Vedder London Launch

By June 15, 2012

Strategic Objectives

Vedder Price is a conservative, full-service Chicago-based law firm with office in NYC and Washington DC.  It was opening its first international office, in London, for its leading 45-lawyer Aviation Finance practice.

This was an especially strategic move for Vedder, it would enable them to compete for the half of the world’s aviation deals that were conducted under English Law.

Vedder hired two London competitors (Gavin and Derek) and five associates. Like all high-level laterals, the new partners needed to persuade their clients to join them at Vedder.  The London office’s success or failure would be measured by whether the clients came.

Background

Worldwide, all Aviation Finance deals are done under either US or English Law.  US-based Vedder could only do US Law deals. This new London office could qualify Vedder for the other half of the world’s projects. This could be an enormous opportunity.

Vedder has the only leading Aviation practice in a smaller firm. Most competitors are 10 times larger, with 2,000+ lawyers and dozens of offices. Being small, Vedder lawyers have more to prove.  However, Vedder’s marketing has been very conservative. (The previous CMO’s strict rule was “Only use free photos.”).

The firm’s traditional main website was illustrated by columns and books. We needed to educate the lawyers to let us market creatively. We taught them to accept bold new ideas and visuals, even humor.

Marketing Goals

We identified nine different audiences, each requiring a different amount of information.

Depending upon their experience with Vedder or Gavin/Derek, we needed to position Vedder as a global powerhouse and safe choice, with new “English Law” capabilities.

Most importantly, we needed Gavin/Derek’s clients to join Vedder.

Research and Planning

We had three weeks until the launch. On Day One, we interviewed the team. By Day Four we had developed six campaigns, each including graphics, headlines, and tag lines.

We identified five distinct audiences, plus variations.

We started with:

  1.  Vedder’s US-based Aviation Finance clients
  2.  The international Aviation Finance industry
  3.  Gavin and Derek’s contacts
  4.  Vedder’s NON-Aviation lawyers and clients
  5.  London’s competing Aviation lawyers, for lateral hiring

We developed three different aviation-oriented campaigns, ranging from conservative to humorous. We narrowed it to two, then tested those against each other, as ads and websites.

To inform their global audience, we needed a strong online platform, a new website, fast. We market-tested both campaigns and their website designs, using new “eye tracking” technology, which had never been used in the legal profession.

Production and Implementation

We had three weeks to develop and launch the entire campaign.  With a global audience, we needed an online campaign, including a London website (www.globaltransportationlaw.com).

We also developed a business-development strategy for Gavin and Derek, sending electronic and print mailers to their database, supporting them with an in-person communication plan and coaching.

Differentiation

We identified numerous primary audiences plus subsets, and needed different messages for many of them.

For example, we needed to persuade:

  • Vedder’s US clients to use the firm for English law deals
  • Vedder global prospects to use them anywhere
  • Gavin/Derek’s clients to join them at Vedder
  • Gavin/Derek’s clients to hire them for US law deals
  • Gavin/Derek’s prospects to consider using them anywhere
  • The aviation industry that Vedder was a major player
  • London-based aviation lawyers to consider joining Vedder

Result: 110% success.

We created, researched, tested, and launched the campaign in three weeks, including the fully featured 40-lawyer website, www.globaltransportationfinance.com.

Nearly all of their clients joined Vedder, bringing along millions of dollars of work.  In the first month they closed a multimillion-dollar London financing of several aircraft, acting for European banks, delivered to a Middle Eastern airline.

We used the website launch to generate five major stories in the business and aviation-industry media, plus a national 6-page personal profile about Dean Gerber, the Aviation chair.