ways to achieve this is through a well-informed internal communications team that is supported and accepted at the most senior level. As our respondents indicate, this can be augmented with external help from specialised consultants. Working with internal teams, they can both build the brand and ensure it is protected against a potentially disastrous bit of bad luck. This can only be achieved through preparation and training. To paraphrase the legendary golfer Gary Player: the more you practice, the luckier you get. Doing nothing is the biggest risk of all.

Gus Sellitto is Managing Director and Bethaney Hallifax is Account Executive at Byfield Consultancy.

pm | October 2017


practice profile

Prioritising com

As the UK’s business community prepares to leave the EU, opportunities continue to flourish in its wealthiest zone, according to Tom Govan, Marketing and Communications Director, of accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy. He talks to Neasa MacErlean.


pm | October 2017


ilkins Kennedy ranks 19th among the accountancy firms in the UK. From its roots dating back to 1882 in the City of London, the firm has grown and now has 17 offices serving the wealthiest and most entrepreneurial area in Britain — the south including London. Although it serves an increasingly international client base through its membership of network Allinial Global, the 74partner practice has mainly built its strength through its English base (along with an 18th office in the Falkland Islands). Tom Govan explains the strategy: “The aim is to maintain the personal service and strong relationship focus of a High Street firm — but on the footprint of a Top 20 practice with all its specialisms and specialists.” An important element of the firm’s development comes from mergers and lateral hires. Welcoming new teams and firms into this structure is one of the main tasks carried out by Govan and his growing marketing team. In the last year Wilkins Kennedy concluded three mergers giving it offices in Newbury, Maidstone and Canterbury. In addition there were three smaller mergers that added strength to existing offices. “As new colleagues join WK, we pull together to create the consistency of one firm,” he says. “But our strategy also demands flexibility. In the last year we have built an 11strong marketing team, eight of whom help offices develop their local campaigns.” The Falkland Islands, for instance, is a highly unusual practice — specialising in oil and gas but operating in a

practice profile

We are there to help businesses better understand and deal with issues that affect them.

attracting considerable attention. Wilkins Kennedy put on a one-day workshop in this field which drew so much interest that it repeated it on a two-day programme. Wanting to avoid any possibility of ‘scare mongering’, they made it interactive as well as informative: a speaker took attendants onto the Dark Web and also showed them how simple it was to find personal data about individuals. Govan has been with the firm for 18 months. His first priority was to set up the marketing infrastructure. The rapidly expanding firm was already working on some features — from the brochure to the blog — but there was a need to join up the dots and to help the 600 personnel work more coherently in one unit. He and his team are now embarking on the second phase which he encapsulates as “a strategy of creating content and focusing more on the advisory side”. This involves creating “an editorial calendar based on the key issues that matter most for clients”. There will be blogs and other kinds of content on significant tax, employment and financial issues. The website is being redeveloped and will be fed by this rolling timetable of topical news and features hooks. With its specialisms in areas such as payroll and Human Resources, VAT, direct taxes and corporate finance, Wilkins Kennedy is well able both to generate these articles and to handle the client queries that flow in response. “For every issue that we write about there will be solutions,” says Govan. LinkedIn, Twitter and other forms of social media will also be used to drive traffic to the website where they will be able to find out more about the kind of solutions that the practice offers and the people

mmunication small community of not quite 3,000 souls. Marketing initiatives work on three levels – firm-wide, by the individual office and also across three regions (north, south and west). For instance, there is a firm-wide approach on sectors. Property is a huge sector with clients across all offices, but others such as ‘Academy’ schools are only marketed in counties that have encouraged schools to break free from local authority control. In the 17 years since former prime minister Tony Blair established these entities, they have attracted the interest of some professional firms. “That has not always worked out,” says Govan. “By being selective and specialising, we’ve picked up a lot of Academies business recently.” Farming is another area where the firm has specialists but markets itself in a focused way. “We are there to help businesses better understand and deal with issues that affect them,” he says. One technique that Wilkins Kennedy uses in several locations is the networking group for local entrepreneurs and business leaders. The East Herts Business Breakfast Club has been running for 15 years. The model was replicated in the neighbouring county as the South Bucks Business Breakfast Club, and further east as Dawn over Dartford. On top of this are sector events and workshops such as WK Law, as well as Academies and charities seminars. Once the model has been set up it can be replicated across the regions. The theme of cybercrime, for instance, is now

providing them. There will be an emphasis on the more complicated advisory issues rather than on the simple compliance functions such as basic auditing. Govan calculates that the firm’s revenue has more than doubled in the last 10 years, representing compound annual growth of almost 12% — and he sees no reason for that to falter. It comes from a combination of organic growth and merger. Not even Brexit will push it off course, in his view. “The uncertainty of Brexit is just one of many issues facing companies,” he says. “Our job is to help them understand and deal with issues.” And, by the time the UK leaves the European Union (set for March 2019), Wilkins Kennedy will have strengthened other parts of its armour. Govan’s team is preparing to up the activity on internal comms. “Strong brands work hard to remain relevant to their market,” he says. “So we will do more to help people articulate the brand in their daily lives and networking.” The formula that the firm has found is not going to surprise other marketers in most respects. But, in one way, it does go beyond expectations: even in the potentially difficult pre-Brexit phase Wilkins Kennedy is seeing “lots of international work coming through inward investment into the south of England”. So the various elements of the strategy appear to be working. Govan says: “The big priority is communications — communicating the brand and making sure there is clear messaging for external and internal marketing.” pm | October 2017


Use your words management focus

Do you recognise the role emotions play in daily office life? Jan Hills believes the more we understand our emotions, the more we can control them.


any people think that the workplace should be an emotion-free zone. Few organisations help employees understand and manage their own emotions, let alone other people’s. So, it’s not surprising that most organisations don’t recognise the role emotions play in virtually every aspect of daily office life. Learning about the brain is one way to help leaders understand more about emotions and especially how to manage emotional triggers better. That’s why, more and more, we’re hearing about celebrities adopting emotional control techniques, from Andy Murray learning about the brain in order to manage his nerves to Will Young practicing mindfulness techniques.

