By Kipp Lanham, Senior Account Executive, Media & Communications Strategies, Inc.
Marketing and business associates at law firms often have to justify to the firm’s partners the cost and reasoning for creating a business development event. A practice-focused conference or the opening of a new office could be in the works, but the partners have tough questions before such events can go forward – “Don’t we already have activities underway with the current budget that address those needs? What value can you guarantee will come from inviting all these people and taking away from billable time to clients and their cases?” Here are a few reasons to justify events in response to skepticism:
- A Captive Audience – You have the target audiences in your offices. These are journalists, business executives from relevant industries and chambers of commerce, and other VIPs that you want in the door who will help you generate new business. Take the opportunity to show them hospitality with food, drink, greetings, support, excitement for the program, and the future advantages of the program due to their participation. There needs to be an atmosphere, a culture of awareness and anticipation that connects with the firm’s brand and business development. There should also be an introductory comment by a senior partner and others laying out an agenda that encourages business development.
- Media Engagement – Hosting a relevant, newsworthy event where key thought leaders and industry executives are all under one roof provides journalists a pre-packaged space to write stories and conduct interviews without having to track people down. Law firms can take advantage of this situation to organize such interviews ahead of time for journalists, provide space and area for the interviews, and the free Wi-Fi to write the story. All of this will help to propel the possible media coverage forward. The law firm should prepare a few possible stories to be developed so journalists will be more eager to attend the event knowing they will get work done as a result of showing up.
- Business cards, business cards, business cards – Make sure to connect with attendees upon arrival to collect business cards, and provide helpful nametags for everyone. Also, offer raffles for lunches or other gifts that further enhance the event experience and encourage relationship building in the future. The contacts can be followed up with and used as metrics for future planning of events or other business development. Furthermore, lawyers and other attendees should reach out to each other on social media such as LinkedIn to stay connected.
- Following-Up – After an event has taken place, it is always beneficial to send a wrap-up of what had occurred in a thank you email, requesting feedback in a survey, providing links to shared content for participants’ use, and a recommendation to stay connected on social media and via email/phone.
An event is an overall experience for the firm, its brand, its mission, its values, and its employees. It’s an advertisement. The event is just the first part of a brand awareness and value program; the follow-up is key. Measuring the event’s success will make your proposal for the next event much easier and more valuable.