I was co-presenting a Web seminar for the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) with my research partner, Suzanne Lowe of Expertise Marketing, on the topic of "Increasing Marketing Effectiveness at Professional Firms."
The question arose: is there any correlation between effectiveness and ownership structure?
Our study did not inquire specifically into the effect the form of ownership made on marketing. However, I can give an answer based on 14 years of law marketing experience and empirical data.
Most professional firms are partnerships. As such, they operate by consensus, which causes slow decision-making and allows a rogue naysayer to kill a marketing project.
When I was an in-house marketer, I vividly recall being in a meeting of partners who were eager to start a newsletter about their practice. Each one after the other glowed about what they would write about. Then one elderly partner raised concerns whether competing firms would steal our content, whether our content would really be new and worthwhile, and whether our partners were truly qualified to be published in print. He went on with a continuing blather of doubt, risks and downsides.
The group decided not to publish the newsletter. One naysayer killed a perfectly good idea.
I believe that business partnerships work best with two or three partners who can quickly and easily confer with each other. Once you start to have 10 or more partners, it's very difficult to get a decision made. As such, partnership is an INeffective form of ownership for marketing, which involves risking failure and taking unprecedented steps.
A corporate model is more effective for marketing purposes. The shareholders elect a CEO who can make binding decisions. There is a VP of Marketing who can establish firmwide strategy, set expectations for activity, and measure results. If a MAJORITY of the shareholders don't like the CEO, they can vote him out. If the VP of Marketing isn't getting results, he can be removed by the CEO. Decisions get made, compliance is expected and results are measured.
Either way, you could learn a lot from our research. Please visit http://www.expertisemarketing.com/marketing_study_results.html
to learn what activities yield the best results, the metrics to measure the activities, and proving ROI. I assure you it will preserve your job and get you a pay raise.