How does emotional control work? We all use terms that reflect our emotional state every day, even when we don’t really mean to. We might say, ‘I dragged myself to the gym,’ or ‘I made myself get up,’ or ‘I lost my cool.’ Our ability to understand and control emotions is one of the things that separates us from other animals, yet as adults we hardly ever teach people about how this works and how to get better at it. Whatever emotional control we manage to pick up as children is often all we have to keep things wired tight throughout the rest of our lives. As social animals, we’re primed to relate and engage. But every social interaction has its stresses and different things can push our buttons and perhaps trigger negative behaviour, like when you snap at a junior team member or well up over heartfelt thanks. Emotions are also


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Emotional control or regulation is about understanding your triggers and avoiding them, or dealing with the consequences in an effective way.

responsible for our jumping to conclusions or not checking the logic of our decisions. What’s happening in the brain is that the prefrontal cortex is being dominated by the limbic system, a set of structures responsible for our emotions and the formation of memories. This domination can, in extreme circumstances, result in what’s been termed as ‘going limbic’, when the strength of response from the amygdala hijacks our executive brain, resulting in memory blanks or uncontrolled expression. Memories and emotions are intrinsically linked, and remembering an experience which has a strong emotional element can activate a limbic response. This might be positive (your recent promotion), or negative (the CEO spotting a mistake in your spreadsheet). The amount of attention you pay to your emotions, be they positive or negative, the strength and volume coming at you in a period of time and the balance between positive and negative, will all have an impact on how you do your job and ultimately on your performance. Emotional control or regulation is about understanding your triggers and avoiding them, or dealing with the consequences in an effective way.

Emotional control is linked to success

Walter Mischel’s Marshmallow Test, the famous long-term study that began back in the late 1960s, is probably still the best-known example of emotional control research, and demonstrates the close link between early self-control and success later in life. His Stanford research team used a

management focus

simple test to measure pre-school children’s ability to delay gratification. Each child was presented with a marshmallow and told that if they could resist eating it for 15 minutes while the researcher was out of the room, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. Videos of the tests show the perfect agony of restraint (search online for ‘Marshmallow test’) The most successful children had strategies for distracting themselves from succumbing to temptation. Following up with the participants’ years later, Mischel found that the children who had been able to resist outperformed their peers on several scores including academic results, income and social relationships. The kind of self-control needed to resist marshmallows seems very different to the kind involved in performing well at work. However, neuroscientists are demonstrating how disparate forms of self-control all rely on a common neural mechanism.

Same brain region

Imagine being in a foreign country where they drive on the opposite side of the road. This takes motor self-control to override your normal driving habits. At the other end of the self-control spectrum, imagine trying to understand the beliefs of a colleague who has a completely different solution to a thorny issue. Trying to take this person’s perspective on the issue also involves selfcontrol as you inhibit your own way of seeing things. Motor self-control and perspective-taking self-control are as different as can be, yet both rely on the same neural mechanism. The one constant across studies of

these different types of control is that the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (RVLPFC) is more active. Demonstrating that brain regions are active during a particular form of selfcontrol is helpful, but it doesn’t tell us whether those brain regions are actually doing anything that’s vital to successful self-control. Examining patients with damage to particular brain structures, however, can give us further insight. That’s why Aron and colleagues carried out tests of patients with damage in different brain regions. Only those with damage in the RVLPFC demonstrated impaired performance on self-control tasks. No other damage in the brain was associated with this. Because the RVLPFC is active in all studies to date in forms of self-control, Matt Lieberman a neuroscientist at UCLA has referred to the region as the brain’s braking system. Lieberman suggests that when we activate one area of self-control we simultaneously activate others. Turning on this system might put the brakes on any habitual responses, whether relating to movement or thinking. This is intriguing as it’s not how self-control feels when we practise it. It feels like we inhibit one response at a time. But Lieberman’s studies suggest turning on the braking system for any reason is likely to have wide-ranging effects.

Cognitive self-control

In a work context, we’re more interested in cognitive control. During cognitive self-control, individuals try to modulate their own thoughts, control what does or does not come to mind or try to influence

how one thought or belief might affect other cognitive processes that logically should be kept separate such as when, you’re trying to focus on what a colleague is saying but there’s a distracting noise just outside your cubical. Again, there have been various studies conducted to test RVLPFC involvement. In one study, participants were instructed to try not to think of a white bear. This turns out to be very challenging (as you have probably just noticed!), and sure enough, while participants were doing this, the RVLPFC was active. Another study asked participants to inhibit a certain belief to provide the logical answer to a question. When participants could suppress the belief that the conclusion was false and get the right logical answer the RVLPFC was active. This type of study is particularly interesting when we think about the workplace because they help us understand what’s going on in the brain when we want to manage bias or overcome psychological associations like ‘only people from certain universities perform well’ or ‘women are too soft to be leaders’.

