Over the past 30 years I have had the opportunity to serve as a marketing director in three large law firms. For the past 24 years, have had the privilege of working with lawyers and law firms through my company, PSM Marketing, on everything from individual lawyer marketing coaching, to practice and industry group growth, to activities that benefit the entire firm (website development, branding, copywriting, blog writing, law firm SEO, communications strategies, social media and digital strategies, and much more). Particularly, I enjoy working with law firms on marketing strategy, a process that culminates in a comprehensive strategic law firm marketing plan.
Practicing What We Preach: A Law Firm Marketing Company Focused on Thought Leadership
What is thought leadership? It is when companies like ours put our paid engagements aside, and set a goal to create THE definitive resource on law firm marketing, demonstrating by our thought leadership that we know our stuff!
This page is designed to provide a law firm marketing primer for you as an individual lawyer, and for your entire law firm. Legal Marketing is interpreted many different ways depending on what a particular company is selling. In other words, advertising agencies will say they do lawyer marketing strategy but what they really do is help their clients place paid ads. A public relations firm will say they do marketing, but their core mission is to get placements, guest features, articles, interviews, and other forms of PR for their law firm clients. While advertising and public relations are both components of a law firm marketing plan, they are just two out of many strategic legal marketing ideas law firms need to focus on to drive new revenue. In fact, to make this concept easy for lawyers, many years ago, I created a foundation for every lawyer and law firm’s marketing strategy called The Four Pillars of Marketing ™.
What are The Four Pillars of Marketing, and How do they Help Lawyers Create a Balanced Marketing Plan?
The Four Pillars of Marketing create a construct for lawyer and law firm marketing plans. The Four Pillars provide a framework in which lawyers and law firms can build their law firm marketing strategies around. The Four Pillars of Marketing are:
Pillar I: Retain and Grow Relationships
Likely 80% of your revenue this year will come from existing clients and referral sources. Knowing this, make the process of retaining and growing those relationships a top priority in your law firm marketing plan. Specifically:
- Client Satisfaction – Conduct surveys to ensure your clients are extremely pleased with the type and level of work you did for them
- Client Service – Do you have client service requirements in your law firm? Create the systems and processes to ensure your clients “flow” through everything from intake, to delivery of your legal services, to communications, and responsiveness.
- Cross Marketing – Are you sure you are delivering all of the services your firm offers to your clients? Often clients (and lawyers) are myopic and only focus on the one matter in front of them. Make sure your client knows all of the services and capabilities your law firm has to offer.
- Referral Source Development – “I get my business through word of mouth.” Sound familiar? Successful lawyers rely on the referrals they receive from past clients, other lawyers, accountants, bankers, consultants and many other professionals. Make it a priority to keep these refer.
Pillar II: Develop New Business
Most lawyers acknowledge the importance of having a strategic plan to develop business. Lawyers who only rely on existing clients and the new matters they generate will likely see a decrease in revenue over time. Business development for lawyers is about identifying clients and referral sources you would like to work with and putting strategies in place to build new relationships and attract new business to your law practice. Consider the following:
- Networking – If you want to build a successful law practice, it is important to continue building your referral source relationships. Networking is a must. But introverts, fear not. Effective networking can be done one-on-one. The key is to get out of your office at least two to three times per week and engage with others!
- Targeted Business Development – There are generally people and clients you know you would be a great fit with, but you don’t know them. Without violating Rule 7.3 of the ABA Model Rules related to Direct Solicitation, there are ethical ways for you to meet new people. The best way is to seek introductions from people you already know. Use LinkedIn to mine your contacts!
- Proposal Development – WHAT? Lawyers don’t use proposals! Well, many of them do and they work! Don’t read too much into the word proposal. Think of it more as a way to let a top prospective client know that you not only heard them, but that you have a strategy to help them. Even if it’s in an email, use these headings: My Understanding of your Needs; My Approach to Working with You; Fee Structure: and (last but not least) About Me/My Law Firm.
