Stop thinking of digital marketing and social tools as being separate from traditional marketing and BD activities. They’re not.
The recent results of the ALPMA/Julian Midwinter 2015 Research ‘Winning Work in a Digital World’ confirmed that law firms are, on the whole, using these tools separately rather than as a way to enhance the success of their existing activities. Unsurprisingly the study found the top three ways law firms in Australia and NZ to win more work are via:
- Referral relationships/networks
- Client relationship management programmes.
I don’t expect that to change. But each of these things could be even more effective if firms, and the individuals within them, leveraged digital channels as a part of this.
The authors put it well when they said, “We expect this to change in the near future, as more firms come to understand the benefits of a well-strategised and resourced digital program for supporting their overall marketing and BD efforts.”
How can you leverage digital tools to make your existing initiatives even more effective?
Often people refer work to whoever is top of mind.
A referral programme can and should have digital elements built into it. This could include setting up a joint group on LinkedIn to target common prospects or simply encouraging those within your firm to share content valuable to their referrers’ clients directly with their referrers (this can often be done with one click of a button online). We all get busy and go through periods when it can be hard to get out from behind our desks. In those instances we can use those social networks, where our referrers are present (and email marketing), to stay on their radars.
For more ways on how to leverage LinkedIn to improve your existing initiatives download your free copy of the “Essential Guide to Leveraging LinkedIn”.
By regularly sharing content valuable to your referrers and their clients online, you are likely to grow your referrer base. Over the past two years I’ve had good quality referrals from over 10 overseas consultants as a result of my online activity. And the clincher? I haven’t even met the majority of these people in person (although have had Skype conversations with some).
Another aspect of this is ensuring that when referrers recommend us, our online profiles present us in the best possible light. I’ve seen too many instances of professionals missing out on work (often that they didn’t even know was in the pipeline) because their online profiles just didn’t cut it. Don’t kid yourself that your clients and prospects aren’t looking at sites such as LinkedIn to verify you, because they are!
There are multiple things you can do:
- Use online tools to find out the key things people really want you to cover, which will result in a much better session.
- Use technology to run webinars and record these for viewing on-demand post event – you could allow people to view these in return for their email address, allowing you to communicate with them on an ongoing basis throughout their buyer journey (via a series of well thought-out autoresponders).
- Invite people to your events via social networks and drive them to a landing pagewhere they can sign up.
- Post insights from the event on your website, blog and social networks post event. Your call to action could then be to view the recording of the session.
- Run a mini online course via a landing page and a series of autoresponders you set up that people can work through at a pre-determined pace. This is something many entrepreneurs do extremely successfully that would also work well in professional services. An added benefit is you can include calls-to-action throughout the series, moving people through your sales pipeline and, because you capture their email address at the outset, you can keep in touch with them on an ongoing basis, allowing you to start to build a relationship and trust.
3. Client relationship management (CRM) programmes
A friend who works in London for an international law firm said he’d recently conducted a client review and the client had asked him why none of the people the firm had previously seconded to the client were on LinkedIn. The client went on to say “we see these people as part of our team too and we want an easy way to stay in touch with them” – setting up LinkedIn profiles for each of these people and having them join the client’s alumni group, not to mention connecting with those they know within the client’s organisation would give firms access to a goldmine of information and insights they currently don’t have.
The mini-courses and on-demand webinars mentioned earlier could be offered to key clients in order to take some pressure off their in-house legal teams. You could then use live online support sessions to enhance the value you offer. This is particularly helpful when your clients have offices in multiple cities and/or when their teams need quick access to content.
Following clients online (both their organisations and the key people) allows you to understand more about them and may inspire further ideas about how you can help them. At the very least, engaging with their content generates goodwill and keeps you top of mind should an opportunity arise.
This is by no means exhaustive. I’ve barely even scratched the surface. But my point is this: whatever you’re doing in terms of business development and marketing could be even more effective if you integrated digital into the mix.
It’s a case of thinking through how could using digital channels help me to achieve Objective X more easily? For example, by using LinkedIn and/or tools such as Crystal to uncover information prior to a new business meeting you can better plan your approach and determine the right colleagues to take along to the meeting.
If you’re not thinking like this, then I guarantee you’re missing out on some of your ideal work.
And in today’s market, can you really afford to let that happen?