In the last article we set out a case for why audits aren’t just for larger firms, and we set out the many areas of investigation you could do that relate to Clarity of Purpose.
In this article we’re going to look at two biggies… Stakeholder Analysis and Competitor Analysis.
This might seem like a big word for a small firm but this is where we use a range of tools to assess how the people that interact with your firm (both internal and external) view it and its reputation, as well as their likelihood to recommend you and their perceptions and views of service/expertise, as well as marketing impression.
We split this work down into two sections:
- A digital survey – covering general but consistent areas of research and questioning
- One-to-one conversations – following the survey, usually to tackle more sensitive subjects or to delve a little deeper into interesting findings from the survey
The digital survey
As a bare minimum we think you should survey your team and your clients/targets/prospects. Here are our suggestions for things to ask about in each of the two digital surveys:
|Section 1: Service & satisfaction – their experience of working with you||Section 1: Strategy|
|Score performance in terms of overall/legal/support||Test their knowledge of your organisational strategic goals|
|Score performance against any published organisational mission statement or values, including client care statements/standards||Test their knowledge of your organisational mission statement/values|
|Compare service quality/legal expertise/price to competitors||Question, if they don’t know them, why|
|How important is price in making a decision?||Ask them to provide words that they feel sum up your values or approach|
|How good has their experience of working with you been?||Ask them how much total contribution they have in establishing strategic direction, and how much they think they should have|
|How likely is it that they would recommend you? [This is your Net Promoter question that presents an industry-ranked score]||Section 2: Marketing & communication|
|Section 2: Marketing & communication||Score how well planned activities are|
|How effective are you at marketing [then list each type of marketing e.g. client training, email news, social media etc]||Score how well executed activities are|
|Which areas of marketing matter most to them? [then list each type of marketing e.g. client training, email news, social media etc]||Invite longer written explanation as to why they’ve given these scores|
|Consider adding some longer text answer questions about topics or areas for improvement/adding value||How effective are you at marketing [then list each type of marketing e.g. client training, email news, social media etc]|
|What words or phrases would they use to describe you? [Consider adding tick list of phrases currently used in marketing to test their relevance]||Which areas of marketing matter most to clients? [then list each type of marketing e.g. client training, email news, social media etc]|
|Are there any other organisations they particularly admire for their marketing?||Section 3: Performance and opportunity|
|Section 3: Performance and opportunity||How well respected do they think you are for the following areas of work? [insert list]|
|How well respected do they think you are for the following areas of work? [insert list]||How well respected do they think you should be for the following areas of work? [insert list]|
|How well respected do they think you should be for the following areas of work? [insert list]||How much scope for growth do they feel there is in the following areas of work? [insert list]|
|Finally: Don’t forget to include space to record their contact details in case there are things to follow up, as well as their sector/organisation type, and the areas of work that they send your way/have done, and whether they are a client etc, if this is going to be helpful.||Finally: Don’t forget to include space to record their name in case there are things to follow up, as well as their areas of work and location, if this is going to be helpful.|
Once you’ve done your digital surveys you’ll no doubt have discovered a whole host of areas that you want to delve into further. These might be related to areas for development and growth, challenges to your impression of your brand/reputation or areas of under-performance. At this point one-to-one conversations with a handful of these people can be enlightening. In all cases write out your questions and, where possible, try to keep them as consistent as possible, to allow comparison with other conversations.
Other forms of stakeholder research
Of course there are other ways to conduct stakeholder research. Zoom focus groups can be an amazing way to test views on performance as well as sourcing ideas for future development.
Finally, don’t forget to have a frank conversation with suppliers, members of the press and/or others you interact with regularly, like barristers/advocates and so on.
For the purposes of an audit we believe this is most valuable when kept simple and focused on marketing:
- Who do they market to? Segments, client type, sectors, locations etc
- What are they ‘selling’? Areas of work, priorities, areas pushed forward/hidden
- What techniques are they using? Marketing mix, campaigns, themes
- How much are they spending? A ‘finger in the air’ look at the type of marketing they do and the amount, as well as the size of the team
- Summary note on overall growth and financial results
What else needs to go in?
In our competitor reviews we include a table of the main competitors, a study of the top three to five competitors, as well as a note on emerging competitors or ‘ones to watch’. These can be indirect competitors (organisations in non-competing markets that might be branching out – for example, former accountants setting up legal consultancy arms – as well as new organisations, niche practices and anything else that takes our eye).
How do you work out who to look at?
You probably have a pretty accurate understanding of the organisations that you consider to be your main targets – whether that’s based on location or key areas of law.
Start with your usual competitor list and add to it. Ask clients and targets who they would consider to be your main competition and consider looking at the legal directories (at a regional level at least). Finally, look on social media and in the press for key terms, to identify those organisations shouting the loudest on certain topics.
At ELE Global we offer the following fixed fee audits for smaller firms:
- All marketing & business development (our most popular review)
- Client care and relationship management
- Digital marketing and social media
- PR and thought leadership
- Business development (sales)
Whatever we find we’ll write it all up with a R(ed) A(mber) G(reen) report, showing the ‘hot list’ of things you need to do next. The results are presented in plain English and a way that you can ‘pick up and work with’. For more information about our audits and work supporting smaller firms, click here.