Turning on the braking system

This braking system can also be turned on unintentionally. Parents and teachers often tell children, “Use your words.” It’s supposed to calm the child down when they are emotionally aroused. The idea is to get them to think about what they’re experiencing and put it into words. It is, incidentally, very good advice. Lieberman’s studies have found that naming an emotion lowers the activity in the amygdale and enables us to manage the emotional response. In his study the RVLPFC was more active during ‘affect labelling’ than during ‘general labelling’. Counterintuitively, Lieberman and his colleagues found that putting feelings into words diminished participants’ emotional responses even though this involved attending to the emotional aspects – a finding backed up in other studies. This led the researchers to conclude that affect labelling is a form of unintentional emotion regulation. So can adults all learn to regulate emotions better through ‘using our words’? Well, there’s only a little data but the results so far suggest this is so. Jan Hills set up Head Heart + Brain to change the way leadership and capability development is designed and delivered. Visit:

pm | October 2017


Use AI to improve how to…


Sue Bramall provides a no-bull guide to AI for professional services marketing. rofessionals and techies love acronyms, and the one that has been everywhere this year is AI, standing for artificial intelli-

gence. When firms with long names moot the idea of rebranding to their initials, I always advise a quick internet search to identify whether those initials have any alternative meaning – such is the case with the initials AI which transport me to my childhood and sniggering in the playground. There was great excitement amongst the children of farmers when the AI man came to perform artificial insemination, and much mirth as those more familiar with the birds and bees explained to us townies the fertilisation process without the bull. There has been a great deal of hype about the future of AI in professional services, with numerous headlines proclaiming the decline of certain professions and the loss of jobs to the likes of robolawyers. But what exactly is AI? And how can it benefit marketing and business development in professional services?

Some explanations

Let’s start with the definition of AI: Artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. These tasks require skills such as speech and language recognition, visual identification and the ability to make decisions. The computer systems which are developed are called cognitive technologies: Cognitive technologies simulate human thought processes in a computerised model, involving self-learning systems that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to mimic the way the human brain works.


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The facility for machine self-learning is the aspect of AI which is the most exciting and the scariest – the stuff of scifi movies: Machine learning enables computers to learn from patterns without being explicitly programmed.

Have no fear

Personally, I do not see AI signalling the death or decline of the professions before I retire for a number of reasons. First, our scarcest and most valuable commodity is expert time and AI will enable the smart professionals to leverage that time more effectively to provide clients with better value. Of course, laggards who dislike change and cling to old ways of working may see their workload decline, but forward-looking professionals will adapt their practices. The labour market is fluid and high-quality people will gravitate to the employers that offer the best tools to work with, including AI. Second, taking the legal profession with which I am most familiar, AI is introducing its own challenges and requirements for professional support, particularly in law where the regulatory environment struggles to keep up. The European Parliament only called for EUwide rules on the liability of robots and artificial intelligence in February 2017. This is positive in that it creates a need for advisers to consult and draft regulations to cope with the innovations, and the innovations themselves create new legal challenges. For example, drones and driverless cars provide new work for lawyers working in areas of transport, product liability, insurance, property, data protection and intellectual property. There will be a change required in the legal skillset with a move from jobs in low value repetitive areas towards complex tech-related areas. Third, there is a limited supply of AI engineers for the technology sector, and an even smaller pool of professionals with

high technical skills. The education sector has some catching up to do to provide a large enough pool of talent to feed potential need. A search of UCAS for a degree combining law with other subjects threw up the following results: ‘law + robotics’ None ‘law + AI’ None ‘law + technology’ 7 ‘law + computer’ 9 ‘law + German’ 24 ‘law + French’ 35 Law schools are missing an opportunity.

Opportunities for AI in professional services marketing

Taking each of the 7 P’s of service marketing in turn, how is AI being used? And how might AI help those of us that work in professional services in the future?

Product (services): Any activity which is voluminous and repetitive has the potential for automation, but when combined with deep learning from neural networks, the hardware and software can perform multi-layered calculations, more like the human brain, but quicker and more accurately. This provides an opportunity to improve services and offer better value for money to clients. Examples are emerging in areas such as: • planning and scheduling of any service involving regular dates for renewals, reviews, compliance activities; • streamlining the workflow for claims in the insurance industry; • automated fraud detection and ‘know your client’ checks in the financial services sector; • improvements in forecasting sales demand, capacity management and financial modelling; • product development based upon evaluation of client feedback combined with more extensive market research such as sentiment analysis;

your marketing • improvement of document review during audits, litigation and corporate transactions. The real estate team at Berwin Leighton Paisner have benefited from extensive PR about their use of RAVN’s ACE robot to automate data extraction in standard documents and the benefits they have achieved in terms of increased efficiencies, mitigating risk, cutting costs as well as increasing staff morale. There is also the opportunity to improve knowledge management using ‘natural language processing’. For example, ROSS Intelligence identifies legal authorities relevant to a particular question. In research by Blue Hill Research comparing AI-assisted research with traditional electronic legal research tools, ROSS performed better in terms of quality of information retrieved (percentage of relevant authorities retrieved and percentage of results that were relevant); user satisfaction and confidence; and impact on research efficiency (up to 30 per cent quicker).

In the world of pensions and investment management, Inalytics is being used to determine the link between investment processes and performance, and RAVN is being used by The Abraaj Group to search and access both proprietary and commissioned knowledge sources to visualise and navigate relationships between experts, content, investments, and investors in a way that was not possible before. Lexis Nexis recently announced that they are testing a chatbot to offer users a more conversational approach to accessing their research assets which comprise around 60 billion documents.

