00:04 Ayo Abbas
Today it's Wednesday the 12th of August and welcome to the latest episode of Marketing In Times of Crisis. I'm your host Ayo Abbas a freelance marketing consultant. I just finished recording an interview of Helen Shea from Ashurst and Christine Baltas from Eversheds Sutherland, where they both work his real estate, business development sector leads. We all worked together previously in the marketing team at Mace. The episode today touches on the difference between legal real estate marketing and the more mainstream built environment sector. Why we should all be focusing on our clients and not be afraid to have those conversations about revenue generation. It's not just all about projects. And we also talk about the importance of running positive campaigns and also issue led campaigns looking at things like climate change and sustainability. We're a new podcast so make sure you subscribe so you don't miss an episode. Or even better rate and review us to help us spread the word. Anyway, I won't hold you up any longer. Let's get on with the episode. Happy listening.
Hi, Helen. Hi, Christine, and welcome to Marketing In Times of Crisis. And can you both give us a brief intro to you and your current roles at Ashurst and Eversheds Sutherland Do you want to kick off Helen.
01:23 Helen Shea
Sure. So I'm Senior BD manager and industry lead for real estate at Ashurst. And my role broadly splits into two areas. So part so part one is sort of profile raising, which is sort of PR thought leadership events, social media, digital marketing, that kind of marketing side and then the other side is revenue generation. So that is driving the business planning and coordinating a number of client engagement initiatives. So delivering products or sector specific campaigns, and helping to convert those kind of sort of client conversations into revenue generation opportunities, so be it cross selling opportunities cross border cross practice, or industry. So yeah, broadly that's how it works.
02:06 Ayo Abbas
And how is your new role, Christine at Eversheds Sutherland. How does that work?
02:11 Christine Baltas
Sure. So my role at Eversheds Sutherland is senior marketing and business development manager and real estate practice lead. And that role has an international remit I work with a number of partners and stakeholders to drive the REPG or real estate marketing strategy. I manage a team who also run their own product groups and campaigns. And the role is all about connectivity with our sectors and our respective practice groups to drive revenue generating initiatives.
02:40 Ayo Abbas
And so you both have worked in the kind of more traditional side of the built environment, marketing. So that's how I know how I know you both. What differences do you see between kind of legal real estate marketing and the more traditional built environment world? Do you wanna kick us off on that Helen
02:54 Helen Shea
Sure.So I think the biggest difference for me is is the client focus Yeah, and a lot of mainstream companies in industry, sort of talk about client focus and have it probably as one of their core values, but in my experience, and from what I see and hear how that then plays into your sort of strategic marketing and business development efforts, I think there's a bit of a disconnect. It can be a very spray and pray approach. And, you know, but a bit panicked. So we've got to be in everybody's faces, and just bang, bang, bang, you know, get the brand out there. And I think in the legal industry, you know, it's very, it's a very client centric environment. And all we do is talk about our clients, and we use that knowledge or Intel to inform our next move. So, you know, here's x client, what are they doing, who do we know? And trying to pull together various bits of all that sort of data and yeah, good sort of background research and yeah, to sort of inform how we go about, you know, almost setting up, you know, getting in front of them, really.
03:57 Ayo Abbas
I mean, I think when you both introduced yourself as well, one of the things I noticed is, you're both talking about revenue generation now, I guess more when I've worked in more traditional built environment firms, that's not necessarily coming into my role as marketing. Do you find that quite different where you are in the legal world?
04:11 Helen Shea
Definitely. Oh, definitely. Yeah, I mean, you're, I guess, part of the reason why I went into the legal industry was to get that, to get that element to my role, that strategic business development element that I felt was missing from all the other roles that I've had previously, you know, you're at the table, part of the conversation. Yeah, you know, coming up with ideas, you know, and, you know, joining the dots, as it were, you know, making some making some introductions and, you know, helping the partners to, yeah. What do I want to say to sort of get in front of those clients and add as much value as they can to those relationships?
04:50 Ayo Abbas
That's a really interesting point, actually. So, Christine, in terms of what you've kind of seen, I mean, how have you felt things are different between real estate marketing and kind of the more traditional building environment world.
