Now is the time to plan for the upcoming year. Whether you are preparing as head of the firm’s practice, for your personal clients or for general firm goals, follow the example below to establish reachable goals for any practice area, resource or strategy and keep the pace throughout the year.
Every year is the same; it is October, and we all wonder where the time has gone. Unfortunately, it does not matter. Now is the time to plan for the upcoming year. Whether you are preparing as head of the firm’s practice, for your personal clients or for general firm goals, follow the example below to establish reachable goals for any practice area, resource, or strategy.
Objective: Further Incorporate and Evaluate WSG Integration into the Firm
- Review and confirm the current goals and objectives
- Review referrals received and referred. Ensure they are reported in WSG’s referral tool.
- Review number of professionals participating in WSG activity in-person and digitally.
- Review and monitor confirmed dates and open registrations for 2019 to be announced by 1 December or earlier.
- Create a progressive plan from 2018 to transition into the 2019 goals and objectives
- Report referrals and collaborations on an ongoing basis in 2019 to assist in evaluations and adjustments to the goals throughout the year.
- Assign or approach firm professionals from different practice areas about participating in groups, meetings, networking, webinars etc. in advance in order to coordinate activities for 2019. Define a reporting approach to learn about their experiences.
- Register early for meetings to establish a current representative and a new attendee increasing integration and succession planning for firm resources.
- Establish industry/practice groups, meetings, networking, webinars etc. that are of most interest to the firm, categorize by industry/practice groups, regions or clients and discuss with WSG in order to establish opportunities as early as possible for 2019.
- Incorporate resources into your plan now
- Incorporate your WSG resources into the firm, practice area, business development and branding plans for the firm as early as possible to gain the most value and benefit.
- Audit your membership
- Review all the areas where your firm could be gaining inherit benefit by using the Member Review tool on the WSG administrative page. Contact WSG to learn more about the many ways to gain the most benefit, and receive an update of the new aspects of the organization in order to best plan for the coming year.
While this is a sample of planning for WSG integration into the firm, these 5 easy steps can be used to plan for any objective. Planning allows us to be more structured and focused, but most importantly, it enhances our ability to work and thrive when the chaos inevitably happens. We can be pulled in many directions because we integrate new projects and obligations. The plan is in place to efficiently maneuver through the commotion. Planning is critical to our ability to function at our most powerful levels and accomplish our highest priorities.
WSG offers members tools that provide beneficial value in elevating your firms brand and service capabilities. Our automation resources deliver simple and efficient ways to build your SEO index and to promote your global identity within the network and beyond. Our automated syncing platform keeps profiles current, accurate and searchable, while our automated RSS functions allow your firms publication content to be highly searchable and directly engaging.
In today's landscape of complex digital communication, successfully navigating such sophisticated platforms is a difficult task to master. Content automation should be a term you are hearing more often, whether it is your firm's website, social media network, email distribution, or any other channel. It's a comprehensive solution to help stay current, identify opportunities and track metrics.
WSG has built the network integrated with technology using automated implementation to propel firm branding, expert recognition and success value to new heights. Using profile management and publication distribution, WSG's automation tools are provided to improve your profile's effectiveness while also allowing you to share your firm's content. Using content automation, informational data is kept current and your distribution channels are exponentially increased. Here is a description of two of the most commonly used automation tools within the network.
Harmonize Your Profile Across the Firm, WSG and Google
WSG's Import Module was designed to ensure the changes made to a member's home site are in sync and accurately depicted on their WSG profile. The tool maps out all profile source information capturing any updates instantly. This improves your firm's searchability and visibility and creates one less marketing channel to worry about keeping updated.
Distribute Expertise Across More Channels
By using publication automation, articles, press release and blogs published can be uploaded to WSG's site with the simple click of a button. This automation tool removes the need for the member to manually copy-paste their news and press submissions and allows submitting accurate information. As well as with the member blogs, the latest blog post rotate and post onto the WSG member blog roll throughout the day. It is easier than ever to share your firm's news-related content and publish onto the WSG site and this can be accomplished with just a few clicks.
Make Automation Work for Your Firm
Automation is becoming a mainstay in all industry practices and will soon be a standard part of all professional services. When properly implemented, it's a key benefit in building the awareness of your firm and establishing your brand. These tools are provided to ensure your content marketing and WSG membership achieve the highest levels of success by automating and sharing relevant, desirable and accurate content. Please contact the WSG marketing team to discuss how to get started and which of these features are right for your firm.
