IT’S BEEN AN INTERESTING SUMMER….

Nancy Myrland All Posts Leave a Comment

In case you noticed, I haven’t posted in quite some time.  I’ll explain….

On June 29th, my husband had a stroke caused by a blood clot in a vein in the left side of his brain.  This was completely unexpected as he had none of the lifestyle or health markers that can lead to stroke.  It remains a mystery to doctors and to us as all tests were negative.

I was, as you would expect, with him night and day in the hospital for most of June, then in outpatient rehab most of July.  I am happy to say he is making a remarkable recovery.  He initially had significant damage to his right side.  If you saw him today, you would never know he had a stroke.  We have been Blessed beyond belief because we know this could have been much worse.  We saw many in the hospital whose lives will never be the same because of head trauma.  John has a few minor issues left with his right hand, but we are hopeful those will heal also.  We have been overwhelmed with an enormous amount of love and prayer from family, friends, and friends of friends who we don’t even know.

For the majority of the past month, I have been 3 hours north of Indianapolis in South Bend, Indiana with my Mom, who had heart surgery about three weeks ago.  Out of respect for her privacy, I will just tell you she is definitely improving.  She has miles to go, but we remain hopeful and thankful for her and her progress.

There you have the reasons I have been away from my website/blog these past few months.  Being self-employed, I need to begin focusing on work issues again very soon, so I plan on jumping back in during the next few weeks.  I appreciate the support we have been given from many of you during this time, and certainly treasure the grace my clients have shown as well.  Without all of you, we wouldn’t have such a positive story to tell.

I’m here if you need me, or if you have any questions at all.

Nancy

HAVING TROUBLE WITH YOUR MARKETING PLAN?

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Business Development/Sales, Marketing Strategy Leave a Comment

You know you need one.  One what?  A marketing plan, of course!

As I’ve said many times…Random Acts of Kindness are wonderful; Random Acts of Marketing are not.  A carefully crafted marketing plan will help you avoid the aimless expenditure of valuable marketing dollars, and will provide the focus you need to grow and accomplish the goals you have in mind.

I was reminded of this again today when a question was posed from a marketer who was in a firm where no one was interested in, nor had time to, write a marketing plan.  She asked for advice.

Here is what I would do if you need help, or if you need a jump start to get that marketing plan written:

The people in your firm/company are such busy people, and many aren’t interested in, or excited about, marketing.  Some will be, and those will become your marketing champions who will help you usher in a new era of marketing and business development.  When you find them, keep them very, very close.

Create a list of strategic marketing questions that will help you write the marketing plan.  Schedule one-hour (if you can get it) meetings with each person in your firm.  If there are too many, then make sure you visit firm management, group or brand leaders, and representatives from every level of the firm.  This is not only helpful for gathering intelligence for the marketing plan, but it will also help you gain respect and firm footing as you learn as much as possible about their individual practices or responsibilities, their needs, goals, how they think the firm has marketed in the past, what they think worked, didn’t work, what they think should be done, who their target clients are, etc.

Then take this information, which will be overwhelming for you so get help transcribing your notes (or type them during the interview so your work is minimized), and summarize answers to each question.

Then create your Marketing Strike Force who will help you from this point on to create the firm’s marketing plan.  If you can only get them to meet for short amounts of time, schedule Marketing Action Sessions where you present the findings to each question, one-by-one, to this group who, by the way, you and your leadership have agreed will be a good marketing team.  If you do it with this team, with their support, vs. writing it all yourself, your chances for success will be much greater.  It becomes the firm’s plan, not just yours.  It creates a sense of ownership.

If you don’t have representatives from all areas of the firm at every level on your Strike Force, then recruit a few to round out your team, and to make sure all perspectives are represented.  Again, you are doing whatever you can now to make sure this process succeeds, as well as creating brand advocates who will help you execute the plan.

Let all in the firm know this group is the group that is going to be serving them by working on the firm’s marketing plan together, and if they are interested in joining you, you would love to have them.

Meet with this group and start to discuss and reach agreement on what the firm’s answers to each question need to be.  These will be healthy discussions.  Schedule these marketing action sessions until you have hammered out all components of your marketing plan.  Help your group feel good about the progress you and they are making.  Reward them along the way by doing things that help them to feel like a leadership team, which they are!   If you need help outside the firm, ask for it.  If you don’t, that’s great.

The important thing is that you get started soon so you can contribute to the strategic success of the firm sooner than later.

Good luck!

