A 10-Part, One-Year Marketing-Training Curriculum
I get asked regularly by marketers what I think associates need to learn about marketing. So here’s a simple list of ten associate-marketing programs that provide a comprehensive marketing and business-development education designed to improve their skills and set them on a strong path to becoming rainmakers down the road.
Studies show that young lawyers value quality professional-development training, that is, training programs can reduce costly turnover.
I always suggest starting with a (1) Niche/Industry Marketing program, which helps them find a specialty area that they can work to dominate over time.
Seeking to become the market leader in a small and specialized industry or practice area is a significantly more efficient and effective approach than marketing a general category like “commercial litigation,” “M&A,” or “real estate.”
Generic areas like that bury them in the middle of the pack as just one more smart but non-differentiated lawyer. (I wouldn’t want to be known as a generalist when the next recession hits―they’re too easy to fire now and replace later when business picks back up.) I’d want to offer some sort of specialized skill or industry expertise that would be hard for the firm to replace.
Once they have a narrow focus that helps them stand out, I’d suggest (2) Developing an Individual Marketing Plan, which directly supports that effort and identifies the group or organization they can get active in. This also determines the specific steps they need to take to help them attain market leadership.
Then provide training on (3) Networking and Working a Room, to teach them what to do when they’re in a room full of targets and at conferences. This includes specific, tangible tips like where to put their name tag, how to give out business cards (yes, cards are still relevant), what questions to ask, and how to get into and out of a conversation with a new contact.
It should also emphasize listening skills―beginner rainmakers tend to do too much of the talking. Let’s help them focus on learning about the prospects more than talking about themselves and their law firm. This would also include how to network online, where much of the activity has moved in recent years.
Then (4) Telling Your Story Online: Ten Tips to Improving your Google Results, which shows how to use social media to spread their name and build their online reputation as a credible professional.
If they’re out there networking, prospects will search for them online. We can influence what these prospects see and learn about your lawyers at a particularly critical time. Let’s make sure they’re leveraging the power of Google and the full range of internet platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) to tell a robust, comprehensive, and positive story about them.
Next, (5) LinkedIn for Lawyers teaches them how to write a compelling LinkedIn profile that tells their story persuasively to prospects who are looking for more information about them, using all the right search engine keywords. Most hot prospects will read a lawyer’s LinkedIn profile before deciding whether to call, so it should be a great one.
Also useful is (6) Business-development training, to show step-by-step how rainmakers turn contacts into prospects and then clients. This should also reinforce the listening-skills techniques learned in the previous Networking training. Skilled rainmakers know that selling comes from listening and asking good questions.
Further, all associates need to learn about (7) Client-Service Strategies, which shows the importance of service attributes like responsiveness, clear communication, timeliness, and accessibility, and how to keep the firm’s clients happy and interested in using the firm next time.
Many associates need to be taught the critical difference between technical skills and client service. We can help them step into the clients’ shoes and empathize with the stress they may feel in dealing with lawyers or legal matters.
It’s also helpful to teach them about (8) Cross-selling, particularly how to use the phone calls and emails they’re regularly having with clients to find new business opportunities. This also covers how to turn the firm clients they’re working with into their own clients when that client quits and moves to another company.
I’d also include a program on (9) Substance abuse and mental health. Recent studies have shown that younger lawyers are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other issues. Pre-COVID more than one-third of all associates were “problem drinkers.” And newer studies show that pandemic-related stress and loneliness may have as much as doubled these figures. Let’s get them some help.
Finally, let’s help them stay current with the new (10) “Technology Tools and Ethics Rules.” These would include artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT, and the evolving ethics rules surrounding them. Be sure they understand the firm’s rules on these issues.
That’s a nice comprehensive marketing education. I generally suggest offering the training either (1) in 2-3 half-day mini-retreats, or (2) roughly quarterly. Offering non-billable programs more than every 2-3 months can cause attendance to decline. I like to offer one or two individual hour-long programs per session, either during lunch or at 4:30.
Contact Ross directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1.847.921.7677!