“Simple ideas are easier to understand. Ideas that are easier to understand are repeated.
Ideas that are repeated change the world.”
– Simon Sinek, Author & Speaker
There are a lot of things I love about working at a small law firm. Access to lawyers and senior leaders is more frequent, building relationships with everyone across the firm is actually achievable, and getting real-time insights into the practice of law happens daily. But for me, the main feature has been the ability to implement simple ideas, that demonstrate my experience and expertise, quickly and effectively.
If you are a sole marketer, part of a team managing a few specific practice areas, or looking for something to engage a large group of lawyers with, here is a program that might work for you. The idea itself is not unique (I know many legal marketers who have developed their own version of this) but it’s a tried and true way to get lawyers reacting and acting more often.
During the pandemic, we developed a weekly content series for our lawyers. Our goal was to break down the myth that successful marketing and business development was a one size fits all approach. Instead, we aimed to start creating a marketing and business development mindset that, regardless of a lawyer’s age and stage, would resonate and ultimately help them to advance their individual business plans.
So, what did we do? We wrote dozens of tips, developed brief (and painless!) activities, filmed clips with special guests, found clever and relevant articles, and leveraged new and existing firm programs to highlight different marketing and business development competencies. We gave it a name, built a slick template, sent an email each Monday morning, and posted all of it to our intranet so that it can live on forever. Below, I’ve lifted one tip from each competency.
Client insights are everywhere. Earlier this year, ZSA spoke to in-house counsel about their rationale for selecting external counsel. Topics of communication, budgeting, collaboration, and relationship building are featured. Last week, ZSA published another article including advice from in-house counsel to young lawyers, highlighting the different pathways to success in law. Several clients are showcased and with attributed comments, it’s easy to understand what they think and value. Our business development team keeps an updated list of resources, just like these on our intranet. Rather than subscribing to receive more emails, we encourage you to visit the BD page and catch up with what clients are talking about. The more you know about your client’s organization, values, and professional interests, the richer your interactions with them will be.
ATTRACTING NEW BUSINESS
Keep your clients close and your competitors closer. Keeping an eye on your competition can help you better understand your advantage in the market. The start of the year presents a good opportunity to check in on what your competitors have been up to. Pay particular attention to the scope of the services they provide (practice and industry areas), the client experience they have gained (think new cases), and the way they are attracting new work (think profile-building activities). Pause. How does that impact your own marketing and BD planning? We all know that maintaining close relationships with competitors and building a strong referral network is good BD. Once your sweep of the market is done, consider the last time you connected with some of your competitors. Take time this month to reconnect with your strongest contacts. Schedule a virtual coffee (or two!), prepare for those meetings, and track your progress. Need help with all of this? Reach out. You never know when your competition may be in the position to refer you new business so, keep close!
Cultivate strong internal relationships. Given our strong client base and continuous development of our practice group program, we will naturally find opportunities for cross-selling. But one could argue that cross-selling should start at the most basic level: cultivating strong internal relationships. Be curious about what your colleagues are working on, seek out an opportunity to promote specialty expertise at a practice group meeting, and be mindful of your internal client service. Developing and maintaining genuine, trusted, and informed relationships inside our firm will significantly increase our chances of cross-selling effectively. Here are a few articles that complement this thinking: Cultivating Internal Referral Sources and Cross-Selling Made Simple.
One step at a time. You’re busy, the ‘to-do’ list can feel never-ending, and following through on your marketing and business development plans can become a challenge. So, ditch the long list! Instead, pick something and focus on it until it’s done. Maybe it’s having lunch or dinner with a client that you’ve been pushing off or maybe it’s simply catching up with a Lenczner Slaght colleague. Whatever it is, don’t let it weigh on you. Not sure what to prioritize? Ask yourself what you’re avoiding – that’s probably the most important thing and a good place to start. Making an intentional choice and sticking with it can help you make meaningful progress on your goals. Just take it one step at a time!
Watch it back. Great presenters make it look effortless. They start their presentation with some light-hearted commentary, breeze through content, nail all of the important bits, and then walk away feeling great about themselves. But of course, those same presenters will be the first to tell you just how important practice, feedback, and self-evaluation are. You can control practice and feedback but, self-evaluation is an important piece that many people miss. Watching a presentation back allows you to see how comfortable you look in front of an audience. It can also provide instant insight into where you may struggle with ideas or transitions, how your pace and speech variety impact your message, and how well you hold your narrative thread from beginning to end. Finding even the smallest areas for improvement and troubleshooting them quickly can help you look more natural and feel more confident in the future. Everything has moved online – clients, colleagues, and the courts are all watching. There has never been a better time to sharpen your presentation skills. No one is born with perfect delivery but, it can be learned and earned through study and experience.
A simple program like this can be a real win-win for a legal marketer. You create content that you believe in, have it perfectly aligned with your marketing and business development strategies, and demonstrate your expertise to a broad audience. So, what are you waiting for?