Where solid business strategy and smart marketing ideas converge.

Law Firm Growth: A Lesson from the Natives

“The legal market is not growing, so our approach to marketing has to be a cannibalistic one. The best way to hang onto your client is to get as many hooks into the organization as possible. That means you had better learn to cross-sell,” according to Jim Staples, CMO of Cozen O’Connor, speaking to an audience of 90 legal marketers in Washington, DC on September 16th, 2011.

“If you have one hook into a client, you are at an 80% risk of losing them. If you have two hooks, that risk goes down to 60%. If you have five different practice groups engaged with a client (five hooks) then no one else has a chance,” he asserted. “Lawyers look at cross-selling differently when you put it that way. It’s not about sharing – it’s about protecting your own turf.”

The LMA Capital Chapter in DC had their annual fall half-day program last Friday and we were lucky enough to hear a panel of three well-known Chief Marketing Officers share their experiences inside and outside of the legal industry.

Shawn Adams of Gardere based in Dallas has been in legal marketing for three years. When asked what surprised him most about legal marketing, he pointed out that the panel only had an hour, which was probably insufficient to answer the question.

One of Shawn’s successful attorney coaching strategies involves combating the “Seymour” personality type. In an attempt to postpone decisions or action, decision makers often request more and more information. Shawn recommends the KISS approach to the Seymour attitude – keep it simple and don’t provide large amounts of information.

The panel’s moderator, Aleisha Gravit, CMO of Akin Gump, came to legal marketing from the oil business in Texas and Colorado. Aleisha also emphasized the importance of cross-selling over letting a rainmaker be content with one slice of the pie. She was surprised to have three clients respond to an informal survey where she asked them the size of their overall legal budget. By sharing the results with the firm relationship partners, she was able to impress upon them just how small a piece of the overall business the firm actually had.

“That’s the kind of powerful information that opens attorney minds to the power of cross-selling and a team approach to development,” she said.

Panelists recommended that attendees read and reread Selling the Invisible, A Field Guide to Modern MarketingOutliers, The Story of Success and Selling to VITO the Very Important Top Officer: Get to the Top. Get to the Point. Get to the Sale.