Support system: Lawyer helps law firms with relationship-building

By Jeanine Matlow
Legal News

There’s more to the legal field than meets the eye.

As the founder and chief consultant of Rain BDM, a company helping law firms build relationships, John F. Reed trains and coaches attorneys in business development and social media and provides firms with strategic planning, project management, and other marketing services.

With a degree in marketing and a J.D., cum laude from Michigan State University College of Law (formerly Detroit College of Law), Reed is able to see both sides of the equation.

Currently, Reed sits on the American Bar Association’s Social Media, Legal Blogs & Websites Committee. He is a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® administrator and interpreter, and a graduate of the Inside-Out Coaching program.

After working in advertising and going to law school, he would work in a law firm and later in the legal information industry, but couldn’t find the right fit before launching his company in 2010.

“I wanted to capitalize on the experience of law and the business of law and I wanted to work directly with lawyers while using my sales and marketing experience,” he said.

Reed’s background allows him to offer the best of both worlds. Having worked with lawyers and law firms for more than 20 years, Reed has firsthand knowledge of the challenges confronting the profession. Though he prefers not to mention clients by name, Reed has worked with small law firms in remote places up to Am Law firms, as well as those who have no central marketing department to handling special projects, business development, training and coaching for those who do.

While he says the idea of relationship building is timeless, the method by which you can reach your target audience and how to get your message across can be befuddling to a lot of attorneys.

“Social media has a big question mark,” Reed said.

Although some law firms may have an e-newsletter or blog, there is no secret sauce, says Reed who believes in letting lawyers do what they do best, which is to practice law, while he can handle the marketing translation.
“It’s just such a cool time to be a small business owner,” he says. “We can be efficient, productive and virtual and offer a very competitive product because of it.”

There are two sides to his business.

“First, I draw from my sales background and business development training and coaching to provide one-on-one coaching and help attorneys understand how to build relationships,” Reed said.

His business also offers marketing services and support, such as LinkedIn training and website development and they can manage time-consuming tasks, such as blogs.

In addition to law firms, Rain BDM has worked with other companies that provide products and services to lawyers, as well as accountants and financial advisors.

When it comes to measuring success on the business development side, Reed said the dollar is not the primary yardstick and it’s not the right motivation either.

Through activity metrics, he shows attorneys who they can “touch” for a referral.

“The more conversations you have, the more ‘touches’ you have that generate more business,” Reed said. 

On the marketing side, they can get more into the metrics intake and interaction.

“I’m excited about what we do and I love the fact that I work with great people wherever we are,” Reed says. 

One is Joe Walker who was the managing partner at Plunkett Cooney when Reed first entered the practice.

Walker, who would go on to become the general counsel and later president of Polk, is now a management consultant to various organizations, including law firms, and has collaborated on a few projects with Reed. 

“What’s unique about John is that lawyers by nature don’t think they need or want to have coaching because they know what they should be doing, but I’ve seen John really bring value in terms of marketing, business development and individual coaching of lawyers. He knows how they should really go about it,” said Walker.

“The whole coaching profession is still a relatively new concept. With marketing and business development, law firms can certainly take a back seat,” Walker added. “He holds them accountable and shows them what they should be doing and what they should know about the practice.”

Walker called Reed “a unique resource.”

“He was a practicing lawyer at our firm and I was chagrined to learn he was going off in a different direction, but I’ve been pleased to be able to stay in touch and seeing how his career has moved, I’m just tickled about it,” he said.



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