Marketing the professionals is hazardous to your career: Neasa MacErlean on the heavy toll among 'second-class' staff

THE HISTORY of marketing within professional firms is a chronicle of frequent and expensive personality clashes, according to a new report.

A survey published in Professional Marketing shows that 25 per cent of marketers in professional firms leave their jobs within 12 months of starting and another 35 per cent leave in their second year. Only 40 per cent stay longer than two years - a short time in the implementation of any marketing strategy.

The research by Richard Chaplin, who heads the recruitment consultancy, Strategic Marketing Connections (SMC), concludes that: 'Personality clashes are the main reason for an early departure.'

Intellectual heavyweights are more likely to be thrown out of professional firms than people who think and question less, according to the survey.

SMC suggests therefore that professional firms need to think more deeply about personality when recruiting rather than focusing solely on technical skills or experience.

Successful marketers must be 'acutely aware of office politics' and 'thrive in a role which tends to be more tactical than strategic', the survey adds.

Many marketers who work in the professional sector have been sacked at least once or have left a job under a cloud. The lack of harmony in this sector is the subject of much discussion, and the consensus is that marketing is given a far higher profile, status and budget in other sectors. In professional firms, marketers are generally seen as second-class citizens. A number of lawyers and accountants still apparently resent the idea that they have to do more than be good at their work to sell their services.

Because they are worried about job security, many marketers have stopped challenging the suggestions put forward by the partners who employ them. Stephen Perrett, a freelance consultant who was formerly marketing head of the solicitors, Davies Arnold Cooper, has compiled an annual league table of the media profiles achieved by law firms. In 1990, Herbert Smith came first, but only because of the unwelcome attention it received as adviser to the Al Fayeds in their deeply controversial takeover of Harrods. The next year, Freshfields topped the table, but again for negative reasons - its appointment and subsequent replacement as adviser to Touche Ross, the insolvency specialists in the BCCI affair. 'With the exception of Clifford Chance, the top firms have a reactive PR function,' said Mr Perrett.

There are, of course, exceptions. KPMG Peat Marwick, the accountancy firm, has had the same marketing chief, Tim Roberts, for seven years. The firm is known for its proactive PR and for a wide range of targeted publications, sponsorships, seminars and other marketing activities. But Mr Roberts believes that marketing in the profession as a whole still has several obstacles to surmount before it can catch up with industry.

'The professionals haven't fully yet appreciated that marketing is an investment. There's still a tendency to see it as a cost. Truly, marketing should be developed against a strategy, which should be a minimum of three years, if not five or ten years,' he said.

In the legal profession, Clifford Chance has probably been most consistent in its marketing approach. Robert Pay, its marketing head, has been there for nearly six years. Other large firms, however, tend to be rather disparaging about Clifford Chance, suggesting it pays too much attention to packaging and not enough to the real product.

These other firms should be wary. Last week Datamonitor, the research consultancy, reported that Clifford Chance had a 16 per cent market share of company commercial work, a third more than its nearest rival, Freshfields.

But fourth in the Datamonitor table was Slaughter & May, with 7 per cent. Slaughter, widely regarded as the blue blood of law firms, has never employed a marketing professional in-house, and it seems not to have suffered for this decision.

Getting rid of marketing professionals can be expensive. Salaries at the top end range from pounds 60,000 to more than pounds 100,000. Budgets are likely to be about three or four times that. Then there are recruitment costs and the lost time of partners and other staff in the firm.

This cost is not only to the firm involved. 'The credibility of marketing takes a hell of a hammering in this situation,' Mr Chaplin said. 'In terms of the development of a firm, putting the cause of marketing back can have very serious consequences.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate