Basic Training

By: Sharon Berman,

Companies expect a continuous client focus. If they can’t get it from you, they are willing to give another firm the chance to provide it.

There’s no doubt that thoughtful, strategic marketing works. However, measuring the results of your marketing can be notoriously difficult. For example, if you published an article and obtained a new client who called as a result of reading it, the result is easy to measure.

But what if your article appears in print and you get no calls? Is there still value? Yes, but measuring it is more of a challenge.

Fortunately, other organizations are forecasting and measuring marketing results. You can use their statistics as marketing guideposts, factors to consider when developing your marketing program or making a case for your marketing plan and budget. Consider how these numbers might be used to reinforce or enhance your marketing efforts.

While client satisfaction has grown overall, more than half of large companies surveyed fired their primary law firm in the past two years, citing a lack of client focus as the reason. Companies are sending a message that they expect a continuous client focus. If they can’t get it from you, they are willing to give another firm the chance to provide it.

In another survey, 50 percent of law firm clients cited superior client service, loyalty and excellent responsiveness as factors separating the top performers. These firms integrate client service with the delivery of legal services instead of viewing them separately.

They are creating a marketing culture, where every individual, from the mailroom to the managing partner, knows that they are part of a client-oriented system and that they have an impact on delivery.

On average, more than half of new associates will leave a firm within four years and more than 70 percent within six years. This gives law firms less than four years to identify and develop rainmakers from the small group they will retain. Unfortunately, many firms don’t begin training their associates in business development until they have one foot out the door and, therefore lose valuable, untapped marketing talent.

Interestingly, another survey points to a tremendous difference between firms in the United States and those in the United Kingdom. Across the pond, law firms expect 90 percent of associates to bring in new work compared with 50 percent here.

In a poll of law firm marketing partners and marketing directors, two-thirds said that their firms have programs to train their attorneys in business development, but only half have training in presentation skills. Less than half recognize that training in marketing differs from that of sales training and train in that area also.

Teaching your lawyers how to market is a significant step, but it’s only the first half. It teaches them how to generate opportunities to be in front of the right prospects, but they also need to know how to handle the prospects once they are sitting across the desk from them. It comes naturally to a small percentage, but anyone who wants to learn can be taught. Don’t omit this vital part from your training program.

With respect to Web sites, one survey found that 65 percent of law firm buyers have gone online to find a firm. 89 percent use search engines and 71 percent use portals or directories. Getting your Web site up or revising the one you created when Web sites were in their infancy is an accomplishment, but it’s no longer enough.

Even if most of your prospective clients won’t find you through a “cold” search, it’s certain that they check out your Web site after they are referred to you. At that point, your site may be the determining factor in whether they actually pick up the phone to call you.

It may be impossible to capture the number of prospects who considered your Web site and decided against calling you, but your goal is for that number to be zero. It’s also critical to optimize your rankings in search engines; professionals are available who focus on this area.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said that how well a firm uses its Web presence directly influences how they view the firm. That means firms have a significant opportunity to differentiate themselves through the design, navigation and content of their Web sites. And remember to give prospects a reason to keep coming back by posting legal updates and new information.

When not looking for a new law firm, one third of firm Web site visitors seek articles or white papers. By providing this content, you can reinforce your positioning as an expert in a particular area so that when these visitors are ready to buy, your name is at the top of the list. Reporters and producers also may search online when looking for an expert for comment in a particular arena.

One survey of general counsel listed articles written by a firm’s lawyers as among the top three means of identifying outside counsel, second only to referrals and beauty contests on a list of 17 possibilities.

Remember, if you’re going to write, the key is leverage. Post your article on your firm’s Web site. Distribute reprints, whether hard copy or e-mail. Include them in your marketing material. Display them in your reception area. Also, if you’ve given a talk, get it down on paper and extend its marketing return on investment.

When accessing lawyer biographies, prospects first look for what they consider the most useful piece of information – specific industry experience. Second in importance is the law school attended, followed by bar memberships and activities, while community service involvement is of the least interest.

So, when writing your biography, emphasize your industry experience as opposed to your practice area. If you work across a variety of industries, call out those where your experience is stronger or those you are targeting.

A couple of law firm studies done in the United Kingdom offer food for thought for U.S. firms. Ten percent of firms reported that they value work gained from new clients more highly than additional work from existing clients. This serves as a reminder not to forget maintenance marketing to existing clients, which, surprisingly, is sometimes overlooked when we talk about marketing.

Another U.K. study found that law firms that branded themselves could command a 10 percent to 15 percent premium in fees.

“Branding” often brings to mind logos and taglines, but branding is really about the promise you are making to your market and the relationship you’re creating. Markets will pay more for this trust.

Prospective clients who are looking for a law firm with a particular specialty or industry niche will call the top three firms in the relevant market niche 70 percent of the time. Therefore, targeting a market or a select few niches, with the goal of being in the top tier, can lead to significantly more opportunities. Besides, targeting your marketing also gives you much more bang for your buck.

The numbers above can serve as food for thought and guideposts for developing your firm’s effective marketing plan. Marketing can be difficult to measure, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t capture as much as possible. Build in your own measurement and tracking system.

Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Marketing & PR, a marketing consulting firm specializing in working with professional services firms. She can be reached at
The firm’s website is

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