New Year, New Plan:
Marketing Tips from the Pros
By Traci Ray
As we look to the New Year, many of us will resolve to gain, lose and generally improve certain parts of our lives. We set goals in the spirit of the season, at home and in the office. Professionally, whether the objective is landing a new client, or becoming a top rainmaker, everyone needs the encouragement and know-how to set goals, solidify an expertise and cultivate relationships. So in addition to dusting off the marketing books and business development plans in hopes of starting fresh in 2013, the following little cheat sheet has been compiled to aid with motivation and insight.
Four top legal marketers in Portland, who were willing to share their practical advice for efficient and effective ways to connect with clients and build a strong book of business, offer up their tips and tricks, coined “MUSTs” and “BUSTs,” to sharpen your new marketing plan for the New Year.
Loree Devery, Director of Marketing, Recruiting & Professional Development — Tonkon Torp
MUST: Make marketing a part of your pattern so it’s not an afterthought or imposition. Set one to two hours a week aside on your calendar to do committee work, attend an event, write an article or give a speech. Use this time to meet people and make a difference in your community. Marketing is more than just bringing in a new client. It’s establishing your roots and cultivating relationships.
MUST: Focus on a four-part model when considering your time:
1. The time you work (billing);
2. The time you grow your knowledge (becoming an expert);
3. The time you put into developing your practice (marketing); and
4. The time you devote to your firm in various leadership roles (internal relationships).
MUST: Invest in yourself and your firm, and your partners and your firm will invest in you. You are part of a brand; you are part of a team. Make good decisions when in public, and while at the firm make good contributions. Get involved with firm administration, work groups that are trying out a new marketing tactic, or firm community service. Whatever the firm has to offer, take advantage of the opportunities to grow your practice and be a leader.
BUST: Waking up in a few years and finding that you’re a sole practitioner inside a big firm is not ideal. Instead, work with your partners. Agreeing on marketing and practice development can be a challenge, but it’s a conversation worth having again and again.
BUST: Volunteering by default. The best offense is a good defense. Get involved with things that interest you so that you have places to be and things to do. If you don’t get involved, you’ll be the “default” person that gets volunteered for a lunch or committee — which likely won’t line up with your actual interests and won’t be a good investment of your limited time.
Katie Moesche, Marketing Manager — Farleigh Wada Witt
MUST: People must know, like and trust you before they will buy legal services from you, so it’s important to be consistent, authentic and patient.
MUST: Practice “solar system” marketing. Think of your clients (and prospects and key referral sources) as the largest object in the solar system — the sun. The most effective marketing efforts are the ones closest to the sun.
Spend the bulk of your marketing efforts on activities that bring you in close personal contact with clients, prospects and referral sources (coffee, breakfast, lunch, drinks, dinner, etc.). Once you establish a strong relationship, enhance it with intimate personal experiences based on shared interests (sports, wine tasting, theater, etc.).
Attend networking events where you have contact with clients, prospects and referral sources (trade associations and conferences, community involvement, site visits, board meetings, etc.).
Conduct in-person activities to build or enhance your reputation where you still have face-to-face contact (speaking engagements).
MUST: Engage in efforts that have succeeded in the past. If you aren’t tracking where your work is coming from, start! Look at what activities have actually resulted in new clients or work in the door and repeat. Marketing isn’t about finding the newest gimmick; it’s about doing what works for you and staying true to yourself.
BUST: Sitting in your office.Never pass up the opportunity to get out into our community.Marketing requires personal interactions, so get out of your office, often. There simply is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, so meet clients, prospects and referral sources in person whenever possible as this helps nurture relationships, build trust, and can set you apart in today’s email/social networking world.
BUST: Attending an event in hopes of meeting someone by chance is not a fail-proof plan. Get ahead of the game by planning ahead.Go where your clients, prospects and key referral sources are and find this out by aligning their interests and associations with your own. Also, you can ask your marketing gurus and people planning the events you wish to attend, who (prospective clients) might be on the guest list.
