FTI's Leor Franks reflects on marketing in professional services

27 September 2017 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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Rhydian Fairfax, a consultant at EMR,– a recruitment consultancy for the marketing profession – recently sat down for an interview with Leor Franks, Marketing Director of FTI Consulting. In discussion with Fairfax, Franks reflects on FTI’s marketing strategy, what he believes are key success factors specific for the consultancy sector, and the main challenges marketers are facing in the industry.

With almost 20 years of experience including director level positions at EY and Deloitte, Leor Franks is well placed to offer valuable insight into the world of marketing within professional services. FTI Consulting, a global firm with 4,600 employees in 28 countries, offers management consulting, communications consultancy and financial advisory services to a wide range of clients across sectors.

Marketing strategies cover a variety of channels and techniques. What is the main focus in your current marketing strategy?

One tactic we’re typically focused on is content and thought leadership. Direct distribution of that content via e-mail marketing to our relevant client segments is critical. We’re very focused on the metrics, in terms of how many people have received it, how many people have opened it, how many people have read it, what’s happened.

We’re also, right now, focussing on ensuring that we do that in compliance with all the new GDPR rules which come into effect in May 2018. This will, I think, fundamentally change the way in which people manage databases of contacts, and how marketing material is sent.

GDPR will clearly change the way companies interact with their clients. How do you think firms can embrace this and build better relationships with their customers?

I think it will place the spotlight on account-based marketing, and demand that companies are highly targeted in their campaigns, trying to focus on the specific issues that clients are concerned about. This is not new. It’s been around for a long time, but I never felt, when I was in the Big Four, that it was really everyone’s main focus. Rather that it was one of a number of mantras people used.

Leor Franks

At FTI, we are far more concerned with the specific needs of our clients, and to tailor our content and events to their particular situation, issues, and interests. In some ways, it’s more labour intensive, as there’s more thought given to ensuring we provide what they actually value. It does require more effort on the production side, so we need to focus our marketing mix on giving people material through the channels that they enjoy and consume more regularly.

Having created and delivered marketing strategies throughout your career what would you say are the essential aspects of a successful marketing strategy?

For me, it’s having a tailored mix of what we call the Four Rs. The first R is Recognition: building recognition of the brand and the marketplace. The second R is Reputation: demonstrating the calibre of our people, of our services. The third R is Relationships: maintaining those you already have and also creating new ones. And the fourth R is Revenue marketing: some people call it business development – prepping and planning for meetings, providing the collateral to have those meetings, and so on.

The consultancy industry is growing with new niche consultancies springing up and more well-established firms expanding into new sectors. What are the challenges in the consulting industry from a marketing perspective?

The fact that anyone can produce and disseminate content creates a lot of noise, so cutting through the noise, for me, is a challenge. The FTI Consulting brand is growing, so demonstrating the quality of our expertise is a key focus.

We have therefore adopted an approach to be focussed and targeted. The market has changed over the years as more firms have sprung up and, whether in law or digital, there are more players out there and more options for clients. It really comes down to quality, focus and repetition and making sure that we produce sufficient targeted content to stay front of mind.

Marketers in consultancies and professional services firms work closely with partners and fee earners. How closely do you work with the partners at FTI and how have you seen the marketer-partner relationship evolve and influence marketing over your career?

FTI Consulting is a firm of experts. Indeed our tagline is, “Experts with Impact”. Our clients have seen more of our partners and are getting more of our partners’ time, which is the premise of what this firm is all about – high-quality advice, and therefore, it’s right that we take the individuals to market more than in a Big Four firm, where it’s more about the leverage pyramid.

The challenge of that is it’s more labour intensive, and we have to think carefully about each individual. So my team tries to put together tailored marketing plans for each person or practice, and they spend a lot of their time sitting in partners’ offices, building bespoke targeted approaches. In contrast, my previous team at a Big Four firm would deal with groups of say 20 partners at a time with broader brush materials. But I think our approach here is right – clients value relevant, targeted content, more than general high-level material.