An 8-Part, One-Year Law Firm Associate 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 eight 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.
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 something small and specialized is a significantly more-effective approach than running around marketing “general business litigation.” Generic categories like that simply bury them in the middle of the pack as just one more smart but forgettably non-differentiated lawyer. I wouldn’t want them working as fungible full-service associates when the next recession hits.
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, and 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.
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 marketing, 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, 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 interested prospects are going to read their LinkedIn profiles at some point, it might as well 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 their peers at firm clients they’re working with into their own clients when that client quits and moves to another company.
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 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!