[This is the third and final segment of a three-part blog post regarding how to market an international law or accounting firm network. The first post discussed how (a) the firms’ member contacts can market themselves within the network, and (b) the member firms can get better known within the network. The second post discussed how to market the network deeper into the firms. Click here to read PARTS ONE and TWO.]
(d) Marketing the network to your clients
Finally, we need to inform our clients of our membership in a high-quality international network, and the value and access it offers to them. One particularly impactful way would be to add it to every external communication from every single professional at every member firm. For example, add the network’s logo to all of the member firms’ business cards, letterhead, and emails. Does that sound crazy? Excessive?
Nearly 20 years ago, we helped develop the strategic plan for Meritas (then “Commercial Law Affiliates” a/k/a “CLA”). One of our recommendations was that they should insist that every single CLA member firm include the network’s logo on the firm’s business cards and stationery.
We knew this recommendation was costly, difficult, and unlikely to be quickly adopted — but also that it was the right answer. We discussed the visual impact of 5000 lawyers handing out 100+ business cards and sending hundreds of letters to executives and in-house lawyers every year. Today, professionals send thousands of emails per year to clients, prospects, executives, in-house lawyers, and others. That’s literally millions of communications going to the purchasers of legal services. Imagine if those millions of annual emails showed the network’s name and logo in all of the firms’ standard email signatures as well.
Obviously, this requires a commitment most firms won’t make, and most networks can’t enforce, especially since many of them allow their member firms to be part of multiple networks. Since then, Meritas has matured into one of the world’s leading networks and now requires this of all of its members. (See a couple examples in the margin.) That’s an impressive achievement, and it shows the commitment of its members to the network. They’re not a Swiss Verein like DLA, Baker McKenzie or others, but they’re a giant step ahead of the too-loose affiliation of the most weak-willed networks.
An easier first step is simply to ensure that network membership is proclaimed prominently on each member firm’s website. It’s a simple and almost-free modification. Many firms simply dump the network logo invisibly into the home-page footer. The better approach is to add it as a full page on each firm’s website, connected directly as a drop-down item under the About Us top-level menu. Networks should demand this option and provide standard language to use, along with the URLs of the links and .eps and .jpg files of the logo.
Working for Lawyers Associated Worldwide (LAW), I saw a number of firms do this well. For example, the Charalambides Law Firm in Cypress adds the logo prominently on their home page banner above the menu bar.
And LAW’s Erie, PA firm, Knox McLaughlin, names the network on the About Us drop-down menu:
The links sends viewers to a nicely detailed page, which includes the LAW logo and two prominent links to the LAW website.
The point is, teach your clients that they can come to you for matters outside of your jurisdiction. Educate them about the network’s rigorous vetting process to build credibility for your referrals, and inferentially for your own firm.
The more boots you have on the ground seeking and sending referrals, the more valuable the network is for everyone. More revenue generated within the network leads to more high-quality firms being interested in joining your network, which leads to more sizable referrals, in an ever-expanding cycle of growth and profitability.
Networks work. But they can always work better.
Ross’s “Marketing an International Network” Speech Testimonials:
“Ross’s presentation was first-rate. It was thorough and entertaining, and I walked away with specific, concrete steps. A perfect ’10.’” (Mark Carta, Managing Partner, Carta, McAlister & Moore)
“Very engaging; well-prepared, relevant and professional.“ (Campbell Clark, Partner, Blackadders LLP, Scotland)
“Ross’s speeches are always fresh, informative, entertaining, and enjoyable!” (William R. Watkins, Partner and COO, Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper)