It’s that time of year when we try to tie up loose ends in a neat little bow start thinking about what lies ahead. I love the new year and the feeling of being able to start fresh with new goals and a new energy to accomplish them.
In working with clients on planning for 2011, I’ve noticed a difference in the way my law firm clients think about business development and the way my corporate clients do. Corporate clients tend to start by thinking about what they want to accomplish and move backward from there. Lawyers tend to say, “I want to do x” and then evaluate what it will cost second, without necessarily taking into account what they want to accomplish. The corporate approach ties the goal to the objective so you can measure return on investment.
For example, I work with a legal vendor who is focused on creating regional marketing plans that can be tied specifically to the performance of the sales representatives in each territory. The company itself has big plans. They are bringing new products and services to the market. They are planning a major market expansion. But their strategies for raising visibility and increasing revenue focus on the basics.
Here are three ideas I think law firms would benefit from incorporating:
1. Tradeshows: Develop formal business development strategies for any tradeshow to which you commit. This includes gaining access to attendee lists in advance of programs, where possible, so the attorneys attending can target specific people they want to meet. Schedule a post-event debrief in advance of the event. Make sure to include all relevant parties, including marketing, the attendees and any practice group leaders. Evaluate the quality of the event, direct prospecting that was done there and specific follow up that needs to be done, who will do it, and when.
2. National Sponsorships: If you invest in a national sponsorship, make sure you maximize your sponsorship dollars and take advantage of every potential benefit possible. Work with the organization’s sponsorship chair. They want your dollars and will work with you to help you achieve your specific goals. If they won’t, reconsider the investment.
3. Require your attorneys to “play to pay.” Make active participation in an organization a requirement for membership or sponsorship. This means going beyond showing up at a monthly meeting. It means taking on a leadership position or committee role that will allow the attorney to engage with members. It’s the relationships you develop that are going to determine the value of your investment.
These are not innovative concepts. They simply are proven basic techniques that will strengthen your business development foundation.