I've been in the legal industry for years, and through my experience and (para)legal background, I have realized that attorneys require a different and specialized marketing strategy. Many attorneys have a tough time getting new clients because they don't engage in enough business development activities, or they waste time on the wrong activities.
Another hazardous habit that we see more often than not: they don't take the time to come face-to-face with potential clients. Our suggestion- it's best to set aside the "always double-booked" pretext with the realization that face-to-face contact is essential to potential client conversion.
But this blog isn't about what attorneys don't do, it's about what they should do! Whether you're starting your own firm or have been part of a larger corporation for years, these tips can help in effectively marketing yourself and your image to the people who matter most- your potential clients and referral sources!
#1: Spend at least 2.5% of your gross revenues on marketing. Otherwise, you're just pretending to market!
That 2.5% does not include the salaries of any of the people that you may hire to perform the work. This is the money that is spent on generating new business, such as taking clients out to lunch, visiting clients, client gifts, seminars, videos, etc. When planning your annual budget, it's crucial to map this out specifically and it's even better to be very, very precise in your categories so that you're aware of the return on investment for each particular marketing activity. Put your money where your mouth is- if you're not spending 2.5%, you're not being serious about marketing and you're certainly not going to see any results.
#2: Put video on your website.
Youtube is the #4 most popular website on the internet, and roughly 30% of the population has grown up with the internet always present in their lives. The up and coming generation who now could be your potential clients look at Youtube videos as content that should "just be there." Not only will you decrease your SEO score by not having video, but more importantly you'll lose your audience's interest. Recording and posting a video is easy, fun, and the more genuine you are the more entertaining and eye-catching it will be for the viewer. It's also a great opportunity to present how you look, how you talk, your body language, and making you and your company more personable for the client.
#3: Don't waste any money on marketing that is not measurable. If you can't measure it, don't do it.
We can't stress this enough! For example, if you decide to spend $20,000 on advertising, make sure you keep record of any clients or referral sources who contact you by specifically asking, "how did hear about us?" and documenting each response. Blogging is another effective and affordable technique that you can measure. When you publish your blog, you will see how many people visited, commented, and shared. This will give you an idea of what interests your potential clients, and if you have to re-strategize your message. Banner ads and email newsletters will also reveal views and click-throughs for your records. Once you send out an email newsletter, you can access a report on how many people actually opened it, and if there are links inside it, how many of the links were clicked on and who clicked on them- all measurable and effective.
#4: When it comes to business development, start with the low-hanging fruit, which is YOUR own clients!
These are people who love you, trust you, refer their family and friends to you, and pay you! It's incumbent upon you to get to know them better, and not only to generate additional files from them but to have a relationship with them. Another plus is that client referrals are measurable and almost always the most natural potential client conversion due to the "know, trust, love" factor. If you host a seminar, invite your clients and ask them to bring a friend. If their friend is not interested in working with you at the time, they may become a great referral source.
#5: Cultivate Referral Sources.
A lot of attorneys get most of their business from referrals, which is AMAZING, but it's important to understand that getting good clients from referral sources doesn't happen over night. Referral sources need to be cherished, cultivated, and constantly refined.
- Cultivate Your Clients: It's essential to keep in mind that, unless you review the services you have to offer and inform your clients that you would appreciate if they referred anyone who could utilize your services, they won't know that they're welcome to do so. Be sure to express exactly what kind of work you're seeking, explain how you would welcome their family and friends with open arms and ensure the same great experience that they received.
- Cultivate Other Referral Sources: Network with other professionals such as investment brokers, accountants, financial advisors, CPA's, and bankers. Grow these relationships and these referral sources will refer good clients who are more likely to trust you because you're trusted by their loyal advisor.
#6: Get active in a trade association, and get on the board of directors.
You'll notice that I said trade association, and not bar association. You should join an association of potential clients, not possible competition. A great way to find out about these trade associations is by asking your current clients what meetings they go to, then it's a simple matter of saying, "I'd like to join you at the meeting. Would you introduce me to your friends?"
But this technique is no good if you just go to a meeting once in awhile; you have to be visible and active. Your goal when you join a trade association is not to be just a face in the crowd. Your goal is to get on the board of directors. Seek out the president, volunteer, and assist in organizing programs; this will eventually lead to a board position which will prove that you are devoted to the organization's objective while also developing your referral and potential client possibilities.
#7: Pursue target clients in otherwise unlikely places.
Target clients are people who could utilize your services, and whom you already know or flows in your same circle. You don't have to make any cold calls. It could be another dad or mom at a little league game, a neighbor, a parent at the park. One of my clients originated a huge corporation by just talking to another dad at a little league game and asking him two crucial questions: what line of work he was in and what kind of business problems he faced.
#8: Write down your marketing plan, and implement it beginning with initiative.
It's not real until you write it down. Record who you're going to call, how many hours a week you plan to devote to calling these people, when you're going to meet with them and how often, and some sort of an outcome that you're expecting to have. The idea of writing it down is now you've moved it on to your calendar. Once it's on your to-do list, you're more likely to do it. Don't forget to write down the desired outcome and the attainable deadline FIRST and put a big star around it! Like anything else in life, when there isn't a visible goal it's hard to see the "end of the tunnel." Your business plan may not get implemented as it should unless this goal is attainable, time lined, and CLEAR.
#9: Devote 200 hours a year to devote to business development.
Ok, I promise I'm not crazy- this may sound like a lot, but when you break it down by week, it's really only four hours a week! You can meet somebody for coffee at Starbucks in the morning, meet with a client during a quick lunch break, meet a referral source for drinks, go to a trade association meeting in the evening... the list goes on and on and the possibilities are endless! Once you weave these activities into your ordinary routine, it will begin to feel more voluntary and innate. Before you know it, you will have devoted 400 hours! The best part is that I can guarantee that you will receive almost twice as much work in new business and new clients than the time and effort you've devoted. Not bad for 200 hours of work, right?
#10 (Reiterated): Track your results!
We'll say it again, and again, and again... always make a point of writing down your goals and initiatives before you undertake the activity. If you're about to join a business association, write down the people that you want to meet, casual questions you'd like to ask, and your desired outcome- all before you go to the meeting. After you've met your targets, go back and ask yourself, "Did this work? Did I get a new file?", and if it didn't work, why not?
Once, I worked with an attorney who was spending money on radio ads which reached a huge number of people, but when he examined his new client files, none of them came from the radio. He wasn't getting any new business out of it at all, so of course I advised him to discontinue the radio ad.
Always track your results!
So count to ten, pick the ideas you will pursue, and just do it. The more activities you choose, the more clients and revenue you'll bring in. If you have any questions or need assistance on devising your business development plan, feel free to contact us!
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