People (professionals and clients): ‘Speech recognition’ first appeared on the iPhone in 2008. With only around 80% accuracy we all had plenty of funny stories to tell from our trials. In 2015, it had improved to 92% and by May 2017 it had reached 95%, which is considered to be the threshold for human accuracy. It is probably one of the most established

how to…

forms of AI in use within professional firms for dictation and transcription. ‘Computer vision’ helps computers to recognise faces, which has huge scope for security identification (my bank has just offered this option to me). AI offers an ability to better understand our clients though the automated analysis of a greater range of data, particularly unstructured data such as customer emails, social media, audio and video. I love the idea of some algorithm crawling through a firm’s client files, billing data and information on the internet to provide me with an accurate and informative data file, rather than having to crunch through lots of poor quality data to get it to a state of a basic mailing list, never mind achieving the nirvana of trigger data for cross-selling. Personal performance is already coming under the spotlight. Premonition is an example of ‘machine learning’ which mines court data to identify trends in the performance of firms and lawyers, including the identification of good and bad outliers. The Miami-based company has crunched court data in the US, the UK, the United States, Canada, Virgin Islands, Netherlands, Ireland, India, Australia and New Zealand and provides subscribers with a shortlist of lawyers with a proven track record in a field of law for a type of case. They stress that the lists are indicative, rather than absolute, and other factors such as personal chemistry, cost and availability also need to be considered when instructing a lawyer. This provides real-time data on a lawyer’s performance in a certain court, before a certain and seems to me so much more relevant and useful than the anachronistic legal directories – it is both independent and up to date. Could the days of the legal directories be numbered? Promotion: 2017 is the year when global advertising expenditure on the internet is expected to overtake television pm | October 2017


how to… advertising. AI is primarily used online to sort through large amounts of user-generated information to establish patterns, and provides the ability to tailor promotions on social media to a degree that was never available with traditional abovethe-line advertising. Advertising inefficiencies are immediately obvious, so it is possible to adjust the direction of the marketing budget with speed. We are all familiar with online adverts which have been ‘tailored’ on the basis that ‘you liked that, so you might like this’. In theory, machine learning will make better and better recommendations, subject to it having sufficient data. At its simplest level, if a customer has recently searched about ‘making a will’ then the machine might suggest that they also need a power of attorney. However, sometimes common sense fails to prevail. When I added some nappies to my grocery order to donate to a refugee centre, the algorithm wrongly concluded that I needed a whole range of baby paraphernalia.

Price: Kira Systems report that contract review times can be reduced by between 20% and 60% for due diligence exercises. Clearly that represents a huge potential cost saving for the client, which may seem like a huge potential loss to their adviser. However, clients do not always want an absolute reduction in cost, and may prefer an improved value proposition. For example, on a global corporate transaction it may become possible to review thousands rather than hundreds of contracts for the same budget. One area that the legal profession is struggling with is the growing pressure for fixed fees and for volume work, data analysis will be able to help firms to better understand their cost base and plan or manage fixed fee work.

Place: Most readers will be familiar with the power of geo-positioning, if only for their Google results, but this has huge potential. In the film Focus, Will Smith plays a con man who influences his target with a range of subliminal messages on his journey from the airport to a gambling event. The online equivalent of this is known as hyper-local targeting where messages can be streamed along a prospect’s regular commuting route (I find this quite spooky). Artificial intelligence is already having on how offices of the future are being


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I know one firm looking to scan a bank of 20,000 wills which seems like an ideal job for a robot.

designed and savings can be expected in the cleaning of internal floors and waste disposal by autonomous guided vehicles, external windows will be cleaned by drones and even toilets and showers could be cleaned by actroids (a humanoid robot with strong visual human-likeness). Security and maintenance are other areas where significant cost savings are predicted alongside a reduction in risks for personnel, as an increased use of sensors, cameras and high-speed communications is combined to detect intruders or faults, diagnose problems remotely, schedule replacement of parts, and monitoring and patrolling can be done autonomously. I am just waiting to hear from my accountant whether a robotic hoover will be tax allowable as part of my research for this article.

Physical: ‘Bots’ are robots without a physical presence. Chatbots (originally called chatterbots) are software programmes which use natural language processing to simulate conversational interactions with humans and use automated processes triggered from these interactions. These replace humans, often in call centres, and are being used extensively in banks in an attempt to provide customer service. My personal experiences have not been very impressive – as a recent request for a cheque book required me to send the paper form by post, and a need to increase my online daily payment limit required me to go into a bank (the nearest now being several miles away and involving a trip of more than an hour). I was surprised that neither of these requests could have been at least collected by the bot, if not processed. Some joined-up thinking is required. I know one firm looking to scan a bank of 20,000 wills which seems like an ideal job for a robot. Process: Artificial intelligence is all about process. Just as robots revolutionised manufacturing processes, AI will revolutionise those information processes

that can be standardised, where the volume is high enough to facilitate software development; and where there is a clear potential for a return on investment. In order to train the computer, a key requirement is a large enough quantity of data for analysis, partly because of the set-up costs (although these can be expected to reduce over time) but more importantly to achieve the statistical robustness to underpin reliable output. When IBM’s Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, many saw this as simply a show of brute force as the computer could evaluate 200 million positions in a second, within a very narrow field of expertise (only chess). Today, in the healthcare sector it is considered unlikely that it will be possible to train machines regarding very rare diseases where there is simply not enough data for the machine to learn from.


As with anything new there are concerns, some more real than others. While potential job losses grab headlines (and sell books) two thirds of the respondents to a survey by PwC into US financial services in 2016 said they were not relying more on machines because they were ‘limited by operations, regulations, budgets or resource limitations’. Research by Deloitte and Efma (April 2017) into perceptions of AI in the financial services sector revealed the following as the biggest concerns: • 12% hacking/cybercrime • 12% scarcity of technical talent • 12% limited understanding of data technology • 9% sustainability • 9% existential threat to humanity • 8% no ownership/accountability.

Readers of PM will be glad to know that alongside cyber-security experts, data scientists and chefs, the recruitment website Indeed does not believe that robots will replace the need for people to work in marketing, communications and design, as “these jobs require social intelligence and new media literacy skills that… are not within the realm of robot programming” – Phew!