- Market Research – At the beginning of every successful law firm marketing venture, you will find some solid market research. “But we’re not librarians,” you say. To successful develop new business as a lawyer, you must prepare yourself for every encounter you have. Whether it’s a new referral source, a new client, or another networking contact, take the time to do a Google search on their name/firm, review their LinkedIn profile looking for commonalities, review their website and biography. You will then be prepared to ask brilliant questions!
- Trade and Professional Association Involvement – As a lawyer who wants to develop more clients, it’s important to remember one thing. The best way to market to a new client is to hang out where they do. If you get business from other lawyers, be active in your state or local bar association. If you represent manufacturers, join your local manufacturing association. If you get business from therapists, become active in a group attracting therapists.
Pillar III: Increase Law Firm Name Recognition
There are many law firms in your state offering similar services as those you offer. So how do you break away from the pack and shine? You need to have some focused law firm marketing strategies designed to increase your name recognition in the marketplace including:
- Advertising – Generally I don’t encourage my clients to advertise. It’s expensive and falls into the “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” category. That said, there are a few strong advertising opportunities out there like targeted Facebook ads, placing an ad in a membership directory (in which you are a member), or advertising at your kids’ sporting events. That said, most advertising through sites like Find Law, Avvo and Martindale lack advertising oomph. All you are doing is paying a LOT of money to be thrown directly into a pool of your competitors, even if you buy the “top spot.”
- Branding – As a lawyer it’s important to remember that YOU are the brand. Clients hire lawyers not law firms. That said, you still need to stand out above your competitors by having a graphically appealing logo, website, marketing materials, social media profiles, invoices, letterhead, and business cards. No client will hire you because of your gorgeous branding, but it helps subliminally to show that you are a top notch, high quality, classy, smart lawyer. Websites abound where you can see absolutely no thought went into branding. Branding isn’t just fluff. It conveys the visual identity of you and your law practice. So, do everything you can to create an excellent first impression!
- Public Relations – Who doesn’t want to be quoted in the Wall Street Journal, or any other top local or national publication. Public relations is about pitching newsworthy story ideas to journalists who agree with you and will feature you in their article, or at a minimum quote you. To do public relations as a lawyer you need to be in touch with the news going on in the industries you serve your clients and referral sources. Be well-read and call a reporter if you see another side of the story that wasn’t told.
- Trade Shows – Think outside the box! You may have an opportunity to exhibit at a trade show attracting your A-level clients or referral sources. Be creative and create a peanuts-style “Free” legal advice booth with a STRONG disclaimer that talking with you does not create a client relationship.
- Community Involvement – Being an active member of your community can help you in your law practice. Join a non-profit board you align with, Volunteer to plant trees on Earth Day, offer to talk with middle school kids about your career as a lawyer. Community volunteer opportunities abound. Find the right ones for you and volunteer. People know if you are a good, smart, reliable volunteer or board member, you are also a high-quality lawyer.
- Social Media – As you seek to build your name recognition, don’t forget about social media. Every lawyer should have a well-crafted LinkedIn profile, company LinkedIn page, company Facebook page (if you market to consumers), and possibly a Twitter feed. Look into a service like Buffer.com so you can efficiently post to all your social sites in one step. Post about timely relevant topics your clients need to know about.
- Blogging – Are you a legal subject matter expert? Well then blog about your knowledge. Blogs should be 400 – 600 words long and should provide your thoughts on a topic of interest to your clients. Take a look at one of our client’s blog pages. Schaefer Halleen, a plaintiff’s employment law firm, uses blogging to keep clients and referral sources in the know. Blogs from this firm have directly produced television and radio interviews. Blog posts should be promoted on your website, in communications, on social media, and sent to clients before the first meeting.
Pillar IV: Create Targeted Law Firm Communications
One of the best ways to stay in front of your best clients and referral sources is to send a series of targeted communications that “speak to” specific groups of clients or referral sources. I am NOT talking about the “firm newsletter.” Generally, these don’t work. What I am talking about includes:
- Targeted Communications – These are communications sent on a quarterly basis to specific groups of people on your marketing database. They key is to communicate timely, relevant information to groups of people who care about what you know. There is no “one size fits all” version of communications. They must be relevant to recipients or you will lose your readership.
