The following article was originally published in The Legal Intelligencer on December 27, 2010.
Members of The Legal Intelligencer can click here to view the article in its original location.
Click here to jump to the quote by Content Pilot CEO Deborah McMurray.
A Legal Marketing Holiday Gift:
Advice From Some of the Country's Top Experts
By Stacy West Clark
The Legal Intelligencer
December 27, 2010
I was going to send each and every one of you a Starbucks or movie gift card — so you could enjoy some real relaxation and escape. But then I thought — what else could I do for the legal community?
And then it hit me. How about some great advice (free of course) from some of the country's leading law firm marketing experts!! Eureka!
I set about asking some of my favorite marketing minds, "What one important piece of advice for 2011 would you give lawyers that will grow their business if they follow it?"
So without further ado, please enjoy your holiday presents below. I think you will see some common themes.
Anne A. Buchanan APR, President of Buchanan Public Relations:
"Social media. Social media. Social media. Sorry — I know it can seem confounding and requires a time and personnel commitment, but it's where the action is. Social media has transformed how organizations and individuals communicate and market themselves. My marketing advice to law firms and lawyers is to familiarize yourselves with some of the new social media tools available. Ask your child to give you a tutorial in Facebook. Set up a Twitter account and start following some of the legal tweeters. Make sure your — and your firm's — LinkedIn profiles are current and active. You may end up deciding that a formal social media program isn't right for you or your firm — but you owe it to yourself to at least see how business is being conducted and relationships are being forged in this new environment."
Peter Darling, Legal Marketing Consultant:
"In 2011, do two things. First, read Keith Ferazzi's fantastic book "Never Eat Alone." Then, network, network, network, network. Second, commit to spending a certain number of hours per week, no matter what, reconnecting with old contacts, making new ones and keeping track of it all. It doesn't matter whether you use LinkedIn, Legal Onramp, face-to-face meetings, lunches or events, whatever. Building a practice is COMPLETELY a function of relationships, and the single best thing you can do to market your practice is to know people and make sure they know you."
Bob Denney, President of Robert Denney Associates Inc.:
"MAKE LAWYER BIOS SALES DOCUMENTS! When shopping for legal services today, prospective clients — whether they are general counsel for a major corporation or individuals — look for specific and relative experience in the area(s) in which they are seeking counsel. For this reason, even though a firm or a particular lawyer may have been referred to them, they will go to the firm's or the lawyer's website and study lawyer bios. Therefore, these bios need to include specific examples and descriptions of matters or cases the lawyer(s) has handled. These should be written in 'plain English,' not 'lawyer English.' Obtain permission to identify the client in each case. If the client will not give approval, then at least describe the client, i.e. 'a large life-care facility' or 'a builder of custom homes' or 'a high school senior' etc."
Tracy LaLonde, Partner with Akina Corporation.:
"The most important business development/marketing activity law firms can implement in 2011 is to find ways to 'Be nice. Make friends. Share.' To lead well in the next decade, firms must authentically demonstrate generosity through relationship investments with clients and prospects. Examples of this range from a simple act of saying 'thank you' to providing free counsel to getting involved in a prospect's charitable cause. Lawyers need to demonstrate that they are willing to suspend self-interest, including a willingness to offer solutions to problems that may not result in billable work (i.e., providing the three INs: making INtroductions to other service providers, providing INformation that elevates the client's business acumen, and extending INvitations that stand to benefit the client more than the lawyer)."
Laura Meherg, Principal with The Wicker Park Group:
"Participate in solutions. Don't wait for your clients to have problems; ask them about their business goals and align your firm's efforts in client service to serve those goals. Schedule a 'year in review, year ahead' conversation with your key clients to discuss what happened in their business in 2010 and what they expect to happen in 2011 and beyond. Talk to them about their strategic plan and what will most challenge them. Ask for feedback on your service, but most importantly ask open-ended questions about their priorities for the 18 months ahead. Ask how they will define success in 2011 and 2012. Listen. Those discussions will allow you to better understand their needs and allow you to best provide proactive counsel. Then constantly look for ways to make their life easier and help them achieve success."
Larry Bodine, Business Development Adviser:
"Pick two days every week when you are going to get out of the office and have a face-to-face meeting with a client, referral source or potential client. You won't get any new assignments by working through lunch or joining your law firm colleagues for drinks. Instead, meet a client for coffee, meet a referral source for lunch or dinner, and meet prospective clients at a trade association meeting."
John Remsen, President of The Remsen Group:
"In my humble opinion, lawyers should always look crisp, polished and professional. Not just for client meetings and court appearances, but for each and every work day. Your clients, your fellow attorneys and your staff judge you (and your work product) by the way you look, especially if you are young and in the early stages of building a successful legal career. So dress up, my friends! It's a good habit for both you and your career."
Mary Beth Pratt, adjunct professor with Temple University Beasley School of Law (Law Practice Management):
"Communications are the bedrock of relationships, and lawyers depend on relationships. Whether it's between lawyer and client, lawyer and lawyer, or lawyer and staff, improving one's listening and understanding skills must never stop. These skills CAN be learned and improved with training, practice and reinforcement. Better communications with clients will create more loyal and satisfied clients. Better communications with other lawyers will create better working and referral relationships, which will improve client relationships. Better communications with staff will result in a more productive and effective client team and smoothly functioning workplace, which, yes, also will improve client satisfaction. The best firms create standards and uphold them as firm values, not to be violated. These firms invest in their lawyers to help them learn how to communicate better, understanding that this investment will be repaid many times."
Deborah McMurray, CEO of Content Pilot:
"Look at your law firm website as though it's the first time. (Good advice for any relationship!) Pretend you are a buyer of legal services and you have three minutes to find what you need to determine: what you've done; for whom you have done it; and what your firm can do for you. Three minutes, tops — you can set an online timer here: www.online-stopwatch.com. How effectively and quickly does your site deliver this information? Is it consistently good from practice to practice? Are the biographies up to date and relevant? Is your practice and industry news current? Based on this fresh look, would you hire your firm? If not, marshal your troops and prepare your roadmap for measureable improvement by June 2011."
I thank these wise folks for their good advice, and I thank all of YOU for being such a tremendous legal community. Watch out 2011! There is so much we can accomplish to grow your practice.
Stacy West Clark has helped Philadelphia lawyers and law firms expand their practices for more than 20 years. She is a former attorney with Morgan Lewis & Bockius and was the firm’s first marketing director. She is president of Stacy Clark Marketing, www.stacyclarkmarketing.com, a firm that helps law firms grow their businesses.