e17. Law Firm Marketing: Suzanne Ratti, Ideas360 – Strategic Sales and Marketing Alignment

December 2, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Suzanne Ratti is the President of Ideas360, a sales-driven marketing company that helps businesses from start-up to exit strategy. Suzanne has worked with Fortune 500 companies like Xerox and SmartCEO to develop complex sales and marketing strategies.

Suzanne is an accomplished public speaker and the Executive Director for both Thrive! Business Communities and Smart Women Professionals. She’s featured in various notable publications, including The Business Monthly, InDesign Magazine, and more.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Who is Suzanne Ratti?
  • What does Ideas360 do?
  • Suzanne shares what it was like starting Ideas360
  • The need for marketing and sales teams to align
  • Strategic sales and marketing alignment for law firms
  • Why lawyers need relational sales training
  • What should lawyers focus on when starting their firm or promoting their business?

In this episode…

Have you ever thought about what your role as a lawyer is when trying to attract clients to your firm? According to Suzanne Ratti, President of Ideas360, you’re a salesperson.

You’re the one who should relate to clients and help solve their problems when they come to your firm. The problem is that many lawyers struggle to see themselves outside of that role and lack the relational sales skills for strategic sales and marketing alignment. So, how do you fix that?

Listen to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Suzanne Ratti, President of Ideas360, and Matthew Laurin. Suzanne talks about why you need to align your marketing and sales efforts, why lawyers need relational sales training, and the most important things to do to successfully market your law firm.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Esq Marketing, your firm’s strategic search marketing partner. Esq Marketing helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing and helping them land on the first page on Google so that clients can find you right away. We help companies ranging from those with 10 or less members to those with over 50 in their team, essentially creating a marketing department for them to help them reach potential clients with ease.

 

Episode Transcript

Intro

You’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, where he features successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Matthew Laurin

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing we help firms generate more clients in cases using Search Marketing. Today, we are not talking to a lawyer we are talking to Founder and CEO of Ideas360 Suzanne Ratti. Suzanne has worked with Fortune 500 companies like Xerox and SmartCEO to develop complex sales and marketing strategies. She is the Executive Director for both Thrive! Business Communities and Smart Women Professionals and an accomplished public speaker and is featured in a variety of notable publications including Business Monthly, Bizpeake Journal, and InDesign Magazine. Suzanne, welcome to the show.

Suzanne Ratti

Hey, oh, they’re pretty good list there. I don’t know how you were talking about for a minute, you’re sure you got the right person?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, highly decorated. Let’s jump right in here. Suzanne, um, you are not our typical guest. We usually have attorneys on the show. But occasionally, I do have other business owners and marketers. So it’s cool to have folks like you, because it just gives you a gives us a audience of more in depth look at marketing strategies and business strategies. So first question, what is Ideas360? And what do you and your staff do?

Suzanne Ratti

So we are a sales and marketing organization. If you think about a typical marketing agency, we do all the stuff a typical marketing agency does, you know, everything that you’re everything that touches your logo or your brand, from websites to content development to graphic design, we do all of that. But the thing that differentiates us and really sets us apart, is I have a 25 year history in sales. And so everything that I do is always focused on what how is this going to impact sales? How is it going to align with the sales strategy? And how is it going to support the sales people and the sales team and their business development efforts? And so that’s kind of a real differentiator for us.

Matthew Laurin

Gotcha. And I like that too. Because I I’ve worked in sales capacities and marketing capacities, and it’s the one thing you know, is instantly it’s like, if you if those two components are communicating, you know, if they tend to flounder, so do a lot of your clients, do they, they have sales resources, or sales departments that can can work with you or work with the marketing component?

Suzanne Ratti

Absolutely. So, you know, I’ve got clients that range from small organizations all the way up to, you know, as you said, some larger companies. And, you know, the thing that that I’ve always found is that marketing and sales usually operate in silos. Marketing can put pretty bows on things and get your plenty of likes and followers. But the sales team is really only concerned about the quality of the leads. And also, how are those leads converting? And so the alignment of those two things is where we we really thrive?

Matthew Laurin

Gotcha. Yeah, very important. So take me back to the beginning, when you started this business, what was that like?

