Small law firms and individual lawyers are stretched thin with both money and time. This article offers 10 practical marketing tips that do not cost a lot of money and can be implemented immediately.
1. Create a Marketing Function
Every law firm has an accounting function, IT function, reception function and so on. The one function that is often left out is the marketing function … because lawyers think they can do it themselves, but it often gets pushed until “later.” Even the best-intentioned lawyers let marketing and business development fall through the cracks. So, formalize the marketing function. Designate somebody in the firm to handle marketing and hold everyone accountable, hire an outside marketing firm to create and implement plans, or hire a coach to keep you on task. Lawyers are busy people. Stick to what you know best – lawyering, and get help so marketing is not an afterthought.
2. Define your law firm’s brand.
Of course, when people think of brand, they think of a nice logo, color scheme, font, and so forth. While these things are important, they are not your brand. What you stand for and what can clients expect from you – that is your brand. Marry the two – have a clean and consistent visual identity and message. Make sure your firm has its own look and feel and showcases what sets you apart from the other firms. You do not need a big branding agency or marketing firm to create or tweak your brand to make it more professional.
3. Get FREE Advertising.
Use social media. Many lawyers disregard the power of social media. At a minimum get on LinkedIn and Twitter. These channels will get your name and face out there to have people think of you proactively. Connect with your friends, clients, media, family, and local organizations to keep you and your firm’s message in front of them as a reminder.
4. Community Involvement.
Many lawyers are involved in their communities and charities. It is great that they are out there making a difference. However, for those who are, are you getting any marketing benefit from your involvement? This is a great way to meet other influential people with whom you can do business. Also, use your involvement to create visibility for your firm. Lawyers who do not draw attention to themselves should change their mindset. Promote your involvement far and wide. Think about it this way – you are drawing attention to a cause that is important to you. As a result, it is a win-win for you and the charity. That said, always think charity first, marketing second. It will be counterproductive, and rude, if people think you are only there for selfish reasons.
5. Mailing list management.
Almost all law firms do a lousy job of creating and maintaining a firm mailing list. Of course, the mailing list should be for both email and old-fashioned post mail. This list is an inventory of all your business relationships. It should include clients, prospects, referral sources, friends, alumni, and anyone else who cares about you and your firm. Putting it together can be a painful exercise. But once it is done, maintaining it is not terribly painful. Then create strategies to use it – that is an article in its own. The point is without a comprehensive list your marketing options are limited. The benefit is having a low cost, high impact, practical tool at your disposal.
When was the last time your website/blog was updated? It needs to be kept current for two reasons – to show you are still in business/active, and to make Google’s algorithms happy. Prospects and search engines are not happy with stale content. Make a point to update your site at least once a month. How would a prospective client feel if she stumbled upon your site and could not tell if you were still in business? You probably will not get the call. Keep your site up to date.
7. Business development.
Who are your key contacts – clients you don’t want to lose, referral sources you want to keep, and prospective clients who you want to remember (and who should remember you!). You need to build business development into your day – just like you get to the gym every morning, eat dinner with your family, show up as the adjunct professor, attend church, and so forth. Schedule appointments with clients, prospects and referrals just like you do birthday parties, dinners with friends, half marathons, and all the stuff that is important to you. Show your contacts that they are important to you – they are on your mind – by being the one who schedules the meetings with them. Keep track of when these meetings happen, and take down notes, so you can follow up timely, and remember the important information!
8. Speaking and writing.
Get your name and content in the marketplace as much as possible. You can get published, blog, write articles, get interviewed, or get involved at an industry event as a panelist, emcee, or speaker. The opportunities and options are endless. It is important and effective to broaden your target audience.
9. Your physical office.
Make sure it portrays the image that you want to create. Your clients and guests should see and feel this image. The physical office should be consistent with your other marketing such as the look and feel of your website. Is it neat, organized, professional? Does your staff portray the image you want – from your receptionist answering the phones/voicemail recordings, to email communications with clients, and vendors. This is an easy fix, but often ignored.
10. Track how new clients heard about you.
Any good business should have a clear understanding of how they get new business. If a client is directly referred from another professional – you should have a system to track this and send a proper thank you and reciprocate when the opportunity arises. Know what marketing is working and not working, such as the effectiveness of an ad campaign, sponsorship, blog, social media campaign, etc., so you can spend your marketing dollars effectively, and adjust when you are not getting your desired results.
Here is an idea – go through this list. Do one at a time and do it well. If you get to implement all ten, you will be ahead of the competition and have greater success.