How Solo Attorneys can Keep Business Strong
Master Marketing Tips for Solo Attorneys
Cutting ties with your law firm and going solo can be scary, but take comfort in knowing that like so many of your solo predecessors - YOU CAN SUCCEED!
The key to success, however, is not only determination - it's marketing.
So what's the best way to begin marketing to prospects and clients?
You can start with this checklist adapted from Fast Tips for Marketing When Suddenly Solo by Mark A. Robertson. Its large scope of action items will have you RAINMAKING in no time.
Create a Personal Marketing Plan.
A marketing plan can help you focus on your business goals over the next year or two. The plan should include a position statement, goals, objectives, policies, strategies and a tactical plan to achieve those goals and objectives.
A marketing plan should be reviewed every 6-months or so and revised at least annually.
Docket Your Marketing Plan.
Make time for a marketing plan by integrating it with your calendar, docket and "to do" lists. Plan on spending 15-20% of your time each week on marketing activities.
Invest in High Quality Business Cards.
With the advent of Internet and television marketing, we often forget about the value of a business card.
You need an expensive-looking business card on heavy card stock - that is professionally printed - ready to provide at all times. You can also add your business cards to any mailings or newsletters you might send out.
Once your new office and phone number, fax, and e-mail have been established - send out an announcement letting everyone in your electronic directory know. Be sure to write a personal note on the announcement.
Keep Contact Lists and Directories Updated.
Your contact list should never be neglected. Invest in a case management system and make certain you have as much information concerning your clients, friends, and prospects as possible.
Get Involved with Organizations and Memberships.
Professional groups - including political activities - can be a great source of referrals. Remember, clients generally hire lawyers they know, have met or whose name they recall.
Network with Other Professionals.
One of the best referral sources is not other lawyers but other professionals - accountants, bankers, insurance agents, brokers and planners. Try to network with other professionals through cross-referrals, joint seminars, meetings and publications.
Create a Marketing Budget.
List out a budget for your marketing activities including business cards, announcements, postage, legal directories, online yellow pages, lunches, golf sponsorships, ect.
As a general rule 2-5% of your projected revenues should be spent on marketing.
Reach Out to Clients and Prospects.
Make an effort to set up at least one lunch or breakfast meeting per week. Try to carry a list of clients and prospects to call during a break or between meetings just to keep in contact.
Practice Introduction or Value Proposition.
Practice a script for introducing yourself when meeting people. It should be no longer than 2 sentences and should tell other people what you can do in terms of meeting the their needs. This introduction is commonly called a Value Proposition.
Establish a "Work the Room" Routine.
Learn the art of savvy networking.
Have some "canned" or practiced talking points and introductions you can use in any setting. Be sure to collect other people's business cards and follow-up with a call or a note within 24 hours if possible.
Network the Web.
Subscribe to listservs, social and business networks. This will allow you to communicate with lawyers in other parts of the country (possible referrals) as well as industry specific groups. LinkedIn is a great place to build and communicate with business contacts.
Make House Calls.
House calls make a client feel special and well attended to.
Make Office Appearance a Priority.
Remember, first impressions are lasting impressions - especially when it comes to where you conduct business. How you want to be perceived may be influenced by your office location, decor and neatness. Your location and practice area should be attractive, orderly, and stocked with current magazines that are suited to your clientele.
Answer the Phone the Right Way.
Never answer the phone with "law office" as it says nothing to a client or prospect.
Use your name and say what you do.
Use a Team Approach.
Each client should have a team consisting of you (the lawyer) and your legal assistant who can respond to general client inquiries. Introduce the team to the client at the beginning of the representation and encourage him or her to call any team member with questions or information.
A team approach will keep the client happy and reduces "phone tag".
Use Billing and Fee Agreements as Marketing Tools.
Believe it or not, pricing and billing are important tools in marketing legal services.
Bills and fees should be discussed at the beginning of the relationship and must project value to the client. Consider absorbing client disbursements into the fee when they are small or less than 1% of the total bill. Your bill should be on the nicest bond paper - and may include a handwritten personal note.
Make a point to refer clients and prospects to lawyers who practice in areas you don't. When conducting a referral, call the person you are recommending and let them know who you are sending their way. Everyone will appreciate this and you will generate more business as a result.
Still need more guidance?
The Law Practice Management section of the American Bar Association is a great resource for solo lawyers. It too has several publications that are helpful in preparing a strategic or marketing plan.
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