Leor Franks, the Business Development and Marketing Director of Kingsley Napley, talks to The Ortus Club’s Lorna Davidson about the best way to cut through digital events, the formidable bond between sales and marketing, and his best career advice as a marketing leader.
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First of all, tell us about your company. What does Kingsley Napley do?
Kingsley Napley is a London-based international law firm. We have a particularly broad range of services from corporate advice around contracts and transactions to disputes and regulatory work. We also offer a lot of services for private individuals whether it’s for employment, family, or immigraton matters. We’re a very broad law firm based in London serving clients across the world.
What is your role there and what are you focusing on right now?
I’m the Director of Marketing and Business Development. I also lead the knowledge and information services teams. I sit on the board as well as on the executive committee so I’ve got a fairly broad ranging remit across the functions that I lead. I also help manage and govern the organisation which is a new thing for me because in my past couple of roles, I sat on Excos but this is the first time I’ve actually sat on the board of an organisation.
Now let’s talk about marketing and events a little bit. Due to the pandemic, many marketing opportunities, especially related to events and event sponsorships, were no longer possible. As a result, what type of new opportunities are out there for b2b marketers?
I’ve certainly seen a narrowing of the channels to market. There’s been a convergence over the last year. Everyone is focused on the digital – whether it’s social media or webinars. The challenge with that is saturation. There’s a tremendous amount of noise with every single firm using a small narrow range of routes to market.
For me, the best way of cutting through is to have one of two weapons in your arsenal: either the halo of a particularly impressive and recognised panel or a particularly timely and relevant content that touches on whatever keeps your clients awake at night Moreover, it should contextualise those challenges within the wider macro issues that we’re currently facing, whether it’s COVID, Brexit, or tensions in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
“The best way of cutting through (events) is to have one of two weapons in your arsenal: either the halo of a particularly impressive and recognised panel or a particularly timely and relevant content that touches on whatever keeps your clients awake at night.”
Do you think there are enough opportunities or as many as there used to?
There’s been a narrowing of the range of channels to market. A number of the large-scale organisers of events and conferences in the London market particularly have had to reduce the range of opportunities they offer to their clients to reach market.
Obviously, in-person events have decreased in frequency and everyone’s gone online. I do think there are fewer channels right now and the downside of that is saturation of the channels that already exist. We are now starting to see smaller independent organisers of events and conferences offering opportunities and a lot of firms such as my own are starting to do their own thing using their own brand and their own channels to reach market.
So, people are innovating. It took a while. I think in the first few months of lockdown, people froze. People were quite concerned and didn’t really take much time and effort to invest in new routes to market but that has happened now. Naturally, it would happen given the fact that we’ve been in this situation for a year now.
Some say it’s become more important than ever for marketing and sales teams to work closely to meet company goals. Would you agree?
Absolutely. I work in professional services where our sales team and our partners are also effectively our product. They are the individuals that are out of the market selling and delivering work. It’s very difficult in many situations for partners to be able to build relationships or undertake opportunities if they don’t have support of marketing.
So I look at it as a continuum. I call it the favorability journey and it’s 4 R’s – recognition, reputation, relationships, and revenue. Some people might have historically called it brand communications marketing and business development, but I think it’s one integrated continuum. So, people in my team in business development marketing focus on recognition which is making sure the firm is known.
We also focus on reputation, which is making sure we have the right content and enabling relationships and the partners focus on cementing those relationships and converting them into revenue opportunities.
I see the four stages – recognition, reputation, relationships, and revenue as one integrated approach with the marketing people supporting the partners who are out there selling to clients.
What’s an event you hosted last year that you were most proud of? Why was it so good?
We’ve been hosting webinars for the entire duration of lockdown but one event that I’m particularly proud of happened last month. It was an event on law firm culture. We had over 300 attendees which is a very strong turnout for several reasons.
Firstly, we had really timely and relevant content. We had hit the nail on the head with the issues facing our clients around culture and reputation and law firms.
But secondly, we had a great panel. We had two of our eminent partners who are well known in the industry and we had two other individuals whose particular brand recognition became an opportunity to raise awareness of the event. The combination of a strong panel with individual halos of content that were very timely and relevant to the market made the event appealing to the guests.
In addition, the concerted effort on the part of my team to raise awareness of the event through social media, GDPR, compliant direct mails, and through word of mouth brought that event to a successful conclusion.
What’s a great event you attended last year? What made it different?
One of the events that I attended last year that I thought was particularly successful was organised by the commercial litigators forum which is a charity that I’m involved in that seeks to promote access to justice.
We had the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland, the Head of the Legal Profession in the UK attend as our keynote speaker. That was a particularly big coup for the organisation. Being a charity, having the support of the top man in the legal industry was particularly interesting because it was held in the early days of lockdown. It had been planned as an in-person physical event but we as an organising committee had to convert it quite rapidly into a virtual event. We were planning on having 200 people attend the event physically and nearly all of those individuals actually attended virtually.
That was successful for me because of the reputation of the individuals, the timeliness, and the fact that we were able to convert the entire logistical effort into online in a short period of time.
What’s one piece of career advice you have received that’s been particularly valuable to you as a marketing leader?
Think about your personal impact. Think about your impact with your team and with your stakeholders. Reflect on how particular meetings or interactions have occurred. Look at your emails. If a situation hasn’t gone particularly well, take a step back and consider what has happened. If it has gone particularly well, do the same. Reflect on why it was successful, but don’t just go from project to project and carry on as normal. Take some time out of your day job to consider your personal impact and your relationships. I found that particularly enlightening. I hadn’t really taken the time to do that before in my career, but it has certainly helped me manage my impact and build my relationships with my stakeholders in my subsequent roles.