Your marketing ideas
A legal marketing blog focused on creative ways for attorneys to grow their practices
An ugly truth of private practice, especially in a small or solo firm, is that marketing is a must. You might argue that you didn’t graduate cum laude from law school to hang out at cocktail parties and write blogs, but if you don’t take steps to promote yourself, no one will. The good news is that with a little guidance, focus, and discipline, you should start to gain clients, work on more interesting cases, and enjoy a thriving practice in less time than you think. Below are some simple steps to put together a relatively painless individual marketing plan that you intend to accomplish over the next 6 months.
Define your practice
I meet many lawyers from solo or small firms, whose strategy is to take any business that comes in the door. One week a lawyer wants to put up a billboard targeting traffic tickets, while the next week that same lawyer wants to hold estate planning seminars at the local Ruth’s Chris. While billboards and seminars can be perfectly fine strategies if executed correctly, you must be consistent in your messaging and marketing to successfully grow your practice. Forcing yourself to clearly define your practice and narrow your focus is going to help you gain expertise, credibility, and create lasting relationships resulting in more lucrative work. While you may be qualified and willing to do multiple types of law, I recommend focusing on marketing one practice area at a time.
I encourage you to spend time fleshing out the answers to some basic questions about your practice. Ask yourself things like:
Document your network
Everyone has a network, and it gets bigger every day. People you meet each day have the potential to refer you business or retain your services. Create an exhaustive spreadsheet of everyone you know! I’m talking friends, family, teachers, former classmates, alumni networks, church members, neighbors, professional association members, social media contacts - This is your network!
It is phenomenal to have a plan, but if your calendar and daily task list doesn’t consistently reflect your plan, you’ve just wasted your precious time. Marketing will only work if you do it consistently. You need to start regularly scheduling time to connect with your network.
If mixers and events aren’t your jam, start meeting friends, colleagues, and old classmates for breakfast, lunch, or coffee. If you attend a conference, be intentional and invite key contacts to breakfast or plan to meet up at a break. If you’d prefer to sit at your desk or can’t get out of the office, schedule time to communicate with your network via personal emails or social media. Your goal here is to build your online network so you can share useful information with them.
The goal of these interactions is to learn your network! Find out where they hang out personally and professionally and what you have in common such as family, school, community/volunteer groups, church, sports, or shared hobbies/interests. I used to work in marketing at a civil engineering firm, and part of my role was to teach young, awkward engineers how to market themselves. I quickly learned that engineers, much like attorneys, like to solve problems. I told them to look at networking like a research project. Most people are comfortable talking about themselves, so why not ask questions and gain valuable feedback from potential clients?
Discover your marketing comfort zone
Once you begin to incorporate networking into your schedule, you should start to gradually see your business grow through word of mouth referrals. Casual contacts can quickly become reliable referral sources and may eventually evolve into long-term relationships.
Here are some ideas to keep the marketing momentum going with your network in a way you enjoy and won’t break your budget:
Crystal L. Mathew is a Legal Marketing Consultant with Your Marketing Person. She helps busy attorneys develop and implement effective marketing strategies without the commitment of hiring a full-time marketing director.