Suzanne Ratti

Um, you know, I had been, like I said, in sales for 20, 25 years, both as a producer as well as a number of different leadership positions, where I had sales organizations reporting to me, and I just always struggled with it if we had a marketing department at the time, yeah. What were they producing, because I needed it to focus on really important factors in my sales presentation. So if I was sending somebody something via email, or if I was directing them to a page on my website, I needed to make sure that the things that I were was finding were important decisions for the client for important pain points for the client, were featured in those materials. And so after about, well, after the first 15 years, what I basically found was that if I didn’t drag myself into the marketing effort, I wasn’t going to get exactly what I was looking for. So when I started Ideas360 it was it was with that dual approach, and you know, very much just serving clients that I had worked with over the years, most of the clients that I began with, were clients that I have either sold products to, and they needed marketing assistance, or clients who maybe I had given them some marketing advice, but maybe they had some disconnects in their sales organization. And so they would call and say, Hey, what do you do when this happens? We’ve got high turnover or, you know, whatever the problems were. So those two things are what really formed the foundation for the company.

Matthew Laurin

Nice. Nice. Yeah. And yeah, I’m sure your sphere of influence up there, I like what you said about, you know, missing components in what you’re trying to sell for marketing, I feel like salespeople end up being like the, the janitors for marketing, like marketing, either put stuff out that they have, that they have to then support, you know, to, you know, fill in the gaps in the story or there or there isn’t something out there that you want them to grow. So I can see why it’s so funny.

Suzanne Ratti

It’s so key nowadays, because you have, you know, if you can visualize your average sales funnel, back in the day, and when I say back in the day, I mean, even 10 years ago, yeah, back in the day, the sales funnel was largely driven by your sales organization. But about 10 years ago, what we started to see was that that sales funnel shrunk, and about 60% of the sales funnel was actually being filled by marketing. And then the sales people were stuck here at the bottom with whatever marketing filled it with. And so that’s why the alignment between sales and marketing is so, so critical. And, you know, one of my favorite quotes that I preach everywhere is, you know, are you selling something or solving something, because if your sales team is just selling a marketing, whatever marketing is putting out there, that’s gonna be much harder to convert than if they’re actually trying to solve a client’s problems, and they have the materials that explain how they solve those problems.

Matthew Laurin

I saw that quote in one of your videos, your, your 300 and 62nd, market beat marketing videos, is that is that what they are the 360 seconds?

Suzanne Ratti

Ideas360 and 360 secs.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I like those. Those are cool. Um, the, but yeah, you’re right. I mean, a lot of the funnel gets filled with marketing related stuff. And it’s so important, because if they, if they’re not filling it with good leads, and sales, just kind of flounders. Um, so I work with a lot of law firms. How does what your philosophy how does that relate to a law firm? Because I mean, they don’t really have sales people per se, but I feel like a lot of it is still applicable to because it’s a business, right? I mean, they need to bring in, they need to bring in leads they need to, to convert visitors to their site, or or viewers of their marketing to, to clients. How does, how does that sort of

Suzanne Ratti

interesting because that the legal legal industry has a lot of marketing firms just about it illegal, and that’s rightly so because they, every single lawyer is basically a salesperson, whether they realize it or not, they’re there. They’re the sales people for the organization. And so the the marketing firms that I see that are really successful, have that strategic alignment with sales and marketing they have in the marketing, the law, law firms that I see that struggle a little bit are the firms that don’t have either an in house or or external marketing agency, or they’re not really coaching up the law firm team on how to really solve problems. It’s just driving fees, driving, you know, that revenue. So, you know, I think the legal industry is rightly entitled to have its own little niche marketing, you know, sector? Yeah, I think, you know, I mean, every single lawyer is out there spending money to compete with every other lawyer. And so there’s a big component of SEO, SEM, pay-per click, you know, that’s the biggest part of marketing and, you know, you know, as well as I do, you can spend a lot of money on that stuff with the wrong organization who really doesn’t know how to drive the right type of leads. So

Matthew Laurin

yeah, yeah, for sure. Yeah. Do you think you mentioned coaching in there? Do you think that would be a wise use of time for a law firm like say, they, obviously, they know the law, they know how to deal with clients, but and the marketing part, you know, it’s probably pretty easy for them, they can, you know, find a marketing partner to help them out. But in terms of working with clients, do you think that’s a reasonable goal to pursue to get coaching on the sales aspect of their job?

