UK: 10 Steps In A Common-Sense Business Development Campaign For Small To Medium Size Law Firms - Part I

Last Updated: 4 January 2008
Article by Jon Hepburn

In the first of three articles, Jon Hepburn from The Fedora Consultancy offers practical business development ideas that will help you put your clients and potential clients at the centre of the decisions you make about your firm's future.

Starting with a look at specific issues affecting law firms and an overview of the 10 steps, Jon then looks at planning techniques, the client database and identifying cross-selling opportunities,

Let's start by defining what we actually mean by a 'business development campaign'.

Whether it is occasionally or on an ongoing basis, business development requires plans and techniques to generate the additional work that will be required by the firm to either maintain or expand its workload. It is one of the greatest challenges facing law firms - or any business for that matter. Successful business development is about managing a process and getting the best out of those involved. To maximise a campaign's chances of success, however, consider a few fundamental questions first;

  • Are you looking to attract new clients or getting more from existing ones?
  • Who will be taking responsibility for this in your firm?

Obvious questions, maybe - but often overlooked. And one reason they are often not addressed is because of a prevailing attitude within many law firms towards business development. Before we look at our 10 steps, let's consider the obstacles to success that this can present.


There are some particular issues for law firms and you may recognise some of them. Some may feel that fee earning is more vital and that 'Lawyers shouldn't have to do this'. But fee earning must be supported by business development to maintain its growth.

Within the firm there may be a lack of awareness of the sales process, or difficulty in differentiating the firm's services from others. Some may consider people to be 'their own clients' rather than the firm's clients. Inadequate training in business development techniques is also quite common, or some may simply feel that their resources are too limited to put business development on the agenda.

Understanding the process of identifying prospects, building a relationship with potential clients and clients becoming advocates for your firm is key to success. Your marketing programs should reflect this and the messages you communicate should be suitably differentiated as the relationship progresses.


A client relationship goes through a number of stages requiring different messages as the relationship progresses, and here are examples of the specific marketing messages on this 'relationship ladder'.


Activity category

Specific marketing activities


Raising profile

Networking, advertising, PR, sponsorship of events


Specific marketing

Direct mail, newsletters,

Potential clients

Demo expertise

Seminars, submit tenders, hospitality


Sell your services

Targeted proposals, focused hospitality


Active dialogue,

Bespoke/tailored activities, joint seminars, events

As we don't have time to go through all of them, let's take a more detailed look at some examples from across the relationship spectrum and prioritise them into our first ten steps to a business development campaign.

The 10 Steps

So, a quick overview of some of the issues that we'll be covering, the order is not definitive but it does provide the necessary building blocks.

STEP 1 Planning and identifying your priorities

STEP 2 An accurate client database

STEP 3 Identify opportunities to cross-sell

STEP 4 Research/telemarketing

STEP 5 Address branding issues

STEP 6 Update your promotional materials

STEP 7 Make contact (e.g. Direct Mail, Advertising)

STEP 8 Networking

STEP 9 Fine-tune your service offering

STEP 10 Evaluation

STEP 1 Planning and identifying your priorities.

It is extremely important at this point to recognise the word 'plan', identifying what business the firm is looking for, and developing a suitable (and measurable) plan to achieve it.

  • Think about what you need to know
  • Who you are targeting, where they are
  • What do they need and what can you offer?
  • How important are those needs?
  • Who else is meeting those needs
  • How can you get to know the decision makers?
  • What are they like? Their personality and values?

Different parts of your firms may require a different approach, so the development plan needs to reflect this. Attracting corporate clients involves creating relationships with important decision-makers and intermediaries, such as accountants and surveyors.

Elsewhere, family law may involve a completely different set of intermediaries, events and timescales before the target audience can be influenced to do business with the firm. A useful starting point is your existing client list: contacting your existing clients is a simple task but one that is often not undertaken. This is our next key step for developing the business.

