If you want to get 2015 off to a blockbuster start in terms of new business, you need to find a way to get and stay connected with the people that are your best sources of new business: current clients, past clients and others who have served as referral sources for you in the past.
Clients If you’re a B2B attorney, make the time to identify your top 10 clients and set up appointments with them in person over the next 30-60 days. Have an open and honest discussion with them about the state of their business, what challenges they expect to face this year, the resources they need (legal and non-legal) and how you might be able to assist them. If appropriate, ask them for a small project you can work on to demonstrate your expertise in an area or inquire about doing some research into how a new law or ruling might affect them. Offer to do this either for gratis or for a significantly reduced rate.
Perhaps they really need a business loan and you know a few local bankers to whom you could introduce them. Or they may have to let a few employees go and are afraid of being sued and they need your input on how to prepare for the layoffs. Maybe they need to do some asset protection right away in case their business fails to protect them against creditors.
The idea is not to wait until they come to you; be proactive and let them know they are important to you. They’ll appreciate a listening ear and your expertise. And, no, you don’t get to charge them for lunch; it’s your treat.
Referral Sources Create a comprehensive list of every single person who has sent you a referral in the last year and send a personal note with a small gift expressing your appreciation for their help in years past. Be sure to make it personal. If you don’t know what they might like, contact their assistant and ask.
In your handwritten note, ask them to join you for lunch, a drink or an open house and tell them your assistant will be in touch to set a date. This will allow you to reconnect in person and provides you with the opportunity to update them on your practice and what you consider to be a great prospect for your services.
How to Stay Connected Intuitively, we all know that when we’re off the radar, we’re not on our clients’ minds. At the same time, every attorney knows that referrals and returning clients are some of their strongest sources of business.
So, how do you stay connected? How do you stay on someone’s radar throughout the year?
There is a well-known marketing principle – the law of seven touches – which says it takes an average of seven to 10 meaningful touches every year to stay top of mind with people who know you and to build trust among people who don’t.
In today’s marketplace of over stimulation and thousands of advertisers trying to push their products and services, we have often found most attorneys need more than seven touches. Look at Twitter – it is a constant stream of updating statuses. One tweet is irrelevant 10 minutes – or in some cases, one minute – later. The world and your prospect has moved on to the next latest blurb. In light of the current times, the marketing world has accepted that this number is somewhere north of 12 touches every year.
Defining Meaningful So what differentiates between a meaningful touch and a normal, entirely unremarkable touch?
Here are some easy and meaningful ways to reach out to your network: • Host a seminar and invite contacts to attend. • Call up your former clients and check in with them; see how they’re doing. • Attend a local, non-legal networking event and make a point to meet potential referral sources. • Attend a networking event in the industry you serve – ask attendees questions about their needs, their concerns, etc. • Schedule lunch with an old referral contact to catch up. • Use surveymonkey.com to conduct a brief survey on a topic of interest, use social media to invite people to answer it and then share the results with your network. • Connect with them on LinkedIn. It’s the most widely used social media platform for attorneys, but most of them don’t use it effectively. • If you see an interesting article in a blog, an industry magazine or the newspaper, forward it on to your clients or referral partners.
A Simple Long-term Solution – Newsletters One of the easiest, and most overlooked, tools in your arsenal is creating and distributing a monthly firm newsletter. This is an easy way for you to reach out to your entire network at the same time and to keep your name and your firm in their mind. When I say newsletter, I mean an electronic newsletter. Like all contact in today’s age, newsletters have gone digital.
A digital newsletter is beneficial in several ways. First, there are no printing costs, so your list can keep growing with minimal investment. The cost of sending 300 newsletters out digitally is the same as 1,000. So, as you meet people at events see if they’d be interested in receiving your newsletter. The opt-in part is important as spamming is not only frowned upon, but sends the wrong message about your firm.
A second benefit of the digital format is the ease of interaction. With a print newsletter, someone needs to take physical action to share your newsletter. With the digital newsletter a few clicks of a button and they’ve shared your knowledge with social media or personal contacts via email. And, with digital links, it’s easy for them to get in touch with you. The easier you make it for people to reach you, the more likely you will be reached.
By using email services like Vertical Response, Mail Chimp or Constant Contact (my favorite), you will be able to easily track your newsletter efforts. You may be surprised by some of the statistics – like open and click rates. You will be able to see what works and what doesn’t and correct accordingly.
Another value of a newsletter is that it allows you to strengthen your relationship with your entire network simultaneously. This cannot replace the personal interactions discussed above, but will certainly keep your name in their mind. You can easily keep referral sources updated on your firm. Did you receive an award recently? Did you just settle a big case? Did you bring on a new employee? One way to make sure your prospects feel connected to your firm is to share a profile on an employee each month. That way when your assistant, Jessica, calls to schedule their follow up appointment, they feel more connected to her. It’s a great way to humanize your firm.
A monthly newsletter also gives you the opportunity to educate your clients about your various practice areas. If you handled my divorce, I may not know that you also create estate plans. When I go to hire an estate planning attorney, your name will not come to mind … unless you educate me and keep in touch. You need to educate all of your clients – past, present and future – on all your services.
By sharing pertinent information with your network of contacts, you will ensure that you are at the top of their mind when it comes to any type of legal challenge they may encounter. The more valuable and relevant you make the information, the more positively they will think of you and your firm. By giving them information that is relevant to their legal needs or industry, they will see you as a constant asset to them. It is a long road of small interactions, but by focusing on creating a solid relationship with your network you will benefit in the end.
Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid There are a number of skeptics in the legal world who question the effectiveness of email marketing. Whenever an attorney comes to me and tells me that they’ve sent a newsletter in the past, but found it to be ineffective, I know they did something wrong. Here are some cardinal mistakes you need to avoid: Frequency – A newsletter isn’t an annual update. You need to send 12 newsletters per year to be effective.
Length – Your newsletter needs to be interesting and to the point. People are too busy to read lengthy pieces. Keep it to less than two pages.
Tracking – If you aren’t using an email service like Constant Contact – and checking the statistics – then you are wasting your time. Whatever you do, do not send it as an attachment via Microsoft Outlook. People are very skeptical about viruses hiding out in attachments these days.
Expectations – If you are expecting to receive a sudden influx of phone calls, you need to adjust your thinking. In general, it takes six months of consistent newsletters before you start to see results.
The benefits are obvious and the risks nearly non-existent. I highly recommend you start your monthly e-newsletter campaign as soon as possible, and a new calendar year is the best time to put this new communication method into practice! To help you get your newsletter started, I recently recorded a webinar on “how to get your newsletter done in 45 minutes a month.” If you would like a free copy simply go to: bit.ly/automatic-newsletter and fill out the form. Make a commitment to make this year your best year ever!