Until ten years ago, I never would have never given myself the title “marketer” in addition to being a lawyer. I always did what it took to keep those phones ringing and e-mail inquiries coming in, but I didn’t label it as marketing, and I certainly didn’t have a marketing plan.
Like my lawyer father before me, I always had natural sources of business. Dad and I sent out our annual holiday cards, met our lawyer friends for lunch and attended bar association meetings and events.
Over the past decade, I have slowly become more and more enmeshed in the world of legal marketing.
It’s a very interesting world. It’s a profession unto itself.
Most of the large law firms have marketing departments with different positions, including business development specialists, marketing directors, directors of communications and event planners.
The smaller and mid-size firms might have one or two marketers who handle all the marketing for the firm and are considered generalists. Many firms hire interns to assist with marketing tasks or marketing consultants to keep them on task.
Individual attorneys hire their own marketing coaches or even sales coaches to teach them how to turn a potential new client (PNC) into an actual client. Some lawyers I know hire coaches to teach them how to package themselves, including how to dress, how to develop “elevator speeches” and how to network.
Over the years, I’ve picked up several tips:
Stay within your comfort zone. There are many methods and opportunities to market yourself. Unless your sole job is rainmaker, there is definitely limited time for legal marketing.
Make sure to use your time wisely and pick the one or two methods that feel the most comfortable to you. For example, if you are on the quieter side and don’t do well networking in large groups, use your marketing time in other ways. Invite a potential referral source to lunch, join a committee in a volunteer organization or find a smaller networking group that feels more intimate.
Brand yourself within your firm. If you work in a firm of 40 lawyers who all do the same type of work as you do, you must find a way to differentiate yourself.
Find your passion and try to incorporate that into the work that you do.
In the divorce world, there are attorneys who concentrate on working exclusively with men, the LGBT community, athletes, etc.
Just because you have your own brand doesn’t mean you aren’t a firm team player. In fact, by representing your firm in a niche area, you are bringing extra visibility to the firm.
Get online. More than ever, the Internet is an additional marketing tool. If you or your firm doesn’t have a website, now is the time to create one.
If your firm has its own website, make sure that your credentials stand out by continually updating your bio and qualifications. Also, make sure your website or blog can be read easily on mobile devices.
Find the time to market. Like any busy service business, clients come first. I will be the first to admit that some weeks or months, my marketing takes a backseat to all the client emergencies that arise. Schedule in your marketing time as you would any other important appointment.
Especially on the Internet, you have to stay on top of everything. It takes time to move into a good position on search results and only little time to drop down.