05:01 Unknown Speaker
So I, I echo Helens' observations there in the legal world clients are the currency for sure. Any lawyer worth his salt when they're going to a firm, the first thing that firm will be interested in is those relationships and that book of contacts, but with the built environment as we've all seen, it's just so diverse as well. So,collectively, I think what the built environment does well is they, their portfolio is their currency, they love to show off what they've just finished delivered to new technologies, how they've applied the delivery of a project or the campaigns come off the back of that and as marketers, that's what you're driven to do
05:42 Ayo Abbas
It's a different focus in many ways,
05:44 Christine Baltas
It is Yeah, exactly. It's to show look at what I've built, look at what I've done, whether it was caught with with with lawyers, it's these are our clients. These are the relationships we stand by and this is how we serve them. I do find however, though, I think being coming from construction as well, I find construction contractors far more commercial than the architects and engineers. So, they do have that revenue generation approach. They do have the business developers that are out there on the ground selling, they're not afraid to use the word selling as well. So about breaking through the door. Yeah. They aren't afraid to talk about bringing work through the door. And it's pretty much a crucial time for people at the moment to think about where their opportunities going to come from. Yeah. And so I think people need to do a little bit more than just show
a new interiors or all the, the outside of a building, you've got to sort of show what what benefits there were to the client as well. So there's,
06:54 Ayo Abbas
I think it's a huge thing about that whole added value at the moment, isn't it and it's really showing what you're bringing to the table. Not just I've just done the shiny building, it's like, actually, I've shaved 15, you know, I've added an extra 15 units from your development. I've sweated it more, which means you're going to make X amount more. That stuff is what people want to hear at the moment. And we want to hear, and I think people have to get used to finding them. Because I do exist in all organisations, I just yeah, people just want to talk about the shiny stuff. It's like actually, shiny stuff,
07:25 Christine Baltas
Good, shiny stuff's great, especially in an environment that we're in at the moment. Please do share it. But also, how are we helping clients with their businesses at the moment? How are we getting them through these times in particular, and lawyers are really good at doing that.
07:43 Ayo Abbas
Okay, that's, that's, that's a really useful point. And in terms of campaigns at the moment, and are there any particular ones you're running? Christine, I think I've seen one of yours online recently about Optimism and Opportunity. Can you explain a bit more about that?
07:56 Christine Baltas
Yeah, a nice segway as well to the positive story show
08:00 Ayo Abbas
We like positive stories?
08:02 Christine Baltas
Yes. So we launched in June beginning, at the beginning of June the optimism and opportunity campaign, which is being led by our head of real estate for London Bruce Dear. And I'm working very closely with them on that, which is basically a combination of short, sharp blogs, articles q&a is it's a platform to share stories with our clients or with our lawyers. It's an international campaign that the way we're helping clients through this particular time and helping them to understand where the revenue opportunities are, where clients and this particular industry can get more from what's going on in real estate and the part it has to play in in the community. And so Eversheds Sutherland is very much at the focal point of that. So we've been running since June. As I said, we've done about 20 pieces at the moment, a whole combination of things. We're about to launch the next campaign, little the next phase of that campaign next month, which will, again, focus much more on international elements and helping clients with the growth opportunities. So a lot of cross border stuff, that kind of thing.
09:17 Ayo Abbas
And how does that kind of been received by clients? What kind of feedback have you had?
09:20 Christine Baltas
It's been very well received with our clients, because we've taken a different approach to what has been somewhat doom and gloom in the industry. And anyone can read the newspaper in the news that we've just been watching now to see where we are. So, we're trying to move away from that. And clients have been saying thank you for producing something that's fresh. Thank you for thinking of our industry of our business, how we can do more together as a community. So we've had great feedback from our clients and from the community at large.
09:52 Ayo Abbas
I guess that kind of leads on to the next kind of question which is around, I guess, life changing it as we went into lockdown. So in terms of running campaigns. How has that kind of changed for you? What kind of channels are you using? Where's your focus now as events and things like that I've kind of been pulled back.
10:10 Christine Baltas
Helen, do you want to take this one? Sure. Yeah. And we've yet in a while we've,
10:16 Helen Shea
Yeah, I mean, obviously, it's all it's all gone to digital, hasn't it? So we've been running several webinars, and our hotels group have done a series of webinars, we sort of we titled titled, Rebound and Recovery. And we did a focus on the Spanish market, which went very well. And we also did a focus on the Australian market and both of those were in partnership with Colliers International and went down very well. And we were also able to bring in our of employment and corporate partners as well. So that was a really good sort of cross selling opportunity. And, you know, we've been, but across the firm across Ashurst, you know, that's been obviously what we've, what our focus has been on webinars and podcasts as well. We're looking at those. Certainly from from a real estate perspective, looking to do a few of those in the coming months.
