The appetizers? “To die for.” The setting? A posh museum gallery. The crowd? Female partners of a prominent law firm and the ‘C’-level women they want as clients.
The problem? The price tag of this marketing event includes five digits, and little to no marketing is going on.
I’m all for the soft sell — and for building relationships. That said, women don’t know how to market to other women. I’ve been to enough of these “women’s events” over the years to know that my latest experience is typical of what happens at these things –- regardless of the sponsoring firm.
Here are some ways to increase your ROI from women’s events hosted by your firm’s senior women:
1. Develop a battle plan – then designate roles
Too often, the networking that occurs at women’s events is random. A potential client can easily spend the entire evening talking only to your other potential clients. We enjoy that. But is it really the way to showcase your firm? Or spend your marketing dollars?
Assign each of your female partners the job of connecting with two or three potential clients who will be at the event. Have these assignments make sense.
Obviously, you don’t want to assign your trusts & estates partner to a potential client whose company is mired in an FCPA investigation. Pick the right person for the right job.
2. Do your research
You invited each of these women to your event for a reason: You’d like her to throw business your way.
For this to happen, each partner you assign to a potential client should be up to speed on what’s happening at the potential client’s company – and in the company’s industry.
With all of the information available online these days, there’s no excuse for your partners to walk into the event unprepared.
I want to say just one word to you [this time it’s not “plastics”]: Google.
3. Intersperse “shop talk” with “female bonding”
Conversations at women’s events tend to focus on topics like getting your kids into prep school or finding a killer hair salon. Some of that’s fine. Just don’t make it the only thing you talk about.
Each assigned partner will know a fair amount about her potential client’s business, because she’s researched it. [See above.] Armed with this, the partner can make an educated guess as to what her potential client is personally going through while handling her company’s publicized crises and coups du jour. Talk about that. Ask questions. And mention your own experience in dealing with similar situations for other clients.
After the event, gather your firm’s senior women together to debrief. Who talked to whom? What did they learn about potential clients’ business needs? How might your firm help solve those needs? What worked? What didn’t? Next steps?
Knowing that a debrief is coming will keep your partners focused on the business purpose of your women’s event — and their designated roles.
In my ‘C’-level positions over the years, I’ve controlled budgets of several million dollars available for spending on outside professional services firms.
Your firm’s senior women should want some of that money. Yet, more often than not, I don’t hear from any of them until the next time your firm stages a women’s event.
Within a few weeks after your event, each partner should follow up with the potential client assigned to her. Yes, it’s a cliché, but there’s a reason for that: Do lunch.
6. Be bold
During your follow-ups, don’t hide the fact that you’d like your target client to give your firm business. Too often, women don’t ask.
How to do the asking? Now, that’s a subject for a future blog post….