When done correctly, blogging can truly separate you from others that do the same thing in the same area at the same level. The reason…blogging is meant to be current and opinionated. By putting a great analysis on the same information, you very quickly get considered an "expert". Consider these six easy steps to write a great post every time.
Like all things digital, trends become important channels of distribution faster than you can blink, and before you know it, there is one more thing you're being asked to do for marketing, that dreaded word. The thing is, they’re right.
There is one concept today that all professionals understand with regard to marketing, and that’s the impact of word-of-mouth. Consider that today, social media is as or more powerful than traditional word-of-mouth marketing. If that’s true, then the impact of one-on-one networking is equivalent to the impact of consistent blogging on a specific subject matter. The more people you get know and the more you discuss and work on matters, the more trust and expertise you build, which makes you a trustworthy go-to expert. To keep that momentum going, you keep networking. Blogging is no different, it’s just digital.
When done correctly, blogging can truly separate you from others that do the same thing in the same area at the same level. The reason…blogging is meant to be current and opinionated. By putting great analysis on the same information, you very quickly get considered to be an “expert”. This is no different than giving someone your opinion in person.
Consistent and quality blogging can:
- Establish you as a thought leader in a specific area.
- Increase your credibility and visibility.
- Build awareness about your practice and your firm.
- Increase client engagement.
- Generate potential new clients.
- Drive people to your firm’s website and increase SEO through reposting.
Before you jump head-first into blogging, keep in mind that blog readers typically want quick, useful information containing the author’s unique insight and opinions. Blog posts should be fresh, interesting and include a call-to-action that provides readers a next step or a reason to return. As you develop your content, keep these four factors for creating a successful blog in mind:
- Linkable: Include links, related articles, sources and other digital channels.
- Scannable: Break up text for readability, use images, headers, bold and appealing copy.
- Sociable: Respond to comments, engage conversation, give readers options to share.
- Searchable: Keywords, links and tags to improve SEO.
Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Harr, Partner, Hinge
How do you measure your marketing efforts? Let's break down what metrics you should track into these three categories.
You probably hear a lot of talk about high growth. Usually, it is regarding the terms of what marketing techniques might contribute to high growth. But try and focus on what happens after you’ve decided on what set of marketing techniques you should use to contribute to high growth. And what we're talking about is how do you measure those? How do you know that you’ve chosen the right ones? Well, it’s all about metrics. And speaking of high growth, we find that firms that fit into that high growth category, on average, track 33% more metrics than their average growth counterparts. It makes sense when you think about why. Metrics are all about holding your strategies accountable, testing them and continually improving.
Now, I think it’s fairly easy to figure out the how around metrics. You know, there are a lot of marketing automation tools and CRMs that help you with that. Some are free, some are not, but there’s a lot out there that helps you figure out the how to track. Really, when we talk with firms, they seem to be confounded with the why and the what, so that’s what I wanna focus on today. And when I talk with firms, I like to help them think about metrics in three categories, and that is visibility metrics, expertise metrics and what we call impact metrics.
So, lets tackle the first one. Visibility metrics are metrics that really give you an indication of how visible you are in the marketplace. So, it’s pretty intuitive. There are three types of visibility metrics that are very impactful when accessing this.
One is website traffic, but you wouldn’t wanna stop at just website traffic in aggregate. You would want to look at the different types of traffic. Direct traffic, organic traffic, referral traffic, social media traffic are just a few.
Another type of visibility metric are social media followers by platform. Now, the reason this is an interesting metric to track is because we know from our other research how much social media plays in terms of driving visibility to you and your firm. So, tracking your followers by platform actually becomes pretty important.
The last thing you can think about tracking when it comes to visibility metrics is your email list size. So, for those of you whose marketing plans have an email component to it, continually measuring the size of that list gives you a very good indication of how visible you are.
Now, the other bucket of metrics to consider tracking are what we call expertise metrics. So, different from visibility, these are metrics that measure, how convincing are you, that you are the expert you say you are your colleagues are.
Now, there are four areas within expertise metrics that you can consider tracking. One is around the content that you produce. If you are tracking metrics at all, you are likely tracking around some sort of content marketing. So, tracking things like downloads of your premium content, your white papers, your guides, tracking your blog traffic, those are very important in terms of understanding how convincing you’ve been that you are the expert.
Second is around PR, and I’m not talking about press releases about a new office, or you hired a new partner. I’m talking about the type of PR that we call guest blogging or earned media coverage.
Third is online endorsements. How often does your thought leadership get shared through different social media channels or inbound links that mention you and your thought leadership? And finally, speaking engagements. How often are you invited to be the keynote of particular conferences and trade shows that are important in your industry? So, each of those are important for understanding expertise.