But as well as the sort of formats and we've also,
Aside from all the COVID related activities, you know, we've also been looking at, we've also been running our built environment insights campaign, which we usually do, which is about a series of about six or seven issue or topic led articles from across all our markets. Yeah. And this time, because it was actually going to be a big theme for our year for this year. Anyway, we went ahead and we this campaign was sort of entitled The green one or the green issue. And so all the articles have a sustainability theme running through them. And because climate changes, as we see, you know, yes, obviously, has happened and we don't quite know the you know, really know the full extent of the impact that's going to have but climate changes is all these issues are still going on, that's still out there. There's still massive issues, going to impact all of our clients, all of their businesses. So, you know, that's the kind of approach we took that we just wanted to take still say, Well, hey, look, we're still thinking about this stuff. And and we just wanted to give that a really big push and talk to our clients about that. So we just thought, you know, we have to carry that out. And do you know, Brexit, obviously we've got stuff like that that's going to come around, and people are still thinking about that sort of drop off a cliff with that, you know, and another one, diversity, diversity and inclusion was something that obviously came up, you know,
12:20 Ayo Abbas
hugely came up
12:22 Helen Shea
in the last couple years. So yeah, you know, that that's again, you know, when you're talking about talking to your clients, and building those relationships, and adding value, you know, all of these things are still issues that your clients still want to be talking to you about or talking to their lawyers about. And, you know,
12:40 Ayo Abbas
It's kind of new the agenda, isn't it? You can't, but you know, it's not just the built environment, it's these wider, bigger issues for society.
12:47 Helen Shea
They all play because they all play a role in the built environment. Of course they do. And so so yeah, so it's, it's a really interesting, and it's a very, very good bumpy road ahead, but it is a very interesting time as well. You know, But from a from a content perspective, you know, there's plenty there's plenty of angles and things to be talked about and and debated and having a conversation about.
13:08 Ayo Abbas
Yeah. And you don't have to try and find the solution. It's actually just being open to the debate and actually contributing to it, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. These are big, big, big, big issues.
13:17 Christine Baltas
Yeah So I think what's happened with these campaigns that we're looking at is the climate that we're in with these themes that we've been talking about have just been accelerated, the things that we are forced to look at at the moment. So climate change, and you know, Brexit swept under the carpet for now, but it sure as hell is still there. You know, what are we going to be doing? What are we going to be doing about this? And also thinking about how to help help clients through these very tricky periods, as Helen was saying rocky road, but a positive one, we think as well.
13:51 Ayo Abbas
Yeah. And I guess in terms of have you introduced any kind of new or different things, so you know, when you've been doing your campaign Christine for example, I mean, was it long pieces or other other kind of different ways that you were communicating with your clients?
14:07 Christine Baltas
We wanted it to be short, snappy, bite size digestible information because you know what it's like if you have to scroll down your phone, we all lose interest we give that we want that sort of two second, something that we can read instantly but it's also can fit well into your day. You know, and podcasts and we're all discovering anything longer than an hour you're just going to lose your audience.
14:34 Ayo Abbas
It just be you can see the metrics.
14:38 Christine Baltas
You can see the metrics exactly you can see from start to finish where people are where people are plugging in whilst there's so much information over webinising funnily enough, somebody said that on a call.
14:51 Helen Shea
nice over webinars and shown over webinars.
14:53 Christine Baltas
Somebody said on a call this morning I was on. Have you noticed? Nobody says seminar anymore, it's just webinar.
People count how many times a day they say webinar.
15:07 Helen Shea
Someone says to me, they're now being called chatinars. And I was like,
15:15 Christine Baltas
I'll bring that into the conversation tomorrow. But I mean, it's just it's just the digital angle has has taken over. It means we don't have to travel so much. So lawyers each other, we're all using this new tech, and we're doing it every day. It's in our social lives as well. So, it's here to stay for a while anyway,
15:37 Ayo Abbas
So talking about digital and will the virtual world replace the physical so the things like MIPIM, Expo Real are all our kind of usual main industry shindigz and business development things? What's gonna happen to those do you think?
