Barristers devote substantial time to hosting both online and in-person events. Preparing for marketing initiatives such as these can place significant demands on chambers. They remain popular because they provide an invaluable platform to showcase a barrister’s expertise, and the opportunity to shape the legal discourse. But is the investment truly worthwhile?

This article delves into various strategies for ensuring a favourable return on investment (ROI) for marketing events, and particularly for seminars.

Measuring the impact: evaluating ROI

Since there is a cost associated with marketing, it’s useful to know whether your efforts are working. Event marketers rely on an array of metrics to gauge the effectiveness of a marketing activity. Let’s have a look at some hard metrics for evaluating the success of an event, such as a seminar:

  • Client acquisition: At the heart of your seminar lies the objective of acquiring new clients. Assessing ROI based on the number of new clients gained through the seminar provides a straightforward measure of success.
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): Calculating CPA entails dividing the total event cost by the number of new clients acquired. This calculation includes the time of all those involved in preparing for the event.
  • Revenue generated: Beyond client acquisition, the revenue generated from the event is a critical metric. This includes billable hours, retainer fees, or any other sources of income stemming from new clients who attend your event.
  • Client retention rates: This entails assessing whether clients acquired during the seminar remain loyal to you or your chambers in the long term, providing insights into the quality of client relationships fostered.

Examples of ‘soft’ metrics you might consider using to assess the impact of your seminar include brand awareness, ongoing client engagement and new networking opportunities.

Assessing the bottom line: evaluating cost-effectiveness

Let’s examine a practical scenario to gauge the financial viability of hosting a marketing seminar, through the persona of a commercial barrister whose average billing rate per hour is £400. This helps calculate the opportunity cost of working on a seminar paper rather than on billable client work.

Suppose you invest 30 hours in drafting a seminar paper and a further 10 hours following up with clients afterwards. Factor in the contributions of a junior marketing manager for organisational support, along with expenses such as guest refreshments and other costs associated with the use of the room. You can see that the business development costs associated with the seminar could quickly escalate to £20,000.

Now, let’s establish specific objectives for this marketing seminar:

  • Client acquisition goal: Aim to acquire two new clients.
  • Revenue target: Achieve a target of £30,000.

With these objectives in mind, we can analyse the potential for a good ROI.

Let’s say that you do win the two new clients, each of whom engages your services for 40 billable hours in a reasonable timeframe after the seminar, such as three to six months.

In this scenario, acquiring two new clients would yield a total of 80 billable hours, equivalent to £32,000 in fees (£400/hour x 80 hours). This would result (approximately) in a 60% ROI on the seminar, a promising outcome on the surface.

However, it’s crucial to scrutinise the cost-effectiveness of client acquisition in this context. With an average acquisition cost of £10,000 per client (that’s the £20,000 total cost of the seminar divided by the two clients), it’s worthwhile to evaluate whether there are more economical approaches to achieving the same objective. It may be that an ongoing social media marketing campaign could yield the same results, at a lower cost.

Maximising ROI: strategies for event success

Assuming that you decide to proceed with your seminar, let’s look at ways to ensure its success. Achieving a favourable ROI for your marketing event hinges on meticulous planning and thorough preparation. Here are some ideas to help ensure your event has the best chance of achieving its objectives:

  • Define your objective: Establishing an objective for your event is key and will stop you from putting on a costly event because you just don’t have a better idea right now. For example, is the goal to acquire new clients or strengthen existing relationships? Do you intend to position yourself as a thought leader or as a facilitator of a constructive dialogue on various legal perspectives?
  • Identify the target audience: Take the time to identify your ideal audience. The audience will be selected on the basis of your objective. Understanding your target audience will guide you in selecting a relevant and engaging topic, providing valuable insights that attendees can immediately grasp and apply.
  • Plan a tech-check: Prior to the event, thoroughly test all your technology to mitigate the risk of unexpected breakdowns. These can leave an undesirable amateur impression. Remember to practise in advance if you plan to use any interactive features, such as breakout rooms, to enhance your guests’ experience.
  • Engage your audience with great content: Charisma alone may not suffice if your topic is complex, or simply dull. Enhance audience engagement by incorporating real-life examples, presenting opposing viewpoints, and offering practical tips and insights. If visual aids are integral to your presentation but not your forte, consider enlisting the expertise of a designer to help.
  • Promote your event actively: Don’t overlook the importance of event promotion. Start early and use multiple marketing channels to reach your target audience effectively. Encourage pre-registration to gauge interest and send timely reminders to maximise attendance. Follow up with attendees afterwards and solicit feedback to gain insights for future events.

Leveraging your research: maximising outreach after your event

Once you’ve invested time and effort into crafting a seminar paper or presentation, it’s essential to maximise its impact by repurposing and reaching new audiences. Here are some ideas for extending the reach of your research efforts:

  • Create bite-sized content: Break down your seminar paper into shorter, digestible blog posts suitable for platforms like websites or LinkedIn. Each post can focus on a specific argument or insight, providing readers with easily navigable content. Use visual breadcrumbs to guide readers through the series and maintain their engagement over time. An example is numbering your related LinkedIn posts so that they are identifiable as a series.
  • Share transcripts and recordings: Make your own seminar content accessible to new audiences by repurposing the transcript. Leverage the seminar recording to create podcast episodes, highlighting key points and insights. A skilled recording editor can extract salient points, minimising the need for additional input from you.
  • Incorporate into newsletters: Many barristers now maintain their own email lists and communicate directly with clients who can instruct them. Feature highlights from your paper in your email newsletter to maintain regular contact with clients. Focus on key takeaways and insights that resonate with your audience, enticing them to delve deeper into the full seminar paper.
  • Explore publication opportunities: If your paper addresses timely legal issues or offers a unique perspective, consider submitting a version of it to reputable publications like Counsel Magazine or The Lawyer. Publishing your paper in respected outlets can significantly expand its reach and credibility.
  • Consider media outreach: Work closely with your chambers team to craft a compelling piece about your insights. Highlighting key findings and their relevance to current legal trends can attract media attention and further amplify your message.

Extending the value of your efforts

Barristers can achieve a significant return on investment for their marketing events through strategic planning, meticulous execution and innovative approaches. Defining your metrics at the outset will help you remain focused on executing a plan which will make it a success. Furthermore, by repurposing your research and extending outreach through various channels, you can ensure that the value of your efforts extends far beyond the event itself.