Sue Bramall is the Managing Director of Berners Marketing, which works exclusively with independent law firms in the UK and overseas. She is also a member of the Law Consultancy Network.

Personal professional branding


David Bittiner discusses Green Tomato Ketchup and how to avoid being a brand failure.


ne of the exhibits in the recently opened Oslo Museum of Failure is Heinz Green Tomato Ketchup. Launched in 2000, it was quietly discontinued in 2006 after disappointing sales. An undoubted product brand failure. Whilst delivering a training workshop recently, a delegate told of how they would try to avoid inviting a colleague to networking events because of poor behaviour on previous occasions. A failure of personal professional branding perhaps?

Personal professional branding: ‘Bunk’ or ‘Key’?

Do you agree that people can have personal ‘brands’? Here are examples of the polarisation of thinking from two commentators in 2017: “I’ve had it with ‘personal branding’. According to career experts and ‘personal branding’ aficionados, we’re supposed to craft careful brand narratives to represent ourselves. I think that’s bunk. Branding injects products with human qualities to make them more relatable. Well, guess what, human – you’ve already got human qualities.” Ted Leonhardt “Personal branding is key if you want to build a bigger audience for your blog, find better career opportunities, support your corporate brand or truly achieve online visibility for almost any application.” Jayson Demers You pays your money, you takes your choice, as they say.


Let’s pause for a minute and look at a definition of product branding. The

Do you have a choice about which qualities you actively choose to demonstrate to the outside world that go to make up your brand? Absolutely. American Marketing Association defines a brand as a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies the seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. To put it in simple terms, a brand is something a company uses to distinguish their product or service from similar ones. Clearly a person’s ‘brand’ is defined by more than just a name or a term, and we all distinguish (some would say brand) ourselves, whether we like it or not. The debate about personal branding began with his seminal 1997 article, ‘A brand called you’ by Tom Peters. In it, he didn’t mince his words: “It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.” In helping us clarify our opinions, analysis of personal branding definitions assists. “Think of your personal brand as your calling card – your unique promise of value. It’s what you’re known for and

how people experience you.” PwC “A personal brand is a frame through which the world sees you”. Emmelie de la Cruz Here’s where I lay my cards on the table. I’m not a fan of the expression ‘personal brand’. However, when you say it, in my experience, people know (broadly) what you mean by it. What would my definition be? I take personal professional branding to be a shortcut for summarising those skills and qualities that go to make up how we are perceived in a work environment and how we (successfully or otherwise) communicate our value both within our organisation and externally. Building a successful personal professional brand is all about the art of communicating with intent and having a clear vision of what you want to achieve. If you do ‘buy in’ to the concept, personal professional branding requires a concerted, strategic and active effort to describe, position and promote how your skills and expertise are relevant and uniquely able to solve a client/employer’s problems. It’s about purposefully injecting your unique value proposition into the internal or external marketplace. One commentator summarised it this way: “While reputation is something that happens to you, brand is something you make happen.” So why is it important to have a brand? When I have asked that question of delegates during training workshops, I hear words and expressions like ‘control’, ‘selling yourself’, ‘trust’ and ‘career goals’.

Qualities and features

Let us think for a moment about those features that go to make up a personal professional brand. Clearly, there is no pm | October 2017


careerwatch How do you measure your brand?

I am always astonished at how little formal feedback professionals receive on the effectiveness or otherwise of their communication skills. How you measure the success of your brand will depend entirely upon you and your role. But seeking out regular feedback, both positive and negative from colleagues, clients and other connections is critical. You don’t want to be that person who doesn’t get invited to networking events! Measurement could also be of less tangible benefits such as your importance in driving cultural change.

science to this but could be summarised as: 1 How you position yourself to your internal and external audience through face to face, written and online interactions. 2 Your image and/or aura 3 Your behaviour and/or reputation

I take this to mean how you actively differentiate yourself and how you demonstrate your value. If personal branding is all about intent, then building an effective personal brand requires detailed self-analysis, and comprehensive and continual measurement. It is also about considering those qualities that make up a ‘successful’ or effective personal brand and endeavouring to apply them. When I am training I ask delegates what are qualities that make up a successful personal brand. Here are some recurring examples: • Transparent • Charismatic • Likeable • Confident and positive • Trustworthy • Emotionally intelligent • Reliable • No pushover (tough) • Humble • Candid • Interesting What struck me immediately was how similar these are to John Adair’s famous 7 qualities of leadership: 1 Enthusiasm 2 Integrity 3 Toughness 4 Fairness 5 Warmth 6 Humility 7 Confidence


pm | October 2017

Is it true therefore that leaders all have successful personal brands? Clearly not. There are plenty of leaders whose ‘brands’ we would not want to emulate. But the parallel does suggest that in building a compelling personal professional brand, leadership qualities are important.

Devising a personal branding strategy

Having painted a picture of what an effective personal brand looks like, how do we work towards defining our own current brand status? There are several personal professional branding workbooks online. They guide you through considering such matters as your differentiation, vision, core values, strengths, weaknesses, passions and purpose. The idea is then to analyse the results and seek feedback from trusted friends and colleagues. This works well for those at an early stage of their careers, but can also help those further along the career ladder to evaluate their standing.

Communicating your brand

As the key to personal branding is communicating with intent, keep your career vision and goals in mind, show that you are well informed, and get buyin for your ideas. The objective in many cases is become a ‘go-to’ person. Your communication includes every touchpoint – your emails, how you answer the phone, giving presentations... And remember if you work in professional services business development and marketing, lawyers and accountants tend to be ‘detail’ people. They like to see evidence, especially of your value.

