Winning Legal Business from Medium-sized Companies

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9781907787478: Winning Legal Business from Medium-sized Companies

Medium-sized companies are the economic 'bread and butter' for many law firms. Yet, very few have a dedicated marketing strategy for targeting this vital clientele. With rising competition from other law firms, professional service providers, banks, insurance companies, and a growing range of online and offline products now available to medium-sized companies, securing their business has never been tougher. Managing Partner's report on Winning Legal Business from Medium-Sized Companies offers unique insight into this crucial market and how to capitalise on it through the development of a tailored marketing strategy. Drawing on original research the report reveals: * The unique needs and expectations of medium-sized companies; * Who makes the decisions in buying legal services; * How they look for and then select law firms; * What kind of service they class as good or bad; * How to approach key decision makers and what not to do; * The key communication, marketing and business development tools available, including: newsletters, websites, social media, PR, speaking engagements and press coverage; and * How to avoid the common pitfalls when marketing to medium-sized companies. Genuine accounts are featured from key decision-makers in a range of medium-sized companies on how they purchase legal services, along with the perspectives of leading law firm marketing heads and managing partners. You will also find useful appendices including: marketing checklists and questionnaires, and a sample marketing plan for targeting medium-sized companies and clients. Winning Legal Business from Medium-Sized Companies will help you build a competitive marketing strategy to successfully target this crucial market.

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About the Author:

Dr Silvia Hodges teaches marketing and management at Fordham Law School in New York. She consults and empowers law firms to win and keep the international clients they want. Silvia earned her PhD at Nottingham Law School in the United Kingdom (UK) with Professor Stephen Mayson on the topic 'Marketing legal services to medium-sized companies'. Silvia also holds a master's degree in business from Universitat Bayreuth (Germany) and Warwick Business School (UK). Silvia has conducted a number of studies on law firm marketing in Europe, Latin America and the United States (US), including the first study on the buying behaviour of medium-sized companies in 2006. Prior to joining academia, Silvia worked as a marketing manager for law firms in Europe. She has authored a textbook on legal marketing for WoltersKluwer and was a columnist on law firm marketing for an Italian business newspaper. She frequently lectures and publishes on international law firm marketing topics. A big believer in networking, Silvia founded a networking group for legal marketers in Italy and is very involved in the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and the New York LMA chapter, as well as the New York State Bar Association, Law Practice Management section. She also closely collaborates with other international legal marketing networks around the world.

Review:

