Hannah Taylor, Manager at Carter Murray, recently spoke with Dominic Ayres, Business Development and Client Development Manager at Evershed's Sutherland, about his experience this year within busines development and marketing as well as his advice for those starting their career within this space.
Dominic is a Marketing and Business Development professional with 10+ years’ experience in marketing, client relationship management, sector and legal practice strategy. He has previously worked at DLA Piper and Slaughter and May and is currently responsible for the development and growth of international client relationships and sector strategy for Eversheds Sutherland’s Industrials sector group across EMEA.
What have been the biggest challenges facing Marketing/BD in 2020?
COVID-19 had an unprecedented impact on law firm’s clients, which created huge demands on marketing departments.The majority will have not seen much change to their client strategy, but the go to market strategy changed as teams reprioritized strategies to be more cost effective, digital enabled and client personalised approach. Increased working from home, has limited face-to-face interactions with clients and between internal teams, which will have a lasting impact on the way law firms change their expectations and look to integrate these into their strategy going forward.
What excites you most about Business Development/marketing in 2021?
The challenges faced in 2020, will bring a wave of disruption and new ways in which law firms operate and develop long-term profitable client relationships going forward. We will see a greater emphasis around managing global client relationships virtually, which will impact the way in which law firms approach their marketing strategy and activities.
There will be a focus around differentiation strategies such as investing in sector-focused groups and introduction of key account management programmes, aimed at protecting clients. With 2021 anticipated to be another year of great change for clients around Brexit, US elections and other geopolitical issues, this will create opportunities for marketing departments to position and develop opportunities to support their clients in these areas.
What skill sets do you encourage those starting out in their careers to get under their belt early on?
Developing an understanding and technical proficiency in digital marketing would be an essential area to focus on acquiring. This year we have seen law firm marketing departments pivot their marketing strategy to focus on digital channels to reach clients globally e.g. webinars, podcasts and social selling.
Another important area is around key account management and account-based marketing. COVID-19 challenged law firms' client relationships and those law firms that have invested in key account programmes and have client-facing account managers, found it easier to support clients during COVID, then those firms that had not invested sufficiently in the relationship prior to the outbreak of COVID. Getting closer to clients and finding opportunities to be speaking to clients, is something worth investing in, as it will develop a client centric understanding that can be applied to all areas of your career within the sector.
On a personal note, what questions would you encourage your younger self to ask when starting out in BD/marketing?
There are a lot of different roles within the industry, when starting out it can be quite difficult to identify those areas you particularly enjoy and play to your strengths. So it's important to continue asking questions such as what areas do I enjoy? Where do my strengths lie? What skills do I need to invest in to get to the next level? These are questions I would recommend you continue to ask throughout your career as that will ensure you continue to progress personally and professionally.