Depending on your firm, there may be “marketing” people who check in with you from time to time, asking you to update your profile or encouraging you to write a client alert about trends in your area of the law. They may even take the logistical nightmare of event planning out of your hands. They are generally helpful and, once the project is finished, you typically experience a feeling of relief, having completed the act of “marketing yourself.” With that out of the way, you are free and clear to focus on practicing law, right?
Of course you should handle those matters and continue to keep your clients satisfied. How else are you able to bill the hours that, if nothing else, keep the office lights on? As you slip back into lawyer mode, your marketing person asks some (at best, uninvited) questions. You spent a quantifiable amount of time doing this, so how do you plan to follow up on your activity? You’ve laid the groundwork, what is the next step in netting new business? Might there be something more than the simple and comfortable three or four promotional activities that you dutifully check off each year?
That precise spot is the intersection of business development and marketing. Thinking strategically about how you promote yourself and to whom will improve how you spend your non-billable time. At their coldest, most basic levels, marketing is what enables you to create or deepen a relationship, and business development is how you convert that relationship into new revenue.
These complimentary concepts are slowly being embraced by lawyers who realize that marketing and business development are no longer optional. The livelihood of practicing law in a private firm is entirely relationship based: The most accomplished and brilliant legal mind will never maintain a long term, mutually beneficial client relationship without developing a connection with the person on the other end. So it is that your firm recognized a need and formed a “non-lawyer” service area to enable (perhaps push and sometimes drag) you to maintain and grow relationships with your professional contacts.
John D. Bowers
Business Development Manager
Saul Ewing LLP