- Marketing E-Communications Database – In order to pursue targeted communications, you must have a database that allows you to create and send the communications. We use MailChimp.com with most of our clients. In addition, MailChimp and other tools provide analytics after you send a communication so you can continuously improve upon your approach.
- Website – EVERY lawyer and law firm needs a classy, elegant, user friendly website that clearly defines the value the law firm or lawyer brings to clients. There are so many examples of “what not to do” when it comes to website development. Look at your website and directly compare it to that of your competitors. If your website looks dated and somewhat shoddy, you will lose business to your competitors. Learn more about law firm websites.
- SEO for Law Firms – Today, there should be no choice about to do or not to do SEO. Effective Search Engine Optimization for law firms takes many forms. Your new website will have on-page SEO where you have likely heard the terms “page summary,” “meta data,” “titles,” and “descriptions.” In addition, there is off-page SEO which includes guest blogging and adding high quality backlinks to your law firm website. Learn more about SEO for law firms.
- Client Events and Webinars – When you have information to share with your prospective clients and referral sources, things that will help them in their day-to-day jobs, it’s important to offer this up on a regular basis. We have a client in New Jersey, The Micklin Law Group, who offers monthly webinars for his target audience: men and fathers facing divorce. We also have a webinar archive for people who have missed out on a webinar. This client’s webinar on “How to Divorce a Narcissist,” has nearly 70,000 views on YouTube.
- Video Marketing for Law Firms – Some people like to read website content. Others like to see and “meet” the lawyer they are considering working with. There are many practice areas – like family law – that can take up a lot of lawyer time on free consultations. Consider adding a Video Consultation Room to your website like we did for another client, MaximSmithFamilyLaw, answering the most frequently asked questions you hear from clients in consultation meetings. That way by the time they call to set up a meeting with you, they have likely already decided to work with you!
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The Difference Between Sales and Marketing for Lawyers and Law Firms
Don’t ask me why, but most lawyers think marketing is advertising. Did you know it was in 1979 that the famous Bates Decision (Bates v. The State of Arizona) allowed two groups of professionals to advertise: lawyers and physicians. Who do you think has engaged in advertising more effectively? As we look at lawyer marketing strategies, particularly best practices in legal marketing, it’s important to really understand the difference between sales and marketing in a law firm environment.
Marketing a Law Firm
Marketing is everything you and your firm do to market the firm and its practice areas. Marketing is all about the MESSAGES you put out into the marketplace on who you are, what you do, and the unique value your firm delivers. Marketing efforts generally benefit all lawyers in a law firm not the individual lawyer. Law firm marketing includes everything above from websites and social media, to blogging efforts, client communications, branding and law firm public relations. Marketing softens the marketplace so prospective clients and referral sources know the firm. When the market is familiar with your law firm and its brand, it makes it that much easier for the next task – accomplished 100% by the sales force – I mean the lawyers.
Sales: I Didn’t Go to Law School to Be a Salesperson!
Well – I beg to differ. Lawyers who are not able to build relationships, command trust, and get clients to “yes!” will have a difficult time in the private practice of law. So, let’s set the tone here before you stop reading! Marketing, as we have established, is about the messages you create in the marketplace. Thankfully for lawyers, sales is about the QUESTIONS you ask. You are a lawyer, you are exceptional at asking great questions. Generally, most lawyers think sales is about the song and dance they think they have to perform on why they are awesome, the best, there’s no one else like them…. Etc. Not so. The best way to win and influence prospective clients and referral sources is to fully understand their situation by asking pointed, strategic questions about them. When you ask questions, you are in control of the conversation. You are also showing what a caring and concerned lawyer you are. It’s rare for a client to present you with a fully baked legal matter. Most clients know the symptoms of their situation, but not the cause. It’s your job through attorney sales strategies (i.e., asking questions), to figure out how the symptoms lead to a much deeper cause. This cause is likely the matter or case you can help the client solve.
To summarize, you need both marketing and sales to build a successful law practice. But remember:
- Marketing is about the Messages
- Sales is about the Questions you Ask
- Marketing without Sales is Too Expensive; Sales without marketing is Too Hard.
