Legal Marketing – 8 Steps to Successful Marketing For Attorneys

I know that many lawyers reading this went to law school never giving thought to the idea of having to do any legal marketing. In fact, I suspect that you would rather undergo root canal surgery than spend your precious time marketing and selling.

Just the thought of legal marketing causes an allergic rash to mysteriously appear all over our bodies. Can’t we just be left alone to “practice”? After all, isn’t practicing difficult enough? The long hours, demanding clients, time constraints, firm politics, and of course, dealing with opposing counsel on every nit.

Yes, practicing law is hard, especially in today’s economic environment. It doesn’t help that today the practice of law looks more like a business than ever before. With over 1 million lawyers in the United States alone, competition is fierce. Outsourcing, increased utilization of RFPs and contract attorneys, budgetary caps and alternative fees, hiring freezes, deferred start dates, reduced salaries, mass demotions, de-equitization of partners, and technology that commands 24/7 attention, are all altering the legal landscape. Practicing law may be a profession, but today’s law firms are run more like a business than ever before. And like their counterparts in the business community, revenues and earnings drive major decisions.

The result of all this change is that just being a good lawyer or tactician is simply not enough anymore. If you really want to succeed in today’s environment, you have to become knowledgeable about legal marketing and client acquisition. It’s the only way you’ll be in complete control of your professional destiny. Sure, you could bill an outrageous amount of hours, be a national expert in your area of the law, even a partner in a large firm, but these factors no longer guarantee your financial and personal success. Deep down inside you know this to be true…unfortunate…but true.

And getting started is the most difficult part. An attitude and belief shift may be in order. For many of us, legal marketing is seen as demeaning, time consuming and a waste of our precious time. It goes against everything we believe in. Yellow page ads, obnoxious late night cable commercials, glossy brochures and similar looking web sites all serving only to gratify an attorney’s ego rather than sell real benefits and value reinforce this negative view of legal marketing. Most of us know that today’s typical legal marketing activities represent the opposite ends of the spectrum…either professional garbage about the impressive “image” of the lawyer, or raunchy ads about getting the client massive amounts of money for injury claims. And worse, they all look alike.

The reason the majority of us dislike attorney marketing is that we were never taught how to do it in a professional and personally fulfilling way. And with the pressure to bill hours, how do we find the time to market? Even more, what tactics should we use that fits our personality and are comfortable to implement? Let me assure you that when you know how, marketing your solutions can be easy and enjoyable…if you implement a few of these ideas.

First and foremost, determine what it is you really want to be, do and have with respect to your legal career. Failing to address these important and unique issues will render any legal marketing strategy completely useless and boring. In other words, what do YOU want to do with your legal career; where do YOU want to do it, and what do YOU want your professional legacy to be? The answers to these three important questions explores what inspires and motivates you, what it is you stand for, what activities you love to do, the environment you want to do them in, who you want to serve, and what you want your professional life to stand for.

Second, you will need to adopt the mindset of a rainmaker, for being a rainmaker should be the most important activity you’re engaged in and having a list of profitable and loyal clients should be viewed as your most important asset. You are simply going to have to recognize that legal marketing is not selling your soul or compromising your ethics, but is the key that will dictate your future. A marketing mindset is simply the expansion of your value proposition and awareness into the relationships and assets that already exist within your business and sphere of influence. You already have what you need to become a master rainmaker; you just have to leverage your existing assets for the opportunities that await you.

Third, get some help. There are coaches, consultants, books, experts, all sorts of people out there who can help you get started. You’re an expert at the law…not marketing. If you want to cut years off your learning curve, cut down on failures and save thousands of dollars, get the expert advice you need.

Fourth, the key ingredients of any marketing plan include: (i) strategic planning, (ii) tactical execution, and (iii) follow-up. Woody Allen may believe that half of life’s success is just showing up, but real achievement comes from preparation and follow-up. Marketing cannot be performed as a shotgun approach like the occasional power lunch or attending a dreaded networking event. You wouldn’t prepare for a deposition or trial without a plan; why implement a marketing plan without the same thought process. Every aspect of your client development plan must address your long and short-term goals, your strengths, niche, and what you want out of your business. Your strategy should be laser-focused and measurable.

Fifth, get someone to help with the grunt work. Your secretary or a virtual assistant can help write letters, call clients, send out articles, press releases, and help you build a client database. There is no way you can do this alone or completely depend on the firm’s marketing manager. It’s up to you; but apply the 80/20 rule and spend the brunt of your time on the most important clients and matters.

Sixth, do a little client development every day. Call that client who you haven’t heard from. Send an article of interest to a new prospect. Set a little bit of time every day to do some marketing and you’ll soon see a flower grow where once there was just a seed.

Seventh, the reason most marketing efforts fail is due to a lack of follow-up with action. And we all make this mistake. In many ways, this is what determines your success or failure, and too often, we don’t realize it until it’s too late. Your system should utilize a “ladder” or “drip” multi- contact approach which will show you’ve been there for them and you’re the “go-to” person they need and want. The mantra here is to follow-up and stay in front of them consistently. And don’t stop until you either die or they tell you to drop dead!

