Event marketing is an effective way for a law firm to generate new client leads. In fact, according to a 2014 study commissioned by J. Johnson Executive Search and conducted by ALM Legal Intelligence, event marketing is the most effective marketing activity for law firms.
The benefits to your law firm of event marketing are substantial. Choose the banquet hall for your next venue. With local events, you can:
- Expand your reach within a highly targeted audience
- Engage with prospective clients
- Hear what’s on the minds of prospective clients
- Capture information that can be transformed into content marketing assets
- Generate word-of-mouth for your law firm
- Improve your local SEO results with new online citations
- Leverage social media to reach new prospective clients
- Position your firm as a thought leader
- Generate PR for your law firm
With all of these benefits in mind, here are three specific types of local events that your law firm can be hosting to increase your leads:
One of the most popular types of events for law firms to host is local, educational events filled with expert insights. This is an opportunity to educate your target audience on topics of interest to them. And this point is critical – this is not an opportunity for you to be “sales-y”. Instead, it’s a time to provide as much value to your target audience as possible. If you are an IP protection law firm, for example, then host an event about strategies for building a portfolio of trademarks or patents. If you are a real estate law firm, then host an event on house buying or property management strategies.
To attract more attendees, bring in outside experts to complement your own expertise. For the IP protection law firm, this may be a local software company CEO. For the real estate law firm, perhaps it’s someone who has written a book on a relevant real estate topic. A benefit of having outside experts join your speaker roster is that they will promote the event to their prospect and customer databases and to their online fans and followers, exponentially increasing the reach of your promotion of the event. It will also clearly signal to your prospective audience the true educational intent of the event, making it easier for them to recognize the event’s value.
A technique for greater event marketing success is to create a series. To hold only one event is too random to be a successful approach. Instead, look to compound your results by hosting events every quarter or every month. In this way, you can start to develop stronger relationships with your attendees, many of whom will attend multiple events and will start to recommend your events to their colleagues.
Expert insight events can take many forms, such as seminars, workshops or classes. You can host a breakfast series, lunch & learn series or evening gatherings complete with hors d’oeuvres. The best days of the week for hosting an educational event are typically Tuesdays and Wednesdays. People tend to be focused on getting a lot of work done on Mondays, and their minds are turning towards the weekend and personal time later in the week. The middle of the week is where the action is for effective lead generation!
Trade Show Tie-ins
Another useful type of event for your law firm to host is a trade show or conference tie-in. The idea here is to leverage the targeted audience already generated by a large event and to then attract a certain percentage of the attendees to come to your event.
The key for success with this approach is to target the right trade show or conference, along with the right promotional material, for law firms business cards should do, as well as eye-capturing imagery or trade show banner advertising your firm and brand. You want to find large events filled with attendees who represent your target audience. For the IP protection law firm, you may target technology industry conferences, where you know that many of the attending companies have large portfolios of trademarks and patents. For the real estate law firm, you may target home shows, mortgage industry conferences or events for realtors, depending on the specific audience segment with whom you want to connect.
If people are already attending a larger event, they will expect your smaller breakout event to be complimentary. In addition, they will need to understand how your event is worth their time more so than competing offerings hosted by the larger event. So go big! Host the event at an exclusive local restaurant or a local art museum. Alternatively, you can make it all about having fun at a local bowling alley, chocolate factory or sporting event. For example, in Chicago there are various establishments set up to host events right across from Wrigley Field for Chicago Cubs games. The point is, make it memorable!
Timing-wise, your best bet is to host the event in the early evening, making it an easy transition from the larger conference to your event, giving attendees something enjoyable to do prior to any parties that the larger event is hosting later in the evening. Another strategy would be to host a “Welcome Party” the evening prior to the trade show or conference for any attendees who arrive early – this is a great way to attract a crowd when there’s less competition for their time.
Joint Marketing Events
Partnering with other organizations to leverage the power of their databases is a way to reach a larger audience through local events. If you are just starting out with event marketing, it can take a significant promotional effort to fill seats at the beginning. Partnering with other organizations, ideally those with a large database of your target audience, can be a shortcut to event marketing success.
For the IP protection law firm, you may want to co-host an event in partnership with a local technology association, startup accelerator or venture capital firm. The real estate law firm might want to partner with a local real estate agency, licensing institute or real estate investment company. Or, you may want to consider partnering with a local non-profit as a way to not only expand your reach but to also strengthen ties with the local community.
The concept here is similar to the educational events described above, but through partnering you can mitigate risk and share in the costs while concurrently increasing the probability of a robust turnout for an event. What you lose in exclusive branding, you can gain in expanded exposure.
It’s often smart to host both your own branded educational events as well as joint events with a partner. The more people you are meeting and engaging with, the greater the likelihood that your event marketing will pay serious dividends.
No matter the type or format of event, remember to follow up with your attendees. Effective follow up is critical for you to get a return on your event marketing investment, yet it’s the area where many firms fall down leading to missed opportunities. Follow up with your attendees by offering a value-add piece of content (proprietary research, eBook, video, etc. with additional information on the topics covered at your event). Or you can ask for feedback on the event, or even promote future events that you’ll be hosting.
Event marketing is a highly effective method for a law firm to generate new client leads. Host the events that make the most sense for you, and see your lead generation growth accelerate substantially.