The third and final bucket of metrics that we like to have our clients focus on are what we call impact metrics. So, how impactful are the marketing strategies you’ve put in place to the bottom line of your firm? Now, there are several of these types you can track.
One is simply inbound leads. How many leads are coming in from form fills? How many emails and phone calls are you getting from the efforts? You can track them back to the specific efforts. Also, just opportunities. What does your CRM say about the number of opportunities coming in to you weekly, monthly and from what source? You can also track proposals. How many? Cumulative value? Where are they coming from? What type? Same thing with wins. How many wins come from new clients, versus existing clients? And there’s two more that are important in terms of impact metrics, and that is simply tracking your firm growth and profitability.
So, I just talked about three buckets of metrics that you will want to target when you’re tracking. And truth be told, every professional services firm out there has their own story, their own growth trajectory, their own sets of clients and prospects. So, the specific metrics you track may differ from firm to firm, but if you think in those three buckets you’ll be on a good way to measuring successfully.
Tracking it all
The last thing I wanna leave you with is figuring out, “Okay, I get the three buckets but what, specifically, do I need to track?” And there are four rules of thumb you can use when you’re figuring out what specific metrics to track.
First and foremost is, the metric you select should be continuously available. This isn’t something that you want to start and stop.
Secondly, the metric should have a low component of subjectivity. You want this to be as objective as possible, so that when you and your team are reviewing these you don’t start second-guessing the data.
Third, you want the metric to be accepted by your team as relevant. So, if email marketing isn’t a big piece of your overall marketing strategy, you probably aren’t gonna spend a lot of time tracking open rates and the like, whereas another firm may.
And finally, the last rule of thumb is that it should be easy to monitor. This is something that, if it requires a lot of energy in seeking out, and measuring and interpreting it, it probably won’t be tracked regularly.
So, I hope that you will incorporate metrics in your 2017-2018 marketing strategy because it really is, far and above, the best way to hold your strategy accountable.
Guest Blogger: Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D., Managing Partner, Hinge
When looking for a new restaurant, you probably search differently today than you would have several years ago. While you may still ask friends and colleagues for a recommendation, there's a good chance you'll also use online tools such as Google or Yelp to discover new options and check them out.
Guess what? Today, the way corporate buyers find professional services firms isn't always so different.
At Hinge, we've spent almost 10 years researching how buyers of professional services find, vet, and choose firms. We've also researched the marketing tactics and strategies used by the most successful professional services firms. We refer to these organizations as Visible Firms® — and the vast majority of firms could benefit from emulating their approach. In this post I want to share a few key findings of our research so that you can consider whether your marketing plan addresses the way today's buyers buy.
Evolving expectations of professional services buyers: younger, more web-savvy
Two factors make the way today's buyers shop for law firms different from the past.
The first factor involves the buyers themselves. Not surprisingly, a growing percentage of buyers are “digital natives” — they grew up using the web. As a result, they are far more likely to use a variety of online resources to look for and evaluate providers. These resources include search engines, social media, professional networking sites, and others. It's worth pointing out that this is not a fleeting trend. By the year 2025, Millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) will account for 75% of the workforce.
The second factor is how much more information users can gather from the web. Rather than rely on the opinions and advice of a limited circle of colleagues, today's buyers take matters into their own hands and conduct web searches and scrutinize prospective providers' websites. This trend is reflected in the continuing rise in total Internet searches, which now surpasses 2 trillion per year.
In addition, our research has shown that today's buyers tend to rely not only on Internet searches, but a variety of strategies and sources of information as well:
- 80.8% of professional services buyers check out a prospective firm's website
- 63.2% search for firms online
- 62.4% of buyers ask friends or colleagues if they've heard of the firm
- 59.9% of buyers check the firm on social media
- On average, buyers use at least 3 of these approaches to check out a firm before buying
We learned about these changing preferences through research we conducted over several years. In the process, we interviewed more than 1,000 buyers, as well as more than 130 Visible Experts® — individuals at firms who are well known in their markets as having exceptional expertise and reputation. Key tactics used by Visible Firms include:
- Positioning and marketing key individuals within the firm as Visible Experts. This can produce a “Halo Effect,” a natural tendency among buyers to associate their positive perception of an individual with the whole of their organization.
- Conducting focused content marketing to engage with greater numbers of qualified leads.
- Creating websites with keyword-optimized content that guide visitors to progressively more relevant content and closer engagements, such as webinars.
