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How to Empower Law Firm Marketing and Business Development: 6 Strategies from John Remsen, Jr.

There’s little question that today’s law firms need to build successful marketing and business development teams to drive revenue. But it doesn’t stop there. Law firm leaders must also create an environment that empowers them to excel.

We recently spoke with John Remsen, Jr., President and CEO of The Remsen Group, about how law firms build successful marketing departments. John’s insight is based on decades of helping law firms develop and implement long-term strategic marketing and business development objectives. In this post, John deliveries six strategies for empowering your business development and marketing teams.

1. Educate your firm.
Make sure partners know the roles marketing and business development play – and that’s not recruiting clients for them.

“I think that’s what a lot of lawyers expect,” admits John. “But clients hire the lawyer, not the law firm. Business development is behind the scenes helping lawyers find opportunities and build relationships that win and maintain clients.”

2. Define their position.
Job descriptions for the departments and the individuals within them provide critical focus, says John.

“There’s a tendency to get pulled in a million different directions with partners and their projects. It’s easy to get distracted and start spreading yourself thin and lose sight of what truly are the firm priorities,” warns John. “You try to make everybody happy. But with limited staff and resources, you can’t do it all.”

That’s why it’s important to underscore job descriptions with powerful reporting relationships, which brings us to the next point.

3. Support with authority.
Make sure your business development leader has a “solid-line reporting relationship” to a powerful partner and “a dotted-line relationship to the Chief Operation Officer,” advises John.

“The higher up marketing and business development can establish a reporting a relationship, the more empowered and effective they can be,” he says. “The partner in charge of marketing or business development will give that function credibility and authority…They’ll keep the wolves at bay and keep the marketing and business development teams focused on priorities.”

4. Respect and respond.
“Lawyers need to engage and respond to the marketing and business development professionals when they ask for help,” notes John. “Whether that’s updating the CRM system, putting together a pitch for a new client, updating biographical profiles, or even letting marketing professionals know what’s going on…I think a lot of lawyers focus on the billable hour. If it’s not billable it’s just not a priority.”

This includes inviting business development and marketing to executive committee and partnership meetings, and firm retreats, especially if marketing and business development strategy will be discussed.

“The business development and marketing have opinions. They care. Don’t treat them like second-class citizens. Give them a seat at the table,” John insists. “Again, they’re trying to help you, make you look good, and win and keep clients.”

5. Provide resources.
Are you part of an 80, 90 or 100-person law firm with only one person in marketing and business development? John would declare you “woefully understaffed.” Give marketing and business development the resources to do their jobs right, and the power to approve how the money is spent, including individual lawyer marketing plans and budgets.

6. Give them influence.
A fast way to convince lawyers that they need to engage with marketing and business development is to tie their engagement to their paychecks.

“Give the marketing and business development director some input when it comes to rewards for non-billable time,” recommends John. “If that director is looking at your individual plan, counseling you, and you’re not doing anything, that should be factored into your compensation.”

In essence, give your marketing and business development teams what they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. This includes the latest technology that makes work easier for themselves and the lawyers they serve, such as services that eliminate manual CRM entry, as mentioned in the fourth point.

Customer relationship automation automatically gathers information from your communications and external data sources to create a complete, real-time profile of customers and prospects. You’ll know, at any given moment, the next steps for keeping existing clients and winning new ones with no effort on your part. Want to find out more? Schedule a demo.

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