Interpersonal relationships have always been and will always be crucial for the success of IP law firms‘ business development. These relationships are built on trust, reputation and/or legacy. Without proper maintenance, however, they can be arbitrary and transient.
Data has a way to minimize or mitigate this. This is especially so as we enter into the post-Covid era when people and businesses alike are already accustomed to efficiencies and new ways of working (digitally). Data allows law firms and attorneys to make strategic and informed decisions such as whom to work with and why. It also justifies resources to be allocated to specific marketing and business development initiatives that will bring about the best returns on investment.
In this 4-part series, we dive into how to use big data analytics to (1) create a business development strategy for a law firm, (2) identify the right targets which are aligned to this strategy, (3) prepare to approach and prospect targets, and (4) successfully pitch at meetings.
Let’s start first with creating an IP business development strategy.
Evaluating internal capabilities
There are many ways to do this, such as the SWOT analysis, Business Model Canvas, etc. Alongside, you want to collect your firm’s performance metrics such as financial health of the business, revenue contribution from the various business units e.g. Patents/Trademarks/EP Validations, as well as consolidate the profiles of your client portfolio, existing initiatives and channels for business development, technical capabilities of your attorneys and broader IP team, etc. It may make sense to collect this information over the past 3 to 5 years, to observe changes and trends.
Regardless, the idea is not to jump to any conclusions about any of these KPIs but rather, to be able to holistically understand your current state of the business development approach.
Assessing external influences
Complementing the evaluation of internal capabilities is the assessment of macroeconomic influences. IP Pilot provides data visualization to identify emerging technological innovations, shifts in industry dynamics and conduct thorough assessment of your competitive landscape.
In winning new clients or partner firms, there is no doubt the need to differentiate yourselves from the competition. Knowing who and where the competition stands to provide you this edge. Indicators such as their client portfolio, volume of their trademark and patent practices, volume of their international case exchange, and law firm partner network give good insights into their business development focus.
Example of a law firm’s case exchange volume and partner network
Setting IP business development goals
Upon doing the above, you are in a better position to identify strengths (or gaps) of your firm’s internal capabilities to embrace external influences and improve the firm’s status quo. This is the time to sit with the team to set IP business development goals for the year ahead (or any other preferred time period). Should we win new clients ourselves or via new partner firms to make the referrals? Have our existing partner firms been reciprocating with sufficient volumes? Can we cross-sell our services to existing clients? Using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) or OKR (objectives and key results) frameworks are useful to make goals measurable and the team accountable.
With a clearly defined IP business development strategy, the firm is now ready to take action.