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Business Development Strategies in Legal Publishing Can Work for You

Business Development Strategies in Legal Publishing Can Work for You

Hoping people will buy your published material or products will be the death of your business! No longer is the traditional one-way publishing model or company-centric thinking acceptable or profitable. According to Mark Rousseau, General Manager for Findlaw/Lexpert at Thomson Carswell, “You need to find out what the client’s needs are and develop products and services to address those needs to succeed in today’s business world.”

Let’s take for example, Mark Rousseau’s growth mandate of 30% compounded growth over the next 5 years. How does he plan to achieve this? According to Mark, they are undertaking a number of business development initiatives to meet their division’s growth objective.

Thomson Carswell acquired Lexpert Magazine in 2004 from entrepreneur and publisher John Alexander Black and hired Mark Rousseau who has more than 20 years of publishing experience to operate and grow the business. The staff size has since doubled from 15 to 30 employees. According to Mark, “the only other thing that has changed is billing and IT which has been centralized with Thomson Carswell’s operations”. The entrepreneurial operation of the publication itself has remained intact.

Always thinking of ways to grow the business, Mark Rousseau has shifted their advertising focus to include new potential advertisers in the business-to-business and luxury goods categories. This makes perfect sense when you realize that the average corporate reader’s annual income is in excess of $150,000!

If you want to be viewed as an industry leader, be the first to do something different! Lexpert is leading the way by planning and hosting the first ever Rising Stars Awards show this November for the top 40 Canadian Corporate Counsel and Leading Lawyers in private practice under age 40, in partnership with The Globe and Mail. This out of the box thinking has also led to other innovative initiatives. According to Mark Rousseau, the pilot for their business development course was so successful last year that they are planning to do six 1 ½ days business development courses in 2006. Each course will be taught by a leading lawyer in a specific practice area with his/her own unique course material for a maximum of 30 corporate counsel and senior level executives.

Building strategic partnerships is not a new idea but if you are able to leverage your partnerships like Lexpert has done with the two national dailies in Canada, National Post and The Globe & Mail, you too can have a captive audience of senior business executives in exchange for current and relevant corporate deal news. Once a week, features from Lexpert’s Big Deals column appear in the Legal Post section of the National Post; and coming soon, a new deal with The Globe and Mail which takes effect on Oct 1, 2006 will further assist Lexpert’s clients in reaching their target market of Canadian business executives.

Lexpert, now part of the global information powerhouse Thomson Corporation, understands the importance of leverage. Through joint initiatives with their U.S. sister companies Thomson West (the largest legal information provider in the U.S.) and Findlaw (a popular U.S. legal Internet site), Lexpert has been able to successfully enter the U.S. legal marketplace and reach 15,000 U.S. Corporate Counsel and 10,000 Leading U.S. lawyers with their magazine. They now do a 25,000 mailing twice a year in the U.S. market with the help of their U.S. siblings, to provide valuable exposure for their Canadian advertising clients and to increase the magazine’s readership beyond Canadian borders.

With an increasing base of web savvy clients, Mark Rousseau also plans to have everything in print, available online and has a team of web developers revamping their corporate web site at http://www.lexpert.ca to improve their users’ navigational experience. For example, if you are a corporate lawyer, you will be directed to view information on the site that is relevant to you.

Lexpert is certainly no stranger to launching successful products into the legal marketplace. Their print publications like “Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory”; “Lexpert/American Lawyer Media Guide to the Leading Top 500 Lawyers in Canada”; “Lexpert/CCCA Directory and Yearbook”; and “Lexpert Law Student & Associate Recruitment Guide” have all been well received by their intended markets. Even their much anticipated online product Deal Monitor, currently under development and slated to be released before the end of this year, is bound to be another huge success as this product promises to address the needs and demands of their key clients.

With assistance from Thomson Financial and Thomson West, this database will consist of Canadian and U.S. based corporate deals dating back 5 years. This online subscription tool will have analytical capabilities such as trending with historical data, customized search capabilities, and the ability to produce custom graphs and much more. According to Mark, they are not a magazine but “a vehicle to help their clients develop their business”. He contributes much of their success to the close relationships they have developed with their clients.

For those starting a publishing business, he recommends focusing on the web, as the print publishing industry is saturated and a tough model to build and sustain. He also suggests that you get audience generated content to guarantee the readership of your publication.

The moral of this story, no matter what industry you are from, finding out what your clients’ needs are and developing products and services to address those needs is the key to your company’s success and profitability.

Article Summary of Best Practices for Business Development:

– Find out what your clients’ needs are and develop products and services to address those needs

– Create a solid business plan to help achieve your company’s growth objective

– Research the demographics of your target audience to expand in the right direction

– Be the first out of the box with something new in your industry

– Create opportunities to allow your clients to demonstrate their expertise

– Form and leverage strategic partnerships

– Invest in the development of products and services that your target market needs & would pay for

– Create a company web site that is easy to navigate and provides a good user experience

– Have your products and services available online

– Focus on building partnership relationships with your clients

– Research the industry you are thinking of entering

– Survey your clients or potential clients for new ideas

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