How to Evaluate Your Marketing Leader’s Performance

by | Marketing Leadership, Marketing Organization

If you’re a managing partner, practice leader, sales leader, or chief administrative officer in a professional services firm, you probably have responsibility for “managing” marketing. If this is you, you may be feeling a little uneasy as we approach that dreaded time of the year for most managers—annual reviews. For you and your marketing leader, it’s possibly a collision of disconnect, HR gobbledygook, language barriers, ignorance, benign management neglect, misunderstood performance goals, and everyday human anxiety. In the hope of helping you, your firm, and your marketing leader succeed, I have put together a cheat sheet called How to Evaluate Your Marketing Leader’s Performance.

I hope it eases your angst, provides a rubric to simplify your conversation, gives your marketing leader their due, and sets you on a course for a less anxious and more productive review next year at this time.

Prerequisite Reading:

We will be evaluating your Marketing leader’s performance based on your firm’s School of Marketing Thought.  Before we get started, this pre-read material will help you determine your school and put you in the right frame of mind. 


How to Evaluate Your Marketing Leader’s Performance – Productivity School of Marketing

If your firm belongs to the Productivity School of Marketing Thought
In the Productivity School, Marketing’s emphasis is put on sales support and brand policing. This approach sees Marketing as a cost to be managed and its value is in “making things pretty.” Marketing maintains a “brand umbrella” that enhances personal productivity and accommodates the practice or “personal” brands of select consultants/advisors/lawyers/accountants. Key performance measures include marketing budget spend, headcount, collateral produced, proposals written, events held, and, most important, partner satisfaction.

Your marketing leader will do most of the prep for this meeting. S/he will bring a long list of accomplishments that outline the level of “production” for the marketing team. You may or may not be familiar with the minutiae, but set a positive tone by being supportive of the level of effort required to complete said list. Begin by telling your leader how important Marketing support is to the firm.


Annual Review Questions:

  1. How did you perform in meeting the needs of our partner requests? Contrast your marketing leader’s performance self-evaluation with arbitrary and anecdotal feedback from partners on the marketing leader’s responsiveness and agreeability.
  2. What did you produce for the partners this past year? Review the list of marketing tactics from the volume of events, brochures, proposals, association trade shows, website redesigns, rebranding efforts, social media posts produced. Ask questions about production efficiency, turnaround times, collateral organization/dissemination, and costs. Praise the anecdotal client feedback received at events, collateral usage, and awards received from agency partners.
  3. How did marketing expenses compare to the budget? Review budget performance in detail for variances. Was the Marketing Leader able to save money? If the marketing leader had cost overruns, determine why.
  4. What can you, the Marketing Leader, do next year for the partners/firm that does not cost money?
  5. Set the same goals for next year.
  6. Complete HR gobbledygook related to your marketing leaders’ annual performance goals and their demonstration of “brand values” here.
  7. Thank your marketing leader for a job well done and tell them you will see them at the next client event or at their annual review next year.

How to Evaluate Your Marketing Leader’s Performance – Growth School of Marketing

If your firm belongs to the Growth School of Marketing Thought
The Growth School views marketing’s role strategically. Marketing is expected to drive growth by helping the firm define target markets, anticipate client needs, develop capabilities, and build solutions that meet them. Marketing pursues goals that are tied to firm-wide strategic goals. Key performance measures are new market development, pipeline contribution, market share, brand relevance, referral strength, and marketing qualified leads.

LISTEN: 11 Characteristics of Exceptional Marketing Leaders 

Be prepared to discuss your Marketing Leader’s contribution to hitting and/or addressing these objectives: 

  • Financial performance vis a vis strategic priorities (base retention, market expansion/share, key account penetration, product portfolio performance, new market penetration, and acquisitions) 
  • Culture and organizational effectiveness
  • Intellectual capital research and client understanding 
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Client satisfaction and referral strength 


RELATED: Aligning Marketing Goals with Your Partners’ Goals


Annual Review Questions:

  1. Where did you deliver a strategic impact for the firm? Review KPIs related to pipeline contribution, revenue, market share, new solution development/launches, client service delivery, culture, etc. 
  2. What did it take to deliver those results? What did you learn in the process that makes our firm, your team, and yourself more valuable?
  3. Where did you miss delivering promised strategic impact to our firm? Why did you miss it? What did you learn to improve your performance for next year?
  4. How did our leadership team contribute to or inhibit your success? What can we amplify or change to enhance our firm’s Marketing capability and performance?
  5. How did marketing enable Sales to produce more revenue? Our managers (and HR) to strengthen our culture? Our consultants to deliver the desired client experience?
  6. If I gave you one new resource, what would it be, why, and what strategic impact could you deliver with it?
  7. What new learning do you need to enable our firm to stay or get to the top of our industry?
  8. Are we using your talents to the fullest? If not, how can we leverage you more next year?
  9. What should I, as your manager, 1. Keep Doing 2. Stop Doing 3. Start Doing?
  10. Set 3-year, 1-year, and 90-day goals related to the desired strategic impact.
  11. Complete HR gobbledygook here.
  12. Tell Marketing Leader that you look forward to seeing him/her at your next weekly one-on-one meeting with him/her and at the next firm leadership team meeting.


RELATED: Building the Optimal Marketing Organization



Does this guidance help or annoy you? 

If you are a managing partner in a Growth School firm, this advice may seem like the stuff you already know and are practicing.  Perhaps, you may have found a few additional questions to supplement or replace the questions that you are already using. 

If you’re a managing partner in a Productivity School firm, you may have found it condescending and useless. I’m lucky that you’ve read this far. Perhaps, condescension aside, you found it useful in rethinking what you’re asking from and getting from your Marketing leader. If it is the former, my approach missed and I apologize for the sarcastic tone.  If it is the latter, I’m ecstatic and it was worth the risk.

Be prudent.



professional services marketing assessment

About the Author

Jeff McKay
Founder & CEO
Prudent Pedal

As a strategist and fractional CMO, Jeff helps firms set smart growth strategies in motion. He was the SVP of Marketing at Genworth Financial, the Global Marketing Leader at Hewitt Associates, and held senior roles at Towers Perrin and Andersen. Learn more.

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