Some professionals working with lawyers assert that systems are great for fulfillment in a law office (getting the work done), but they are not necessarily as effective for purposes of client acquisition. Although client acquisition requires a certain personal touch that cannot be completely replaced by systems or automation, putting systems in place to support your marketing and business development efforts is not only possible, it is essential.
Systems help lawyers take a proactive approach to client acquisition
Lawyers typically operate in reactive, rather than proactive mode; they are constantly putting out fires, responding to requests (or demands) placed on them by others, whether those demands are made by clients, adversaries, partners or the Court. Marketing and business development (or ‘client acquisition’ if you prefer) may be crucial to a law firm’s survival, but too often those issues get place on the back burner in lieu of more pressing (or billable) work. Systems help ensure that marketing and business development not only get done, but get done consistently and in the right way.
For example, I wrote earlier this year about getting more from your network by creating follow up systems, and provided a step by step guide to those follow up systems. If you have a system for following up with new contacts, including a system for getting those contacts entered into your system, you’re much more likely to actually do the follow up, which is where many attorneys fall short.
More systems for marketing and business development
There are other systems that can support your client acquisition or business development efforts as well. One such system might be set in motion by those who sign up for your email newsletter or request your white paper from your website. That system would include the fulfillment of those requests and the subsequent contacts with those prospects. When will you follow up? In what way (email, regular mail, telephone or a combination)? What specifically will be included in your follow up (articles of interest, a podcast recording, information about your additional services)? How frequently will you follow up? Who will perform the follow up? Will the follow up be the same every time, or will it be tailored to a specific prospect’s interests?
You might create another follow up type system for prospects who come to your office for an initial consultation (or who have such a consultation by phone) but do not sign a retainer right away.
Another system could help you to determine how much time you’ll spend on client acquisition in a given month (particularly when you’re busy and it’s easy to ignore), and where and how you’ll spend that time. Will you spend time writing articles, speaking before an audience, visiting clients, networking with strategic alliances?
You may also have a system for keeping in touch with existing and former clients to help drive new business. That system might be as simple as sending a monthly newsletter or informally contacting a former client once a month. If it is done consistently, it’s a system. Document your systems and train others in your office to use them as well.
As Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth series of books suggests, systematizing your practice — including your business development, marketing and client acquisition efforts — will enable you to focus on those activities that require your unique skill, expertise and personal touch.