By Terrie S. Wheeler, MBC Continuing on our earlier blog post this month, Part II discusses yet more ways to implement low cost marketing strategies that will help you attract new business.
Join a Trade Association and Become Active
A short note related to bar associations: Use your bar association(s) to build relationships with your colleagues and to pursue your own professional development through CLE offerings. Over time, you will likely build solid relationships with other lawyers leading to friendships and referrals. In addition to your bar association activities, join a trade association attracting prospective clients or referral sources. A few tips:
- Research before you join. Ask your clients and referral sources what organizations they are involved in. Attend a couple of meetings before you join.
- Get known. Attend as many meetings as you can. If you can’t make the commitment to attend the meetings, don’t join right now.
- Extend yourself. Offer to write for the organization’s publication and speak at monthly meetings on topics of interest to members.
- Follow up with members. When you find someone you would like to build a relationship with, add them to your sales pipeline (keep reading). Ask them to coffee to learn more about them. Ask great questions. Determine action steps and commit to following up.
Be innovative! Offer to write a column answering members’ common legal questions; interviews with a few members you hand pick can provide great content for your column—and great networking with the members you most want to meet.
Stand Up and Stand Out in Your Community
In addition to your pro bono commitments, consider becoming a nonprofit board member or volunteering in your community. Your clients and referral sources want to see that you are focused on more than just billable hours. Make sure the organization you become active in has a mission you deeply support and believe in. If it doesn’t, you will lose interest. If you are an exceptional board member or volunteer (one who is prepared, attends meetings, asks great questions, follows through on commitments), you will undoubtedly be perceived as an excellent lawyer.
Be innovative! Make a list of three organizations you are interested in serving. Schedule time on your calendar to investigate the board appointment process online and follow up with your top choice.
Create an Enterprise: Run Your Practice Like a Business
Lawyers do not learn how to run a business in law school. Running your law practice like a business involves developing specific processes for everything you do and a commitment to the profitability of your firm. Read The E-Myth Attorney: Why Most Legal Practices Don’t Work and What to Do about It by entrepreneurial guru Michael E. Gerber. This is one of the best books available on how to run your law practice.
Be innovative! For every task and function at the firm (developing leads, answering the phone, greeting clients, filing documents, hiring new staff, conflict checking, opening new files, greeting visitors, client intake, case strategy), record your process and create a process manual.
You Are a Salesperson: Now Develop a Sales Pipeline
We have given you a few paragraphs to accept that although you are a lawyer who sells sophisticated legal services, you are a salesperson nonetheless. We encourage you to create a “sales pipeline” of your best current clients, prospective clients, and referral sources and make a point of reaching out to these contacts throughout the year. Add reminders to your calendar to follow up with each person. Track when you last saw the person, opportunities you see, next steps, and the date you plan to follow up. You also want to use your sales pipeline to track current and projected revenue.
Be innovative! Do your research. Before you meet with a contact, spend ten minutes reviewing this person’s website, biography, and LinkedIn profile. Do a Google search and see what interesting facts you can find.
As a lawyer, you rely on referrals from current and past clients, as well as from other lawyers. Building your base of referral sources is a “one-to-many” strategy. A strong relationship with one person could lead to many new clients in the future. So how do you attract more A-level referral sources? Start with an analysis of your current clients over the past two years. Identify who referred each of them to the firm. What do the referral sources have in common? Maybe they are bankers, CPAs, social workers, therapists. Whatever the mix, commit yourself to meeting more people like your best referral sources. Remember the key to building great referral relationships is to ensure they are mutually beneficial. Lawyers have a reputation of asking for referrals but not giving very many. Commit to developing a few really great referral sources, then do everything you can to also refer business back to them.
Be innovative! Develop a system to track referrals you make and those you receive. Develop a rating system based on the professional’s substantive knowledge and past successes before you make a referral.
The Best Athletes Need a Coach: So Do You
Consider the value and benefit of hiring a personal marketing coach to guide and direct your marketing efforts. A marketing coach brings an experienced perspective in the legal industry and is able to help you personally assess your practice and put a marketing plan in place. A coach will also work with you to implement your marketing and sales plan over the next year. Lawyers are extremely smart and focused. If you are also motivated and driven to develop new business, a personal sales and marketing coach might just be the right move for you.
Be innovative! Gather a group of like-minded attorneys and other professionals and create a monthly “coaching circle,” holding one another accountable and supporting one another’s successes in marketing.
Anyone Can Innovate—Even You
Success in sales and marketing is not just for the high-profile, extroverted few. The nebulous concept of success can be achieved by every lawyer in private practice; especially you. You simply need to focus on innovative ideas that are low cost and deliver the highest possible impact.