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How owners and partners are letting their marketing teams down – the elephant in the room

How owners and partners are letting their marketing teams down – the elephant in the room

By Jim Thompson

What if I told you that your marketing team has decided not to go down the path they know your firm needs to go down because they know you will let them down?

Trust me it happens and I have seen it too many times.

One of the things I have learnt when it comes to the level of success of digital marketing strategies in the Professional Services sector is the nature of the marketer & partner relationship.

Why this is fundamental is because digital marketing can’t be undertaken by just one or the other – it’s a joint effort – no ifs buts maybes – If you can’t acknowledge and embrace that then you are doomed to fail before you even start.

In most cases the problem lies at the partner level and not the marketer and unless they are incompetent failure will not be their fault.

If your firm has had a high turnover of marketers that is a fair indication you might have a problem that they decided not to raise at the exit interview.

The keys to success

An equal level of commitment

It’s unusual for a project to commence without commitment from both but I’m talking about ongoing commitment. This is not a set and forget activity, in fact it never has an end point – it’s a commitment for the rest of your working life.

Too often the commitment at Partner level starts to wain when they are asked to do their part which is primarily the production of content.

Content production is now a part of life for knowledge workers – those that commit on an ongoing basis and are good at it will be the star performers of the future just like the great networkers used to be.

Your marketing team can only bang their head against a brick wall for so long while you’re busy doing something more important.

Team work

Obvious yes but we have found that the most successful recipe is for a 1 to 1 to 3 marketer / partner team working closely together at a single campaign level.

Working at a firm wide level across multiple divisions is just too hard for a number of practical reasons but most importantly successful digital marketing is underpinned by being narrow and targeted.

This doesn’t mean you can’t run multiple campaigns with multiple small teams however.


Leave subjectivity at the door.

Many a campaign has been derailed by personal opinions on look, feel, language etc. Never assume that what you like or think is what your target audience thinks or wants. Obviously if you have jointly developed client personas then this problem is largely mitigated but digital marketing is a science not an art.

A science in the sense that experimentation is mandatory and that almost everything can be measured.

If you have an opinion or gut feel then don’t derail the marketer just because you are the Partner – test your opinion and be prepared to fail quickly, cop it on the chin and move on.

Respect and recognition

Leave your ego at the door.

We regularly see marketers treated as doers rather than advisors. You don’t need or want yes people; If you have the right person in the job then they should know what they are talking about.

Allow them to have a voice and be listened to and don’t ever shoot the messenger. If you view your marketing department as an overhead and not an investment then that’s your fault not theirs.

We very (and I mean very) rarely see this problem in other sectors.


This is not about the brand it’s about lead generation and nurturing!

Both the partner and marketer have a professional obligation to educate themselves and understand the strategy, goals, process and the fundamentals of digital marketing. It’s not like traditional marketing and its definitely not another broadcast or sales channel.

The digitally empowered buyer is a completely different animal. The days of being able to get away with “I don’t get digital” were over a long time ago.

There are many other components to successful digital marketing and lead generation but this is the starting point and in many cases the hardest shift to make.

Don’t shoot the messenger if they are brave enough to forward you this article or even better if you read it go and ask your team if this is a problem for them.

Solve this problem and you’re half way there.

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