With the lazy summer days almost in our rearview mirror, it is time to re-focus on building your business and marketing this fall. Below are steps to take to advance your marketing goals of strengthening your existing client and referral relationships and cultivating new relationships with qualified prospects.
To maximize your limited non-billable time between now and year’s end, follow these steps:
No. 1: Focus your efforts.
Set realistic goals of what to accomplish in the next three months realizing that “life gets in the way” all too frequently. Perhaps your goal is to visit several clients and learn what their current challenges are. Maybe you want to show your gratitude for the work you have received from a select group of clients by inviting them to an upcoming firm event. Whatever the activities, claim and commit to it.
No. 2: Manage your time.
Calculate how much non-billable time you can reasonably commit to marketing activities each day to achieve your objectives and schedule them on your calendar. What gets scheduled and measured, gets done.
No. 3: Maintain a weekly activity checklist.
Invest some time jotting down concrete steps you will take to address advancing your relationship with existing clients (active and non-active), quality referral sources, and specific steps you will take to “sow seeds” with qualified prospects.
No. 4: Client Assessment.
With 2019 right around the corner, Fall is an ideal time to assess how much time you have invested in your current clients.
- Have you regularly maintained contact with them?
- Have you learned more about their industry and attended an industry meeting or conference with them?
- Have you spent any “non-office” time with them or visited their facility?
Clients love this outreach even if they don’t say so. Reaching out sends a positive message that you value the relationship.
Most importantly, have you evaluated your clients’ satisfaction with your relationship and service? Studies show that the more open communication you have in connection with clients’ expectations, the stronger (and longer lasting) the relationship will be.
Do not grow complacent. If you are not comfortable having this conversation, retain a professional client relations professional to facilitate an in-person interview to learn. Just make it happen for the sake of your long-term client relationship.
No. 5: Referral Sources.
The cornerstone of a prosperous business, referral sources, should be attended to regularly. Contact each referral source and schedule time to connect. Thank them for specific clients they have sent your way – or attempted to send to you. A successful referral relationship is reciprocal. If your practice does not lend itself to generate referrals for others, formulate ways to thank your referral sources for their kindness.
No. 6: Marketing Mindset.
To be most successful, adopt, first, the service mindset – – in helping others, you will build a prosperous business. There are opportunities everywhere. Be educated in how to recognize ways to help and connect others and the prospective new business will manifest.
Yes, there are deliberate steps you must take, though much of the “planning” is psychological and developing a proper mindset.
When left to their own devices, many lawyers much prefer to practice law rather than undertake marketing activities. Understandable. This can be a result of lack of formal education in the business development process, years of conditioning and reinforced by most firm compensation systems and/or a host of other reasons.
Remember this: if it took you years to fall into your current pattern, you are not likely to develop new habits overnight. Be patient with yourself. Keep this in mind: In his book True Professionalism, David Maister states that billable hours determine today’s income, but what you do with your non-billable time determines your future. Bingo!
There are hundreds of different ways to make marketing a more natural and enjoyable part of your everyday practice. Develop a system that works for you and be consistent in your efforts. You will enjoy the rewards if you persist.
Reach out if I can help in any way. Kimberly Rice