External partnerships are a key component of professional services marketing. They take many forms, ranging from joint ventures and carefully contracted sponsorship agreements, through to more informal relationships such as having guest speakers at round table events and lunches.
In the world of professional services, clients very often buy individual expertise, attaching more importance to the individual than to the firm that individual represents. Relationships should therefore be regarded as the bedrock of all business development and a key focus area for marketing strategy and investment.
During my career in professional services marketing, external stakeholder management has been a very significant component of the role. This has included working with, among others, high profile media organisations (such as The Economist and Daily Telegraph), think tanks (Tomorrow’s Company), research units (EIU, Forbes), major conference organisers (CIPD, SuperInvestor, Economist Events), networking organisations (UKTI, Criticaleye) through to ‘joint venture’ activities (such as with WhatIf, ICAEW and Action Challenge).
In addition to the more corporate and business-focused relationships I have overseen, I’ve also had responsibility for corporate hospitality and delivering high profile client events such as the Chelsea Flower Show, London Fashion Week, Wimbledon, Private View of Picasso Exhibition and the 2012 London Olympics.
With respect to all of the above – the ability to manage significant external stakeholder relationships has been key. Having the right orientation that mixes strong interpersonal skills with business savvy is what is needed in order to successfully deliver value to both sides.
My track record:
- Managing external relationships whilst in a number of marketing-specific roles spanning more than ten years.
- Managing relationships where the output is delivered in another country (e.g. high-profile YSC/UKTI event in Mexico City).
- Responsibility for contract negotiation and ROI appraisal.