This article was first published in the Lex Witness – December 2015 issue.
It’s been a journey of hard work, strategy and dedicated client service all throughout the 2015. And this will continue for years to come. What makes the difference then? What creates new benchmarks set out? How shall the firm grow to newer heights? How well have you performed the last year? Well, to answer all these questions emphatically, it is crucial to get on to the table discussions and critically review the past 365 days. With the New Year right around the corner, it is imminent that we take some time to review the business year and set some goals for the forthcoming one.
Listed below are the 3 most important aspects of branding and positioning to-dos to focus on:
BRANDING & POSITIONING CUES
Does your branding budget sheet run into 5 or even 6 figure spends? Or is it just about a few thousands. It doesn’t really matter though. Unless there remains a logic behind every penny spent, it’s nothing but a mere expense. Introspect as to how much was spent and why? You should be able to justify every spending with a result in return, whether tangible or intangible. This could be for the sake of awareness, brand building, profiling etc. So right from the awareness index to business development pulse, make sure you cross check it all. Howsoever, illogical and subjective marketing efforts look like – a summit sponsorship or a sponsored content feature, an online advertisement property or anything else under the sun, there has to be a logic behind everything.
The best of the marketing gurus would happily recommend figures, ratios etc. to guide you to spend and expect return on investments, mind you projected. Don’t just go by the graphs and the trajectory that has its own course! Identify your marketing needs, and fulfil them profitably. Brainstorm the priority in which your entity would need to be spent upon. And ensure you have an eye on all the measurement parameters.
THE MEASURING LAB
Although certain branding methods may be more popular than the others amongst your competitors, that necessarily does not mean that you should invest a majority of your budget on those particular activities. Also, it is crucial to be able to check to see if your approaches actually generated any results. Investing funds in only a few selected approaches limits your ROI calculating capacity. Diversify and pursue the techniques that you can measure.
Don’t waste resources, in terms of money, time and talent, on anything that is not measurable. Pursue the techniques that you can measure. Identifying or creating long term customized positioning platforms, like your own blog or newsletters, can not only be much more effective as compared to a display ad (Indian law firms can only advertise outside India), but also easily measurable.
Alongside the monetary investment, it is key to put in man-hours in all positioning and active business development initiatives. This may sound like a lot, but when you break it down on a per week basis, it’s really only about four hours a week. You can meet a referral source for coffee, or take a client out for lunch. You can become a member of a trade association and attend their meetings once a month. All these short and non-time consuming tasks can be weaved into your weekly to-do list, and before you know it, you have already devoted more than 200 hours in a year!
Don’t waste any money on marketing that is not measurable. When you take out such a measurable and tangible sum out of your firm’s revenue and invest it back into growing the firm, you psychologically become accountable to every initiative you pursue.
THE REVENUE INDEX
Aspire to make the best of every in-person relationship building and business development task you initiate. If you are participating in a conference, research whom you would like to meet with well in advance. Arrange meetings with the ideal partners, and after you have met with them and set up a relationship, you can always evaluate on the business conversions you have made along with their value. However, in this case it is imperative to understand, that there are relationships that may take time to cultivate. Most business generated in the legal industry are based on referrals. However, this just doesn’t happen all by itself.
The lowest hanging fruit to cultivate referral based work is with your existing clients. These are people who you are already doing work for. Albeit they know you and trust you well with the matters you are currently handling for them, it is unfair to expect of your clients to actively keep referring you their own or other contact’s work, unless you have explicitly expressed interest regarding welcoming more cases from or through them!
Other referral sources besides existing clients include but not limited to, your acquaintances in other professions with a legal or regulatory inclination, such as investment brokers, accountants, and bankers. They will be more than happy to send you business, as long as you tell them that you would like them to and what kind of work to send.
When it comes to business development, start with the low-hanging fruit. Lawyers who invest time and resources in nurturing relationships with the key influencers or decision makers, are the ones who can cultivate the most referrals.
Once you have had a chance to review the above mentioned 3 critical elements of branding and positioning, and set the resolutions for the upcoming year, take time to analyze how far you have come and the growth trajectory of your firm.
Certainly, tracking the branding and business development budget investment toward each initiative and activity, helps in calculating the financial ROI. But what about the effort? Existing marketing ROI calculators do little to account for the resources and time involved in planning and execution. It is important to remember that at the end of the day, it is your talent and efforts that drive the whole thing and makes the journey all the more enjoyable.
So, good luck and a very Happy New Year!