Making The Most Of A Speaking Campaign
Creating visibility and building credibility
are fundamental to the success
of all legal marketing campaigns.
A well thought out, proactive
speaking program directed at appropriately
targeted audiences helps achieve
this by giving attorneys the opportunity
to showcase their expertise. Attorneys
will get up close and personal with a
room full of prospects, build referral
relationships with the event organizers
and increase their law firm's visibility.
Industry associations, corporations and
nonprofit organizations are continually
seeking to build their rosters of good
Whether working with external
consultants or on their own, attorneys
must avoid shortcuts and take the time
to plan and define all their objectives
before embarking on a speaking plan.
Aside from the obvious goal of bringing
in new clients, other objectives are
equally important, such as building
strategic alliances with trade organizations,
increasing newsletter subscriptions,
exposing the firm to new
prospects and networking with other
panelists. Having well-defined objectives
will minimize disappointment and
frustration and provide a better gauge
for return on investment.
After the speaking engagement,
when new clients and referrals don't
call, attorneys begin to question the viability
of the speaking engagement as an
effective marketing tool. What the attorneys
fail to understand is that it's not the
delivery, style, tone and subject matter
of the speech itself that lead to success,
but what they do with the business
development opportunities before and
after the speaking engagement.
Most speaking engagements are
booked several months in advance. This
time lag allows for ample networking
opportunities with other panelists and
the host organization. The time lag also
provides the perfect opportunity to test
your ideas for the presentation itself,
with both the organizers and other panelists.
The organizers have a vested
interest in having a successful program.
Their feedback will be invaluable: they
will know what the audience will be
looking for and can provide guidance as
to which direction to take. In addition,
they can introduce you to important
contacts on different committees and
alert you to cross-marketing opportunities,
such as writing articles for the
At a minimum, the speaker should
meet the committee/event organizers at
least once. These people are usually
working with the same target audience
that the law firm seeks to reach. Your
cooperation — sending your bio
promptly and responding to their
requests expeditiously — you will help
put your best foot forward. Meeting
with the organizers and coordinators to
“break bread” will go a long way in
cementing these relationships and
alliances. Once the program is over, it's
very difficult to network with the organizers,
as most have turned their attention
to the next event.
Another way to solidify relationships
with committee members is to
find out how the organization plans to
promote the event. Ask them if it's
appropriate for you to invite guests and
what your firm can do to publicize the
program. Inviting your clients and
prospects has two advantages: it shows
that you are a sought-after speaker and
increases attendance. While most host
organizations expect speakers to market
the event to their target groups, by asking
for permission, you are taking a step
forward to make working together a
positive experience for everyone
Most organizations and trade
groups don't like to give attendee lists
to speakers before the event. They are
afraid of speakers making unsolicited
calls. A good way to collect business
cards is to offer a white paper or something
else of value during your presentation.
Ask your listeners to write “yes”
on the back of their business card and
pass it along; this technique guarantees
getting almost all the business cards.
If one of your objectives is to
increase the number of prospects, make
sure you leave the attendees wanting
more. Offer to send them a special
report, article or other information that
is not in your presentation materials.
Not only does this act as a prequalifiying
mechanism, but it provides the perfect
opportunity for you to follow up
with them after the day of the presentation.
Having a qualified audience does
not lead to or guarantee business immediately.
Attorneys must bear in mind that
most of the audiences won't be on the
same timetable. Most attendees are
focused on gaining new insight into a
subject matter. In the process, they are
getting to know, like and trust you. By
taking an educational approach to the
presentation rather than a hard-core sales
pitch, attorneys are building credibility
and increasing their profile.
Audiences often want to keep in
touch with speakers but are concerned
about the unsolicited approach. The educational
approach opens lines of communication
between attendee and speaker
at a slower, more comfortable and
low-pressure pace. Attendees get an
opportunity to know, like and trust you,
making it more likely that they will subscribe
to your newsletter, visit your Web
site and give you their business cards.
While presentations may showcase
an attorney's legal expertise, audiences
often will not know the differences
between a good and an average attorney.
However, they will quickly get a sense
whether they feel comfortable with you
and can do business with you. Thus, it is
imperative for attorneys to let their personalities
come out in their presentation.
A good way to do that is to focus less on
the facts and more on storytelling. Being
accessible after the presentation will
provide opportunities to mix and mingle
with attendees on a one-to-one basis.
Getting references and testimonials
on the presentation may not be important
when you are starting a speaking campaign.
However, as the engagements
become more prominent, and thus more
competitive, testimonials and references
can greatly increase your speaking
Although often overlooked in
this technological age, don't ignore
the importance of sending a handwritten
note or thank-you card to
committee members. It demonstrates
that you took the time and
value the relationship with the event
organizer/planner. A handwritten
note or thank-you card is far more
effective than a quick e-mail.
Putting together a good speech
takes time and effort. It makes
sense, therefore, to integrate the
speech into other marketing activities.
For example, a speech can be
included in a firm's internal
newsletter or published under an
attorney's byline. It can be distributed
to bolster strategic alliances
and attract prospects. Also, upcoming
speaking engagements can be
advertised on the firm's Web site.
By taking advantage of business
development opportunities before
and after speaking engagements,
you can maximize the success of a
This article is reprinted with permission from the July 2, 2007 issue of New Jersey Law Journal. © 2007 ALM Properties Inc. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.
About The Author
Paramjit Mahli is with Sun Communications
Group of New York, N.Y., a marketing and
public relations company that works primarily
with small law firms.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
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