In the first episode of the new series of 5 Live’s Fighting Talk the conversation inevitably turned to the latest shenanigans involving professional footballers.
In response to the various cases of fighting the Greek Police whilst on holiday and smuggling Icelandic underwear models into your room whilst on international duty, Pat Nevin (a man who in my eyes can do/say no wrong as he’s my second favourite ever footballer, an intelligent pundit and a pretty decent indie DJ to boot) bemoaned footballers’ continued belief that under the laws of “do you know who I am?” they operate under an ‘invisibility blanket’.
That phrase stuck with me. Firstly, because it was a wry and astute observation. Secondly because I think it also has a pretty strong application to the mindset of some of the professionals I was working with pre-March 2020.
Many of the team and departmental BD meetings I’ve been in over the years have had one or two (admittedly a small and, thankfully, decreasing percentage) lawyers/accountants/attorneys who looked like they were sitting under their own invisibility blankets. You could almost see their thoughts as they looked at the floor, shuffled papers and nodded at the right times.
“It’ll soon be over.”
“I’ll just say the right things and I can get back to my desk.”
“As long as my keep billing my hours no one will notice I’m not actually doing any of this stuff.”
“I can always tag along with [colleague x] so I’ve got something to report next time.”
We could examine how misguided this belief is (and believe me, this type of perpetual side-stepping is missed by nobody in the meeting) and assess the long-term effect not getting involved in client development, business development and profile raising could have on your long-term career. But no! I said this was an observation that related to pre-March 2020 and it is. Since then things have changed and changed for the better.
We don’t need to talk about what we’ve all been through over the last few months and why. We all know. I do however think it’s important to talk about the hugely positive effect our experiences have had on the way lawyers/accountants/attorneys approach marketing and business development.
We also don’t need to talk about what’s motivated people to change their approach. It might be a genuine desire to maintain their practice, support their clients through a particularly bad time or it may be driven by self-preservation. Or, more likely, a combination of all these things.
The truth is that necessity really is the mother of invention and it has been great to see just how inventive fee earners have been. As ‘just doing what we’ve always done’ is no longer an option given events and socials gatherings have been impossible, people have stepped up with a whole raft of new ideas.
– Blogging has increased (and, in most cases, improved … bar the early fashion for ‘COVID washing’).
– People who never thought they could have launched podcasts and they have employed a variety of lengths, formats and structures.
– More animations, infographics and talking heads have been produced, something many firms have talked about for ages but finally got round to (and found they really do increase engagement and benefit SEO).
– Although webinars were initially the video medium of choice, over the months they’ve (thankfully) been replaced by more interactive options like virtual roundtables and panel discussions.
Best of all, as they haven’t involved going to events or traditional face-to-face BD, those who maybe used to hide under their imaginary invisibility cloak have really stepped up as the tactics required are much better suited to their preferences. And the topics they chose to tackle and the way they chose to tackle them were often more current, astute, and client-friendly than they had been before.
The next few months are going to be tricky from both a business and busines development point of view. As we begin to start to balance a return to the office with working from home and factor face-to-face meetings (and I trust in time larger social and educational events ) back into our plans, we can’t afford to drop all the good stuff we’ve been doing content-wise and online. This is going to be a period of significant transition and if that transition is going to be successful, it’s going to continue to demand flexibility and creativity.
It’s also going to demand the burning – once and for all – of any remaining invisibility cloaks!
If you’d like to discuss how you, your department or your firm can adapt your marketing and business development plans so that you negotiate the upcoming transition more easily, please email us and we can find a convenient time to talk.