Suzanne Ratti

I think it’s the most missed opportunity in the industry. And I’m not, you know, I don’t want to call out names here. But there’s plenty of organizations out there that teach you how to close they teach you how to pitch. Yeah, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about you, lawyers and law. legal advice is a very relational based business. And so sales in that relational role is really a nuance. Yeah, and so on. I’m not talking about pitching and closing, and you know, all of that. But I am talking about sales techniques in a relational setting. I think that, you know, 90% of the lawyers out there have never gone through any sort of relational sales training and it’s key.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah. And the majority of attorneys I talked to, it tends to be more of a, it feels like the profession sort of attracts a introverted type personality in the beginning anyway. So yeah, I can see why that would be a lot of them would struggle.

Suzanne Ratti

Yeah. And I don’t know if I can make this parallel without offending anybody. But, you know, I work with some accounting firms. Same thing, there’s, there’s a lot of introverted, not sales, people type groups in those firms. And there’s another example, go out and hire a business development person, because you’re not going to have an accountant. You know, be a bubbly out of the box, you know, vibrant. It’s just not the stereotype. Yeah. Um, so you know, you cut it, you got to know where your skill sets are. And if you’re, if that’s not your skill set, then make sure that you coach somebody else up to be that important component.

Matthew Laurin

That’s good advice. Good advice. Um, so Suzanne, there’s a lot of shiny objects in marketing, obviously, like you Google how to do certain marketing things. And there’s all kinds of it’s hard to cut to the noise, obviously, what’s one thing that a business owner or a law firm or just a regular business owner should focus on? If they’re trying to try to promote themselves? How do they cut through all that?

Suzanne Ratti

Well, I’ve been number one, you know, you could get 10 different answers out of me on this. But the number one piece that I see people miss, and they don’t miss this Generally, if they have a marketing agency, but they do miss it if they’re trying to do it on their own. Is their Google My Business listing? Oh, yeah. Good. Now, they’re there. A lot of times when I get a new client, that Google My Business listing is skeleton. And that’s a huge opportunity. So that’s number one. You know, the new program, Google’s rolling out with the LSAT, I think is another big one. And having a functional website, on a website that actually has good user experience, but also has great SEO value. I think those are probably my top three.

Matthew Laurin

Those are surprised you say Google My Business person? Yeah. I mean, it’s a free listing. It’s, you can get like a ton of good exposure without a lot of effort just by claiming that and and filling it out.

Suzanne Ratti

And most people aren’t posting to it.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah, they don’t pay.

Suzanne Ratti

It’s crazy. Yeah,

Matthew Laurin

yeah. Cuz you can post you can post content, what is it, like 750 words of content or something like that? Yeah, um, so from your own experience, and also wearing the marketing hat. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s thinking about going off and starting their own business, maybe an attorney who’s been working for a law firm, they’ve had some success, and they kind of want to go off on their own kind of just like what you did like you, you have that experience? And then you went off on your own? What’s, what’s the first thing you tell him to focus on?

Suzanne Ratti

I mean, you know, obviously, Every business has to start with a good business plan. So that’s, that’s number one. And it when you do a business plan, you should be doing a really comprehensive sales and marketing strategy for that plan. And so I think that’s number one, because so many entrepreneurs go out there without a strong business plan. And they’re winging it. They’re doing what they know. It’s, you know, who is it David Gerber in the email?

Matthew Laurin

I just was thinking of that. Yeah, they even a three visited Yeah. The technician turned business owner.

Suzanne Ratti

Yeah. So that’s probably the number one. And you know, the other thing is, get a good mentor or executive coach, who can be your sounding board. With that, because you You may think your business plan is great. You may think your sales and marketing strategy is ideal. But if you have a really well respected mentor, or advisor, who maybe if you only meet with them once or you know, once a quarter, or whatever, that has been invaluable to me is just to have somebody who’s experienced and can say, Well, wait a minute, this part of your business plan is really weak. Or this is a great pie in the sky. But what’s the what’s the real scoop? I think that’s really important for somebody starting out.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard on the podcast, because I mean, I have our CEO of our parent company as a sounding board, and then I know he uses like Carl Saugus coaching and yeah, just any any coaching service or anyone to hold you accountable, is really I mean, everybody needs it. Everyone needs someone to act as a as a mentor or someone to hold them accountable for their goals. So that’s, that’s good advice. So yeah, you’ve been listening to Suzanne Ratti, Founder and CEO of Ideas360 Suzanne, where can people go to learn more about your business?

Suzanne Ratti

Ideas360llc.com is the best way to reach me. You can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and obviously Google.

Matthew Laurin

Awesome. Thanks for being on the show, Suzanne.

Conclusion

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