Assisting with Marketing and Business Development ("BD") is something that most trainee solicitors will be exposed to at least once across their training contract. It comes in many different forms, from networking, to helping at corporate events or delivering training sessions. It can be rather difficult to get to grips with and witness the results, especially as trainees sometimes rotate out of their seat before the impact of their help becomes clear when a new client instructs the firm.
As a trainee, developing your Marketing and BD skills early will prove useful. Part of a Solicitors role is to develop their own client base, something that can only be done by engaging in Marketing and BD. As such, it is best to try and get as much experience of it as a trainee, as it will only be of benefit later on in your career.
Here are some helpful tips about Marketing and BD that I have learnt since starting at Ashfords.
No job too small
Often, trainees will be asked to help with larger firm-wide BD events, perhaps running a silent auction, or assisting with serving food and drinks. Whilst on the face of them, these tasks don’t present much chance to develop your marketing abilities, they can actually present a fantastic opportunity to network with the guests, if you are brave enough!
Target your efforts
Aside from making the most of your networking, another key skill to develop is how to target your marketing efforts. There isn't much point trying to encourage people to make use of your Tier 1 Corporate and Commercial Team, if you are speaking to people who don’t own or run a business but actually want advice about local planning issues!
It's always best to do some research before you attend an event, or are posting an article online, focussing on what services the intended audience might want. Once you have that figured out, you can then begin tailoring your pitch to those services, which will make the task of encouraging them to instruct you far easier. This task can also be made easier by learning as much as possible about what the firm offers, as you can then talk about a range of services to a range of potential clients.
Maintain a presence
Aside from the above, one of the most useful ways to improve your marketing abilities is to do it little and often. The advantages are twofold, you become more comfortable with marketing, and potential clients will see that you are knowledgeable within your sector. Don't forget to add a little bit of personality as well. Hopefully, in doing so, you will also seem like a personable advisor that a potential client would want to instruct.
Often as a trainee it can be hard to maintain a presence alongside your other workload, but even if it is simply commenting on Linkedin articles or retweeting on Twitter, it all helps to make you seem engaged and knowledgeable.
The power of word of mouth
Finally, one of the most important things I have learnt about Marketing and BD is the power of word of mouth referrals. If a client feels that you have provided a good service and supported them along the way then they are more likely to suggest you and your firm to friends and colleagues for legal advice. This can be really useful, as it means that a third party is doing your marketing for you! Whilst sometimes as a trainee it can be difficult to have client contact, the importance of word of mouth referrals means that you should try to make the most of the contact you do have with clients.