The article’s points stimulated comments from a number of top tier professional service firm CMOs (none of which are law firms). Here’s one.
"Like many a point-of-view piece, I think it tries to be somewhat black and white in its attempt to be provocative. In so doing, it makes some fair points, but some I would not agree with in my sector of the PSF world.
- Of course, agree on the importance of both partner and institutional brands … it’s not all about the latter
- Of course, also totally agree that it’s about the people / work / substance / results / brand experience across all the touch points … not about an ad campaign, theme or brochure. Reputation is built through what you do more than what you claim.
- For us, I’ve seen a big shift over the past 7 years AWAY from the “it’s all about the partner” dynamic. We have legitimately seen more trust built up in the institutional brand. We’ve lost a few reasonably high profile people and probably kept 90% of the business that should have gone with them if the [point of view article] were true for our business. The institutional brand, and more importantly the trust that there would be comparable expertise elsewhere in the firm, has played a big role I think … Perhaps globalization too in that if Walmart needs [our services] in China, it is quite likely they would turn to a firm they already trust and who has a track record of consistently delivering strong results for them (like us!).
- For us, the consultant is really important, but I also think the client is buying expertise … expertise that, yes, is embodied in the consultant … and known and trusted to be there. But, I think there is permission to believe that it could also be embodied in others … and in a “practice” … IF the institutional brand is where it should be.
- Not surprisingly, do not agree that the partners are really the product … from my perspective, the expertise / insight / “proven methodology” is almost the product … the partner is the vehicle through which that “content” is expressed; sometimes “the practice” is that vehicle.
- TOTALLY agree with the importance of internal marketing and senior-level (and all) recruiting … a big focus for us. But, to say that a firm should NOT be marketed to clients is downright silly …"