Marketing your firm within an international network.

by Ross Fishman

That is, how can you increase the flow of referrals you receive from the other members of your network (e.g. Lex Mundi, Meritas, Lawyers Associated Worldwide (LAW), International Lawyers Network, ALFA, State Capital Group, World Services Group, TerraLex, Avrio-Advocati)?

I was speaking at the annual meeting of MSI Global, one of the world’s leading international professional-services firm networks.  It’s unique because the network combines both law and accounting firms.

I was presenting on effective online marketing e.g. social media tools and SEO, including branding and differentiating your firm.  One of my points was how effective it can be to brand yourself and your firm within the group, to enhance the flow of referrals.  MSI Global has 250 different firms in 105 countries (totaling 8,000 professionals), and like many international networks, encourages intra-network referrals. But, like any other professional referral, they are based upon awareness, credibility, and trusted personal relationships. Membership in the network is important, but it’s not necessarily enough to deliver a steady flow of business.

Personal relationships build over time, but awareness and credibility can accelerate the relationship-development process, and can also be heavily influenced by marketing.  It is why I encourage firms to market themselves proactively within the networks in which they are members.

This is obviously also true within other types of professional groups like bar associations or trade organizations, like the Legal Marketing Association (LMA), the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC), or Litigation Counsel of America (LCA).

I was already planning to discuss this topic at the MSI conference, when I encountered an especially effective example of this from one of the Chinese accounting firms, Lehman Brown. 

Lehman Brown’s partner Dickson Leung had become famous within MSI for annually handing out a logo’d stuffed animal representing that year of the Chinese calendar.  2012 is the Year of the Dragon.

Here is a photo of the promotional dragon he personally designed and distributed.  These stuffed animals were always highly coveted giveaways, with the attendees’ families looking forward to receiving them when they returned home.

If any MSI member were asked whether they knew a Chinese firm or lawyer, nearly 100% of them would immediately think of Dickson.  Many of them have entire collections of his “Year of the…” stuffed animals dating back nearly a decade. THAT’s great marketing.  They might not feel comfortable referring him if they didn’t know him personally, but he’s also a charming and active networker, and the combination is unbeatable – he gets a regular and steady flow of referrals from MSI members.

And when you’re attending a 2-4 day conference where you are meeting dozens and dozens of people from all over the world, it’s much easier to remember the one who gave you a small and unique  gift.

(I’ve previously written about Lex, an Iceland firm, where we recommended something similar, below, see blog post here.)

So, if your firm is part of an international network, is there anything YOU can do to market yourself more effectively, to leverage the in-person networking and relationship-development activities? 

Think about it – it could significantly increase your firm’s visibility and the flow of referrals.


Written by:

Ross Fishman

Fishman Marketing, Inc. on:

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