Some important considerations

Look for lessons as to what doesn’t work. Examples could be describing yourself as a guru or ‘the best’. Personally, I like the example given by Liz Ryan in her article on ‘6 worst possible branding choices’: “Bottom-line-focused Business Professional skilled at leading cross-functional teams, developing end-to-end solutions and adding value through game-changing strategic initiatives.” Your personal brand and your employer. Be conscious of aligning your brand with that of your employer. It’s all very well to be a free-thinking spirit, but does that fit in with the Leadership’s vision of the organisation as cautious and conservative? And if it proves impossible, are you in the right job? This is also important for your digital footprint – things like your LinkedIn profile. And finally, an action plan: • Write down your career goals and aspirations • Understand your internal and external audience • Know your job description • Align yourself with your organisation • Clearly communicate the benefits of what you bring • Be visible and memorable • Get appraised... as much as possible Whether or not you believe in the concept of personal branding, what is important is to be your unique self. But do you have a choice about which qualities you actively choose to demonstrate to the outside world that go to make up your brand? Absolutely. David Bittiner is a Solicitor (non-practicing) and a Director at The BD Consultancy. He now regularly advises professional services firms on wide range of strategic business issues.

The value of business research

marketing basics

Lee Frederikson answers the top 10 research questions that can drive growth and profitability.


n researching high growth professional services firms we made an eye-opening discovery. Those firms that did systematic business research on their target client group grew faster and were more profitable. Further, those that did more frequent business research (at least quarterly), grew the fastest and were most profitable. Additional research also confirms that the fastest growing firms do more research on their target clients. Think about that for a minute. Faster growth and more profit. Sounds pretty appealing. The first question is usually around what kind of research to do and how it might help grow your firm. I’ve reflected on the kinds of questions we’ve asked when doing research for our professional services clients and how the process has impacted their strategy and financial results. There are a number of types of research that your firm can use, including: • Brand research • Persona research • Market research • Lost prospect analysis • Client satisfaction research • Benchmarking research • Employee surveys

2 What are those same clients trying to avoid?

This is the flip side of the first question and offers a valuable perspective. As a practical matter, avoiding being ruled out during the early rounds of a prospect’s selection process is pretty darned important. This is also important in helping shape your business practices and strategy. In our research on professional services buyers and sellers, we’ve found that the top circumstances that buyers want to

avoid in a service provider are broken promises and a firm that’s indistinguishable from everyone else. Notice that this chart also shows what sellers (professional services providers) believe buyers want to avoid. Notice that many sellers misjudge their potential clients’ priorities. Closing this perception gap is one of the ways that research can help a firm grow faster. If you understand how your prospects think you can do a much better job of turning them into clients.

So those are the types of research, but what are the big questions that you need answers for?

1 Why do your best clients choose your firm?

Notice we are focusing on the best clients, not necessarily the average client. Understanding what they find appealing about your firm can help you find others just like them and turn them into your next new client. pm | October 2017


marketing basics 3 Who are your real competitors?

Most firms aren’t very good at identifying their true competitors. When we ask a firm to list their competitors and ask their clients to do the same, there is often only about a 25% overlap in their lists. Why? Sometimes, it’s because you know too much about your industry and rule out competitors too easily. At other times, it’s because you are viewing a client’s problems through your filter and overlook completely different categories of solutions that they are considering. For example, a company facing declining sales could easily consider sales training, new product development, or a new marketing campaign. If you consult on new product development the other possible solutions are all competitors. In any case, ignorance of true competitors seldom helps you compete.

We’ve seen firms lose business because of typos in their proposal — while attributing the loss to their fees.

4 How do potential clients see their greatest challenges?

The answer to this question helps you understand what is on prospective clients’ minds and how they are likely to describe and talk about those issues. The key here is that you may offer services that can be of great benefit to organisations, but they never consider you because they are thinking about their challenges through a different lens. They may want cost reduction when you are offering process improvement (which, in fact, reduces cost). Someone needs to connect the dots or you will miss the opportunity. This is similar to the dilemma of understanding the full range of competitors described above.

5 What is the real benefit your firm provides?

Sure, you know your services and what they are intended to do for clients. But what do they actually do? Often, firms are surprised to learn the true benefit of their service. What might’ve attracted a client to your firm initially might not be what they end up valuing most when working with you. For example, you might have won the sale based on your good reputation, but after working with you, your client might value your specialised skills and expertise most. When you understand the true value and benefit of your services, you’re in a position to enhance it or even develop new services with other true benefits.

6 What are emerging trends and challenges?

Where is the market headed? Will it grow


pm | October 2017

or contract? What services might be needed in the future? This is fairly common research fodder in large marketdriven industries, but it’s surprisingly rare among professional services firms. Understanding emerging trends can help you conserve and better target a limited marketing spend. I’ve seen many firms add entire service lines, including new hires and big marketing budgets, based on little more than hunches and anecdotal observations. These decisions should be driven by research and data. Research reduces your risk associated with this type of decision.

7 How strong is your brand?

What is your firm known for? How strong is your reputation? How visible are you in the marketplace? Answers to each of these questions can vary from market to market. Knowing where you stand cannot only guide your overall strategy, it can also have a profound impact on your marketing budget. An understanding of your brand’s strengths and weaknesses can help you understand why you are getting traction in one segment and not another.

8 What is the best way to market to your prime target clients?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know where your target clients go to get recommendations and referrals? Wouldn’t it be great if you knew how they want to be marketed to? These are all questions that can be

answered through systematic business research. The answers will greatly reduce the level of spending needed to reach your best clients. This is perhaps one of the key reasons that firms that do regular research are more profitable.