Today's buyers are making decisions based on the relative visibility of firms in the marketplace - a perception that is influenced by firms' reputations, as well as their savvy use of online marketing techniques to maximize their visibility to prospects who search online. By implementing a thoughtful, multi-pronged marketing strategy that takes advantage of the preferences of today's buyers, law firms can become the Visible Firms that lead their markets.
|We know the traditional aspects of a network can be and are easily imitated by many: a single representative for a firm, face-to-face meetings, shared office space, and more, but WSG is not a conventional network. Make your experts standout, reach out to practice area/industry activist to get to know their counterparts at conference gatherings exclusively for WSG members; use the unmatched digital platform. Get the message out to your principals, WSG is a network that can adapt to fast changing client and industry expectations.|
|Tips on how to develop the equation:
• Bring your influencers together and use member referral successes to help build a group or committee that will champion WSG.
• Extend meeting attendance beyond just one person and set up a time to discuss post meeting feedback.
• Tie in digital aspects of the network. Explain and distribute benefits of WSG digital resources and information readily available to leverage this advantage.
|As a network that rises above with our platform of innovation and digital distinctiveness, get more out of WSG beyond your typical, traditional network memberships. Take the conventional outlook on meeting attendance, and transform it with strategic meeting participation. Know who your WSG champions are, reach out to them, expand the group and let us know how we can help.|
We know that marketing and BD professionals are critical to getting the most out of a firm’s membership and to the success of the network. As such, WSG recently held two meetings to bring together firm marketing and BD professionals to discuss how to best leverage a firm’s membership. These highly successful meetings, held in Austin, Texas and in Copenhagen, Denmark in April, serve as important steps to sharing knowledge and building relationships across the network. As a marketing professional within your firm, WSG encourages you to develop a more strategic approach to your firm’s WSG membership through the following three strategies:
1. Implement “The Basics”
We know that the more a firm leverages and engages the network, the more they benefit from their membership. By implementing “the basics” your firm will immediately expand the reach of existing content, demonstrate expertise and leadership and build visibility with fellow members as well as with clients and the general web community. It’s a long-term relationship and it starts with these basics:
• Maintain robust and up-to-date firm and professional profiles on the WSG site. Sync information on your firm site with WSG’s site by implementing the WSG Import Module.
• Share your latest firm news, articles and blog posts to the WSG site. Utilize RSS feeds to automate sharing.
• Include the WSG logo, description and links on your firm’s website to promote your membership and the value it brings to the firm and clients. Visit the WSG Brand Guidelines to download logos and descriptions.
• Develop a plan to ensure strategic engagement, visibility and relationship building by firm professionals through WSG meetings and events as well as practice, industry and association groups. This includes active engagement in the WSG Marketing and BD group!
• Regularly track referrals and collaborations through the WSG Referral Tracker Tool, allowing you to track inbound and outbound Network referrals with one simple tool.
2. Integrate WSG Into the Firm
WSG’s integration of knowledge, expertise and client service providers from the legal, investment banking and accounting professions creates better opportunities for providers and clients alike. However, people need to know and understand this in order for your firm and clients to benefit. Consider the following:
• Ensure that key stakeholders, from firm leadership to practice area leaders to marketing and business development professionals, understand the benefits and opportunities of WSG membership and work to leverage them.
• Communicate the value and benefits of your WSG membership to firm professionals. Ensure professionals across the firm understand how to access and utilize membership to better serve clients.
• Communicate the value and benefits of your WSG membership to your clients. Tout what your membership means to them: immediate access to prospects, information and leading experts with a known record of superior quality service.
3. Develop Strategic Relationships
WSG membership is made up of not only member firms, but also the over 19,000 individual professionals within each member organization. Each individual has their own personal WSG account focused around their areas of practice and interests, enabling members to move well beyond the “primary contact” model to locate expertise and build relationships to benefit the firm and its clients. Some important relationships to include:
• Relationships within your firm to optimize firm activity and engagement across the WSG network.
• Alliances based upon professional areas of practice, interests and participation in WSG groups (practice, industry and association).
• Connecting with marketing/BD professionals across member firms to identify business opportunities and share knowledge.
• Between firm and WSG marketing team to further discover and utilize the breadth and depth of the WSG Network.
Membership is not “one size fits all” and WSG offers a wide variety of opportunities and resources, making it easy for firms to customize your membership. For more information and resources, we encourage you to visit the WSG Knowledge Center and view advantageous documents on the WSG Marketing Materials page. If you are not already in touch with a WSG Marketing staff member, reach out to [email protected] to discover more ways to optimize your firm’s membership.