In this week’s business development clinic, Heather Townsend answers a knotty problem. How to change the way your practice markets itself? i.e. how to make your partners sit up and take notice of some of the newer and more effective marketing practices now available?

This is not an unusual problem – and I see it happening all the time. You have a keen director, senior manager or senior associate wanting to build their own client portfolio. They still want to be seen as one of the club, but can see that there are newer and more effective ways of marketing the practice. How to make their partners sit up and take notice, without alienating them?

Partnerships tend not to respond well to revolution. (I’m sure you may have noticed this!) Therefore, don’t try and convince your partners that they need to change everything over night. All this will tend to do is make them either get defensive, or dismiss you out of hand. After all, they want the proof that your ideas will work better. (Very often the detailed proof is not what you have.)

Your numbers and results, initially, need to do the talking for you. What I mean by this is gain permission to set up a trial or pilot for what you want to do. You may need to seek forgiveness and start something up without permission just to get it going. One of my favourite managing partners told me that the rest of her partners really sat up and took notice of what she was doing on social media after she brought in a £100k+ client. This is what I mean by letting your results do the talking for you. Another of my friends who is a future managing partner of her firm started her own blog and Twitter account without the rest of her partner’s knowing. She had some explaining to do when they found out – but by then she also had concrete evidence to show the value of what she was doing. Her managing partner is now using Twitter as a result of her actions.

Many of the more traditional practices are dragging their feet when it comes to really committing to marketing by sector. This doesn’t stop you externally and internally growing a reputation for a niche specialism. Yes, your client portfolio may only contain 10-15% of clients who fit your ‘niche’, but over time your reputation will develop and this proportion will grow. (Read here for advice on adopting a niche) When you start to be classed as a rainmaker for your practice, your partners will be keen to understand how you are doing this. This is NOW the time to suggest a few changes to the way the practice markets itself.

If you find that your partners still don’t appreciate how you are going about doing things – even though you are bringing in new clients with your marketing methods, then are you in the right firm for you for the future? The good thing about this strategy is that you will be far more valuable to another firm if you come with a client following…

Click here to download our free ebook "The reluctant business developer's guide to winning clients". (email required)

How have you helped your partners change their marketing and sales processes and systems?

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Click here to download our free ebook "The reluctant business developer's guide to winning clients". (email required)

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