Those who choose to work as professional service marketers in business development and organizational promotion typically utilize and share their considerable coaching talents with their firm’s personnel. In fact, their coaching roles have positively changed the status of marketing.
Participation in professional associations such as the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) has also added to the skill sets and value of firm marketers. Marketers clearly need to develop close relations with the partners or professional associates in order for all to be successful.
The coaching process takes time, patience, and skills beyond the usual marketing toolbox. Savvy firms recognize this value. And coaching adds to career satisfaction for legal and accounting marketers, leading to long term roles within their firms.
Coaching positive habits
How does coaching work in a law or accounting firm where branding or business development may be “foreign” to some of the younger or less established professionals?
Gordon Feinblatt’s Director of Marketing and Business Development Debbie Henry has been in various roles at Gordon Feinblatt for nearly 21 years. She works with individual attorneys of the Baltimore-based business law firm to help them set goals and develop a plan to implement them.
She may provide an article to review with the attorney, role-play prospective client meetings or how to hold a difficult client conversation, or proof articles they create for publication. As a coach, Debbie conveys support and tries to create the development of positive habits. Cheerleading on client wins and highlighting those gains internally and externally further helps establish and promote the marketer’s role.
“While there are many methodologies for being a marketing coach, I prefer an individualized approach that is consistent and intentional,” Debbie says.
Marketer Jennifer Boehm has worked in professional services marketing for 25 years — half in area law firms and now in accounting for national firm, UHY LLP Certified Public Accountants. Some of her internal accountant “clients” are “natural rainmakers,” but others find business development to be a challenging task.
As in legal marketing, Jennifer works with individuals to find the best focus areas for each professional and helps them to create small and achievable goals. Assisting the accountants in identifying valuable networking opportunities for their practice areas, both in-person and now virtually, is part of her coaching successes to date.
“Many would be happy just to stay behind their desk, so business development and networking can be a challenge, notes Jennifer.” She adds that regular coaching -style meetings, usually monthly, are important to help the accountants stay on their agreed marketing tasks despite their generally large client workloads.
UHY is supportive in the marketing function across its national sites and has a strong three- year growth strategy that helps position the coaching role for future success.
A free lunch and more
In my own experiences in professional service marketing for lawyers, I found that even the firms’ rainmakers were valuable to add to create a somewhat curated marketing coaching staff. I developed a series of marketing seminars in-house for the firms, generally monthly lunch meetings, and promoted the schedule of diverse topics well in advance.
I always involved one of the experienced firm partners as my co-chair per topic. The “free lunch” and experienced partner participation was a draw, and the topics created interest in follow-up for one-on-one coaching discussions.
There’s no reason this approach couldn’t be held remotely at this point, but the aspect of meeting together was an important for generating a strong marketing focus.
The job description of the professional services marketer, in addition to business development and general marketing/branding roles could easily read as, “internal promoter, cheerleader, listener, and helper to lawyers and accountants at all career stages on customizing marketing strategies to their individual comfort levels.”
In a competitive and fragmented business climate, capable firm marketers/coaches can make a definite difference.
Glenda LeGendre is principal of Strategic Marketing & Communications and can be reached at [email protected].