Profile-raising – What Works and What Doesn’t

Are you measuring the effectiveness of your marketing activity? Most firms aren’t, despite spending large amounts of money on marketing.

Part of the problem is that firms are not always clear what their marketing objectives are. For example, are they targeting new clients or trying to cross sell to clients of other parts of the firm?

Most firms use a pretty conventional approach to profile-raising and put their main efforts into using a mixture of seminars and newsletters. I think this is a mistake. Not that these techniques are inherently ineffective. But several clients say things such as ‘I’ll go crazy if I receive yet another newsletter on Employment issues!’

Firms would benefit from being clear about their brand values to help them decide what marketing techniques they should adopt. If, for example, you want to be known as a firm that offers creative solutions to commercial problems, make your marketing more creative. I know one firm that introduced short plays using carefully briefed actors into their seminars to act out certain circumstances. Clients loved it. Another firm opened up its offices as an art gallery with professional curators, to attract particular private clients.

Monitor what your competitors do to market themselves and do the opposite or at least something different. Standing out from the crowd is a huge part of what successful marketing should be doing.

And there are so many others techniques which might help your firm be distinctive. Here are some examples of more innovative and successful campaigns to raise the profile of practice groups:

  1. A firm keen to develop its dispute resolution function

They developed a process for keeping litigation costs under control and invited the heads of the legal functions of several large banks to a themed lunch. At the lunch the firm got insights from the banks about litigation issues from their perspective. This impressed the potential buyers – after all, their existing lawyers hadn’t raised these points. This led to several 1-1 pitches after the lunch and instructions followed from two of the banks.

  1. A firm starting up a product liability function

They collaborated with a small software firm to develop a diagnostic tool for assessing the risk of product liability claims for UK based manufacturers. A number of large companies were happy for the lawyers to visit their manufacturing plants and produce a useful report. It led to the firm getting short-listed for substantial corporate work with a FTSE 350 company where there was no previous relationship.

  1. A firm keen to move from tier 2 to tier 1 in Real Estate in the directories

The Government had recently published a green paper potentially introducing new legislation. The law firm decided to carry out a survey with a leading trade publication. They published the results and ultimately influenced the new legislation. The firms thought this was so successful they have carried out subsequent surveys and has indeed moved up the rankings.

  1. A firm wanting to develop their financial services regulation practice

The firm decided that there were likely to be further market developments and offered a research study to an MBA student. The research findings were then used to arrange meetings with the leading companies in the market. The prospective clients were impressed with the business insights the firm had.

  1. A leading shipping firm keen to develop clear blue water between them and their rivals

A senior female partner set up a club for all the women executives in the industry. Hundreds of women attended events specially designed for women (eg fashion shows, talks from successful senior women in business etc). This provided wonderful opportunities for women in the firm to form relationships with women working in the industry.

  1. A firm looking to develop more referrals from overseas firms

They targeted the satellite offices of particular firms in their home city – the firms which they judged weren’t in the market to compete locally. Only 12 firms were invited to a breakfast seminar and four attended. All four referred work to the firm within the following week.

Could your practice group get better at raising its profile?

If you’d like to know more, I provide a comparison of the impact and cost of different marketing techniques at https://tonyreiss.com/2015/03/10/effectiveness-of-different-marketing-activities/

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