Welcome, Fellow Lawyers.
The business development game has changed. Winning requires a strategy beyond drinks and dinners, logoed merchandise, and a table for 10 at your client’s charity event. Many of your clients are no longer in your own backyard – they’ve moved to regional or national offices. Your clients are busy and forced to do more with less.
They are also empowered with information. They are searching for answers to their issues from their couches on their smartphones at 11:30 at night.
Your prospective clients want to hire a lawyer with the expertise required to resolve their legal issue. They want someone they trust. They want an attorney who can resolve their issue at a fair price. Someone who has resolved similar matters for people or businesses in similar situations. They want to understand what it would be like to work with you, the attorney.
All your digital assets – your website, social media profiles, online reviews, listings – provide opportunities to build trust and credibility with prospective clients. To reach volumes of potential clients you couldn’t ten years ago.
But it requires a new way of thinking about your practice and the clients you want to attract.
Do You Want to Be a Rainmaker?
The word Rainmaker has always translated negatively in my mind. You’ve seen him…the overly extroverted, insincere schmoozer-type salesman who’s trying just a little to hard to be all things to all people. He makes me want to run in the opposite direction…maybe you too? You don’t have to be that guy to be successful. Just be yourself – authenticity is key. And be willing to provide value to the specific group of clients you’ve set out to help.
The ability to generate new business translates to freedom, power, and influence – whether you are a solo practitioner or one of 250 attorneys in the firm.
Before developing your marketing strategy, it’s helpful to step back and think big picture. What would the ability to bring in new clients and create a profitable practice mean for you?
- Are you interested in building your book of business so you can start your own firm?
- Will you be up for partner in a few years?
- Do you want to make back office operations more efficient?
Figure out what success means to you. Success doesn’t come without compromise and some tough decisions.
Focus Your Practice
For starters, you can’t be all things to all people.
This is tough for a lot of attorneys who feel like if they narrow their practice areas, they will lose out on clients. The real danger today is spreading yourself too thin.
So how do you choose?
- What area of the law are you most passionate about? Combining passion with profitability is always ideal.
- Is there a sub-niche of your current practice area that could serve as a differentiator for you? Instead of being an employment lawyer, focus on social media in the workplace.
- Think of a former client you would clone if you could. What matters did you help that client with? Can you create a profitable practice?
- Where are the gaps in your firm? Do you work for a larger firm that needs an estate planning practice to serve its business clients?
- Use technology. Can you identify a practice area that would be easier to streamline through workflow development so you could create a profitable practice based on volume?
This doesn’t mean you have to immediately stop taking matters in other practice areas, or even remove those practice areas from your bio. Simply focus your marketing efforts around one practice area. Drop the shotgun approach – spreading your marketing efforts too thin will leave you frustrated.
Detailing Your Target Client
Take a few minutes to answer questions about your target client.
- What are the questions you get regularly?
- What do they not ask you but should?
- What do they need from an attorney to succeed in their jobs?
- What are the trends and issues related to your practice that will affect them in the next 6, 12, or 24 months?
This assessment of your target client will serve as the foundation for all of your online marketing efforts. You may need to outline a few target clients – eventually. Do yourself a favor and start with one.
Build Trust and Credibility through Your Content
So you have a picture of your ideal client. Consider how the internet has empowered him with information and options. If he isn’t getting the answers from you, he’s getting them somewhere. Why not be his go-to resource?
You have the opportunity to build trusted relationships with prospective clients you’ve never even met – and before they even know they need your services. Building trust requires more than developing high quality content, or even a large volume of content. It requires a clear definition of your target audience, and delivering quality, relevant content consistently.
You have the opportunity to develop content that pushes clients towards a specific product – or bundling of your services – that you’ve developed. An easy foot in the door offering that is limited in scope, but the perfect way for a client to test the waters of working with you. You’ll also provide it for a flat fee meeting the client’s need for predictability and transparency.
Offer Prospective Clients Ways to Engage
No, I am not talking about the form on your contact page. I am talking about using your website as a true sales tool. Setting up calls to action to prompt visitors to opt-in to a conversation with you. What does this look like?
- Signing up for your email newsletter.
- Subscribing to your RSS feed so they can follow your blog.
- Downloading a resource guide or checklist that empowers your prospective clients to solve a problem themselves.
- Automatically scheduling a 20-minute consultation call with you through an online scheduling system.
Your website can and should work for you 24/7. If you are spending a chunk of your marketing budget to get to the top of Google, step back. Let’s say you get to the top of Google and you have a pipeline of new visitors coming to your site. What are you asking them to do when they get there?
Improving the Client Experience to Create Raving Fans
The number one rule of business development is to deliver quality work to the clients you already have. This is still true, and even more important, today. Your clients have tremendous power to influence your ability to get new clients. If they have an excellent experience, they will likely refer you to their friends and colleagues. They may even write a review you can include on your bio page or LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, they can also negatively affect your ability to generate business.
Using technology to improve the client experience can be a real differentiator for your practice. Simple systems can also streamline your back office operations increasing profitability while providing you with peace of mind. Start with your file opening and file closing processes. Put a workflow in place for each.