How to Make Time For Legal Marketing and Business Development

One of the chief complaints I receive from the attorneys that I meet and work with is that they just don’t have time for legal marketing. While billable hours, day-to-day emergencies and time outside the office all add up, there are definite ways to go about making time for legal marketing and business development. The key is to think of it as an ongoing habit, not something to “make time for.” Rather than seeing marketing and business development as a burden, think of it as an integral part of your day-to-day life. The interesting thing about creating this kind of habit is that once you find the right system for your individual lifestyle it should simply become second nature.

The benefits to making time are numerous. Aside from building relationships with potential clients and referral sources, taking advantage of marketing and business development opportunities can help increase your visibility AND credibility in the legal arena and beyond. Writing articles and participating in social media help you create and build a personal brand-something that every lawyer should have. True dedication and time commitment can even bring you recognition as an expert in your chosen practice area or within a specific industry.

Below are a few suggestions and lessons from attorneys I’ve worked with, as well as my own observations and experience. Choose the path that make sense for you or adapt the suggestions to work within your own day, but give it a chance. Do something! The rewards you will reap are far greater than a 5-minute time commitment.

  • Multi-task. No one I know comes into the office and immediately gets to work. One solution to the time crunch is to fold your marketing and business development efforts into your morning routine. As you sit down to your desk with your morning coffee or tea (or breakfast…) browse through your contacts or referral lists and send a few emails; read a legal marketing blog; update your social media or even spend 10 minutes working on a potential article or speech. By 9 am you’ll have accomplished something solid and can focus the rest of your day on other endeavors. Alternately, you can do the same thing during a quick lunch at your desk or coffee break. You’d be surprised how far 10 minutes can go.
  • Save it up. One attorney I know has created a special folder in her email Inbox specifically for legal marketing emails. As the weekly or daily updates from the blogs and social media groups she subscribes to come in she simply directs them to the folder. Then, once a week she takes an hour out of her day to read through the week’s emails and respond to them accordingly. She’s able to keep up to date on legal marketing news and colleague updates, post articles and communicate about possible speaking engagements without disrupting the flow of her day.
  • End your day. A colleague of mine channels his efforts into work all day but integrates marketing into his nighttime routine. With the stresses of the day (and impending deadlines, phone calls and emails) over, he sets aside 15-20 minutes a night before bed to investigate marketing leads, send emails to potential referral sources and work on articles and social media.
  • Schedule it in… for the first month. If all else fails, treat legal marketing as a literal client. Put it on your schedule and make no excuses for not paying attention to it, just as you would a client. Whether it’s once a week or biweekly, set aside specific time for uninterrupted focus. After the first month I can guarantee that finding time for business development will feel effortless.

Simple in theory but never easy in practice, without a true commitment you can never reap the rewards of a solid marketing habit. Filling your pipeline with work, receiving recognition as an expert and gaining credibility and visibility won’t happen all at once, but you can be sure they will happen. Just as with any other endeavor, it takes focus and time to see results.

Are You Prepared For Legal Marketing Success?

The Great Recession has radically changed how people spend their money and how they feel about the future. Yet as bad as things are for many people, others are adjusting and prospering quite well. I truly believe the difference between these two types of people is how they think and how well they adapt to a changing market.

Here are some of the principles I believe are necessary to be prepared for legal marketing success in these times of “moral hazard”.

The 7 Principles of Legal Marketing Success are:

1. Purpose. You absolutely must have passion for what you do and who you serve. On some level, your work should satisfy your intellectual and emotional needs. If it doesn’t, no amount of marketing is going to help. Your heart won’t be in it and your marketing efforts will be excruciatingly difficult. Your prospects will see through your efforts as well. Anyway, life’s too short not to go after what you want. Find meaning, purpose and passion about your work and you’ll be unstoppable…no matter how the economy is performing.

2. Programming. Unfortunately, our minds are programmed to be skeptical, negative, risk adverse and judgmental. The majority of our “self talk” is negative chatter. This internal programming is one of our biggest hurdles to success as the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves (too busy, too old, too introverted, etc), as well as our notions about “marketing” (sleazy, waste of time, never works, etc) may be sabotaging our efforts. So, what are your beliefs? Are they creating negative experiences or results? If so, decide and focus on what you really want, observe how this negative chatter is holding you back, and then devise a more productive belief system to create what is it you truly desire.

3. Planning. You wouldn’t try a case without a plan or travel across country without a map. So, why don’t you have a business and marketing plan? Even if it’s written on the back of a napkin, you have to have a plan to know where you’re going.

4. Participation. Client development is a contact sport. Use the Internet and other tactics to build your brand, visibility, and prove you’re a thought-leader; but since people are buying YOU, you’re going to have to network, join groups and personally participate in the game if you want to win.

5. Persistence. In a white paper entitled: “The Attorney Hiring Zone: Top Activities to Win New Clients by BTI Consulting, one of the findings for “in-person scheduled meetings”, noted that it took over 7 attempts to get a meeting with a potential new client; however 90% of the attorneys did not even try a second time if being shot down on the first try. What about you? Are you willing to get shot down and keep trying? Are you willing to go after what you want and not stop until you either die or the prospect tells you to drop dead? Richard DeVos, the founder of Amway said it best: “If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence.”

