Matchmaker, Matchmaker: How Law Firm Marketing Is a Relationships Game

by JD Supra Perspectives
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Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...

I was recently asked to share my insights on what it takes to be successful in professional services marketing and business development, and the old "Fiddler on the Roof" song popped into my head.

I’ve always seen the difference between product marketing and professional services landing squarely at the intersection of skills and relationships.  Instead of selling widgets, wherein a product is designed specifically to meet the needs of an audience and is then marketed directly to that audience, we are helping to sell services; but those services are being offered by real, live human beings with varying personalities, and are being consumed by real, live human beings with varying personalities.

...our services are being consumed by real, live human beings with varying personalities.

We, as in-house legal marketing and business development professionals, are veritably charged with playing matchmaker on a daily basis, and that part of our role adds inherent value to a firm’s business strategy.

We connect the dots

We match the right attorneys with a prospective client by assembling a strategic client team that fits not only the client’s immediate needs, but also anticipates their future needs and personality traits.

We match a quality referral source with the right person within the firm to start a fruitful business relationship based on commonalities.

We match the new associate with the right organizations where her intended audience will inevitably be waiting to help her grow in her career.

We match the right types of business development and client service initiatives to a particular attorney within our firms to ensure that he is not wasting precious time on business development activities that aren’t a good fit. 

...it’s the legal marketing and business development department that appears to be conducting the orchestra

We think strategically (and make it scalable)

We're always thinking strategically.

In a small firm, it’s often by way of institutional knowledge on the part of the in-house professionals (they tend to know the players, the firm’s clients, the industries the firm knows inside and out, and where to best position the firm within a particular market). In larger firms it’s often heavily reliant on technology (utilization of experience databases, RFP-generating software, using CRM to connect the dots, etc.).

In either scenario, it’s the legal marketing and business development department that appears to be conducting the orchestra, and that is an important point to showcase value to firm leadership.

We're the resident nag, wingman, and matchmaker

I often think this should be my sub-title. I act as a nag when I serve as an accountability partner to our attorneys: I ensure that they “make good” on what they say they are going to achieve in terms of their business development plans when it’s easy for those promises to get lost in busy, billable days.

I play wingman because I often accompany them to networking and industry events, serving as an additional brand advocate for the firm, and helping to make introductions where possible.

I serve as a matchmaker when I look critically at where each of our attorneys want to take their practices (whether into a new industry or niche, to another type of client or new geographic area, to raise their visibility as they grow in their careers, or to simply expand their services within an already established practice area), and assist in connecting them with individuals, organizations, and often internal partners who can help to further those efforts.  

Therein lies the secret: in an increasingly commoditized business, remembering that this is a people game is paramount. So, go forth, and find me a find… catch me a catch.

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[Jenna Schiappacasse is director of marketing and business development at Baltimore-based law firm Rosenberg Martin Greenberg. She currently serves as president-elect of the Mid-Atlantic Region Board of Directors for the Legal Marketing Association, and as an adjunct member of LMA's Advocacy Advisory Council. Connect with Jenna on LinkedIn and follow her additional writings on JD Supra.]

 

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