STEP 2 An accurate client database

As an existing provider of legal services, you already have a considerable advantage over any new competition. That is, a bank of customers who already know you and are doing business with you. But, the value of this is limited if you don't know who buys what from your firm, why they do so, when and how.

  • Your client database is a potential gold mine. Effective management of it can help you get the most out of the business you already have and give you access to potential new clients for other services. It can also give you valuable information on how to develop your product and service delivery. It is also widely accepted that it is cheaper to sell more to your existing clients than to go out and find new ones, so it makes sense to make sure that your database is accurate and up to date.
  • The costs of developing the database should be seen as an investment likely to produce clear and obvious benefits to the law firm in terms of both enhancement of goodwill and the generation of new work. This is particularly importantly when it comes to attracting external investment. With multi-disciplinary practices and alternative business structures starting next year, firms considering these will undoubtedly find that their value to others as an investment opportunity will depend on their ability to attract future business. A firm's database thus becomes a significant asset.
  • Many of you will already have the required technology in your case and practice management systems to keep in touch with past, current, and potential clients. However, some effort may be needed to re-organise your existing data into a useful system from which regular and, most importantly, relevant information can be sent.
  • With a detailed knowledge of your clients, the ability to pro-actively manage your relationship with them increases, as does the ability to offer more relevant services and focus on the profitable work the firm is seeking.

STEP 3 Identify opportunities to cross-sell

Moving on to a bit of theory, let's look at profiling your current clients into some straightforward categories. This will help to organise your database and help you focus on going after more of the type of business you really want.

  • Profiling, or to give it its technical name, 'segmentation', is a method of creating distinct groups of clients with similar needs. This means that a subset of your client base can be selected as a specific target market and reached with distinct marketing activities.
  • There are many different ways of doing this, but sorting them by work category and activity level is often the most useful when it comes to legal services. They provide a good starting point, especially if you don't have much information about your existing clients.
  • If you are profiling by category, you may divide them into, say, private, commercial and publicly funded. If you are profiling by activity level, this involves quantifying the volume of clients you actually have. Doing this will enable you to observe any different purchasing patterns and estimate their potential value, both in the short and long-term.
  • Obviously, devise your own categories, but if you are looking at each legal service you offer, make sure you count clients for each service they use. The important thing is that you do categorise them and don't treat them as all being the same. Do remember, though, that it is better to form a dialogue with 80% of your clients rather than spend weeks trying to identify them all.


The value that your existing customers represent to your firm cannot be emphasised enough. They offer a great opportunity for 'cross-selling': that is, introducing them to additional (relevant) products and services.

  • Building a good personal rapport with your clients makes good business sense and, in effect, 'warms up' this valuable resource. Many firms overlook this opportunity and don't make their clients aware of other services that they can offer. But being a captive audience, it means that they represent a cost-effective route to potential new business.
  • Indeed, cross-selling can add up to 10% to your firm's turnover. The key to successful cross-selling and up-selling is to focus your efforts on meeting the client's needs, rather than simply pushing more products and services at them.

Internal Considerations

Adopting the correct approach here can bring genuine added value to the client-professional relationship. Management of the process is important and there are a number of internal issues that you should consider.

  • Cross-selling in law firms has traditionally been given much lower priority than it is in more sales-orientated organisations. So, when introducing the concept, an attitude shift may be required within the firm as it adopts a more business-like culture. You should make sure you provide training and identify staff that excel at this.
  • A question to consider; to what extent do you require your people or departments to provide leads to other areas of the firm and is this related to your fee-earners' performance agenda? It can help if cross-selling is included in performance plans. You could also consider targets for each fee-earner or department.
  • Effective implementation by department heads is key. This shift in culture can help bring a steady flow of business whilst simultaneously addressing genuine client needs. And, of course, client reviews provide an excellent opportunity for staff to cross-sell. It is more effective if any additional services are to be offered, for it to be done by the person who already has the relationship with the client.

Article by Jon Hepburn from The Fedora Consultancy, a specialist marketing consultancy offering tailored services and support to law firms.

To read Part II of this article please click on the Next Page link below

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.