6. Patience. Most people want more clients, more money, and more whatever NOW! While some people might feel that marketing is like “hunting”, my analogy is closer to “gardening”. You plant a seed, give it water, sun, and a lot of love and attention and eventually it grows into a strong tree. A tree that is unshakable, always provides shade for you, and drops other seeds to provide you even more trees. But this takes time and attention… so be patient and watch your garden grow.

7. Perceptiveness. Getting and keeping clients is all about perceiving and addressing your client’s needs and wants. When you do this in a way that impacts them emotionally, excites them, and provides extraordinary value, they’ll become raving and loyal fans, a constant source of new business and referrals. I know from 20 years of hiring lawyers for all types of matters, that most lawyers suck at client service. If you exercise empathy, perceptive intuitiveness and increase your client attention and service just a bit, you’ll stand out and take clients away from competitors. In a stressed out economy, keeping clients is an absolute imperative and should become the lynchpin of all of your marketing efforts as it will become the strongest driver of profitability and growth.

You might have noticed that none of these principles mention a great website, a fancy brochure, or a social media or PR campaign to get new clients. Those are just tactics, tools or collateral to get your message out. The real battle is between your ears and in your heart. Learn the 7 Principles and you’ll be prepared for legal marketing success. You’ll create, blossom and grow, even in a challenging economy, as you’ll attract and retain all sorts of clients and new opportunities.

Try it and just watch.

7 Sure Fire Ways For Your Legal Marketing to Fail – The Essential Lawyers Marketing Guide

1. Failing To Define What You Want Your Marketing To Achieve For You

This is the number one pitfall of nearly all campaigns. You are guaranteed to fail if you don’t decide up front what you want your campaign to achieve for you. Without formulating your critical success factors for the marketing initiative you will never be able to measure success or failure, and if you cannot do that how will you know if your limited legal marketing budget has been well spent?

Practical tip: This is guaranteed to happen if you say yes to a speculative call from a newspaper which has some “last minute advertising space” but you must agree to advertise “today” or the firm of solicitors next door to you will be offered the slot. Let them have it and you can have the last laugh!

2. Trying To Please Everyone

Marketing obtains the best possible results when you have clearly defined your target audience and you speak to them in a language that they clearly understand. In business law, you might find that you work best with certain sectors of business, or in private law that families are your best audience. When you know this all of your marketing materials can be amended to reflect this knowledge and provide you with a much better return on your investment.

Practical tip: Review your current client lists for different legal sectors and see if there are any trends appearing.

3. Communicate Too Little Or Too Much

With solicitors it is always normally the first one which causes the problem. If you have a client database you must do what every hugely successful business does; that is to communicate with it and sell it more of your services. Look at Amazon or Tesco, they email their clients at least once a week, normally twice. I know that one of the concerns that lawyers have is that this will scare off their customers. This is simply not true. If customers do not want to read your emails or mailed marketing message, they will choose not to. It does not stop them using your service again but it will put your name front of mind when they need legal assistance.

Admittedly solicitors would find it hard to communicate with their clients once or twice a week, but once a month should be very easy.

Practical tip: It is 10 times easier to sell more services to existing clients than it is to recruit new ones. Start talking to your client database now before Tesco Law or Halifax Law does.

4. Not Making Use Of Your Free Marketing Space

When a client attends your premises they are a captive audience. What are you doing to communicate with them now?

Your clients should have a choice of marketing materials to read (see below), some educational information sheets about your various areas of law, and advertising messages in your office windows and on internal walls. Is this happening?

Practical Tip: Remove any materials that do not relate to your practice. Whilst it is good to support charities, do this from the extra profits your practice makes from selling more of your services to existing clients as opposed to displaying charity literature in reception (as a lot of solicitors do).

5. Not Having Brochures To Support Your Marketing Communications

Many solicitors seem to believe that brochures are now an expense that they can do without. This is a fatal mistake. Do Banks produce brochures for every service they offer? Do insurance companies produce brochures for their car and household insurance policies? Will they produce them for legal services when they enter the markets en masse? Yes of course they will.

If you are competing against an insurance company in the future and a client visits the insurance company’s amazing website and requests their brochure, when they then pop into their local solicitor to see how they can help them will they feel something is missing when no “sales materials” are provided to help them to make their “informed decision” of which legal service provider to use?

Practical Tip: If you do not have any brochures, obtain at least one practice brochure now and then add one more type of brochure per month until you have at least two types of brochure for every legal service that you offer.

6. Not Having A Website, Or Having One That Is Badly Out Of Date

Many solicitors still do not understand the power of the website. Please let me help you: If you are not receiving at least 20 new enquiries from your website every month you are doing it wrong! It is that straightforward, there are solicitors winning more business than they can handle online. If you are not doing so your website is not working.

Practical Tip: Ask a website professional to audit your website and explain why it is not working.

7. No Time To Market – Too Busy Helping Clients

This is the one area that is a huge problem for solicitors with their legal marketing. In most cases if there is a marketing deadline to be met and a legal matter deadline, the marketing will always fall by the wayside. The trouble with this is that marketing needs momentum to really flourish and provide you with outstanding results. You must commit to spend time growing your business as you do when working on the business you have already generated. Failure to do so could be fatal in a more competitive arena.

Practical Tip: Set aside at least one hour per week to ensure that your marketing builds momentum.