If you throw money at marketing (advertising, for example) and hope the phone will ring, you will spend a cost-prohibitive amount of money. With no sales and relationship building effort to leverage the expense, you will end up spending a lot of money and not generating much new business.
If you are a relationship-building guru and choose to forego marketing best practices for lawyers (like a great website, social media, blog posts, communications), your efforts may fall on deaf ears. People won’t know you or your firm. You won’t have the credibility needed to close new business. The two scenarios above summarize why lawyers and law firms need both sales AND marketing to be successful.
Let’s Get Strategic: The Components of a Law Firm Marketing Plan
If you oversee marketing for your law firm, it’s likely the management committee, board, or your fellow partners will see the value of creating a strategic marketing plan for your law firm. A strategic law firm marketing plan will provide a roadmap for the firm’s future growth. It will reiterate which areas the firm wants to grow, and others it may want to contract. As we know the adage: if you embark on a journey without a map, you may not get anywhere, much less to a desired destination you may be able to sense up ahead in the fog. A strategic law firm marketing plan will benefit the entire firm by defining:
- Growth Objectives – Where do we want the firm’s revenue to be next year and the year after?
- Practice Planning – What practice areas are profitable versus those that are not? Where will we choose to place our marketing dollars?
- Staffing Needs – If we are to reach our revenue goal, how many additional partners, associates, legal assistants, and admirative assistants will we need?
- Growth by Acquisition – Is the law firm open to growth by acquisition; inviting a smaller, profitable law firm into your practice? There are many marketing opportunities that open with messages about how the firm is growing and expanding to meet the needs of its clients.
- Transition Planning – If the three named partners at your law firm are all approaching retirement age, it’s never too early to think about the transition of the practice to the next level of leadership
- Compensation Strategy – How is the law firm going to compensate its lawyers based on the new business they develop? What if a lawyer develops new work with an existing client? Will your law firm track originations, if so, how? How will base salaries be determined in order to recruit the best and the brightest? There are myriad law firm compensation models. Generally, the one that works best for your firm is the one that is fair and compensates lawyers for success in marketing regardless of their level.
- Performance by Individual Lawyers – Every law firm has its rainmakers and those who are not skilled and gifted at bringing in new business. In any law firm marketing plan, it is important to discuss the performance of individual lawyers. Many of you have likely heard of the different types of lawyers in most law firms. There are the finders (rainmakers), binders (working attorneys) grinders (generally associates) and minders (likely the rainmaker). Not every lawyer is a rainmaker. Many firms need to step back and analyze what they value in individual lawyers. Not every lawyer is cut out to be a rainmaker. If they were, who would do all the work?
Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Bringing a Law Firm Marketing Strategy to Life
So, to summarize, every law firm interested in growth and prosperity needs a tailored legal marketing strategy that includes individual lawyer marketing, law firm internet marketing, online marketing strategies for lawyers, law firm SEO, and even how to incorporate videos into law firm websites. So how do we accomplish all of this?
Setting SMART Objectives for your Law Firm Marketing Plan
The first thing you need to do is to identify specific and measurable objectives for the growth of your law firm. I recommend creating tangible objectives for each of the seven areas above. If you remember back to your marketing courses from college, marketing objectives need to be Smart:
If your law firm marketing objectives are going to mean something, you need to assign a desired time to achieve the goal. A timely goal for a new office might be to start to cash flow at the end of year one; then to grow by 10% each year thereafter.
Every objective in your law firm marketing plan must be measurable. You must be able to definitively say, “We met our objective!” because we did in fact, develop five new referral source relationships.
Law Firm Marketing objectives need to be attainable. If your revenue is $500,000 it may not be realistic to set your revenue goal for next year at $2 million. One way to set an attainable revenue goal is to review all of your current client engagements and assign likely revenue generated this year. Then, create a total revenue goal that is attainable; one that with commitment and hard work, could actually be reached.
