Top 5 Tips for a Successful Law Firm Expo Experience

Kyle Weigand, Firm Administrator, Thacker Robinson Zinz, Cleveland, Ohio

You’re new to NAMWOLF and have no idea what to expect at this “Expo” you’ve been reading about; or you’ve been to the Law Firm Expo several times and notice your firm’s booth just doesn’t seem to get as much traffic as others; or you’ve done this 10 times and can’t think of anything new or fresh for this year in Hollywood – don’t panic! There are some tried-and-true ways to be successful at the expo, along with a few unique ideas to explore in order to stand out from the rest. Soon, you’ll be an old pro at the Law Firm Expo with a line 10-deep of the audience you intended to target!

Know the legal needs of the corporate members. Understand what your potential corporate clients are looking for (use the list of attendees sent prior to the conference to thoroughly research attendees) and focus your marketing materials on the strengths, uniqueness and value you can add to the relationship as their partner. Be sure all in-house attendees leave your table with high-quality materials about your firm and a clear, concise message about why their company and your firm would be a good match.
But, don’t forget about your fellow NAMWOLF-member law firms. Building a strong referral network is one of the key principles of NAMWOLF. During the Expo, be sure to invite other attorneys, marketing professionals or administrators in attendance to your table and be sure to visit theirs. Take time to familiarize yourself with firms that share practice groups – you’re always just a phone call away from a local counseling gig or even a more structured partnership.
Use a teamwork approach. Select the team (whether it’s two or ten) you bring to the Expo wisely. Be sure all team members are intimate with the practice groups and principal ideals of your firm. At least two team members should be at your booth fielding questions and gathering information from and for expo attendees at all times. Ideally, if there is a third or fourth team member, send her out to engage other attendees, to look for familiar faces in the crowd and bring them over to your booth.
Know your brand, sell it, but don’t forget to listen. Plain and simple – you need good swag (a/k/a marketing materials, giveaways, signage, décor) and it should complement your firm’s brand. Substantive marketing materials should be clear and not cumbersome (perhaps on a flash drive attached to a glossy summary page). When talking about your firm to in-house counsel, your “elevator speech” is a good starting point, but remember also to listen. Answer questions thoroughly and thoughtfully, and tailor the answers to your firm’s strengths. Lastly, giveaways should be branded, current and easy for recipients to carry on – many attendees travel by air and prefer to carry-on a small bag!
Have a backup plan! Hypothetical: You are the Administrator of a law firm responsible for a NAMWOLF Expo booth in, say, Minneapolis. You arrive by air and from the time you get in the cab from the airport to the time you arrive at the hotel, you realize that every…single…item…that was to make-up the contents of your booth is still sitting in an overnight carrier location in Cleveland (another ‘randomly’ selected city). The Expo starts in 4 hours. What do you do??? Breathe deep and enact the backup plan. Call on all resources, use electronically-saved files and images to recreate marketing materials and banners, engage vendors at the Expo, enlist the help of NAMWOLF staff and fellow law firm members, get to the nearest Target store and buy giveaways, a raffle item (even the bowl to collect business cards!) and, lastly, make sure to share the story with everyone who will listen!
These tips, along with having a well-branded, colorful, bold booth and perhaps activities and even some food and beverage options (work with the hotel/convention center staff) will help ensure a successful law firm Expo experience but remember, the Expo is just one part of many opportunities to market and network throughout the Annual Meeting. Always be ready to market. See you in Hollywood!

Kyle Weigand is Thacker Robinson Zinz’s Firm Administrator is an integral part of the firm’s operations. Among other responsibilities, Kyle assists in the firm’s marketing and client development activities, and is an active member of the Association of Legal Administrators in both the Cleveland and Toledo markets.