Growing Your Practice - Start Here, Start Now.
Information and Strategies to Promote your Law Firm
Essential Guide to Law Firm Marketing
By Margaret Grisdela, Legal Expert Connections, Inc.
One of the most important determinants of your success as a lawyer is not taught in law school. You can have all the technical knowledge you need, but you will have no legal practice until you land a client who is willing to pay you for your legal knowledge and expertise. It all starts with a trusting relationship between you and your client.
Keep in mind that not every client is a good client. The best legal clients recognize and appreciate your value as a trusted business partner, whereas overly price sensitive clients will leave you when they find a lower cost legal provider. You want clients who will stay with you for the long term, serving as a source of referrals on more legal matters, testimonials and growth opportunities.
Three fundamental principles form the basis for this book and successful legal business development:
- Focus. Choose what you want to do and do it well.
- Demonstrate your knowledge by educating, and you will not need to sell.
- Never stop marketing.
Everything matters. In our 24/7 world you need to reach out to your legal audience in a variety of ways using an integrated marketing approach, which translates into using multiple channels like the Internet, direct mail, speeches and more. Whether your prospect is looking for you online, in a journal or at a conference, you need a presence that gives you a competitive edge.
Business development in the legal market carries an aura of mystery when referred to as “rainmaking.” You can actually translate the process of acquiring new clients into six simple steps that we call CLIENT RainmakingTM.
The CLIENT Rainmaking methodology includes:
Create an integrated marketing plan
Launch your plan
Inspect your results
Evaluate enhancements to generate more leads
Nurture the prospects you generate
Team with your new clients for the long term
Create an Integrated Marketing Plan
The first step in developing a law firm marketing plan is to clearly establish the goals and objectives for your legal practice. These questions include:
- Who do I want to serve?
- What services do I want to offer?
- Where do I want to practice geographically?
- When do I want to achieve my goals?
- Why should a client choose my firm over the competition?
- How much is my promotional budget?
You will discover in-depth answers to each of these critical questions throughout the chapters of this book.
“Who” you choose to serve and “when” you want to achieve your goals are particularly important success factors. Your answers to these questions will determine the objective methods required to address the other questions. Additional considerations include the amount of money you want to earn annually, the number of hours you want to work and your lifestyle choices.
Your law practice can be defined at many levels. Plaintiff or defense, employment law or intellectual property, business clients or consumer clients, transactions or long term relationships are just a few of the many choices available to you as you embark on a new legal career or a new direction in your practice. If you decide to work with a larger firm many of these choices are made for you. However, the sole practitioner, partner in a small firm or experienced big-firm partner who branches out on their own must examine these questions in detail.
Analyze the markets you want to serve carefully, in terms of the industries, the geographic location and the purchasers of your legal services. Choose a market that is large enough to have a long term need for your legal services. Audience size can be evaluated by the number of groups, publications, chapters and conferences that it supports. Avoid a market segment that is so small that it is not well organized.
Just like you use a map to get to a new destination, your detailed, law firm marketing plan will lead you to the land of new business development. Here are some of the many important items that should be addressed in a thoroughly prepared marketing plan:
- Executive summary
- Market positioning statement
- Competitive overview
- Current client development
- Educational seminars
- Speaking and writing opportunities
- Industry organizations and conferences
- Legal directories
- Direct mail campaigns
- Referral network management
- Website evaluation
- Internet marketing
- Media and PR
- Advertising and branding
- Recommendations for collateral pieces
- 12-month implementation timeline
In future articles you will learn a wide variety of ways you can generate legal prospects by educating, not selling. Future clients will be attracted to you when they benefit from the value you deliver in the form of speeches, seminars, articles and targeted media relations.
While most campaigns, when done properly, will start to generate encouraging results quickly, some campaigns may be disappointing. Try to identify ways you can improve performance on these initiatives. If an ad is not producing responses, for example, try adding a “call to action” like offering a free white paper. If a direct mail campaign to existing clients did not result in additional business, try making follow up phone calls and/or inviting recipients to a private seminar on the topic.
You may find that some law firm marketing programs are not suited to your audience or geographic area. If this is the case, adapt and test alternatives.
A basic direct marketing tenet is to run an “A/B” test, which basically means testing an “A” version of a campaign against a “B” version. The difference between the two campaigns should be clearly defined, like different opening paragraphs in direct mail campaign, since you can only test one variable at a time.
Testing and refinement is a continuous process you will want to follow until you discover the techniques that work best for you. Always maintain an active program of integrated marketing campaigns for your best results.
Nurture the Prospects you Generate
Identifying a new prospect is a great start, but it is only the beginning. You will find many ideas in this book to help you cultivate a prospect and convert them into a client.
Tracking your legal prospects and the time it takes for them to retain your law firm is an essential part of the business development process. Many “touch points” may be required to convert a prospect to a client, not the least of which could be a rigorous proposal process.
The primary goal of this book is to help you create a powerful marketing strategy that generates high quality prospects. Many clients say to us, “I just need to get in front of the prospect; then I can get the business.” Our goal in this book is to put you in front of quality prospects, knowing that your legal expertise, coupled with solid business development skills and perseverance, will help you get the client.
Team With your New Legal Clients
Congratulations! Your prospect just became a client. Now you are on the path to building a successful, long-term relationship. Future articles will give you many law firm marketing ideas to help you reinforce the importance of the personal and business interactions between your firms.
CLIENT Rainmaking is a continuous process built on a few simple steps that you can easily implement within your own firm. Now we can move on to learn more rainmaking fundamentals. Read our other articles at www.hg.org and check back frequently for new law firm marketing information
About the Author: Margaret Grisdela is the Founder and President of Legal Expert Connections, Inc., a legal marketing firm specializing in marketing and business development in the legal and litigation support markets. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Cross-sell and Up-sell More Legal Services New!
- Measure Your Clients' Satisfaction New!
- Overview of the U.S. Legal Market
- Business Development Imperative
- Growing Your Practice
- Pick a Niche for Your Law Practice
- Know your Competition
- Branding your Law Firm
- Key Elements of a Successful Internet Marketing Campaign
By Margaret Grisdela, Legal Expert Connections, Inc.
HG.org is hosting this new series of excerpts from the book “Courting your Clients": The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing,” scheduled for release in May 2007.
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