STAFFING A MARKETING DEPARTMENT

Nancy Myrland Staffing and Recruiting Leave a Comment

On a marketing listserve of which I am an active member www.lawmarketing.com, a question was posted today that asked how an administrator in a firm should go about staffing a marketing function.

Here’s where to start:

I advise firms that they should interview, or survey, professionals in the firm who will be affected by the addition of marketing personnel, either in-house or outsourced.  That pretty much means everyone!  If the firm is too large to interview everyone, they can opt to outsource that function to an independent marketing advisor.  If that effort is still too large, then they should interview those in management, the practice or industry group leaders, and anyone else who will be considered the “internal client” of this marketing person, or persons.

You need to know now what their expectations are, what they expect will happen as a result of having dedicated marketing assistance, what it will look like a year or two from now if this hire is successful, and what they would like to see them handle on a daily basis.  This is the first thing I would do if I was advising a firm on structuring a marketing effort.

This is imperative because there are many different needs for marketing assistance within a firm.  If the administrator knows up front what the expectations are, the discussion can then take place that will help narrow and define what realistic expectations are before the search begins, how the job description is crafted, what needs to be discussed during interviews, and how this person will be monitored and reviewed.

The administrator is doing him/herself a favor, not to mention the professionals and the marketer if all of this is completed up front.  If not, they are asking for many days and years of frustration, misunderstanding and endless searches to replace the marketer when it is deemed a bad fit and/or a bad hire on the administrator’s part.

REFERRAL RECOGNITION PROGRAM

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Client Service and Retention, Marketing Strategy, Referral Recognition 2 Comments

Good Monday Morning!

Let’s talk about referrals.  Few things in business are more satisfying than receiving a referral from a current or past client, a friend or a colleague.  How do we make sure we keep referrals coming?

There are many ways, but I will tackle a couple here today:

First, make sure you are doing great work.  Be someone who is easy to refer.  Ask yourself if you would want to refer you if you were the recipient of your work.

Second, let your contacts know your business relies on referrals, and that if they find it appropriate to mention you to others in need, you would be most appreciative.  People like to help people they like.  It makes them feel good to contribute to your success.

Third, the very day you find out you’ve been referred, call or email the generous person who did so and let them know how appreciative you are, and that you will let them know what happens.

Fourth, within two days, send whatever your Level One Referral Recognition gift is to that person with a personal note.  It could be a small box of fabulous cookies, a $10 Starbucks card (I’ve been the recipient of both and loved the surprise!), something you make, anything that is genuine and heartfelt.

Fifth, when you schedule a meeting with this person, call or email the referrer and let them know you are planning on talking to this person at such-and-such time, and that you will continue to keep them updated.  Thank them again.

Sixth, if this referral turns in to business, send your Level Two Referral Recognition gift to the referrer.  This should definitely be larger and more valuable than Level One so the message is clear.  Write a gracious note that lets that person know exactly what happened.  Don’t get in to price and confidential details that are between you and the new client, but let them know the general nature of the business you will be conducting.

Seventh, once or twice a year, create a card (have your designer, printer, www.48hourprint.com or www.vistaprint.com design and print them) that is specifically worded to your referral sources and how thankful you are for them, how much your business thrives because of them, etc., and send to all your referral sources EVEN if you haven’t received one from a particular source in a long time.  Keep your name and need in front of them, and help them remember why they sent business to you in the first place.

Again, there are many ways we can build a Referral Recognition Program, but these seven should put you well on your way to building and nurturing referrals for years to come.

On a personal note, it’s Mother’s Day week.  I know the day isn’t until this Sunday, but why don’t you join me and let your Mom, or a Mom of your choice, know how much you care about them every day between now and Sunday?!  You know they deserve it, and they will be delighted and touched to hear from you.  Send flowers, make a phone call, send an email, a card, a Starbucks card, cookies, deliver a box of candy, a candle, anything!  Just do it while you have the chance, and make sure you let them know how you feel.

I love my Mom dearly, and don’t know what I would do without her.  I can’t wait to see her this weekend when I go “home,” which is anywhere she happens to be.  Her name is Ginny Leyes, and she owns a huge piece of my heart.

Good luck with your referrals!

Nancy

http://twitter.com/nancymyrland

HOW TO MARKET IN A STRAINED ECONOMY

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Business Development/Sales, Client Service and Retention, Marketing Strategy, Training in Client Service and Business Development/Sal Leave a Comment

This morning, marketing and business development consultant Jim Hassett asked “When the economy goes down, should marketing spending go up?”

Here are my thoughts:

It depends on how much firms are currently spending on marketing.

