The knowledge of the fee earners in a professional services firm is incredibly valuable to clients and prospects, yet that value is no good to anyone if it remains locked in their heads.
All too often professional services firms find demonstrating their knowledge to be an unrewarding and difficult task that falls into the category of "things we know we need to be doing better".
Some firms, however, are paving the way forwards, empowering their fee earners and realising the full business benefit of their firm's expertise. We were able to gain an insight into how this is done last week when Linda Orton (former CMO of Alvarez and Marsal and currently Partner & Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer at HKA) joined Eugene McCormick to discuss how she and the team at Alvarez and Marsal were able to turn their thought leadership program into a revenue-generating process.
Here are the key takeaways:
Be first to add value
As more and more of the buying journey is completed online, those firms and professionals that can add useful, timely and digestible information will be best placed to start commercial conversations, command a premium price and generate word of mouth referrals.
The method to do this is to comment on timely industry happenings, adding useful advice relevant to your clients. Share these insights in the social channels your clients are most active in.
Thought leadership for its own sake will be unfocused, unsustainable and likely unsuccessful. Create a clear focus on who you are writing for and link that focus to revenue. Identify your most valuable clients and most critical potential clients - that is your audience.
If you only get one read, only deliver useful advice to one person, but that person is from your target audience, your thought leadership is succeeding.
Empower your fee earners
Thought leadership programs often have a tendency to create complex processes where documents are sent through multiple hands, go through many stages of approval and are then buried on the website. Your fee earners need to feel like the time spent sharing their expertise is not wasted.
Instead of putting barriers in the way of your fee earners, break them down. Your authors need to be able to go from inspiration to published content in minutes rather than days or weeks. Educate them on how and why they are writing and then enable them to approach it in a way that works best for them e.g. written content for some, podcasts for others.
Integrate your marketing efforts
With your fee earners' expertise you have a perfect tool to approach the market. Advertising your content to the people that count expands the reach of your content in an authentic way that establishes your firm as the go-to experts in your field.
Create a positive feedback loop
Finally, it is common enough that a single useful and authentic post about a timely industry development sparks a commercial conversation with a prospective client. However, sustaining that content production over time is where your firm can begin to make long term revenue growth.
Fee earners will not continue to write content unless they can see the benefit. Be sure to report back to your fee earners on a regular basis (at least as regularly as you would like them to create content) and showcase the positive impact the efforts of thought leadership are having. Demonstrate the firms and people that are engaging, incorporate anecdotes from those that are winning work, show a leaderboard of content and engagement. By sharing the good news you keep thought leadership front of mind and build a positive picture that potential new authors can come on board with.