9 How should you price your services?

This is often a huge stumbling block for professional services firms. In my experience, most firms overestimate the role price plays in buying decisions. Perhaps it is because firms are told that the reason they don’t win an engagement is because of price. It is the easiest reason for a buyer to share when providing feedback. However, if a firm hires an impartial third party to dig deeper into why it loses competitive bids, it often learns that what appears to be price may really be perceived level of expertise, lack of attention to detail or an impression of nonresponsiveness. We’ve seen firms lose business because of typos in their proposal — while attributing the loss to their fees.

10 How do your current clients really feel about you?

How likely are clients to refer you to others? What would they change about your firm? How long are they likely to remain a client? These are the kinds of questions that can help you fine-tune your procedures and get a more accurate feel for what the future holds. In some cases, we’ve seen clients reveal previously hidden strengths. In others, they have uncovered important vulnerabilities that need attention. The tricky part here is that clients are rarely eager to tell you the truth directly. They may want to avoid an uncomfortable situation or are worried that they will make matters worse by sharing their true feelings. That’s why at Hinge, we’ve hired an outsider to conduct research on our own clients, even though research is one of our core services. Understanding the key questions discussed above can have a positive impact on your firm’s growth and profitability. That is the real power of well designed and professionally executed business research.

Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, the branding and marketing firm for the professional services.

Your CV is a snapshot. Totum sees the bigger picture.

Identifying the right role in a culture which suits you is critical as you build your career. That is why we take the time to find out the story behind your CV. We want to know what makes you tick and your longer term aspirations, so we can understand where you are most likely to thrive. We work with you to identify what is best for you and your career. It is a thoughtful approach that is appreciated by our candidates and clients. Our reputation and the feedback they give us is that of being a trusted advisor to both. To find out more, please get in touch.

Liz Chappell +44 (0) 20 7332 6328 James Rosenthal +44 (0) 20 7332 6335 Rebecca Ellis +44 (0) 20 7332 6339 Georgia Girling +44 (0) 20 7332 6333 Lacey Palmer +44 (0) 20 7332 6322 @totumtalks +44 (0) 20 7332 6332

What does the PM Forum mean to its members?

The goal of the PM Forum is to ensure your professional life is made easier through distilling knowledge, insight and resources, needed to help you perform your role and develop your skills, status, career and network. Knowledge sharing – More confidence in the validity of marketing strategies through awareness of best practice Influential – Increased internal credibility based on your contribution to the management of your firms and of client relationships Inspirational – Powerful insights on how best to manage with a tight marketing budget Networks – A stellar group of leading professional firms as members globally Supportive – Less loneliness, isolation and ignorance of marketing trends in a tough world

We look forward to continuing your membership in 2017



Sliding into mediocrity second opinion

John de Forte takes a sideways look at the world of professional services marketing. This month: what is the point of PowerPoint?


owerPoint has just celebrated its 30th birthday. Judging by its popularity, its inventors have quite a lot to celebrate. According to a recent BBC radio programme on the subject, it is estimated that PowerPoint is installed on a billion computers worldwide and that every day the software may be used to create up to 30 million presentations. Almost everyone, I imagine, will have been on the receiving end of a crushingly tedious and seemingly endless PowerPoint presentation at some time or other. Professional services marketers face an additional hazard: a senior partner who asks you to run through his slide deck before an important meeting or conference and suggest improvements. Your finger may be drawn to the delete button, but you know it’s incumbent upon you to find a more diplomatic response. Such improvements that you are able to muster will be cosmetic at best. PowerPoint does have its critics. The BBC programme interviewed one academic in the field of business management who had banned his students from using it, because too often slides become a substitute for thought. Allegedly, this can have catastrophic consequences. In 1986 the Challenger space shuttle exploded a minute after take-off, with the loss of all on board. One commentator claimed that the fatal weakness that caused the explosion had been flagged up in a PowerPoint report. Amid the morass of tables, charts and bullet points, however, no-one had noticed. Bringing, I suppose, a more sombre aspect to the phrase ‘Death by PowerPoint’. Most of the time, of course, PowerPoint doesn’t actually kill you. But if you’ve had to sit through an hour or more of it, you may have wished that it did. What then accounts for this mania for using slides? I suspect two strong human impulses are often at work: laziness and fear. If you put everything you want to say in your slide deck, the words will be in front of you when you are speaking and therefore you won’t need to spend much time organising your thoughts in advance. Even seasoned speakers worry about losing their train of thought and drying up mid-sentence. Slides replete with prose provide a comfort blanket. What they forget is the effect this has on their audience. Often, so many words are crammed onto the slide that no one can read them. Concentration is a finite resource. Much of the recipients’ will be wasted in trying to decipher what’s on the screen – before, that is, their minds begin to wander. But the speaker is no better off if the words are perfectly legible. Reading out what everyone can perfectly well read for them-


pm | October 2017

PowerPoint doesn’t actually kill you. But if you’ve had to sit through an hour or more of it, you may have wished that it did.

selves reduces the presenter to a redundant voice-over. Trying to elaborate on what’s written on the screen won’t work either. It’s impossible to read and listen at the same time, with any degree of attention. Numerous experiments have shown that what people see takes mental precedence over what they hear; the audience will therefore read what’s in front of them and filter out the aural interference. So PowerPoint becomes a recipe for squeezing the life out of the presentation and robbing the presenter of any authority. Apologists for the software will argue that none of this is PowerPoint’s fault; the problem lies with people not using it properly. No one would deny that striking visual imagery which complements and reinforces what the speaker is saying can add great potency to an address. But not on every occasion. PowerPoint could be a good medium for a seminar, or conference speech; it’s less appropriate for a new business presentation, where the main objective is to build rapport with the decision makers. Indeed, the more impressive the slide deck, the more of a distraction it could be. So, at least in this context, tell your partners that PowerPoint is off-limits. If you need to cite a higher authority you might choose Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon – one of a number of high profile business leaders who have banished it from their organisations. John de Forte is principal of de Forte Associates, which specialises in providing proposal training and consultancy to fee earners and bid teams. His new book Winning Proposals: the Essential Guide for Law firms and Legal Services Providers is available from Amazon. Contact:

