For this article, I thought it would be fun to look at marketing a little differently and to prove (or not) some of the most common marketing myths I have heard from the lawyers I have worked with.
Please review the following statements and assign a “true” or “false” rating to each:
- If I do excellent work, clients will find me
- I shouldn’t force myself to attend networking events
- If I ask for new business, my contacts will think I’m desperate – or worse yet, failing as a lawyer
- I am just too busy to market – I’ll start up again when I’m less busy
- I won’t survey my clients – they may say negative things
- I should write hand-written thank you notes when someone refers me
- LinkedIn is not an effective tool for lawyers
- It’s OK to fire a client
Clients Will Find Me
False! In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner keeps repeating “If I build it, they will come.” In Kevin’s case, it worked out. In your case, it likely won’t. Why? You could be a complete Brainiac in your practice area, but word of your greatness will not automatically spread to your prospective clients and referral sources. You need to proactively build relationships with people who can hire you or refer business to you.
Forced Networking Isn’t the Only Way
True. Going to networking events and schmoozing isn’t for everyone. In fact, it’s not how most lawyers enjoy spending their precious time away from the office and their families. Instead of forced networking, give yourself a break and focus on one-on-one networking.
Asking for the Business and Not Sounding Desperate
False! Deep in the psyche of most lawyers is a fear of rejection. The thought of “asking for the business,” makes many lawyers uncomfortable. What if they say no? What if they think my practice is failing and I’m desperate? Consider these messages: “I am selectively growing my practice and would love to do more business with you.” Or, “As my firm grows, it becomes more important to only work with great clients – like you. Is there someone I could talk with about expanding our relationship with your company?”
Too Busy to Market
False! So many lawyers rationalize that billable client work takes precedent over all else. What could be as – or more – important than serving the clients you already have? For one, it’s about keeping your pipeline full of prospective clients and referral sources. You need to keep your relationships fresh and relevant. I encourage my clients to do one thing – just one – every single day to build their practice. It is better to move forward slowly versus not at all. If you wait until you have time to market, it may be too late.
Asking for Client Feedback
False! Many lawyers would rather let a disgruntled client simply find another lawyer or law firm than to ask for feedback. Keeping your pulse on the satisfaction of your clients is one of the best business practices you can implement. We encourage clients to use end-of-case or end-of-matter surveys using a web-based tool like SurveyMonkey. Clients can also leave feedback you can use on your website or can be directed to leave a review for you on Google or Facebook.
Personal Is Better
True. While you may think that a quick email or text acknowledging a referral source for sending you a new client would be enough –– it’s not. Today, when someone receives a personal, hand-written thank you note from a lawyer, that lawyer immediately stands out from other lawyers, many of whom don’t even bother to say thank you. When someone receives a written thank you note from you, they will remember you.
LinkedIn, a Waste of Time?
False! I am convinced the only reason lawyers don’t use LinkedIn is because they don’t know specifically what they should be doing. The ABA reports that 90% of lawyers have LinkedIn profiles, and my guess is that 85% aren’t sure how to engage and use LinkedIn to develop new business. Congratulate people on promotions, like and comment on their posts, share interesting articles you find. Do some research on how to use advanced search on LinkedIn. Through your contacts, you can meet just about anyone you would like to know – without violating MRPC Rule 7.3.
Firing a Client
True. If you really think about it, there were likely red flags in the consultation meeting you had. You needed the revenue, so you took the client on. You are now convinced that the client is disaster. They are difficult, rude, they don’t pay you, they don’t return your calls or provide the documents you request from them. They are simply not engaged in their own case or matter. You can terminate the representation. Just make sure you read MRPC Rule 1.16, Declining or Terminating Representation. Then, if you can, end the relationship. Focus on the criteria your best clients have in common, and actively seek to attract more people like those you enjoy working with. These clients will be those that trust you, respect you, are engaged in their case, return your calls, and are generally good people going through a difficult legal challenge.
I hope I have been able to bust some of the myths you held about your marketing efforts! Effective marketing for lawyers means first and foremost, doing magnificent work and taking excellent care of your clients. Beyond that, it is important to your future success that you don’t put marketing on the back burner – or take it off the stove completely – when you get busy. Remember to do one thing every day that supports your future growth rather than saying, “I’ll market when I have time.” If you approach your marketing efforts with consistency and dedication, you will be successful. TERRIE S. WHEELER