Law Office Management
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Tips, Techniques and Tactics to Make the Marketing Plan Work

By Patricia Yevics
Director, Law Office Management
Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.


Some of these will work for you and your firm and some will not. None of the activities alone will help you get clients. Marketing is a constant and cumulative effort. There are no brilliant "new" ideas listed. These are simple, practical and cost-effective ideas to help build your practice. Do not dismiss some of them because they seem simple. Ask yourself if you are actually using some of the tasks that are recommended. These tips are in no particular order.

Referrals:

Ask for referrals.

Most new business will come from referrals and negative referrals will travel faster than positive ones.

Monitor who refers you business. If a particular person stops referring you business, ask why.

ALWAYS thank the person in writing who refers you a client even if you do not get the client.

Tell all of your clients and referral sources what services you provide. Provide current clients with all the necessary information about the firm and the services provided so that they can be even better referral sources. Do not assume that everyone knows all the areas of law that you practice.

Refer business that you do not take to other attorneys.

Network. Network. Network. Remember this is a never­ending process. It also takes a long time to develop and benefit from many in your network.

Ask Your Clients What They Think:

Do not be afraid to survey clients and ask them about their satisfaction level. Some insights that can be determined from a client survey are:

  • level of satisfaction with the work performed
  • client's perception of you and all of the employees with whom they worked
  • whether the client would use your services again
  • whether the client would refer you other clients
  • what criteria the client used in selecting you
  • what suggestions the client may have for improving service
  • the client's future legal needs
  • whether the client is aware of all types of legal services

Miscellaneous

The common wisdom is that 80% of marketing efforts should be spent on cultivating current clients and 20% should be spent obtaining new business.

Always return your phone calls within 24 hours. If you can't personally return them, have someone else return them.

Availability or non-availability is the single most important factor in your being selected as or not being selected after you have been recommended.

Make certain each person in the office knows how to greet clients.

Do not assume that everyone shares your attention to personal service.

Never make clients wait longer than five minutes to see you.

Introduce clients to your secretary.

Get to know your client's business. If appropriate, visit your client's business.

Let others know you are interested in doing their work.

Bill monthly and with detail. Show that there was effort in the work you performed. Consider writing a short note on each bill.

Write a little "no-activity" note to clients whose matter had not been worked on in 90 days.

Send clients copies of all correspondence related to their case. Consider investing in some folders with the firm's name on it to give to the client to keep all their papers. This is extremely helpful for elderly or individuals.

Send welcome letters to all new clients.

Communicate as much as possible with your clients, prospective clients and referral sources.

Be perceived as an expert. Write articles, be a speaker. Many local trade associations and organizations are always looking for short articles for their newsletters. Many groups are also looking for speakers or panel members.

Send press releases. Small, local newspapers are especially interested in press releases. Information should be timely and short.

Never say that you are working too hard or that you are too busy. Indicate that business is good and you are always looking for more.

Always have your business card and hand it out.

Remember client's special events, especially birthdays, anniversaries etc.

Remind clients of obligations, such as lease renewal dates, business name registration dates, and other important dates.

Send congratulations to clients and thank them for their business.

Come with new ideas for clients or their business. Even if the ideas are not acted upon at that time, it shows the clients you are thinking of them and that you are creative.

Add "client service" language to your standard engagement letter.

Develop and maintain a computerized database (Rolodex) of all your current clients, potential clients, referral sources, business associates etc. Include as much information about the individual as necessary. Include information about why the client came to your firm, the last time a referral source sent you business, where you met a potential new client.

Send information that you read in magazines, newspapers, etc. to clients who may have a an interest in a particular area. Simply send it with a short handwritten note the at says "Thought this might be of interest to you." Make a commitment to send at least two each week.

If you are a solo or in small firm, consider limiting the type of clients and business that you take. This will allow you to focus your efforts more effectively.

Use lunch productively. At least twice a week, every week, go to lunch with a client, referral source, potential client. Make lunch an opportunity for marketing.

Every Monday morning (or even Sunday before you go to the office) write down five marketing activities that you will accomplish during that week. (More if you are super human).

Make certain EVERYONE in your firm knows exactly what type if law you practice and what type of clients you are interested in having. Share information about case successes with staff. (If you think everyone in your firm knows what type of law you practice, actually ask them to describe to a potential new client some information about your firm.)

Actually put in writing a short (30 second) description of your practice. This should be used whenever someone asks, "What type of law do you practice?" Everyone in the firm should have a copy of the description.

Make a list of 5­10 people/businesses you would like to realistically have as clients. Then determine what you can do to make that happen.

Make a list of your ten best clients or the last ten new clients you added. Determine why they came to the firm. This will allow you to determine which or your current "marketing" efforts are successful. Increase those efforts.

Never participate in any activity just to "get business." Always participate in an activity that you enjoy or have some interest in. If you are not interested in the group, you will not give it your best effort and you will not benefit in any way. It may in fact, hinder you marketing efforts.

Never apologize for the size of your firm. This is especially important for solos and small firm practitioners. There are a lot of good reasons for clients, regardless of size, to use a solo or small firm practitioner. Know what they are and let your clients and potential clients know. The same is true for larger firms. Always stress your strengths.

Be available. Let your clients know that you call them at home if you will be out all day. If you work on the weekends, you may want to set some time to talk with clients. You have to make a decision as to whether or not you want to allow clients to call you at home. This is a very personal decision. You might want to have a separate line installed at home that will be just for clients to contact you during "non­business" hours.

If you have e­mail and give your address to clients (which you should be doing), make certain that you check it as often as your voice mail.

If there is more than one attorney in your firm, learn to cross-sell services to other clients. Discuss what other services clients may need. Very often clients are not even aware of the services provided by the firm. Spend time discussing clients' needs with attorneys in the firm.

Consider sending well written letters to the editor especially about issues related to the type of law that you practice.


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