Directory Consultants

RedStarKim Ltd

Change and growth for law, accountancy and property firms through: strategy and execution; marketing and selling; psychology and relationships; and training and writing. Kim Tasso has over 20 years’ management consultancy experience in the professions and is qualified in psychology, management, marketing and coach/mentoring. She is author of books on selling, media relations and growth strategies and a freelance journalist. Contact: 07831 687882

Meridian West

Meridian West helps the leading global financial institutions and professional firms to develop and implement client-centric strategies. We combine market insight with financial and data analytics to provide clients with a deep understanding of their client relationships. Contact: Ben Kent on 020 7261 4700 or visit

Steve Wright BD

An experienced business development professional specialised in working with professional service firms on their marketing and business development activities. Working closely with your existing marketing teams we develop and implement business development pursuit strategies in line with the firm’s overall business strategy. We ‘work on’ the business while you ‘work in’ it. Contact: Steve Wright on 07771778287,

The BD Consultancy

We offer marketing and business development support to professional services firms of all shapes and sizes. By offering simple solutions delivered with professionalism, a modern outlook (and a bit of humour) we have worked with our clients to demonstrate that many aspects of BD and marketing can be delivered more efficiently on an outsourced basis. Contact: Claire Fowler on 0117 908 4628

Progress Marketing

Progress Marketing helps firms in the legal and financial sector achieve their growth plans by working closely with partners on marketing strategy and by department with fee earners on business development. To gain commitment at all levels we also tackle leadership, HR and training head on to ensure that the culture of a firm supports the strategic objectives. Contact: Lisa Lister on 0787 9820725 for further information.

Database First Aid

Is it time to ‘Spring Clean’ your Marketing data or CRM database? I’ve spent over 20 years (in-house) working on marketing systems – as a user, manager, and implementer – so I know the issues you are facing. And how to fix them. Get in touch to find out how quickly ‘what I do’ will solve your problems. Contact: Simon McNidder on 07919 56 86 55,

Lee Grunnell – Thirteen

I help law firms uncover and articulate how they’re distinctive. I then help them tell their story internally and externally by saying what they do and doing what they say. This helps to win work. It also strengthens client loyalty, streamlines decision-making, enhances collegiality and means time and money is used more effectively. Contact: 07867 491 946

The GroGroup

theGrogroup provide a range of solutions to help professional services firms accelerate growth by ensuring they have a clear, well understood strategy and can execute it by optimising individual and business performance. Using practical, proven tools, our approach delivers cultural change by improving leadership, commercial awareness, personal impact, business advisory, marketing and business development skills. Contact: Kate Hennig 07800 617206

Liberation Management The Tim Collins Consultancy


De Forte Associates

With a successful track record extending over 20 years, dFA specialises in advising professional services firms on bids and business development, written communications of all kinds, presentation coaching and key client management. Contact: John de Forte on 020 7754 5556 or

Larry Bodine Marketing

Law firms, corporations and consulting firms turn to Larry Bodine when they are looking for a marketing advisor with experience and perspective. You can see for several success stories. Contact: +1 630 942 0977 or

Public Relations Infinite Global

Infinite Global is an independent global communications consultancy. We advise professional services firms and corporates on public relations, branding, marketing and digital communications issues. Contact: Scott Addison, Director 020 7269 1430,,

Digital Communications Vuture

Imagine, a range of easy to use CRM integrated marketing tools that make it very easy and quick to reach more clients, more often with more targeted precision across email, web, surveys, print and social all resulting in exceptional business development results and at the same time, significantly reduced marketing cost. What's more the software evolves as your business evolves meaning you always have something that is relevant when you need it. That is marketing technology by Vuture. Contact: 020 7928 6250 and


John Cunningham Photography

Experienced photographer and regular contributor to pm, providing an efficient and professional service across the country. Contact: John Cunningham 07985 377 509

Printing Services Optichrome Limited

High quality and environmentally friendly litho and digital printing – generic and personalised. • 24-hour facilities • Secure data management • Plastic membership cards • Automated mailing using barcode technology • On-line purchasing, stock fulfilment and personalised web-to-print • ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) • EMAS and FSC Accredited • FM Screening • Low Alcohol Printing • Free Print Buyer’s Guides The experts in printing for professional services and delighted to be printing PM magazine. Contact: Martin Stern on 01483 740290 or at m.stern@

Brand and Design

Mytton Williams

Mytton Williams is an independent design studio specialising in brand communications. We help ambitious organisations transform their business identity and brand, delivering successful creative solutions that add value to their business. We design brands with intelligent simplicity, well thought through ideas that are simple, beautiful and effective. Contact: 01225 476476, Visit:

If you would like to be included in this directory, please contact Nadia Cristina on 020 7786 9786 or at pm | pm October | June 2017 2016 29

MPF Awards For Management Excellence 2018

Are you ready? Open for submissions until 30 November 2017

Categories include: • Best managed international firm • Best co-ordination in winning new work • Most innovative client service • Best provision of knowledge to clients • Best collaboration with procurement New for 2017

Find out more at:

• • • • •

Best managed national firm Best leadership of a mould-breaking firm Best community engagement Best strategic leadership Best thought leadership In association with knowledge partners: