Ideally, you should approach this task by undertaking a full marketing audit and preparing a marketing plan covering the strategic elements of product, price, place, people and promotion. Other FAQs and articles on this web site will help you with these issues.
Marketing litigation of any kind is more difficult than other legal areas as it is a one-off need that is difficult to predict – a similar challenge to marketing any transactional service such as mergers and acquisitions support.
At the essence of the marketing of professional services is the need to develop and maintain long term client relationships. However, as property litigation is unlikely to be a regular event then you need to ‘piggy back’ on the relationships of others in the firm – such as those in the commercial property department.
Below is a list of ideas to explore for promoting property litigation expertise, but remember that all marketing is more effective when conducted in the context of a proper background of rigorous analysis, planning and an integrated campaign.
Remember at the outset to be clear about your objectives – do you want to make more fees, more profits, recruit more staff, increase client satisfaction or raise your profile? The approach you adopt will depend on what you are trying to achieve.
Analysing existing/past clients of property litigation team
- Have you produced a list of past clients and kept it up to date?
- Have you analysed whether there are any common themes or trends that might help identify prospective clients?
- Do you communicate regularly with this audience to provide information about new cases or developments?
- Have you segmented the client to reflect the different needs of, say, property development companies and medium sized occupiers? The needs of occupiers of industrial property are likely to be very different from the needs of occupiers of retail property.
- Have you asked your existing clients if they know of anyone else who might need property litigation support?
- Do you know when your existing clients are likely to reach points where the need for litigation might arise (e.g break clauses, rent reviews, end of leases, dilapidations etc). Your computer system can track these and provide you with automatic alerts.
Targeting clients of the commercial property team
- Have you analysed the information about clients of the commercial property team? Are there any that you should contact? Are you regularly sending them information about property litigation matters – directly or indirectly?
- Are the commercial property lawyers fully aware of what your team can do for their clients? It may help to build stronger relationships with the other lawyers in your firm who are likely to come across property litigation needs.
- Perhaps you can provide them with example letters on preventative property litigation matters to send to their clients? Perhaps they produce a newsletter into which you can provide an article?
Building a target list
Who ideally, do you want as clients? What sorts of businesses are they? Where are they located? How can you reach them? What are they interested in?
What research have you undertaken to identify potential clients? Who provides their advice at present?
Is there some area of expertise or type of problem or client where you have unusual or particularly in-depth expertise? Can this be packaged and used as a platform for a profile raising campaign?
What new issues are likely to arise in the future? What can people do to prepare themselves or prevent problems? Can you make a forecast about what is likely to change in the future?
Who are your experts and what are they expert in? What advice can they provide generally to property occupiers and property investors/developers to prevent the need for litigation?
Can you develop a niche market somehow?
You need to be sure that everyone in the firm understands what you can do for clients and prepare them to talk confidently about the sorts of issues that their clients might raise in the area of property litigation. Perhaps you should prepare a short list of most likely questions and some answers.
Do you place a regular item in the internal emails and newsletters that your firm produces to keep property litigation ‘front of mind’?
How about nominating different members of the property litigation team to attend regularly the departmental meetings of others in the firm to both learn about their clients and to promote property litigation services?
Have you been through the clients of the property litigation team to see which might be of interest to others in the firm? Reciprocity helps a lot.
How about organising a ‘Meet the property litigation team’ informal drinks session so that people can meet the team. Organising a fun quiz on property litigation matters adds fun, breaks the ice and promotes understanding of what you do
Referrers and intermediaries
Have you analysed your past work to see where the majority of your referrals come from both inside and outside the organisation?
Prioritise those generating the most referrals and ensure you have someone allocated to developing the relationship and generating more referrals.
Do you go back to thank referrers for sending clients and instructions and keep them informed on developments of cases they have referred?
Have you looked at local law firms to see who does not have property litigation expertise that you might help?
How strong are your links with local firms of Chartered Surveyors and other property advisers? Are you in regular contact with the landlord and tenant and management surveyors in your area? Have you suggested that you provide educational presentations to their staff and clients? Have you offered articles for their newsletters?
Promotion and profile building
There are endless possibilities in terms of how you promote your services and expertise. For example, you might produce a regular newsletter on property litigation matters and use this for mailing to existing and potential clients and referrers.
The material in the newsletters might also be used to promote awareness amongst the media. Press releases on cases and new developments might help generate press coverage and articles in the right media will both generate publicity and a source of material for mailing programmes. Offering expert advice, forecasts and opinions when the media call is a good way to position yourself as a regular commentator.
All of this material can be presented on a web site – a series of frequently asked questions and diagnostic or self help checklists will also help.
Providing papers at internal seminars and client events or at external events (e.g. local trade associations, business and professional groups, commercial conference organisers etc) will raise profile and provide an opportunity for you to network with potential clients.
Then, of course, you could produce a brochure or a leaflet – but remember to keep the end user/client in mind – why should they be interested in reading the document?
As a last resort you can consider advertising – but there are more effective ways to promote your services so be creative!
I do not restrict access to the FAQs but I politely request that you let me know by email and acknowledge the source (www.kimtasso.com) if you wish to use the material anywhere.
As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.