Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Protecting Sponsored Events from the Competition

Tonight was the opening reception of a capital event my firm is the title sponsor of and, of course, the competition found a way to get a few bodies into the mix. In truth, I really don't mind so much. But if it had been many and not a few -- that would've have been bad. The fact of market balance is the key. In any market, I (the firm) can only hope for a maximum of 50% market share. That's the nature of law firm competition. In every transaction, case or matter there is a law firm on the other side. With this knowledge I know I don't need to occlude every other law firm in town. There is a lot of room for all of us to play.

But I do need to keep my competition at bay. Here are my rules for dealing with competitors that desire the audience at an event I am sponsoring:
  • Talk with the leaders of the organization hosting the event (the people you're paying sponsorship to) and be blunt about protecting your services category with regard to who is invited to the event. Have other attorneys and law firms removed from the invite list.
  • If a lawyer or firm leverage their way into attending make sure they pay full-rate. If I am paying to attend (through sponsorship) then they should pay a maximum for their participation.
  • Know who they are and greet them face-to-face at the event. Intimidation is almost never a nice thing.... but they are gaining a benefit from my efforts. I want them to know that I know.
  • Offer them introductions if needed. Yup, I said that. In the bigger picture I would always like to be on the plus side of any score card. It has been my experience that being a good host pays off in lessening my competitors aggressiveness.
  • Do not badmouth any person or firm in attendance. Negative statements NEVER benefit you. Most firms are (that are your competition) are just as good as you in general. Remember that attorney-client relationships are born from personal chemistry.
  • Remember also that you are a sponsor. Maximize that in every way possible. Get maximum exposure through acknowledgments from the podium, marketing materials strategically placed, and bodies from the firm in attendance. If you pay to own an event, OWN it! Don't just show up.
Being a respectable competitor is hard work... and worth every ounce of effort.
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