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Let’s say you’ve been invited to speak at the annual meeting of a group of not-for-profits next month. Specifically, they want to know what, if anything, they should be worrying about relative to your specialty — say trademarks and brands. Easy-peasy.
You do the research to get up to date on current developments, get a little help pulling together slides and then pin on that name tag and hit the podium with enthusiasm. This is your area of expertise. You could do this in your sleep, right? Then, when you step away from the podium, you file your notes, toss your name tag and feel grateful that’s done so you can get back to the “real work.” Stop right there.
It’s a huge waste to do the work to give a speech and just leave it at that. Here are five more things you can do that might just double or triple (even quintuple?) your speaking engagement’s marketing impact.
1. Write and publish the article. You’ve done the research. You’ve created some good visuals. You’ve even tested your material before a crowd of potential clients who helped you punch it up by asking questions that revealed the hottest buttons for that crowd. All you need is an hour or two to turn those spoken words into a written piece — and find someone interested in publishing it. (Most editors are voracious consumers of good content that matches their readership. Placing a good article won’t be difficult. In fact, the monthly publication produced by the group before which you just spoke should be your first contact.)
2. Give the speech somewhere else. Again, you’ve done the prep work, so why not identify another group interested in the same issues? There are a handful of ways to do this. First, check with the people who invited you to the first event and ask if they know of others. If you did a good job — and of course you did — they will be eager to recommend you. Next, consider how your speech might be tweaked to appeal to a slightly different audience. Would the chamber of commerce like you to speak to small business owners about the “Top 10 Intellectual Property Worries for Small Businesses”? And unless all of the other lawyers in your firm are IP lawyers, too, make sure to share an informal version of the speech with your colleagues over a box lunch. They need to know what their clients should be worrying about so they can cross-sell your services! (If they are all IP lawyers, share your slides and notes so they can make a similar speech, too.)
3. Blog about it. You do blog, right? Even if it’s not your own personal blog — perhaps it’s the firm’s, or the chamber’s, or even a national blog for nonprofit leaders — don’t miss the opportunity to share what you know and demonstrate your ability to make complex legal issues understandable. In case you’re wondering, yes, this is different from the article you are writing for a publication in No. 1. It’s shorter and more colloquial; it’s filled with bullets and lists. And you want to place a link in your blog post that will take a reader right to your firm bio and the online version of the bigger, more informative article, too.
4. Throw your own party. By now, you have a pocketful of business cards from people who saw you speak, are interested in learning more and want to make a personal connection. Invite them to join you — and some of your partners’ hand-selected clients — for a Friday afternoon wine and cheese networking event in your conference room. Don’t give a speech (though you might ask someone else, one of your clients, perhaps, to say a few words). This is just some end-of-the week conviviality and an opportunity for participants to share notes with others in their position. Make sure there’s something for them to take away with them when they leave. Oh wait … you’ve printed out copies of that article you published (with your firm logo and contact information), haven’t you?
5. Productize it. Sure, someone can attend one of your speeches and read the article. But once you’ve called out the top 10 worries, does that give them the expertise to determine whether their organization is safe? Of course not. That’s why they need your help. But nonprofits don’t have a lot of money to toss around, so you need to package that help in a way they can afford. Perhaps you train a junior (and therefore less-expensive) lawyer or a senior paralegal to visit their office and conduct an IP inventory using the detailed checklist you have prepared — for a flat fee. If they pass the inventory test, they will sleep better at night. If they don’t pass the test and serious issues are exposed … that’s when they need to hire you.
Now that speech was really worth the time and effort after all, wasn’t it? And those five ideas are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leveraging the hard work you put into that speech.
Merrilyn Astin Tarlton is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. Learn more about Merrilyn here and follow her on Twitter @astintarlton.
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