Essential 2: Marketing





You need an effective attorney marketing plan in order to achieve your goals. But coming up with marketing ideas for small law firms isn’t easy.

Are you using the right communication channels to get the word out about your firm? Are the right clients coming to you? Are your referral sources sending you A-level clients? From old-fashioned PR, to networking, to tapping the full potential of web-based digital media, you need to deploy your human and financial resources wisely to get the most out of each client development dollar.

What are you saying to whom? How are you saying it? How are you tracking your return on investment (ROI)? With a coordinated approach to marketing, you’ll become much more effective in communicating your value in the marketplace and converting high-potential prospects into high-quality clients.


Refine Your Practice Focus

There’s no turning back. In this era of increasing competition and legal specialization, it’s essential to define one or two niches in order to stand out from the crowd. This doesn’t preclude you from taking clients outside those areas when unusual upside justifies doing so, but you’ll have the basis to concentrate your marketing, your client selection criteria, and your practice resources to maximize your attractiveness to the target market you choose. What practice area(s) do you most enjoy? What are your firm’s most profitable two types of work? Where do you bring the most expertise and value to the table?

If you’re niched already, you’re ahead of the game, but you still need to make sure you’re creating and capitalizing on opportunities to differentiate yourself from the competitors in your space.

If you’re struggling with the old general practice model and marketing more than two or three areas, you’re falling further and further behind and you need to make some data-driven decisions. With the right approach, you can transform your practice to include a focus on developing those areas that will bring you the greatest satisfaction and financial success. You’ll then be able to market your practice much more effectively.

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Hone Your Marketing Message

Imagine 10 of your direct competitors. Now imagine looking at all their web sites one by one. Or reading their firm brochures. Or listening to them introduce themselves at a social gathering and talking about their practice. Now look at your site, or your brochure, or listen in your mind to how you introduce yourself and talk about your firm. It can be a humbling experience to see that you’re probably not communicating all that much more effectively than the legion of peers who seek to land the same clients that you do. But you need to be better at it than your competitors if you want to build and maintain a robust funnel of A-level clients.

Marketing communications (marcomm), irrespective of the medium, is both art and science, and it’s all about generating a meaningful connection with your audience. We’ll help you learn what to say — and where, when, and how — across all your marketing channels. By honing your message, you’ll differentiate yourself and your firm in the eyes of your ideal clients and referral sources, and become truly comfortable as the entrepreneur your firm needs you to be.

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Utilize Multiple Channels Of Outreach

Whether your target clients are nationwide or in your immediate locale, you need to reach them with your honed message in multiple yet coordinated ways. Getting your firm in front of your audience, building a brand identity in your marketplace, and then cultivating top-of-mind-awareness (TOMA) among your ideal prospects and referral sources requires the effective use of:

    • Traditional offline channels such as in-person networking, public speaking, article writing, print ads, and collateral materials (and, depending on your practice area, TV and/or radio)
    • Digital online channelssuch as your web site, blogs, digital PR, podcasts, and webcasts.
      • your top referral sources
      • your top clients
      • “Centers of Influence” within your target market
      • leaders from other sectors who also serve your target market

You don’t have to use all these, of course, but determining and integrating the right mix for your objectives is a must. And that means you need to budget for them and monitor the results they’re getting you. The process can be daunting. Indeed, it’s not for the faint of heart. But with the proper checklists and approach to project management, it’s absolutely achievable — and the payoff is enormous.

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Develop Strategic Relationships

You may have heard the expression that marketing is “all about relationships.” Nowhere is this more true than in a service profession like the law. But what, exactly, does that mean, and how should you be acting on it?

It means investing in relationships with successful, high-integrity individuals based on reciprocity of values and enlightened self-interest. Simply put, it’s working with other high-quality people to achieve your respective business and personal goals.

Examples of strategic relationships include:

We’ll teach you how to find and connect with those with whom you have a natural business alignment. We’ll also teach you how to strengthen your current relationships. For both new and existing relationships, the key is to determine how you can be of service to people in ways that make a meaningful difference in their professional and/or personal lives. Here’s a phrase that captures it well: “Givers Gain.” Find out what other success-minded people who are strategically positioned to help you are trying to accomplish, and help them accomplish it. When you do, they’ll help you back.

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Systemize Your Marketing Activities

The reality is that your marketing efforts will always be competing with client representation and practice administration for time and resources. That’s exactly why you need to systemize the follow-up actions you take after engaging in any new or existing marketing activity. When you don’t follow up consistently, new initiatives fail to take root, and previous initiatives can atrophy.

Inconsistent attention to client development leads to the marketing/cash flow roller coaster: you need more work, so you turn up the marketing heat − and that brings in enough business to keep you just busy enough to push marketing activity off your calendar and out of your head. Until, that is, you’re back at the low end of the cash curve again, and you start the cycle all over again. But that is the most difficult time to market, because you’re likely to be conveying a sense of pressure (a counterproductive quality when building relationships if ever there was one).

From the simplest things, like writing a thank-you note after a first meeting or touching base with your top referral sources at least quarterly, to the more strategic things such as analyzing web site traffic reports to know where and when to update your site, it’s consistency of follow-up that sets strong business generators apart from their less successful peers.

Our checklists will help keep you focused on what to do, and our time management and productivity training will help keep marketing follow-up on your calendar.

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About the Author

Bill Jawitz, Practice Advisor with SuccessTrackESQ, has been consulting with lawyers to become more profitable and enjoy a higher quality of life since 2002.

Click to set up a free 30-minute call to discuss how to grow your practice and better manage your time.