Make a fresh start in marketing, business development

Season changes are a great time to start fresh and focus on marketing and business development. Law firms and individual lawyers can use this time to reflect on current practices, get back on track, develop a plan of action, and engage outside resources to help with these efforts. Below are some initiatives that are worthwhile to consider.

-----

Cross selling

I've often heard lawyers at firms say they don't really know what others outside of their own practice area do at the firm, and they don't know other lawyers at the firm very well aside from seeing them around the office.

Often, firm management is shocked to hear this, but the reality is lawyers get caught up in legal work and often need a push to get out of their comfort zone, learn about and get to know others at the firm, and focus on internal and external marketing.

Better internal relationships and knowledge leads to cross-selling - an area in which many firms can improve. Therefore, it's in the best interest of all to make this a major area of focus. Ways to do this include:

Hold internal social events and encourage lawyers to get to know others on a personal level, perhaps even through facilitated networking or exercises.

Profile an attorney every month internally. Include areas of expertise, specialty areas, significant client results and personal information, such as hometown, current residence, law school, undergrad and hobbies.

Have a guest speaker from another practice area do a brief presentation at practice group meetings.

Encourage individual lawyers to get to know each other outside of the office over lunch.

Hold an internal trivia contest, and make it a fun challenge.

When other lawyers are out networking at events or communicating with anyone anywhere, this information will help them connect dots and increase the chances that they will mention their colleagues. It will also encourage lawyers to talk with their clients about other attorneys and practice areas in the firm.

-----

Marketing and business development plans

It is never too late to create a marketing and business development plan. A plan helps a firm be strategic and focus its energy and resources in the right places, rather than all over the place.

Plans should include specific goals, a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), and an execution plan based on strengths, interests and time. You can't do everything at once and need to prioritize.

A plan acts as a roadmap to keep focused, and a plan provides something to measure.

Business development coaching

Many lawyers - at all career levels - are overwhelmed with the thought of marketing and business development activities. They often don't know where to start, where they should be spending their time, or what activities they should be doing for the best return on investment of that time.

There's also the challenge of finding the time to fit in marketing and business development activities, along with work-life balance, time management issues, and the legal work that has to get done. A lot of lawyers need help but don't ask for it, or they don't even realize there's help out there to address these challenges.

Business development coaching can help with all of the above. An experienced coach can steer a lawyer in the right direction, provide the accountability necessary to keep the attorney on track, and help the lawyer contribute to the bottom line through marketing and business development activities.

It's worthwhile to focus on both associates and partners. A firm will make the most impact if it has all lawyers out there marketing the firm, getting the firm name out through professional and community involvement, and focused on developing business.

Additionally, it's a good idea for associates to get into the marketing and business development mindset as soon as possible and start building their brands, networking, speaking and writing based on what is going to work for them, and planting seeds for the future.

It's never a comfortable situation when new partners find themselves in the position of being expected to develop business, but they have no network, don't know what to do, and are starting from scratch.

I've heard the argument from rainmakers: "I didn't have any help developing my business; why should we spend money on coaching?" While that may be the case for some lawyers, those people very likely have a natural marketing and business development ability. Many lawyers don't, and need help developing the knowledge and skills to bring in clients. A firm will only benefit from helping lawyers in this area.

-----

Public relations

Have you ever wondered why you see certain firms in the media all the time? Chances are, they engaged the services of a public relations firm.

I've heard lawyers say, "Our firm is doing great. People know us; we don't need to spend money on PR." Don't forget: There's significant competition within the legal industry with other firms with similar practice areas.

Visibility in the media leads to thought leadership, becoming known in a certain area, and reminding other lawyers that your firm is a player in the legal industry. Most importantly, it leads to new client work and other opportunities.

Make marketing and business development top priorities through the above initiatives. It will result in positive return on investment and contribute to firm growth. Status quo will provide status quo results.

A strong focus on, and effort in, marketing and business development will provide advantages that firms need in this extremely competitive climate.

-----

Ellen M. Keiley is president of EMK Consulting Group, which offers business development coaching and consulting, public relations, and training for law firms. She can be contacted at ellenkeiley@emkconsultinggroup.com.

Published: Wed, Dec 13, 2017

Comments

  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »