Sunday, 28 July 2019

The Ambassador

We’re at a champagne reception for in-house lawyers, and The Ambassador tells me (over a Ferrero Rocher of course 😉) how hard he works to promote his chosen law firm advisors to the rest of his business - and why. ‘I choose my law firm advisors very carefully, looking both for technical excellence and commercial astuteness, so once they’re on board I’m keen to recommend them actively to colleagues. That way I’m upping the quality of advice the business as a whole is getting. And it also consolidates their position on our supplier panel, which gives me security in my own supply. And if all this increases the workflow for the law firm concerned, well that’s a bonus for them, isn’t it?”

It was my good friend, legal marketing sage Liz Whitaker, who introduced me to The Ambassador on this evening and started the conversation about in-house lawyers’ attitudes to instructing private practice firms. I was fascinated to learn just how different people’s approaches are. For example, a colleague of The Ambassador came over to join the discussion, let’s call her The Assassin (you’ll see why, in a moment). She told us over canapés her very strong belief in the importance of holding herself at arm’s length from her external providers, to keep an objective view. She didn’t want to get into a close relationship and she didn’t want to take responsibility for anyone else’s relationship with them. Another in the same team was different again: a junior lawyer, nicknamed by colleagues the Eager Beaver, because he’s ambitious and rising up the ranks fast, talked openly about working his relationships with private practice lawyers to help skill himself up and get on.

Liz's observations on these different personas was interesting. She said it was perfect evidence of why a customised marketing approach is required for each person you’re dealing with. “If you’re looking for a good return on your marketing investment, the Golden Rules are: be sure that investment is in personal relationships. Forget the One Size Fits All Approach. Jettison marketing plans that focus on talking to thousands when it’s obvious your best opportunities lie with ten individuals, whom you already know by name.”

I’ve written before in this blog about Liz’s book The Power of Personal and I’m delighted to say it’s now out. The central premise of the book is about tailoring your marketing approach, taking time to get to know the personalities you are engaging with and adjusting your tactics accordingly.

My favourite chapter is the one on The Characters, which is in truth where I really met The Ambassador, The Assassin and The Eager Beaver. Its entertaining to spot the ones you recognise from real life!

Liz organises these character types across a Royalty–Loyalty matrix which is enormous fun to work through: she pinpoints characters with both High Royalty (importance) and High Loyalty, such as our Ambassador friend; those with High Royalty but Low Loyalty, eg our Assassin; and those with rising Royalty and fierce Loyalty such as our Eager Beaver who we’ve met already. These persona types are just three of many. If I’ve whetted your appetite, you must read the book! (click here!)

What I love about Liz’s writing is how she uses humour to get her readers focussed on the right issues: honing in on the handful of personalities we need to manage for business success. And how she’s developed a ‘manual’ for handling them all; each character she describes comes with a helpful guide as to “how to spot them”, what your “mission” and “game plan” should be with each, and also some handy “health warnings”.

This book should certainly be required reading for anyone studying the Professional Services CIM course, (can we campaign to get this on the syllabus please?) and it should also form part of the induction for anyone stepping into a professional services marketing role for the first time.
Image result for first 100 yearsI have been enjoying the First100 Years project’s monthly “centenary countdown” parties since the start of this year, 2019 marking the 100th anniversary of the first women lawyers being accepted into the profession.  I have mentioned in this blog before that each party celebrates a particular decade of achievements and milestones of women in law. 
This month, the event was hosted by White & Case and we were treated to the video history of one of the firm’s partners Jacquelyn MacLennan, as part of the Project’s series celebrating extraordinary women in law. Jacquelyn acted on the 2018 ECJ case that established same sex marriages must be recognised across the EU, regardless of whether gay marriage itself is allowed in that country.  A brilliant example of women lawyers bringing in significant and important change. Why were they ever refused entry to the club? 
The film was created by a very talented team including award-winning documentary maker Angela Holdsworth who’s been profiled in this blog before.
Image result for women in lawIt’s also been fascinating to compare our own experience of women in law with the story of our US cousins, who this year celebrate 150 years since being allowed entry. 
I’ve had the pleasure recently of working with AmLaw’s Corporate Counsel editor Heather Nevitt, who runs a series of excellent and inspiring initiatives across the pond, celebrating exceptional women in the profession: most notably  AmLaw's "Women, Influence & Power in Law (WIPL) Awards" and also a women’s networking group that’s coming to London this Autumn (you heard it hear first!).
I had to put the women behind these two parallel sets of initiatives in touch, so had great pleasure in introducing Heather to First 100 Years founder Dana Denis Smith. Now just watch this space...!