Before you can start building your client database and growing your practice, be prepared to make changes to your marketing techniques.
By Mark Powers and Steve Riley, Practice Advisors
There’s no substitute for action when you want to grow and build your practice. Thinking about it, worrying about it, and writing down names only takes you so far. You have to get out on the playing field to score. Here are a few tips that could help you get into action.
1. Meetings Make Things Happen
Schedule a weekly or monthly marketing meeting to discuss your client development and community involvement goals with your partners, your associates, or your marketing assistant. Having a regularly scheduled meeting creates a structure of accountability for you and whoever else is trying to market your firm. I know from experience that plans and commitments that are made public and discussed with others are much more likely to happen.
2. Block Time in Your Calendar for Marketing
When your marketing time blocks are preset and blocked in advance, it is easier for your marketing assistant to schedule marketing meetings and lunches since they don’t have to constantly recheck your availability.
3. Develop and Know Your Referral Network
Prior to meeting with a new referral source, take a look at their website and any social media platforms on which you can access their profile. Surveying their Internet presence will give you a good idea of what’s important to them both in their business and personal lives and can serve as fodder for your conversation. You don’t want to sound like an Internet stalker, just someone who’s taken the time to do a little research.
4. Community Involvement Is Good for Business
Becoming an active member of your community and volunteering for causes you are authentically excited about will not only help the disadvantaged, it will build your firm’s reputation.
5. Create Better Systems
Make it easy for your receptionist or marketing assistant to gather data on incoming calls by using a call tracking form which allows you to capture how many inquiry calls come in, who sent those callers, and how many of those callers convert to initial consultations.
6. Use Technology to Help Build Your Practice
Most case management systems allow you to input notes about the referral source that sent you each case. Be sure to track this information, not only to have a convenient place for all your notes, but because you can also easily generate a list of all the cases/matters they have sent.
7. Marketing Requires Patience
Clients may come from a new referral source immediately, but it usually takes numerous meetings for the referrer to trust you enough to risk recommending you
8. Look the Part
When a prospective client or referral source meets you for the first time, what do they see? Someone who projects a polished, professional image? Someone who looks reliable, trustworthy, and capable of solving complex problems? If not, you may need to upgrade elements of your wardrobe such as your shoes or your briefcase. When people have little else to go on, they will judge you based on your appearance. Make your image work for you, not against you.
Your personal presentation is either going to further your brand or work against you. Never forget that, even in these days of “business casual,” people will still judge you by how you dress. Aim to dress a notch above how your competitors and referral sources dress.
9. Networking Made Easy<s/trong>
Most referral sources are more than willing to introduce you to people in their network. To make the introduction easy, arrange a lunch meeting and suggest they bring the person along. In these situations, I recommend you also pick up the tab.
10. Use Social Media
You can use Twitter to follow people in the legal profession whom you want to cultivate and eventually meet. Use social media as a way to become acquainted with potential referral sources and extend your networking range.
11. Refer Your Referral Sources as Often as Possible
Be vigilant in your efforts to spot potential clients for your referral sources. There is no better way to get their attention and inspire their sense of reciprocity.
12. Get Help, Professional or Otherwise
If you can afford to hire marketing professionals, do so. Otherwise, hire a young intern – preferably a college student studying marketing – to re-energize your marketing efforts. They can set up your social media sites and even interview you to ghostwrite your blog, saving you time and effort so you can focus on face-to-face marketing activities.
13. Consistent Action Works
In the world of commercial sales, studies show that 81% of the sales happen on the fifth contact or later. In the Rule of Seven from the book, Personal Village, a person attempting to establish a relationship with a new group or community must be seen seven times to be considered an “insider.” Keep these numbers in mind while attempting to build relationships with people who could become referral sources – patience is a virtue.
14. Get Into Action Right Now
Take a moment right now to think of a referral source with whom you haven’t communicated in a while. Then take another moment to email (or text) and invite them to lunch to catch up. In the space of a few moments, you can reach out and initiate contact with someone that can result in future business.
Mark Powers is the president of Atticus, and is an internationally-known speaker who has been coaching attorneys for almost 20 years. Steve Riley is a practice advisor at Atticus and provides coaching and presents at workshops throughout the U.S.A. www.atticusonline.com
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