If they have undertaken a careful marketing planning process that is focused on the clients they have, the clients they want, what messages are appropriate to tell each of these groups, if they have determined what needs these two groups have, what their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses are, where and how they should reach them, etc., and have built a budget and a plan around all of these factors, then they need to stay the course, but make sure follow-up and accountability to the components of this plan are being paid attention to…with laser-like focus.

If firms are committing what I would call “random acts of marketing,” and feel like they are faltering with no apparent results, then they might need to visit all of the above, as well as their marketing budget, and ramp it up immediately.

A down economy, as well as a good one, is a perfect time to focus on marketing, as well as what services you offer your clients.  Their needs might be changing too.  The difference with a down economy is that everyone at the firm might not be working as much as they could or should, so this might be the perfect time to get their attention, and to coach and lead everyone in to an active marketing and business development mindset.

If you like the results you are achieving, then stay the course, but with more passion and diligence than ever before.  If you don’t, then something needs to change.  It might be your marketing budget, it might be your marketing tactics, it might be your marketing and business development behavior, or any of a number of other changes.

One thing I would definitely change would be to help your clients understand that you understand exactly what they are going through in this economy.  If you don’t know what they are going through, or exactly how it has impacted their business, then this is the perfect time to ask, or have someone else go out and ask, them what they are going through.  Client service can shine during this time, so take advantage of it, and become the best trusted and caring advisors possible.

Nancy

TAKE FIVE!

Nancy Myrland Client Service and Retention Leave a Comment

One of the most effective ways to build and retain client loyalty, not to mention the BEST way to stay in touch with what is on your clients’ minds, is to get out of the office and go visit them. 

If you do nothing else in your marketing action plan, commit to doing this:  Call 5 clients TODAY AND TOMORROW and invite them to breakfast, to lunch, to come over to their office, to dinner, to your suite, whatever you have at your disposal, but make it perfectly clear that all you want to do is to get together and catch up with what is going on in their office, in their world, and in their company or firm.  Make sure they know this is about them, not about you, and that you won’t charge them for this time.   When you get together, do not ask for business, do not pitch your services, just ask questions and listen.  When you are finished, thank them for the opportunity, and even take a few minutes to write them a thank you note for sharing their busy time with you. 

If you do this already, please reply and share your stories with us.  If you start doing this today, reply and let us know how it goes!

Nancy

PERSISTENCE

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Training in Client Service and Business Development/Sal 1 Comment

Hello Everyone:

I heard a great message this morning about persistence, about pressing on, or as Lewis & Clark wrote in their journals, “proceeding on” in their journey to discover new lands, people and ways of life and living.

Whether you are a marketer faced with helping your firm create brilliant strategy, a lawyer, architect, developer, financial consultant or anyone who is faced with helping clients solve problems, or a service provider, consultant or partner who helps the above do what they do best, I thought the following might be nice for you to keep in mind this week as you do your best to Press On.

From the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, who was admitted to the bar in 1897, the following:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. —-Calvin Coolidge

As you go about your business this week, rely on your talent, your intellect and your genius, but when you find yourself challenged, frustrated or tired for whatever reason, just remember that Determination and Persistence, and Pressing On, will help you find success when the rest is in short supply.

Have a good week everyone.

My best to each of you.

Nancy

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT/SALESPEOPLE IN FIRMS: A GROWING TREND

Nancy Myrland Business Development/Sales, Training in Client Service and Business Development/Sal Leave a Comment

Respected marketing consultant Ed Poll posted comments in his Law Biz Blog about the growing trend in firms to hire non-practicing lawyers to “sell” the firm, or to develop business, and wondered whether this would actually catch on. 

 Here are the thoughts I shared based on the time I’ve spent in sales and business development with not only professional service firms, but also in corporate America:

The model Ed is discussing is seen frequently in other professional services firms.  In fact, it is uncommon in these cases for BD/salespeople to have the professional license or degree of those who will do the work.  I understand there are ethical restrictions to this in law firms.  These business development specialists, or salespeople, “work” the community full-time, spread the good word and reputation of their firm, and watch out for opportunities.  When they spot them, they pursue them—all day every day.  It is also common for them to then send in “the troops;” those who will hopefully perform the work for the potential client.  This relieves some of the burden of selling from the professionals, or in the case of Ed’s blog post, the attorneys, but brings them in at the crucial time to talk specifics about the needs of the client and how the firm might match those needs.

With competition for business and clients the way it is today, I would imagine we will continue to see this trend grow in law firms and all professional services firms.  It truly is a position that can pay for itself with a small amount of business every year.

