Measuring the success of marketing initiatives in law firms and barristers’ chambers is notoriously challenging. When a high-value piece of new business comes in, how can you tell what the impetus was? How can you isolate which event, press article, client alert or e-newsletter resulted in that particular piece of business? Any marketing team should recognise their successes and share them internally, but how effective are we measuring ROI? And how do we prove to our members that our marketing efforts are generating revenue when considered alongside repeat instructions from established clients?
In an extremely competitive market environment, more than ever in chambers, the marketing team has solidified its place supporting an overall business development strategy, and, in professional legal services, the marketing team is no longer seen as simply the soft end of brand awareness, but central to business generation. Marketing is not an accessory, it should be established and engrained in the business, it goes under the skin of the business, and a marketing team needs to have professional expertise as any other key function requires. A business needs to understand and implement tools that allow us to measure the ROI. Any business needs to recognise the importance of business development and client care; to understand that without an efficient CRM system the events strategy could result in poor attendance or irrelevant target audiences. Knowing what the brand is and how that brand can be used to raise a company’s profile is essential. This enables a marketing team to network, encourage and promote the business, and support the selling of members’ practices using a variety of marketing channels; advising members about which are the best marketing channels for their practice.
It is possible to measure success when there is a clear marketing strategy and a well-structured business plan that works as a guide across the business, and is understood by members, clerks and staff alike. A plan with a consistent strategy enables you to revisit the plan each year to confirm it is on track or to make adjustments, using detailed data analysis and an efficient CRM system. Not only does the marketing team and others engaged in business development need to understand the market (in a chambers the clerking team is central to this), it also needs to understand its competitors, the practice areas and members strengths and areas of development that can be pursued. This is all possible when there is an efficient communication flow between senior management, clerks and the marketing team. And so, the marketing team needs to be at the forefront of innovation, meeting new challenges in an evolving marketing environment. It is important to demonstrate that marketing adds value into the business as much as in any other supporting area.
Members of chambers often ask what we gained from a particular event and I always take the opportunity to suggest there might be a better question. What did they gain in terms of networking and market feedback, and how does this contribute to their personal business development plan? Have they formed new relationships to cultivate? Whilst it is true that we can point to occasions where one of our barristers will get a new instruction by networking at an event, (and of course, it’s marketing stories like these that circulate fastest amongst members), to my mind results like this are an added bonus. Much as they are nice-to-haves, opportunities like this are just one string to a bow of a well thought through strategy considered and planned months in advance.
A good illustration of this longer-term, holistic view is our business development programme, which in recent years aimed at growing instructions in overseas jurisdictions. All the individual marketing initiatives we undertake in a particular region including for example, seminars, conferences, face-to-face meetings, PR and social media activity, fit into an over-arching programme of brand building and networking in that geographical area, focussed on positioning us perfectly for a certain category of work. So, it makes no sense to judge individual events or press pieces in complete isolation; the whole point is for everything to work together to win new business, using a variety of channels to deliver our chosen strategy. We look to see how the pattern of instructions in any given region changes over time to evaluate whether there are specific areas for potential growth. We speak to our existing clients to find out the current state of play in the legal market and use this knowledge to better understand what lawyers want from barristers.
There are many hurdles along the way, but with a team equipped with the knowledge and understanding of chambers’ methodology it can spend the necessary time effectively reviewing its marketing campaigns to help inform and shape the next planning cycle.
John Petrie, Serle Court