August Program Recap: Getting ROI from Your Attorneys' Speaking Engagements

In August, Traci Ray, Executive Director at Barran Liebman; Karie Trujillo, Marketing and Client Relations Director at Markowitz Herbold; and Krystal LeVeque, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Hillis Clark Martin and Peterson, led an interactive discussion between Seattle and Portland about how to get the most ROI from attorneys’ speaking engagements. Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

Where to start and how to get biggest bang for your buck?

  • Start with the marketing plan/business development annual budget and figure out what your attorneys are going to speak about for the next 12-18 months.

  • Determine who they want to get as clients and do the research.

  • Get them to focus on becoming the expert at something, and then speak to different organizations on that topic. This way they only have to create one slide deck.

  • Communication between the marketing team and the attorney is really key for determining if the speaking engagement is the right fit for your attorney and your firm. 

  • It is okay to take a step back and do your research even if it takes a day. You don’t want to commit your attorney to a speaking engagement you are not familiar with.

  • If you don’t know anything about the event, attend the event with the attorney to determine if it is the right fit.

  • Attend a couple of meetings before infiltrating a new organization with a request to speak at an event or a meeting. Build some credibility, have some people get to know you and your attorney and then approach the organization to speak.

  • Sit down and discuss with your attorneys what their “what statement” is. This helps them focus on the speaking engagements that best fit the firm’s initiatives and the strength of the attorney. This also helps avoid one-off requests to speak at associations that don’t really jive with their initiatives.
     

How to prepare your attorneys leading up to the event?  

  • More is always better. When calendaring, make sure to include as much information as possible for the attorney in the meeting invite, such as:
    • Who is attending?
    • Who the attorney should connect with?
    • Where to park?

  • Calendar travel time to and from speaking engagements and also include networking time post speaking engagement. Cynthia Voth, Director of Client Engagement & Innovation at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn and President of the Legal Marketing Association, shared an excellent example where one of her firm’s partners retained a LARGE client by sticking around after his speaking engagement and connecting with the audience.

  • Connect with your attorneys prior to the event to discuss what they should wear. You always want to make sure your attorneys are dressing a step up from their audience.

  • Try and schedule informal practice speaking sessions with your attorneys.
     
  • Remind your attorneys to take their business cards!!!

  • Connect with your attorney in advance to go over what his/her and your goals are for that event. What contacts do they want to be sure they connect with?

  • Have your attorneys set realistic goals for themselves. Instead of trying to connect with 25 people, have them narrow it down to ten.

  • Have your attorneys set three clear goals for the day-of.

 
What to do after the event to get the MOST bang for your buck?

  • Meet with your attorney within 24 hours following the event, if possible.
    • Determine who are the three to five most important people that they want to send a well-crafted, tailored follow-up email to.
      • What is the value proposition he/she had to offer?
      • Did they offer to make an introduction to someone within our network?
      • Did they offer to follow up with a template?
      • Anything to help initiate the next conversation is extremely valuable.
    • Everyone else can be put into a second-tier bucket where the attorney can connect with them on LinkedIn and add them to the firm’s CRM. A best practice for LinkedIn – try and have your attorneys send a customized/personalized invitation.

  • Create a ranking system (1-5) to determine the success of each event and ask questions such as:
    • Was it an easy event to plan and were the event coordinators helpful?
    • What was the audience like? 
    • Who was represented?
    • Did the team have enough time to perfect the slides?  
    • Who did the attorneys meet?
    • What did we do?
    • Who were the speakers and what were they like?
       

Cautionary tales and lessons learnt

Make sure you manage your attorney’s expectations and make sure the organization is promoting the event. Karie shared a story about how one of her attorneys drove three hours for a speaking engagement with an expectation of a large crowd. Upon arrival he realized that only five people were registered and attended the event. 

Make sure you check to see who the other sponsors at the event! Krystal shared her experience when her firm sponsored a panel at a conference then later found out that a different law firm would also be joining the same panel. They agreed to split the panels into two: her firm would moderate one, and the other firm would moderate the other. However, this already caused a lot of anxiety with the managing partner who was moderating the panel. To top it off, the other firm really capitalized their sponsorship opportunity by bringing in a giant marketing poster to the event and leaving promotional materials and breath mints on every single chair at the conference. The other firm asked the question: What else can we do to stand out?, and delivered on it.

 

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