Services firms represent a fast and cost efficient way to improve revenue. The common point of reference is the client demographic and need. Service firm partnerships are usually informal (no agreement), referral based and short-term.
A new partner responsible for litigation at a prominent law firm here in Seattle decided to jump start her group by calling me to ask for a referall on common clients. Before I responded, I asked her for the list of her “perfect client”. She told me the traits–small business owner (revenue 1-5M), 20 or fewer employees etc. I happen to know the partner in charge of operations at one of the oldest insurance firms in Seattle for small businesses, and suggested she think about a marketing partnership. He had previously told me about the skyrocketting rate of liability insurance premiums among his small business clients. So made the warm introduction (via phone and then email) and offered up my own thoughts:
First Conversation Tips
1) figure out the objective and measure of success-grow the practice by attain N new clients in Y period
2) validate the customer base
3) discuss the value proposition (the more educated the (insurance) client, the less risk for a lawsuit, the lower the insurance premium etc.
4) the forum–how would clients be shared
Since I’ve had experience in structuring these marketing partnerships before, I was’t shy about suggesting hosting free seminar at the insurance firms office. It’s a “value add service” to their client base.
4 Easy steps:
1) hand-pick the best (or most) at risk clients
2) pay for donuts and coffee
3) have the ‘expert’ attorney speak for free
4) do it in the morning so biz owners show up before their day begins
I followed the two firms and they had 3 seminars, one per quarter (since the first one resulted in 2 new clients for the law firm). The law firm signed up seven new clients in the first two seminars, and the insurance vp had great feedback from his clients for the free info. The third seminar was hosted by the law firm, wherein they brought in the insurance company vp to speak. The only difference in how the law firm hosted the event was they made it a bigger forum–2 hours-and included experts from a variety of complimentary fields. The insurance firm signed up four new clients. By the end fo a six month period, the premiums had grown to over $50K.
The programs can be modified slightly to cover any area of expertise for either legal or insurance–two great, non-competing or overlapping specialties. Seminars can also be conducted very inexpensively and put together FAST-none of this three-month lead time stuff. With the holiday’s upon us, begin discussions for this partnership biz dev tool in place now so you can hold the seminars in January.