Marketing for Small Law Firms

From time to time, we will have a guest on our blog. This is something new for LawBiz Blog and we hope you find value in the expertise of those who will join us on occasion.

This week, Erik M. Pelton with Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC is our guest blogger.

A steady stream of new clients and new business is critical to the success of any small law firm. Key marketing decisions such as to whom, about what, and in what manner will marketing be done should be well planned to be targeted, measured, and efficient. When developing a marketing plan, it is key to consider and include the following factors:

  • Before engaging in a marketing plan, assess what your firm’s brand is.  What is your message – big or small, hi tech or old fashioned, science focused or arts focused?  Craft a brand that conveys your message. The firm logo, slogan, letterhead, website design, and other communications should be unified to reflect this common theme.
  • Where has past business come from? This, of course, is a great indicator of where potential future business lies. How can you replicate attracting the clients you already have? For example, if last year’s speaking at conferences created several new contacts that turned into new business, it would be wise to allot more time to speaking engagements in the future.
  • Conversely, recognize marketing efforts that have had little or no success. Even if they are not expensive financially (i.e., social media), they are likely a time drain preventing you from allocating time and resources to better types of marketing.
  • What services can your business naturally expand into? Do you want to be targeted into one industry, e.g., high tech, or can your services also work in other industries, such as communications, and can you easily make that bridge?
  • Market to existing clients. They are the cheapest way to generate new business. Offering a new service to existing clients, or even reminding them of an existing service, is essentially free. And you already have a captive audience with whom you’ve developed a trusting relationship.
  • Seek referrals. It can be uncomfortable at first to ask for referrals. But you never know unless you ask. By asking valuable clients if they know any other similar businesses that could benefit from your counsel, you have an opportunity to also help the client feel good – by bragging about you and by taking credit if any of her colleagues go on to benefit from your work. I found it easier at first to ask for information about associations or organizations that I might want to connect with or speak to rather than ask for specific business contacts.
  • Providing excellent service to existing clients and staying in touch with them (via blog, newsletter, holiday cards, lunch, etc.) is the single best way to generate new business. Repeat business from existing clients, along with clients who market for you by telling their associates how great you are, are the best – and cheapest! – forms of advertising. For example, I offer a monthly email newsletter to clients. I send out a postcard every year to each client on the “anniversary” of the registration of their trademark, and when I travel for business, and even for pleasure, I try to make contact with any good clients in the area and take them for lunch or coffee.
  • Make it routine. Marketing takes time. By setting aside a block of time every week and by making as much of it as routine and repetitive as possible (e.g., on Mondays I write 3 blog posts, on Wednesdays I reach out to 5 clients for referrals, on the third Friday of the month, I send out my newsletter, etc.) it will become less of a burden and interruption from everything else your job requires.

Once you have considered these sources of new clients and your firm’s “brand” there is no shortage of opportunities! Print ads, online ads, responses posted on websites where users ask questions, speaking engagements, attending and/or exhibiting at conferences, local or industry networking events, social media, writing for magazines or newsletters, developing a mobile application, firm newsletters, and blogs represent just some of the potential channels for you to reach new clients. In doing so, don’t forget to also include a plan to connect with current and former clients to market yourself or your firm. 

© 2011 Erik M. Pelton





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