Sometimes the small things right in front of us, by nature easy to do, are the smartest things to advance your marketing and business development efforts. Though these actions may seem small, they can be incredibly rewarding. Sometimes all it takes is picking up the phone or crafting a thoughtful email or just letting Google work for you.
Here are some easy, "low hanging fruit" ideas that can lead to success:
- For example, simply being the person who responds to an email or call first (and thoughtfully) will help you get the piece of business. One of the lawyers with whom I work answered a query on a list serv for someone who was looking for a lawyer in her area. She wound up being retained on the matter.
- Another lawyer just picked up the phone on a Friday afternoon while driving up to his summer house, even though it was from a number he didn't recognize. He smartly had his work phone forwarded to his cell phone, which is something I highly recommend that you do. The call was from a potential client who got his name from a mutual friend. After a detailed phone call, he wound up getting the matter. On the flipside, I know a lawyer who waited a week to return a phone message from a new potential client from a referral source. He absolutely did not get that piece of business or a referral from that source, and the lesson there is do not wait a week to return a call from anyone and always check your messages!
- One of the lawyers with whom I work spoke on a webinar and then took the time to answer some follow-up questions that were sent to her from a participant. She impressed him with her thoughtful replies and strategies, and he asked her to work on a matter as a result. So, speaking engagements really do lead to new business, especially when you go the extra mile afterwards to do proactive follow-up. I have many examples like this, and on the flipside of lawyers who ignored emails like this or thought it was too much work to reply. Go the extra mile, take the time and you'll set yourself apart.
- Personally sending client alerts to VIP contacts/clients is a smart way to stay top of mind with these contacts and to show them that you understand their business issues.
- Credentialing from outside organizations helps to bolster your brand especially when it comes to teaching CLE programs. For example, one of our lawyers received a phone call for a potential matter because his name came up in a Google search as a speaker for a New York City bar event from two years ago. This again underscores the power of Google and why you should speak at conferences and write articles and post these activities to your web site bio for SEO purposes. Credentialing gives you authority. Ultimately, he didn't get the piece of business due to a conflict, but the new connection became a referral source. This is a great example of how CLE programs can lead to referrals and new clients. Demonstrating subject matter expertise by teaching is one of the strongest ways you can build your brand (and business).
- LinkedIn is an easy way to keep your professional network "warm." It takes little time and effort to use the platform to build your brand and generate leads. Here are some examples of little actions you could take to help you stay top of mind with your contacts and referrals.
- Did someone important in your network just announce they got a new job? Send them a note to congratulate them and ask them for lunch.
- Are you headed to an industry event or upcoming conference? (Or better yet, are you speaking at one?) Post it as a status update so you can find others in your network who are also attending.
- Did someone you admire write an article or publish a book that you enjoyed? Share a link to it along with why you recommend others read it. This will greatly strengthen your professional relationships.
- A lawyer with whom I work decided to try one of the business networking apps. You swipe left and right to make connections, like the popular dating apps. While she had positive results on Shapr, that eventually led to a client engagement, as with online dating, she had to kiss a lot of frogs before she found her prince. I think it’s still worth trying out business apps (stay tuned for an article delving deeper into this topic).
- One final thought: I encourage you to think outside the box in terms of how you bring in leads, especially with so many online tools available today. One of the lawyers at my firm asked us to try out a Google Ads campaign to help him obtain new clients. It's been successful so far in leading to several new client matters. It's a great example of the new ways in which we can generate leads. More than 3.5 billion Google searches are conducted each day, and that makes Google Ads worthwhile. Google AdWords enables you to create online ads to reach audiences that are interested in the products and services you offer. The AdWords platform runs on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, so you must pay every time a visitor clicks your ad. You bid on words that make sense for your efforts and you can set a budget and monitor the performance of the campaign.
While an ad word campaign won't work for every practice, it's food for thought when you're beating your head up against the wall on how to generate new business. This can be a very helpful tool for small/mid-size firms. Sometimes a paid ad is your best bet for driving traffic to (and conversions from) your site, but keep in mind that the legal industry is one of the most competitive and heavily saturated markets out there, so you need to invest to truly compete.
Now that we are in the fall, you only have a few months to make a real impact in your BD and marketing efforts before the end of the year. Use every tool that you have wisely, and there are things you can easily do to enhance your efforts, as you can see from the examples above.
[Stefanie Marrone helps law firms effectively tell their stories and find their unique voices. Over the last 17 years, she has worked with some of the most prominent and innovative law firms in the world, developing and executing global revenue generating business development and communications strategies, including media relations, branding, and multichannel content marketing and social media campaigns. She is very passionate about using social media for lead generation and brand building. She has a diverse range of experience in both Big Law and mid-size/small-law firms. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her latest writing on JD Supra as well as her blog The Social Media Butterfly.]