In my opinion, this doesn’t eliminate the responsibility of all attorneys, architects, financial planners, etc., and professionals to develop business, and to get “out there” whenever possible, and even to pursue business when the opportunity presents itself.  What is important is to make sure salespeople, rainmakers and business developers in every firm are comfortable talking to potential clients, that they know how to network, how to ask questions and to truly listen to potential clients.  Then, and only then, they have earned the right to begin selling and matching skills to needs.

Nancy Myrland

YOUR CLIENT KNOWS MORE ABOUT YOU THAN YOU DO

Nancy Myrland Client Satisfaction Interviews Leave a Comment

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the importance of conducting client satisfaction interviews.  Their importance can and should not be underestimated. 

Last week, I attended a 4-day marketing conference in L.A., during which I listened to Steve Rodgers, head of Litigation at Intel.  He was part of a panel on client teams and client satisfaction interviews.  When asked if client satisfaction interviews were important, and who should conduct them, Steve said there were things he could not say to the face of his attorney, and would appreciate the intermediary. 

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO TRUST

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Client Satisfaction Interviews, Client Service and Retention Leave a Comment

Thursday was another great day at the LMA Conference in Los Angeles.  Even though I was 3 hours off on my internal clock, and it is the middle of the night, I have a few thoughts to share with you that I think you and your firm might find useful.  They have to do with your clients and what they want from your firms and your attorneys.

One of the most powerful presentations of the day was facilitated by veteran marketer and Zeughauser Group consultant, Mozghan Mizban.  Panelists included Zeughauser colleague, Melissa Hoff, Client Development Manager from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, David Wolber, and last, but definitely not least, Steven Rodgers, Director of Litigation for Intel.

Steve’s comments were worth the price of admission as he is in the position of evaluating, working with, and maximizing Intel’s use of dozens of law firms, soon to be only 6 after next week.

The discussion centered around client teams and client service interviews.  A few thoughts Steve shared when asked about the law firm/client relationship from his vantage point at Intel are to be noted and shared with your attorneys, along with your suggestions and/or a plan for what your firms and attorneys can do to become what Steve, and others like him, need:

Steve:

“It all comes down to trust.  There are probably hundreds of firms that could handle specific issues for us without any difference in the outcome.”

Bottom line:  Steve just gave what amounts to a free pass to those firms that get how to become trustworthy to him on an ongoing basis.  I suggest you work to figure out how to do that.

When asked what is important for law firms (to know and do for Intel), Steve wants the following:

  • “I want a firm that cares about understanding what I want and what I need.”
  • “I want firms who truly seek to understand me….who know me so well they could almost do my job.”
  • “I want firms who come to me and say ‘Here’s what we perceive to be your situation and here’s what we think you should do.’ “

What does this mean?  Spend some time learning how to that which Steve described above.  It’s not rocket science.  It just takes deliberate, authentic, ongoing effort.

Another question asked of Steve was how firms get to know him:

  • “They ask.”
  • “Only 2 Managing Partners have called me in the past several years.”

His point:  He isn’t hard to get to know if you just spend time asking him what makes him tick, what 3 things are bothering him, or are important to him, and checking in with him on a regular, unbilled basis to make sure you understand him.  Only then can you truly perform intelligent legal work truly based on his needs.

When asked what he thinks of the client satisfaction interview process, and who should conduct these interviews:

“There are things I am just not going to say to somebody’s face, so having an intermediary is key.”

Regarding how many of the firms Intel uses have client teams devoted to Intel:

“I’d be willing to bet I can identify which of my firms have client teams and communicate regularly.”

His point here was that it becomes completely transparent when firms form client teams around his work and Intel, meaning they communicate strategically, methodically and with purpose about how best to take care of Steve and Intel.  It takes time and thought, but it can and should be done.

Someone asked Steve what was important for the relationship manager to know:

  • Put my needs ahead of the firm’s
  • Be powerful enough in the firm to advocate for what I want and need.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to tell who they work for….Intel or the firm
  • They tend to think of things before I do.

Steve’s comments are not to be taken lightly.  I would advise all firms with clients to sit down and think how to deliberately create the situation Steve has outlined.  Do it now before you find yourself in the position dozens of firms will be in next week when he narrows his choice of firms down to six.

Don’t give all the Steve Rodgers of this world the opportunity to even think about being frustrated, or to find a need to whittle their numbers of firms down.  Sit down and think hard about how to make individual clients happy, then set about doing it—tomorrow—or go ahead and start today if you have time!

Here’s to another valuable day of information for law firm attorneys and marketers from the LMA Conference!  Good job conference organizers and all those involved.

Nancy

 

 

ENPNMEUTA448