The proverbial sister of being attainable is making sure your objective is realistic. It would be unrealistic to open a new office in another state and set a high revenue goal for that new office. It would be realistic to set a revenue goal for the new office that was based on the attorneys working that office’s work in progress.
If your law firm marketing objectives are going to mean something, you need to assign a desired time to achieve the goal. A timely goal for a new office might be to start to cash flow at the end of year one; then to grow by 10% each year thereafter.
Know your Audience: Who are You Marketing To?
I know it sounds somewhat basic, but if you are going to be successful in marketing your law firm, you need to know who your primary audiences are – those groups and people you want to ultimately get your marketing messages in front of. Here are a few examples of target audiences you may put into your law firm marketing plan:
We all know that satisfied clients will likely refer you to their friends and family. It’s important to keep communicating with your past clients to stay top of mind with them – so they don’t forget about you. They ways in which to stay in touch with past clients can be by using blogging, social media, and targeted communications.
As you are working with clients, it is important to deliver excellent client service. Many legal cases will span the course of a year or more. You have a great opportunity during this time to proactively communicate with this important target audience. This is the stage where you want to proactively communicate the status of the client’s case or matter and keep communications open. You also want to return calls promptly and treat clients as you would like to be treated.
If you step back you might realize that many of your clients or referral sources share the same industry. For example, if you are a family lawyer, you may receive a lot of referrals from mental health professionals. There is an entire industry built around providing professional development and other educational programming for therapists and other mental health professionals. Part of your marketing plan as a family lawyer, should be to meet therapists, speak to groups attracting therapists, publish articles in magazines read by therapists, and in other ways become a high-profile member of their industry.
Don’t lose contact with the lawyers you went to law school with! It’s highly likely that other lawyers will end up being a key referral source for you. For example, if you practice criminal defense law, there will be many lawyers making referrals to you when their friends get into trouble. Most larger law firms don’t even have criminal defense practices, so it’s important to build relationships with other lawyers by attending bar association events, and other lawyer-focused soirees.
Take a look at your practice and consider other groups of professionals who refer work to you. You may be a corporate lawyer and rely on referrals from accountants or bankers. You may practice estate planning and seek referrals from financial advisors. When considering your A-level clients, it’s important to think about who their other advisors are. I consider this a “one to many” strategy as one referral source in this category could provide a conduit to hundreds of prospective clients.
The best way to figure out who your best referral sources are is to look at your clients over the past two to three years and determine how each client found you. Who referred them to you or to your law firm? Every time you open a new matter or file, consider including how the client found you so that in future years, you can simply run a report in your practice management software to see who your best referral sources are.
Remember the media is also an important target audience for you. One of the best ways to develop your name recognition as a lawyer, is to be featured in the media, quoted in news stories, interviewed on TV or Radio, or to publish an article in a publication read by your key target audience. Keep an eye on national news, and if you can provide a local angle, follow up with the news media and pitch them on why the story is significant not just nationally, but in your market. If you have an idea for an article, create an outline and reach out to the editor of a publication reaching your key audiences. Media coverage provides the third-party credibility every lawyer needs to build name recognition.
Individual Lawyer Elevator Speeches: How to Create Unique and Distinguishing Key Messages for Your Law Practice
It becomes a lot easier to create messages once you know the audiences you are marketing to. Your messages must convey what makes your law firm or you as a lawyer unique. Phrases like “Delivers exceptional client service,” “Our focus is in you,” “We partner with our clients to….” Do not belong in any key message. Law Firm Marketing Plans fall into the rut of thinking what they have to say is unique, when it just makes the law firm sound like every other law firm. So, what are some ways to develop key messages that truly differentiate your law firm and you as a lawyer?
Every lawyer should have an elevator speech; a summary and description of the value you bring to your clients in a concise way that could be spoken in less than one minute (or on a ride from floor 1 to floor 52. So, where did this term come from? One theory is that it came from Hollywood when a screenwriter would have a short time to pitch the move producer on an idea for a movie. Another is from the Roaring 80’s when entrepreneurs pitched wealthy investors on why their business venture should receive funding. If every lawyer needs an elevator speech, what should it say? Consider the following ideas:
- The Value you Bring as an Attorney – An elevator speech should communicate the value you bring to your clients (not just what you do). “I am a civil business litigator,” or “I am commercial transactional lawyer focused on the manufacturing industry,” is not an elevator speech. If you’re not sure of the value you bring, ask your favorite clients. They will tell you how you bring them peace of mind by handling important legal issues so they can focus on growing their business. Not what’s an elevator speech message!
