Guest blog: Douglas McPherson, Director at Size 10 1/2 Boots

5 May 2016

 Douglas McPherson (Size 10)

The key word when looking at client research campaigns we have undertaken is service. Instructing solicitors want to develop a long term relationship with their barrister, and that means they expect a high level of personal service; they want to know you, to have access to you and get a quick response from you when they instruct a case.

Many barristers are aware of this and develop a stronger working relationship with their instructing solicitor. However, there are still too many barristers content to say "my clerk will take care of it", or "doing a good job is all the marketing I need". Indeed, solicitors will continue to need your clerks to instruct you, and yes, your technical skills are of the highest importance for reaching the best possible outcome for your clients.

Nevertheless, in today's competitive market a third dimension is needed for remaining commercially successful; delivering a better service. Many chambers are already implementing changes leading to a better customer experience for both their clientsand the instructing solicitors. Therefore, postponing such changes might mean losing clients to competitors in the long run.

Delivering a better service means, first of all, taking on board clients' feedback. It also means networking, speaking at public events, but also writing specialist content to improve your expert reputation. And for all these tactics to work, research is essential.

Research

This is the most vital task when you want to improve your chambers' visibility and the customer experience delivered to its clients. Proper research will help you discover where your chambers' members should be networking or be listed as speakers, and where the expert content should be published to reach the high value audience.

All of the outlets they uncover will play a massive part in improving your chambers' profile and market visibility which will pay dividends when it comes to generating new interest and, hopefully, new briefs. 

Writing content

Writing practical and useful content with the clients in mind will help you stay in front of your high value audience's mind, and you would be their first choice when the need arises. From boosting your positon in the search engines to underlining your thought leadership credentials (i.e. convincing those who don't know you that you're the expert they're looking for), continually producing written content is essential. Furthermore, from the perspective of service, written content is the perfect medium through which to add value to a relationship remotely.

Whether you are writing articles, opinion pieces, blogs, legal updates to simple FAQ sheets, make sure you do two things:

1. Keep them practical and accessible: Content is written to share information and provide your clients with a greater understanding of a specific topic; they are not an opportunity to indulge in intellectual gymnastics. As such they need to be clear, straightforward and written in plain English

2. Use them: Make sure you actually send them to your clients and make sure they know it's you that's sending it to them (as well as why you're sending it to them)

Networking

Networking events provide the opportunity to meet a large number of people in a short space of time. Moreover, since everyone is there for the same purpose, you ensure you reach your high value target audience. You should look at networking not as a type of an ordinary event, but as the process of building your own personal network.

You can attend legal events, but consider also general business events, where you can find new clients if you are a direct access barrister.

Speaking at public events

While traditional networking provides an opportunity to speak to a handful of people at an event, speaking gives you the opportunity to speak to everyone, underlining your credibility. And your position on the speaking roster can be an incentive to people to come and speak with you during the break and turn to you as an advocate, when they need one. 

Client seminars and CPD training workshops should already be central to your client development activities. They are the perfect reason to get in touch, the perfect vehicle through which to underline your specialities and technical ability and the perfect way to win hearts and minds (it's incredible the positive impression the award of CPD points creates).

Taking into account these four tips when you plan your marketing and business development strategy ensures that you not only deliver the level your instructing solicitors demand, but also you boost the profile and visibility of your set, generating more new relationships and more new briefs. 

Douglas McPherson, Director Size 10 1/2 Boots