Private client marketing – Five thoughts from heads of department (2017)

Last week I was in Manchester for an MBL training course on “Developing and sustaining your private client practice”. Over half of the delegates were heads of private client departments with responsibility for developing and growing their teams and private client marketing was a major theme. Here are the five main thought arising from the session.

1. More analysis

Most delegates recognised the need for both internal and external research and analysis on which to base their plans.

Internal research included analysis of past work and clients, profitability and pricing as well as conversion rates. Source of work analysis was also highlighted.

Externally, the need to understand the broader economic, sociological, technological and political trends was recognised as well as regional trends. We spent some time on market segmentation, private client niches and client personas to focus marketing efforts.

2. The need for plan

The need for a plan was recognised with a variety of issues to tackle such as:

  • Strategic alignment – How to align the goals and positioning of the private client department with the rest of the firm and its external competitive environment
  • Financial management – improving top line revenues and bottom line profits by careful analysis of past work sources and the desired mix of services
  • Human resources management – ensuring that you have the right people doing the right work with the right goals and the right rewards
  • Operations management – maintaining the balance of efficiency and service excellence and the possible adoption of technology
  • Strategic marketing
    • The correct choice of core markets and client personas
    • The prioritisation and the development of new services and the link to pricing
    • Where to focus time and cash in selected marketing, selling and relationship management programmes

The risk of strategic drift without a plan was explored. A plan helps win support from the Board so that the private client team can reach the critical 10% of the firm’s turnover. There is guidance on producing a business plan and also on marketing plans.

3. Value engineering for new service development

During the session on products and pricing, we did some exercises to examine where solicitors perceive the value in their services compared to where clients perceive the value. We also considered how changes in the economy, technology, politics and sociological trends would create new needs for future clients.

The conclusion from this work was a series of great ideas for innovative new services which extend beyond the narrow confines of legal work but added service elements – managed by the trusted adviser solicitors – from other professional, commercial and financial service providers. Further information on differentiation here

4. The right people and human resources

A critical element of the head of department role is that of human resources management – whether it is the recruitment of suitable new talent or the development of existing staff. The role of psychometrics was explored.

There was an interesting discussion about the need for the right interpersonal skills to provide the right level of client service and forge strong relationships with referrers. The role of emotional intelligence  was explored as well as the need to develop T-shaped people (i.e. with both deep technical skills and broad commercial awareness).

Change management in adopting new technology to improve efficiency was also addressed.

5. Digital marketing and social media

The use of social media was considered from some different perspectives. The delegates recognised the role of social media in general, and LinkedIn in particular in:

  • Engagement – Initiating and developing dialogues with clients, potential clients, referrers, potential staff and other community leaders
  • SEO – Providing support for search engines in directing more of the right sort of traffic to the web site
  • Referrals – Having strong profiles and regular high quality content to remain uppermost in the mind of both client and third party referrals
  • Communication – For distributing relevant, audience-focused content – especially video – in an unobtrusive way. Storytelling was also explored.

However, for those that scored low on HubSpot’s marketing grader  some improvements in performance, security and SEO on their web sites were seen as a priority before developing social media.

Future dates for this private client management and marketing course.