Q: As Marketing Director I’ve been asked to play a role in our firm’s retreat. Should I? How?
A: Jump at the chance be involved in a high-profile activity like a retreat. I’ve led or been involved in more than 250 such programs as in-house Marketing Director, Marketing Partner, or consultant, and there’s no “right” way to conduct a retreat. They’re best shaped specifically to meet the strategic agenda and marketing needs. As Marketing Director, you can help identify what’s needed to advance the firm’s marketing plan and revenue goals.
Some recent examples of firm retreats: Some multi-office firms use it as an annual opportunity to focus on collegiality issues (golf) as well as inter-office, intra-departmental networking — the basic “getting to know you” issues. Others use retreats to seek buy-in for significant new initiatives (like office expansion efforts, a new positioning or advertising campaign, compensation revisions or international plans), or to showcase the agenda of the new managing partner. Still others display the results of the internal partner survey.
Others plan different break-out sessions of practice issues and marketing training programs. Carefully moderated client panels are always a big eye-opener. Make sure there’s a lot of fun bonding activities as well.
The marketing director’s role can be whatever you choose to make it, depending upon your comfort level, firm responsibilities, experience, and the firm’s general culture. In some firms, marketers stay behind the scenes and coordinate. Personally, I’d recommend that if possible, you step boldly (but strategically) into the limelight, and help shape the content to obtain support for the initiatives that will advance the firm’s marketing plans.
Hire an experienced consultant or two to work with you on marketing training (what firm doesn’t need a little more training in good, solid marketing?), and to help make you look really, really good.
Depending upon your comfort level in front of an audience, I’d want you to host (or co-host) at least a one-hour session, and take part in another. This is one of your best opportunities to showcase your skills and thought leadership.
If you’re not comfortable being the sole speaker in front of a crowd, work with your consultant. S/he should be more than willing to help you build your internal credibility by co-presenting with you, or at least arranging for you to take the lead on a few particular issues within your area of internal expertise. An experienced consultant will WANT to help you shine.