Analyzing Relationship Data to Build Business

By Kathryn Whitaker posted 07-18-2023 11:24


Please enjoy this blog post that is co-authored by Kathryn Whitaker, Chief Marketing Officer, Burr Forman LLP and Rebecca Edwards Hnatowski, President, Edwards Advisory, LLC. 

What’s at the heart of a marketing and business development plan? Data. 

It’s what we rely on to build out an ideal client profile, to identify market penetration by industry or geography, to understand which piece of thought leadership is trending, and much, much more. 

Today’s post is meant to help you take a fresh look at the data you already have that can be used to build business. 

Current Client Data

Our first tip is to take a deep dive into the data the firm already collects on existing clients as part of doing business. This includes information that is collected as part of intake - contact information, industry code, matter type, billing rate, etc. Much of that information can inform targeting efforts. For example, if your firm has considerable M&A experience in the tech sector, you might run a report cross referencing industry code and matter type to identify tech clients for which you do not currently handle M&A transactions. That’s low-hanging fruit. 

For many of us, we are in the heart of awards season (and not the fun kind with red carpets and gold statues). By digging into hours reports of top billers, marketing and business development professionals can easily identify what matters those lawyers have spent the past year managing, and begin to build out a submission using the details noted. Lawyers are more responsive when they have a draft to react to rather than having to create a submission from scratch.  

Marketing-Qualified Leads 

A tried-and-true tactic for professional services is content marketing. One of the ways we encourage attorneys to share their knowledge is through legal alerts, sent out by the firm’s e-communication platform, posted on the firm’s website and social channels, and perhaps picked up by legal news aggregators. While it is often a best practice to coach attorneys on crafting an engaging title and to keep the piece brief but informative, it is imperative that we not forget to stay abreast of how the piece performs and communicate those results back to the attorney author. 

Has it been a popular piece as compared to others the practice group produced? This could indicate the topic is currently trending and should be a talking point in client conversations. 

Have clients in a particular industry been attracted to the piece? That industry might have specific concerns that could be addressed in a subsequent webinar. 

Have certain contacts been reading or forwarding the piece to others at their company? If so, alert the relationship attorney and connect them with the author, suggesting that a personal message with the client may be in order. 

Contact Data Quality

We can only reach the contacts for whom we have accurate information. It is essential that firms maintain accurate contact information for clients, prospects and referral sources. This cannot just be the responsibility of the marketing and business development departments, as attorneys and their assistants must play a part to ensure that the right content - whether that is a bill or a client alert - reaches the right contact. 

Marketing and business development teams can aid these efforts by incorporating all available information, e.g. investigating company contacts on research platforms and keeping an eye on job changes on LinkedIn. When contact details are accurate, the information can be used for quick who-knows-who searches and event follow-up activities. 

Data quality and analysis are essential to a successful marketing and business development plan. Use the data you have, and invest in the tools you need, to further your firm’s goals.