The talented journalist Patrick Smith of Law.com recently wrote, “More law firms are starting to empower business development officers to generate business tips proactively and leads for their firms.”
Patrick couldn’t be more on the mark.
While law firms need to continue to empower and invest in the work of their marketing departments, there are still steps that the lawyers themselves need to take.
The new leader of a large law firm recently asked how she could know if her practices were marketing correctly. While I always recommend the CMO as the first stop in getting guidance, there are questions that law firm leaders should ask.
Do our practice group leaders have a real role and an actual job description? Do they know what is expected of them, or have they been rewarded with a title out of political nicety? Hint: These partners need to be empowered to do the job we are asking them to do, and their role needs to be communicated within the firm.
Does the practice group know their competition? Are they aware of which firms are awarded the business when they don’t win an assignment? While they shouldn’t be copying a competitor’s strategy, being mindful of their position in the marketplace can help carve out a niche.
Are they clear about their unique selling proposition (USP)? They should be able to articulate precisely what makes them different from their competition.
What does their marketing plan look like? An annual marketing plan should specify the practice’s goals. What do they want to achieve, and how will they do it? These goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.)
How are they communicating their USP? A strong USP leads to solid tactics.
They should be using tools to get this across outside of the firm as well as internally with other practice areas that may send them business.
Are the lawyers using LinkedIn regularly to cultivate new contacts and share helpful information about their USP?
Do they meet regularly with the reporters who cover their industry or practice?
At the end of the year, are they looking back at their plan to see if it worked or how it might need to be adjusted for the next year? Has the firm received a return on their investment?
Is the practice integrating new partners so that they are set up to succeed by meeting with existing clients and making sure that others in the firm are know their capabilities?
Having a great CMO is an excellent first step, but giving them the resources to do their job and sharing in the heavy lifting of business development is the winning combination. If you are interested in reading more, get a copy of my marketing strategy toolkit on my website, deborahfarone.com or reach out with questions.