BUST: Being wishy-washy when marketing.Steady commitment is key. Marketing equals relationships. Relationships require time. Remember, success in marketing is a marathon, not a sprint; consistency is required to develop relationships into clients and referral sources.
Karie Trujillo, Director of Marketing & Client Relations — Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf
MUST: Do something. Doing anything is better than nothing. No longer can attorneys sit around waiting for the phone to ring. Whether it’s speaking, writing, networking, serving on a committee, get out and get involved.
MUST: Set goals. You need to set goals so that you can track your progress and hold yourself accountable. You should set short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. You should have a marketing plan that outlines what you’re going to do to achieve your goals.
MUST: Find a mentor. A mentor will help you be a better lawyer, help you network and give you advice. Every great attorney/rainmaker had a mentor that helped him or her get there.
BUST: Trying to be everything to everyone is dangerous. Instead, be something to someone. Pick where and how you want to spend your time so that you can cultivate an expertise. Be known for something. Develop an industry niche or be known for how you approach your work. There are a lot of lawyers out there, so you need to distinguish yourself somehow.
BUST: Forgetting that a majority of your work can and will come from referrals. Don’t be afraid to encourage referrals. Give excellent client service, and then ask those happy clients for referrals. Reward and encourage referrals by sending out thank you cards, small tokens of appreciation (wine or a similar gift), and be sure to repay the favor. Remember, anyone can be a referral source.
BUST: The daily grind gets you down, and you let it win. Forget that. Take every chance to celebrate, from verdicts in your favor to new business victories. Marketing isn’t easy and it takes a great deal of effort. So when you accomplish something, even if it’s small, celebrate! Go out to dinner, buy yourself a gift. (This is one of Dave Markowitz’s biggest rules of marketing.)
Kristen Leis, Director of Business Development — Stoel Rives
MUST: Create trust.We recently heard from a perspective client that he knew our attorneys were capable of doing good work. But, what he was really interested in was the right fit and he knew he had both when our attorney asked for a tour of the facility and showed interest in the business. When you get out of the office and make it a point to meet a client or potential client face to face, that’s when trust is formed.
MUST: Find your calling.One of the most successful attorney marketers I have worked with in my career has found that “blue flame” that is the intersection between what he’s passionate about and what he’s good at and has made an incredibly successful wine law practice out of it.
MUST: View your business development and marketing staff the same way as you would a running buddy — someone to hold you accountable and help ensure you accomplish your marketing objectives.
BUST: Viewing nonbillable time as a waste of time. Often attorney marketing plans can drill down too far into the weeds. Keep your marketing plan simple by focusing heavily on face-to-face interactions with current and prospective clients.
BUST: Limiting marketing to when you are at work. Be strategic about your time away from the office and remember, always be ready to talk about who you are and what you do — and why they should remember you.
All of these “MUSTs” and “BUSTs” fold nicely into the three P’s of marketing: planning, persistence and patience. Sit down and think about what you want to accomplish and then work hard at turning those goals into your reality. Stay positive, even when you think nothing is working. Be mindful of your attitude toward marketing. The more of a chance you give your marketing plan, the more you will find success in whatever you label as “marketing.”
Overall, remember that marketing is not a fad, and you do not have to buy into the latest trends. Market your skills and your personality, and do it on a regular basis. Be mindful that advertising and marketing are not the same, and that if you have $25 to buy lunch for a client, the value of that time spent building a relationship can completely eclipse an online profile that costs over 10 times as much. Lastly, appreciate that being responsive and following up, with everyone from your clients to your co-workers, is paramount. It shows you are professional and personable, a great winning combination. Anytime you meet someone new, email them and get your name into their email address book. You never know when someone will want to reach out to you, and you want to be as easy as possible to contact. In the end, you will find that relationships are a huge component in finding success with client development this New Year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Traci Ray is the executive director at Barran Liebman, where she focuses on the business development of the firm’s employment, labor and benefits practice. She has been a member of the Oregon State Bar since 2007, is the OSB Pro Bono chair, a Campaign for Equal Justice board member, and is chair-elect of the Multnomah Bar Association Young Lawyers Section.