15:52 Helen Shea
Oh, I think I think there's still a massive place for face to face, events and networking. You know, our industry. is notoriously social. So, you know, and to say MIPIM Will you know MIPIM is not dead, it will carry on it will be slightly different. I mean, obviously, some businesses, it's the biggest item on their budget for the year and they plough a load of cash into it, they'll probably be taking stock and May, you know, rein it in a bit. But I still think things like, you know, these big conferences, there still will be a place for that. Absolutely. They may just become a bit more of a hybrid model. But yeah, yeah, I mean, people want to see people people want to connect with people people want to know if they're going to get out you know, as you do. Business Development is isn't it and yeah, you need to connect with people and know that you're going to be getting up you're going to be working with this person. So you want to be know that you're gonna be getting on with them and you know, you sort of share a some kind of bond or synergy. So, yeah, I think I think physical will still will still play a big role in our industry.
16:54 Christine Baltas
I do echo all that as well and completely agree.
I'll let the conference organisers of this world who are much more qualified to say whether they're gonna be here, here forever, but the one thing that Helen and I have noticed in our in our careers is that you can't get away from the spontaneity of a of a face to face meeting you can't get away from that chance conversation only ever happened because MIPIM was there only ever happened at Expo Real . Yeah, that sort of thing. You can you can have a spontaneous conversation as we are on this on this call. But those chance meetings and meeting the right person, the right place and the right, you know, at the right event. That was what MIPIM was about. And that's why people went it was the intangibles.
17:50 Ayo Abbas
you knew that calibre a person there as well and they'll be accessible and open to conversations. Whereas, I guess if you're setting up an online meeting or something you have to trigger that meeting you Have to contact them before you know it's not. It's not some spontaneous it doesn't have that
18:05 Christine Baltas
it's not instantaneous. No, I mean, people are available now because we're all in lockdown. And we're all we're all. We're all around us studies in our kitchen tables having these conversations, we're still I think we're very much more reachable. But I just think that instant spontaneous situation that enhance happens in Cannes or happens in, in other conferences. You can't really replace that. No,
18:30 Ayo Abbas
I agree. Okay, so how do you think locked down and the transition out of it will change our marketing going forward? Do you have any views Christine?
18:40 Christine Baltas
Well, I think it's made us all realise all realise, that we don't need to do as many of the physical events that we've just talked about real estate being very events, very event centric, very much social business, as Helen pointed out earlier. I think it's just going to make us reflect on the need for as many things the need for as many physical seminars and auditorium based events and that kind of thing. And it also make people rethink what their budgets look like and where that money goes and where that funding goes.
19:17 Ayo Abbas
Have you found being online? That's actually meant that you've had more people in attending your things? Christine?
19:25 Christine Baltas
I would say not necessarily. It does enable us to, to track and monitor certain things and that our recipients are interested in.
I wouldn't say that the take up has been better or worse though. Okay.
19:47 Helen Shea
Yeah, I would, I would. Yeah. Yeah. No, I would. I would agree with that. Yeah,
yeah, definitely. I don't think it's been any better or any worse, I think. I think Yeah, to your point, you know, because we've all been in lockdown. You know, we've managed to get to some people who we may have found difficult to pin down is the wrong thing. In front of, you know, and I agree with Christine's points, I think the sort of phase we're going in, going into, I think, you know, people just need to take the, you know, not take time, but just have more composure about what they're doing. And, you know, just just think minimise the wasted efforts of, you know, like I said, At the start, you know, bang, bang, bang, and go and get stuff out and go to the angles in boxes. You know, just think a bit more, just take, just take a moment to think, right? Is this the smartest way to speak to this client, you know, don't go to them with your agenda, you know, you should be eating this thing going to them and listening, keep, you know, what's keeping them up at night. And like, you know, like, we've talked about a lot, you know, build those relationships and speak to them and talk to them about their businesses. And, you know, I think I think, you know, really at the end of the day, what will those who will win coming out of this will be those that have built and maintain those exceptional clients? relationships.
21:01 Ayo Abbas
Yeah, I think that goes across the board. I think some people just avoid it because it's like, oh, we'll just send out an email. It's like, No, that isn't the way to keep a relationship going. Okay, so to kind of ask today, we are now officially in recession. What was your experience of the previous recessions? We've had an 2008- 2009. Christine, do you want to kickoff.
21:23 Christine Baltas
I do remember quite well, unfortunately, I joined a major construction firm. Just before the Lehman's fall. Yeah. And I will say it was it was a bloodbath. That was a bloodbath. For a lot of businesses, it was really tough times. The positives that have come out of that is back to the point that Helen raised about keeping close to clients because there was less work around clients had time for you. So you could start to build those relationships and use that time while there wasn't as much work going round to go and see people go and talk to people. So then when the work came through you had put yourself in a position of trust and understanding of what they needed. So there was real positives to that.
