Marketing Tips 10 for '10
Promotional Ideas that Don’t Cost Too much
We may we out of the “oughts” but a decade of economic no-growth punctuated by the total melt-down of the country’s financial markets has made most of us very cautious about expenditures. These are the times marketing budgets typically take a hit. But none of us can afford to lose business to others. What can you do to promote your practice and your law firm, and not break the bank.
Here are 10 tips that don’t cost a bundle.
- Set a goal to call a few clients, potential clients and referral sources each week. These calls can be brief but should let these people know that you are thinking of them and that you are interested in taking on additional business from them. How would you feel if you found out a client gave work to another lawyer because they thought you were too busy. It happens! Keep in touch and let them know you want their work.
- Encourage all lawyers to take at least one client, prospect or referral source to breakfast, lunch or dinner each month. Schedule a monthly marketing meeting with all lawyers to compare notes. Even if the only attendees are you and your assistant hold the meeting. Give your assistant permission to "get in your face" if you haven't made a certain number of marketing calls. The assistants at one firm thoroughly enjoyed hearing the professionals every Thursday "dialing for dollars" before the marketing meeting.
- Read trade publications pertaining to your clients' businesses. When you see an article that might interest your client, clip it and send it with a personal note. Clients like their lawyers to be knowledgeable about and involved in their industry. Show them you are.
- Maintain a comprehensive database of personal contacts and brag about yourself to them occasionally. Send press clippings or announcements about momentous events at your firm or about your practice. One firm noticed an increase in new matters after their moving announcement was received.
- If you have the resources, send clients and prospective clients a quarterly newsletter – print or web - oriented toward a particular niche practice. This allows you to showcase your industry-specific expertise and involvement in the industry’s particular legal issues.
- Advertise in the local bar associations' lawyer-referral service booklet (probably less expensive than a Yellow Page display ad). Other places to advertise include high-school yearbooks, local theater programs and other local directories. While you might not get an overwhelming response from these, you will continue to build awareness of your firm among local residents.
- Improve the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) results for your website. The key to gaining clients from this very broad source of readers is to list very specific niches or key words that Web surfers can find. For example, one client was searching for all references to an illness and contacted a lawyer who had settled a case pertaining to this illness.
- Make yourself a public figure by writing articles for trade publications that will be read by potential clients. Offer to speak on your expertise at trade association meetings attended by potential clients. Contact local community newspapers about writing an Op-Ed piece. The decision makers who retain lawyers often live in small communities and read local publications. Select a timely topic, making sure that you don't pen a thinly veiled advertisement for your firm.
- Become involved in community activities – and joining the country club does not qualify! Donating an hour of free legal advice for a local fund-raising auction does qualify. Chairing the committee for the town's Fourth of July celebration qualifies – you will meet many people who will get to know you better and feel more comfortable sending you referrals.
- Stay active in your college and law school alumni groups – find out which companies and organizations your classmates are now holding senior positions with. Find a way to reacquaint yourself with them so they are aware of your particular area of practice.
We don’t always know the combination of people and events that lead to new business – but people and events are almost always involved in the process. Being active is key. These ideas should keep you busy, and most of them do not involve outlays of capital. Remember that the key to a successful marketing program is consistency. If you take a steady long-term approach to building a relationship with potential clients, you'll soon have people thinking of your name first – and sending new business your way.