Clearly Crafted New Book Offers Expert Advice on Marketing to Mid-Tier Clients - By Steven T. Taylor, Editor, Of Counsel, Vol.30. No5. May 2011 (Aspen Publishers) Filling the void. Finding the niche. Meeting the demand. Call it what you want, but a new book about the legal professional offers valuable information about an area of legal marketing that hasn't garnered much attention, at least in published form. In her informative, well-crafted book, Winning Legal Business from Mid-Sized Companies, Dr. Silvia Hodges offers readers - attorneys, law firm managers, chief marketing officers, and others - a solid foundation and stellar strategies to expand their client base by tapping the attention of decision-makers at mid-tier businesses. While there are many, many books on legal marketing (and we've reviewed more than a few in these pages over the years), hardly any examine this important market sector, and none that we know of do so with the depth of research from which Hodges' work is derived. Hodges saw a need for such a book after she scoured the legal marketing literary canon, if you will, and came up virtually empty. Aside from a research project that she conducted in 2006 on this market and another by The Law Society of England & Wales, "no studies have focused on marketing legal services to medium-sized companies," she writes in the forward to Winning. "Their smaller size and different governance, management and ownership structures, however, are likely to necessitate a different marketing approach that legal services providers cannot ignore." Hodges seems to be the perfect author to fill in this information gap. She spent years as a marketing manager for law firms in Europe and currently teaches marketing and management at Fordham Law School in New York, while serving as a consultant to firms around the world and lecturing and publishing on a range of legal marketing subjects. What's perhaps most relevant is her recent doctorate work at Nottingham Law School in the United Kingdom on the topic of - yes, you guessed it - marketing legal services to medium-sized companies. In fact, much of the information and analysis she shares in Winning comes directly from her PhD research and includes dozens of candid quotes from the purchasers of legal services. Consider this choice opinion that Hodges conveys in her third chapter, titled "How do medium-sized companies know what legal advice they need?" One German CEO said, "Sometimes, you really wonder, why do they [the lawyers] always assume they know what I want for my business instead of asking me? Wouldn't that be normal?" Or how about the take from an American CEO regarding to the tendency that some law firms have of over-tailoring their services, which can be costly, to try and win over midsized clients: "I don't want to pay for your [firm's] inefficiencies. Get in gear, do your homework and don't reinvent the wheel all the time. I'm not paying for that." Pull-no-punches quotes like these from mid-tier business people offer insight into the way that they think and, collectively, constitute one of the strengths of Hodges' book. But her own prose also shines with keen clarity. Take, for example, Hodges opening paragraph in the first chapter. She writes about something most of us already know - the inherent differences between lawyers and their business clients - but does so in a fresh way: "A lawyer's focus is on compliance with law and regulation, about avoiding, or at least limiting, risk for his client (as well as for himself). Whether by nature or by training, lawyers are not only risk-averse but also tend to be perfectionists. They prefer the tried and tested. By contrast, businesses - in particular entrepreneurial medium-sized companies - tend to innovate, their goal being to obtain first mover (or at least early follower) advantage in their market sector. They choose or need to take business risk on a daily basis." While the content of her sentiment is distinctive, the style of her writing is compelling yet simple, and simple is almost always best in non-fiction work. For instance, look at how she adds variety to both sentence structure and length in the passage above. So anyway how do lawyers bridge those differences? They must work hard at, that is, not just pay lip service to, understanding their clients' and their clients' businesses and industries, Hodges says, acknowledging that this is not as easy as it sounds. More specifically she writes, attorneys "need to understand the criteria on which clients base their buying decisions; how clients decide what legal service(s) they need; which law firms or lawyers they choose; and what makes them decide to change law firms." As the subsequent chapters unfold, Hodges provides straight-forward techniques, tools, and strategies to help lawyers understand all of this and much more. She, of course, also draws distinctions between large corporate clients and medium-sized clients. One such difference is that at mid-tier companies the CEOs or other top executives usually make the decision about which law firm to retain, whereas at larger corporations the in-house lawyers often do that. What's more, Hodges writes this in her book (which is published by London-based Ark Group in association with Managing Partner Magazine): "The decision-makers in medium-sized companies typically do not have to justify their buying decision to anyone in the company. This has significant effect on the approach to marketing and business development when targeting medium-sized companies." She elaborates on this very well in chapter seven, "Marketing to medium-sized companies - Strategy," which may be the best and most useful chapter in this consistently well-written book. Readers will also appreciate Hodges' dos and don'ts in chapter eight, "Marketing to medium-sized companies - Instruments," and the accompanying client quotes that support her assertions. For example, two don'ts - don't condescend to clients and don't ignore their needs and time - which seem like obvious tips, take on depth when paired with the following client statements. From a CEO at a French manufacturing company: "It really bothers me when some lawyers address me in an incredibly condescending way. They behave like they are the only ones using their brain." And this from a CEO of an Italian retail company: "I once asked a new law firm for an opinion on a legal matter. I wanted a bullet-point, one-page summary the next day - which I told them. Instead, I received a 20-page half-academic epic two weeks later. It was totally useless to me and I refused to pay the whole amount they expected me to pay." Hodges also provides, in appendices, two marketing checklists, and sample questionnaires and marketing models. They're creative as well as practical. Naturally, space is limited in this column but suffice it to say that we find a lot to like about Hodges' book. Attorneys, law firm managing partners, chief marketing officers, and other within the profession will learn a lot from the synthesis of her research and the valuable advice she offers. The book couldn't come at a better time because, let's face it, these days more than ever it's a game of diminishing returns for many law firms to rely on large corporate business. To survive, they must broaden their client base to include these medium-sized businesses, and in order to do that they must develop the kind of skill sets that this intelligent and experienced consultant, academician, and writer discusses in Winning Legal Business from Mid-Sized Companies.

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