- Examples of Past Successes – If there is time, give a few examples of legal issues you were brought into and how you solved the client’s problem
- Why you Love Being a Lawyer – Believe it or not, people really like to hear that you enjoy being a lawyer and that solving client problems helps you approach your workday with excitement and enthusiasm
- Concerns you Alleviate – Discuss what problems and concerns you alleviate for your clients. The things you take care of so they can focus on other parts of their life or business.
- How your Firm or Department Supports You – If applicable you can also discuss how your firm has recognized experience in your area, and how great it is to be with a firm that supports your goals as a lawyer
- Example A-Level Clients – You can talk about what your best clients have in common. Letting people know what your best clients have in common automatically moves them toward who they know and could introduce you to.
- What you Want Clients To Say – Think about it for a moment. What do you want your clients to say about you when they refer you to others? Knowing what makes you unique will help you incorporate this concept into your elevator speech.
Here’s the thing with Elevator Speeches. The best ones need to be developed on the spot, once you know more about the person you are talking to. Using examples from their world will simply help them remember you.
A Broader Approach to Key Messages in a Law Firm Marketing Plan
Elevator speeches are primarily used by individual attorneys when they are out networking and meeting new people. But there are other types of messages you want to be conveyed on your website and in communications about you and your law firm. I think the best way to market your law firm is through the eyes of your satisfied clients. It’s not what a bunch of partners sitting around a conference table think the law firm’s messages are. It’s what your client says about the law firm when they refer you to others. These messages can be found in the results of client surveys, on Google reviews, and in the emails we all love to receive from a client thanking us for helping them solve their legal problem. You have to dig a little deeper to determine what really makes you and your law firm unique in the eyes of your clients. I think testimonials (in the states that allow them) can be the most powerful messages for new prospective clients to see.
Representative Experience: Let Clients Know you have Done What they Need
Another very powerful messaging strategy is to add pieces of representative to all of the service pages of your law firm website. If a client is coming to you for a complex divorce, they want to see that you have many such divorce cases under your belt. That they are not your first multi-million-dollar case. Representative experience doesn’t have to be long and it certainly won’t betray client confidences if you use this format:
Type of Client: This is where you identify the type of client: physician, business owner, executive, etc.
Client’s Key Issues: Discuss the key complexities of the case; the seemingly insurmountable problems faced by your client
My Approach: The strategies you deployed throughout the case to keep it moving forward
The Result: This can be listed as a settlement amount or more generically. You want this section to say, “I got a fabulous result for my client,” without saying those exact words.
End of Case Surveys: A Treasure Trove of Key Messages
We have set up hundreds of surveys for our clients. The case ends, and the client receives a brief message asking the client to provide their thoughts and feedback on the lawyer and law firm. A law firm end of case survey would include:
- Who referred the client to the firm?
- What made them choose you over your competitors?
- How they would rate the lawyer in terms of performance, responsiveness, and overall knowledge?
- How satisfied are they with the result achieved?
- How they would rate the support staff including secretaries and legal assistants working on their case?
- Knowing what they know, would they refer you to others?
- Would they be willing to write a testimonial you can use on your website?
- Would they be willing to Click Here and leave you a 5-star review on Google?
By setting up the survey on a service like Survey Monkey.com, all results are compiled and tabulated so you can keep your finger on the pulse of client feedback. It is the messages your clients convey about why they chose you and whether they would refer you to others that can be chock full of valuable messages about why clients hire you as a lawyer.
Implementing your Law Firm Marketing Plan: Tips from an Expert
Law Firm Marketing Strategies that Really Work
There are many best practices I have amassed over the many years I have helped lawyers and law firms develop legal marketing plans. Sometimes marketing can feel really overwhelming to lawyers. This section is designed to help identify strategies that will be a great use of your time. These are all things you should implement in your individual lawyer marketing plan.