22:07 Ayo Abbas
And you were front of mind as well, right?
22:09 Christine Baltas
You will front of mind and you were the one that took the time out when the times were bad. You have to go to speak to them, rather than waiting around for those opportunities to come to you, or those tender opportunities or those those projects. So it was a time to build relationships, as you know, in terms of something positive should come of it. It was also a time to learn about what companies need to consider in terms of going into a downturn which is you know, the strength of that balance sheet. And the understanding of having the right tools and systems in place and the right people to deliver them.
22:47 Ayo Abbas
No, absolutely. I think
22:48 Christine Baltas
Yeah, and the short termism thing. Don't fall into that trap. There's a lot of people do.
22:53 Ayo Abbas
Yeah, I mean, is written in building the other day and I say it's back to some people doing crazy pricing and all that kind of stuff which you No, it's just yeah, just don't worry. It's like, you know, you want to be able to hold on to your rates and also justify your value and show how you're really adding that rather than
23:11 Helen Shea
Yeah, I think.
I think it's sort of some, some people this may sort of jolt them into a crikey, we need to, you know, re redo our strategy and start, you start doing some panic, panicky, crazy things, you know, the best thing you can do is stick to your strategy right now. And, you know, be just commit to it and see it through.
That's not you know, I think that stuff's just important. Don't Don't go off piste. You know,
23:42 Ayo Abbas
you've got a strategy in the first place, right?
23:51 Christine Baltas
Some people feel that there's that term busy fools. So everyone sort of runs around.
Yeah, doing stuff sending emails and not doing the follow up or just doing a sort of massive campaigns. Just doing really massive campaigns and scatter gunning everything or, or not doing anything. thoroughly. So
24:16 Ayo Abbas
I think it's kind of small and focused. I always think that works the best, you know, kind of Who do you? Who are the people that are really important to you which jobs or potential jobs are even might not be right now? Jobs, it could be actually which sectors are really important to you now and where you're going and really hone in on and the people you start getting close to?
24:35 Helen Shea
Yeah, definitely, definitely want to, you know, keep focused on your areas of strength and be that markets or practice areas or services or sectors, whatever it is, you know, just just stand firm, you know, certain, you know, just yeah, keep your cool, I think,
24:51 Unknown Speaker
which is hard. Yeah.
24:56 Christine Baltas
People were like
25:00 Ayo Abbas
Okay, I on to my final final question. So you've got one tip that you can give to business leaders about how they should be marketing themselves during the crisis. What would that be? Christine, you're going first.
25:13 Christine Baltas
The one thing companies need to do to market themselves, I would say generally, but especially now is to sell the benefits to your clients. So focus on your customer and what they get out of working with you. But also, in this current climate, I will try and hold on to marketing and communications teams, they are the ones that create value and will help seeing through these challenging times.
25:39 Ayo Abbas
Brilliant, and over to you, Helen, what would your one tip be?
25:41 Helen Shea
Yeah, I mean, I fully support Christine and that there's a lot of truth in that. And I think for me, to add to that would be, you know, just keep keep keep close to your clients. It's that simple. And keep, just keep close to them. Keep listening to them. Talking to them, you know, ruminating with them offering them solutions or, you know, finding out what's making them tick at the moment, what's keeping them up at night, you know, just just keep in with them.
26:10 Ayo Abbas
And it could be like sharing articles, right, you know, I've seen might find it useful, because there's some great stuff out there at the moment.
26:17 Helen Shea
Yeah, absolutely. Just really just some basic stuff. You don't have to be all guns blazing. You know, just very simple steps. I think. You know, like I say, keeping it timely. Keep your composure and yeah, I think you know, sort of Win win the day. Really. Brilliant.
26:35 Ayo Abbas
Thanks so much for your time. Bye for you. It's been a really, really enjoyable conversation.
26:38 Christine Baltas
Yeah, thank you very much. Thank you.
26:46 Ayo Abbas
Thanks so much for listening to Marketing In Times of Crisis. I really do appreciate you taking time out of your day to tune in. Check out the show notes for useful links, including my website, where you can find out more about everything featured And how to get in touch. We're a new podcast so if you like what you've heard, please do subscribe so that you never miss an episode and more people get to hear about us.