Eighth, have fun with all of your legal marketing activities. Practicing law is difficult enough not to make the marketing fun. Choose tactics that you enjoy and are comfortable, or you won’t follow through. Be targeted and optimistic that you’re going to meet the people you need to advance your career and cause. And then with only a few simple disciplined actions every day, you will be led to the kind of success you desire. Executed properly, legal marketing will become like a second skin as your leads, relationships, and opportunities begin to grow exponentially.

Four Tips for Success in Legal Marketing

Until ten years ago, I never would have never given myself the title “marketer” in addition to being a lawyer. I always did what it took to keep those phones ringing and e-mail inquiries coming in, but I didn’t label it as marketing, and I certainly didn’t have a marketing plan.

Like my lawyer father before me, I always had natural sources of business. Dad and I sent out our annual holiday cards, met our lawyer friends for lunch and attended bar association meetings and events.

Over the past decade, I have slowly become more and more enmeshed in the world of legal marketing.

It’s a very interesting world. It’s a profession unto itself.

Most of the large law firms have marketing departments with different positions, including business development specialists, marketing directors, directors of communications and event planners.

The smaller and mid-size firms might have one or two marketers who handle all the marketing for the firm and are considered generalists. Many firms hire interns to assist with marketing tasks or marketing consultants to keep them on task.

Individual attorneys hire their own marketing coaches or even sales coaches to teach them how to turn a potential new client (PNC) into an actual client. Some lawyers I know hire coaches to teach them how to package themselves, including how to dress, how to develop “elevator speeches” and how to network.

Over the years, I’ve picked up several tips:

Stay within your comfort zone. There are many methods and opportunities to market yourself. Unless your sole job is rainmaker, there is definitely limited time for legal marketing.

Make sure to use your time wisely and pick the one or two methods that feel the most comfortable to you. For example, if you are on the quieter side and don’t do well networking in large groups, use your marketing time in other ways. Invite a potential referral source to lunch, join a committee in a volunteer organization or find a smaller networking group that feels more intimate.

Brand yourself within your firm. If you work in a firm of 40 lawyers who all do the same type of work as you do, you must find a way to differentiate yourself.

Find your passion and try to incorporate that into the work that you do.

In the divorce world, there are attorneys who concentrate on working exclusively with men, the LGBT community, athletes, etc.

Just because you have your own brand doesn’t mean you aren’t a firm team player. In fact, by representing your firm in a niche area, you are bringing extra visibility to the firm.

Get online. More than ever, the Internet is an additional marketing tool. If you or your firm doesn’t have a website, now is the time to create one.

If your firm has its own website, make sure that your credentials stand out by continually updating your bio and qualifications. Also, make sure your website or blog can be read easily on mobile devices.

Find the time to market. Like any busy service business, clients come first. I will be the first to admit that some weeks or months, my marketing takes a backseat to all the client emergencies that arise. Schedule in your marketing time as you would any other important appointment.

Especially on the Internet, you have to stay on top of everything. It takes time to move into a good position on search results and only little time to drop down.

I have many titles and roles. I’m a lawyer, husband, father, friend, uncle and a marketer.

Each takes time and effort, and it’s not always easy to balance but I do my best. My final tip is to do the best you can, don’t give up – and the results will follow.

Legal Marketing and the Bankruptcy Lawyer – Remember the Similarities

How you choose to market a consumer bankruptcy practice must be based in some measure on who your client really is in order for it to succeed.

We’re taught by legal marketing folks that we need to engage in target marketing.  That is, slicing and dicing our market using geography and demographics.  Who they are, where they live, what they look like, and where they eat for dinner.  The more granular we get, the thinking goes, the easier it is to be able to find our target.

Find the target, find the client.  Legal marketing nirvana.

You do need to know everything about your potential client to make sure you’re talking their language and addressing their concerns.  But you also need to know everything about yourself.

If you and your client don’t have a common point of view, getting together is nearly impossible.

Putting aside the problems your ideal client is currently facing, there’s really no difference between the two of you.  After all, there’s not that far to fall from success and failure in any aspect of our lives.  We’re all just a few paychecks away from bankruptcy.  That’s not to scare you, but to make you understand that 99% of your client’s world looks just like yours.

The old saying is, “know thyself,” and there’s truth to that.  If you’re going to figure out who you want to attract as a client, your legal marketing has to recognize who you are before anything else.

It begins with communication.

Once you have a handle on your own background, your lifestyle, and your ideas of right and wrong it’s important to be able to communicate effectively.  When you market a consumer bankruptcy practice those words need to come from your life, not your profession.  Terms like “discharge” and “reaffirmation” hold no sway in your vocabulary – they set you apart, creating distance between you and your ideal client.  So you’ve got to strip those words away and talk like you talk when the office is closed.

Consumer bankruptcy lawyers have a habit of marketing to their own best instincts.  What they like, what they hate, where they congregate… those are how they decide where and how to market.

But when you move into your client’s shoes, lines open up.  Trust is built.  Communication is clearer, and clients are better educated.  They gravitate to you and trust your advice, because you’re one of them.

Always remember where you came from, and where you are in life.  What makes us the same is what helps our legal marketing efforts, and sweeping away the differences is key to our ability to connect with our potential clients.