Identify your Best Contacts – Make marketing manageable by focusing on your very best contacts. These are people you know, like, trust, and respect and they feel the same way about you. As you develop your contact list, consider law school classmates, referral sources, community and religious organizations, business and industry contacts, friends and neighbors, and other club members.
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A-Level Criteria for Clients and Referral Sources – It’s important as a lawyer to know what your best clients have in common so you can both replicate them and weed out people that simply would not be good clients for you. Being selective is important as you focus on doing quality business development for your law practice. Things to consider when you are determining the criteria you have for your A-level clients:
- Would you refer business to this individual or company?
- Do you like, trust, and respect this person?
- Do they see the value you deliver as a professional?
- Are they responsive and engaged in the process?
No Door Clients! – I always ask groups of lawyers I speak to if they know what a “door client” is. They generally think about it, but no one knows. I say, you’re overanalyzing it! A door client is simply anyone who walks through your door. The point her that you want to be selective about the type and level of client you work with. We all know the misery that can lie ahead when you agree to represent a client that did not meet your criteria.
Perfect and Refine your Sales Process – As we discussed earlier, most lawyers did not go to law school to become salespeople. But the reality is that sales is a critical function for lawyers in private practice. But remember, sales is about asking great questions, not doing a song and dance about how great you are. Remember your key goals in sales are to:
- Build the relationship by asking great questions
- Listen carefully and ask MORE questions
- Identify the clients needs you pulled from the discussion
- Let the client know what your legal strategy would be if they choose to work with you
- Summarize their needs and your strategy in an email “proposal”
- Follow up with the prospective client
- Sign the retainer agreement OR have a conversation with the client on why they chose another lawyer
Create a Sales Pipeline – You are a business owner like any other. It is important for you to think of your practice in this way. Make sure you track the relationships you have with existing clients, past clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. Identify when you last talked to the person and what you agreed to do as a next step. Most important here? ALWAYS have a next step in your lawyer marketing plan!
Develop or Enhance your Brand – It is critical for your success in marketing as a lawyer, to establish and build upon your own brand. Individual lawyers can have brands, just as larger law firms can. It is your branding that will allow you to be perceived as the unique butterfly you are! Invest in your logo, website, and other marketing materials so you project the professionalism and expertise you bring to your clients.
Define a Niche for your Law Practice – Many times lawyers get hung up on the whole niche thing. Many lawyers think if they market a niche, they are precluding themselves from taking work in other areas. This is simply not true. There are many benefits to having a niche legal practice including:
- Provides focus in your practice
- Reflects what you enjoy most
- Defines your “Best and Highest Use” as an attorney
- Differentiates you from your competition
- Allows you to maximize revenue
- Positions you to become a noted subject matter expert
Do you want to grow your law practice? PSM is THE resource for lawyers and law firms in the United States and Canada. We would love to learn more about your law practice and to assist you in developing clients, expanding relationships with referral sources, increasing your name recognition, and communicating with your clients and contacts in targeted ways. PSM specializes in working with law firms and does marketing plans for law firms, digital marketing strategies for law firms, branding for law firms, and website development including search engine optimization for lawyers.
Meet Terrie Wheeler, MBC
Many people have a part-time job while in high school: flipping burgers, working at the mall, selling tickets at the movie theater. I did, too, and my job was a bit different: A disc jockey on a real radio station in Anoka, Minnesota, KTWN AM-1470. Not only was it fun, but I learned how to relate to my audience. Now, I help attorneys and other professionals relate to their clients. I’ve been working in and with law firms and attorneys since 1985.
In 1997, I saw several unfilled business development and marketing needs in other service professions and leveraged my 12-year legal marketing career by launching PSM Marketing (PSM). Our focus is two-fold: We deliver an outsourced marketing department to law firms of all sizes and business development coaching for individual attorneys and practice groups. Our clients are primarily in the legal and financial services industries, but we also work with other professionals and service companies in other industries.