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Client Interview: Sarah Boustouller, Partner, Marketing Manager, Stephensons Solicitors

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Sarah BoustoullerStephensons Solicitors LLP is a national, full service law firm with ten offices across the country and a staff total of 420. One of the firm's brand values is innovation. 
Lived from the top down, this has created a forward thinking environment where all partners have become advocates of marketing.

We spoke to Sarah Boustouller who heads up the firm's marketing department. Since she joined the firm eight years ago, the department has grown steadily to a dedicated team of eight including two apprentices. Together they adopt an interesting perspective, treating partners and their teams as 'clients' of the marketing department.


What did you do before joining Stephensons?

I was Marketing Manager for a large North West accountancy firm and before that I worked in marketing for a telecommunications company in the South.

How do you 'manage' the firm's Partners? Can you?

Stephensons is a national, full service law firm with teams delivering services across a variety of specialisms. I see our partners as 'clients' of the marketing team, working with them to find out what they wish to achieve, whilst simultaneously providing them with guidance and expertise from a marketing perspective that will best meet their strategic objectives.

Stephensons was one of the first firms to become an alternative business structure (ABS). There are currently two non-solicitor partners here and I am one of them. This clearly shows the Partners the importance of marketing. Consequently I feel that as a marketing team we work 'with' our Partners as opposed to 'managing' them.

With so many partners, or 'clients', how can you keep everyone happy all of the time?

With a firm our size it can be difficult to manage expectations. In everything we do we aim to give an all-round service, so work prioritisation and communication are crucial.

I am lucky to be well supported by our chairwoman and board who are extremely marketing focused. I am also fortunate to have very strong support staff. As a team we share knowledge daily through team meetings. This helps us prioritise and effectively meet the needs of all our partners.

How do you go about understanding your clients?

Multiple strand research is of great importance firm-wide. In the last year we have undertaken Mosaic profiling of our client base. We wanted to profile the demographics of both our commercial and individual clients, and to lay the ground work for an advertising campaign so we could really understand who we were talking to.

We also conducted focus groups with non-clients with similar demographics to our client base so we could understand their feelings towards legal services and added value. And then there are our postal and telephone client survey questionnaires that bring us valuable ongoing feedback.

Did the findings of your research meet your expectations? Were there any surprises?

The Mosaic profiling confirmed what we already knew which was reassuring. The focus groups did surprise us however; there were some unexpected findings that allowed us to make some strategy adjustments.

What is the firm's marketing focus for this financial year?

We will be carrying out sector focused campaigns using the full marketing mix. We increasingly see the value of and will continue to invest in online marketing channels like video and info-graphic sharing through social media to supplement our attendance at events, our PR, SEO and online content. Our recent Twitter surgeries provoked good engagement.

We will be developing a responsive website over the coming months and are due to launch a comprehensive value added client membership offering, to be rolled out over the next quarter.

Do you have any big marketing campaign successes you can talk about?

We have recently focused on how we can help clients with birth injuries such as cerebral palsy. The success of this campaign has been due to clients' willingness to share experiences in a way that will help others in a similar situation. We were able to create a video (Declan's Story) demonstrating the family perspective which has had great reception on YouTube. As with everything we do, we employed the full marketing mix to raise awareness and show people how legal services can help in these situations.