Friday, 17 July 2020

Ruth Napier

Profile photo of Ruth Napier

Cripps PG's Ruth Napier believes in a layered approach to marketing law firms.  With almost 20 years experience in legal marketing, and before that 15 years marketing big banks, what she doesn’t know about professional services marketing isn’t worth knowing.  When she agreed to share her wisdom on the subject of Return On Marketing Investment, I was all ears.

"The secret to getting the best returns is to focus your marketing effort on the areas that will give you the most value.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Now in an ideal world you shouldn’t need to spell this out, you may think.  But from my own 30 years in legal marketing and PR I am well aware that a good proportion of many legal marketing teams’ activity happens because senior partners or QCs ask them to jump and they respond by asking “How high?”  It takes a strong marketing professional to direct a firm’s or chambers’ marketing, rather than merely implementing the requests of the lawyers.  “Once you have identified those key areas, the next golden rule is to plan joined-up campaigns that organize, co-ordinate and synchronise layered streams of marketing activity around them,” she continues. “So you might be marketing fewer initiatives, but you are making sure that each is promoted thoroughly, and in a multi-faceted way.  So you will put together a programme that involves maybe a direct mailer to clients, a seminar, a page on the website and also press activity, all on the same topic area to really make an impact.”  This is the way to do it!  In my book, co-ordinating activity that puts partners and barristers into face-to-face conversations with existing/potential clients, with promotional initiatives that place the firm/set in the best possible light for the particular area of work in question at just the right moment, is the best way to deliver tangible results – i.e. new instructions.  And of course any marketeer who can demonstrate clear returns on marketing investment will earn respect and therefore have much more say as to how the organisation’s marketing is done going forward.  Not many are in such a privileged position as Ruth.  But she’s earned it.  What a refreshing change from the all-too-familiar picture of the massively overworked marketing team running breathless from one stand-alone marketing task to another: a seminar for the corporate team one week, then a press push for the real estate group the next, flipping their attention to a cocktail party for the private client department after that. 

“When I’m deciding what type of initiatives to include in my marketing mix for any one campaign, I have a picture in my mind of a marketing and business development “hopper”: you begin with activity targeted at audiences of hundreds of thousands, such as press work where your messages will be reaching vast numbers of people you can never hope to meet; mixed together with initiatives that reach thousands, such as a conference; then hundreds, such as events hosted by your own firm; then finally when you are talking about one-to-one conversations between partners and prospects, (or with clients where you are hoping to get a new type of instruction), you are reaching people in their tens; and hopefully at this point individual clients (or new mandates from existing clients) start popping out the bottom of the funnel.   

And of course the flow from prospect to new piece of business may not be linear.  For example appearing in the press may become most critical at the point you are meeting clients and prospects face-to-face.  The key is to have a good spread of activity from each of these levels in the hopper, in your mix.”

I can count on one hand the legal marketeers who are as determined to show tangible new business results from their marketing programmes (and most of those I can count have been profiled in this blog). Far more often the claim is that it’s impossible to show a direct correlation.  But does she feel ROI is as important in these strange times we live in?  Is it even possible in this Lockdown-disrupted market?  "As we are in an uncharted period of global change, it might be tempting to throw ROI out of the window, but it's still an important part of understanding the impact of specific marketing activity.  However target-setting for a particular activity or campaign is being less informed by historic benchmarks of course, which makes the job of pinpointing ROI harder", she says.  That's a natural challenge that comes with doing business in "unprecedented" times, I guess!  It's clear Ruth thinks we shouldn't give up.  After all, when financial times get hard, ROI plays a critical part in justifying what marketing spend needs to continue. 

Let’s all be more ambitious! Ruth is proving it can be done – and that the more you can demonstrate results, the more autonomy you are given to run your firm’s/chambers’ marketing programme the way you think it should be run.

Finance's Return To The Office: Major Considerations For CFOs
So the entire legal profession appears to be planning its return to the office (or chambers).  Have you already started allowing people to return?  And are you phasing it in between September and the New Year?  Many people we speak to are busy making workplaces safe, to enable a safe return after the Summer for those who want to, (who feel starved of the social interaction that office life brings / are desperate for other reasons to escape home confinement!), but limiting numbers, with a view to encouraging more to return in the New Year.  But hardly anyone is planning a return to previous office working patterns, nor a complete switch to a remote-working model.  Many firms and chambers have been canvassing their people to gauge appetite for continued home-working post-Coronavirus and the overwhelming trend seems to be people requesting a hybrid, so the freedom to create a new pattern of home and office working in a mix that suits them individually.

What’s your experience?  We’d love to hear.  If you’d like to share, please use the Comment box below.

funny-face-masksWe heard this week that facemasks are not going to be made compulsory office-wear, but looking at some of the wonderfully creative designs popping up on the market, many of use may well choose to make them part of our new professional look.  Here is a selection of my faves….

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