How does a law firm, accountancy practice or IP firm implement a sector marketing strategy?

Many professional service firms grapple with the pros and cons of adopting a sector strategy but why should your law firm, accountancy practice or IP firm implement a sector marketing strategy?

I should state the Tenandahalf position upfront.  We think a client facing sector strategy definitely trumps an inward-looking practice area led approach.  Here are 5 reasons why:

1. You can forge closer connections with your existing clients as you’ll be able to have wider conversations about the issues that are most important to them.

2. You’ll find it easier to attract new clients because people want specialists not generalists.

3. You can more position yourself more easily as a thought leader and expert to targets.

4. You will increase cross-selling opportunities as your fee earners will naturally start working across departments.

5. You will stand out against your ‘jack of all trades’ competitors.

How will your clients benefit from a sector marketing approach?

Your clients will also benefit from your sector focus because:

1. They can talk to you about a broader range of business issues.

2. They will get added value from your sector knowledge.

3. They will be more confident in your abilities knowing you’ve dealt with people like them.

4. They are more likely to know about you if you’re active in their sector.

5. They are more likely to see you and talk to you at relevant events.

6. They are more likely to engage with your marketing efforts, e.g. your sector events, blogs, briefings, round tables and webinars.

If your firm does choose to implement a sector marketing strategy, how do you put it into practice?

Here is a 9-step implementation model that will help your firm implement a sector marketing strategy:

1. Select the 5-7 sectors you want to focus on

Claiming real expertise in more than 7 isn’t credible.  Less than 7 is more realistic, particularly if you are a small to medium sized firm.

2. Be realistic

In terms of your credentials and your sectors’ growth potential.  Be clear in the way you define your sectors.  

3. Name your sectors using the terms your market uses

They don’t necessarily need to be a Standard Industry Classification code (SIC).  Your sectors could be social groups, post codes or ethnic group or lifestyle groups (e.g., ‘millennials’).

4. Build your sector knowledge

You can do this by:

– Reading the publications and websites your clients and targets read

– Go to the events your clients and targets go to and talk to the attendees about the current issues

– Follow your clients and targets on LinkedIn so you’re always up to date with what’s happening in their world

– Subscribe to your clients’/targets’ e-bulletins/newsletters/marketing communications

– Join the trade bodies, associations, alliances and/or networks your clients and targets belong to

– Set up Google alerts so you can post and blog about key stories and keep abreast of your clients and targets’ latest news

– Commit to client listening programmes that focus on your chosen sectors

5. Commit the required resources

Make the people and budget available to deliver the required marketing activity.  Step one is to create cross-departmental sector teams and the success of these teams will de dependent on:

– Meeting every month; community will maintain momentum

– No one should be in more than one sector team

– Teams should be made up of 5 – 6 people; too many cooks spoil the broth

– Team members should have a genuine interest in, connection with and experience in their sectors

– Teams should include a mix of personalities and BD skills, i.e., a public speaker, a writer, a networker and a researcher

– Individuals must be accountable for delivering their actions and personal sector BD plans

– Keep a record of activity and regularly review progress vs goals and targets

6. Create a one-page plan

Once a team is established and respective roles have been allocated, the next task is focus in on certain areas (sub-sectors) within your chosen sectors then build an easy-to-follow plan based on:

Objectives – one or two sentences that define what you want to achieve by the end of the year

Goals – Break your objectives down into 3-5 clear milestones

Tactics – Outline the activity required to successfully hit your milestones

Measures – How is going to do what and by when?

7. Create content

To stay credible and stay visible you need to release a steady flow of new, unique, and relevant content addressing the most important issues affecting your chosen sectors.

Publishing blogs and articles on your website and social media channels is the most straightforward way to get hour content out there (and publishing it on your website will have huge SEO benefits and should generate a raft of new enquires) but there are other options including:

Podcasts

‘Talking head’ videos

Infographics and motion graphics

Writing for the relevant trade press

Writing for the regional business press

Providing content for your professional contacts’ websites, newsletters, and marketing collateral

Special reports and white papers

LinkedIn articles

8. Stay visible

You need to stay on your clients’ and targets’ radar.  It will take time to establish yourself as a sector specialist and to do this you will need to invest in your relationships and your profile and prove your sector marketing strategy is more than just window dressing your website.

9. Stick at it!

Success won’t happen overnight … stick at it!

We have helped law firms, accountancy practices and IP firms implement sector marketing strategies for the last 15 years.  If you’d like to have a chat about how we could help you use sector marketing to best effect, please get in touch and we can arrange a time to talk.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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