When the economy rears its head in protest (like we’re seeing now), keeping clients and attracting new ones can be difficult at best, and requires a “back to basics” approach. Now is not the time to invest in costly advertising or other “throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks” tactics. Marketing in this economy requires a pragmatic, focused, and highly targeted approach.
Here are a few strategies you might want to consider as you jump-start your practice back into profitability, and you can join the FREE webinar this Friday at 12 p.m. CDT.
Tip #1 – Keep your Eye on the Ball – Step back and identify what has made you successful to date, then set realistic marketing objectives and commit to taking action – – each and every day. If you wait until you have time to market, it will be too late.
Tip #2 – Focus on Relationship Building – Think of how you attracted your best clients over the years. It is likely the vast majority have come from referrals from friends, family, current clients and other professionals. Focus on building and maintaining genuine relationships with these select individuals.
Tip #3 – When in Doubt, Ask your Clients – Keeping an open dialogue with your clients ensures you will continue to fully meet their needs. Consider adding an “end of matter” survey at the end of a case or transaction. If you want to offer a new service, start by first asking clients if they would work with you in this area before you move forward.
Tip #4 – Be a Stickler for Responsiveness – It is hard for clients to differentiate one lawyer from another. One of the best things you can do to set yourself apart is to return your phone calls and emails the same day you receive them. You have complete control over the level of responsiveness you provide – so aim high and keep your clients happy.
Tip #5 – Clarify, then Exceed your Clients’ Expectations – Every client comes into the relationship with baggage including bad experiences with lawyers in the past. Having an open discussion up front about important things like how they want you to communicate with them, how you handle billings, and what they can expect from the legal process will help set the tone for a positive and productive relationship.
Tip #6 – Know the Criteria of your A-Level Clients – When the economy is tough, it’s easy to convince yourself that a good client is one who will pay your bills. Remember that your best opportunities will be found in clients who utilize the best and highest level of your expertise. Think about what your very best clients have in common, and seek to attract others like them.
Tip #7 – Target your Audience and your Message – Know who you best clients are then proactively reach out to them through your network, through trade associations, community activities and in other ways. You can refine your message by practicing your response to, “Why should I hire YOU?”
Tip #8 – Focus on your Top Ten Lists – Marketing shouldn’t be overwhelming. Identify your very best current clients, prospective clients and referral sources and spend your marketing time with these 30 important people. Create an action plan with each and hold yourself accountable!
Tip #9 – Get Involved in your Community – If you are already involved, keep up the great work. If you are not involved, consider serving as a board member for a non-profit you believe in, deliver pro bono legal services, or volunteer at a local food shelf. Being a good volunteer translates in the eyes of your fellow volunteers that you also must be a committed and passionate lawyer.
Tip #10 – Focus on the Media not on Advertising – Advertising is expensive. Securing positive press coverage is not. Focus on building relationships with the news media (TV, radio, print) by keeping them informed of happenings at your firm (through news releases), pitching stories to them which highlight your expertise, offering to serve as a subject matter source, and offering to write bylined articles.
Tip #11 – Join a Trade Association and Be Active – Join at least one trade or industry association attracting your prospective clients or referral sources, then commit to becoming an active member by serving on a committee (programming and membership are good choices), speaking at their events, or writing articles for their member publication.
Tip #12 –Build your Linkedin Profile – Social networking is here to stay. Every lawyer should have a solid profile on Linkedin. Linkedin provides a learning resource center just for lawyers – use it!
Tip #13 – Continue Communicating with your Clients – Keep your name and expertise in front of your clients by providing timely, relevant updates on topics that matter to them. Don’t do a general newsletter. Rather, communicate more frequently using targeted messages to select groups in your network.
Tip #14 – Use your Invoices as a Marketing Tool – Use this regular, monthly communication to convey the value you bring to your clients. Create your time entries from your client’s perspective – the more detail the better.
Tip #15 – Don’t just Tell them, Show Them! – Make sure your website, marketing materials and biography are written to demonstrate the experience you have – – not just a bulleted list of your services. Show clients through written representative experience the results you have generated for your clients.
Tip #16 – How is your Website? – It is no longer a “nice to have,” it is a “must have” for lawyers today. Look into cost-effective solutions to develop or enhance your website, then keep a steady flow of new material flowing through your site.
To learn more, join Terrie’s FREE webinar this Friday at 12 p.m. CDT.
Terrie Wheeler is created MarketYourLawPractice.com where lawyers can get affordable marketing training and coaching.