Forming an industry focus in your firm

Some firms have had industry groups for more than a decade, but others are struggling to identify and realise their benefit. With firms touting their technical expertise and industry knowledge to get new business, more and more firms are forming industry groups to distinguish their services, and complement and leverage their practice groups.

To do this, they pool professionals from different practice areas. Pulling professionals from technical specialties and with expertise in specific industries increases the pool of professionals that clients can utilise that understand their business. A bonus is that it often reduces the silo effect that can typify larger practices, encouraging both client and skill sharing.

How to grow your industry groups

Firms usually let their caseload guide their industry groups’ formation. The aim to provide the best service for your clients, meaning that you grow your industry groups around their needs and cases. Before establishing an industry group, determine whether there are clusters of clients in a specific industry. Find out key interests and areas of expertise relating to specific industry types in your firm. Identify niches industries where growth has potential. Find out which sectors represent the best clients.

Don’t form many groups at once but start with one or two, develop a plan around how you will operate and what you will deliver, establish a system t deliver your insights, cross promote and grow your client base and service offering…..before moving onto the next.

How to structure and budget an industry group

A working industry group will be better off with a director, monthly meetings, and a budget. You’ll want a discrete budget, separate to your practice areas, so that you can track and measure return on investment. Use the budget to cover expenses (your marketing costs) like sponsoring conferences, associations or special industry groups, publicising the group’s insights, developing content and thought leadership, meeting clients, and attending conferences. If there’s no joint budget for the group, your practice group must provide it, and it makes it difficult for you to measure the return of the whole industry group concept.

The advantage of having separate industry sector groups for various industries is that you can find what you need more easily. A regulatory group could help clients navigate legislation, while an intellectual property group could help with client insights and thought leadership and even developing further services or products offered by your firm.

Once you establish an industry group, you should support its activities. Publicise and present it through speaking and networking or hosting webinars. Soon you will see the essential advantage of having an industry group, which is helping your clients by bringing them different areas of expertise.

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