I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help motivate lawyers to market themselves from working in legal marketing for the past 20 years. Sometimes it’s hard to encourage lawyers to market themselves given their full plates, other work commitments and demands on their personal lives, but if you can show them why it’s in their best interest to focus on marketing and business development, you can often persuade them to do so. Here are some of the ways I’ve been able to encourage lawyers to market themselves.
Show what the competition is doing: The number one way I’ve been able to encourage lawyers to undertake marketing initiatives and do them consistently is by showing them what their competition is doing. There’s something about seeing how another firm in their field is marketing themselves as well as what their actual lawyer peers at other firms are doing. If you can demonstrate how these lawyers are yielding positive results from their efforts, make sure to show them examples of lawyers who are prolifically garnering positive visibility (whether it’s garnering press coverage, speaking engagements, article placements or new business). It really will light a fire under them.
Content is king: Thought leadership really does lead to new business. I consistently recount success stories of other lawyers getting new clients through content to motivate them to write. I know it can be a big time commitment to write content, but it really is worth it. Your clients and contacts are expecting you to write about changes in the law and to anticipate what they need to worry about. Even if you see that your competitors have issued a client alert or written an article on a particular topic that you had planned to write about, still go ahead with it. Why? Because most clients won’t open up emails from the law firms they don’t use – they are waiting for your alert. If you find that your lawyers are unmotivated to write content, perhaps it’s because they don’t want the entire responsibility on their shoulders. I often suggest partnering with a colleague, which has the added benefit of fostering relationships.
I often show lawyers readership statistics from JD Supra, which are incredibly robust and can drill down pretty far into who is reading your content, providing useful insights. You’ll be able to refine your content, write more of what resonates with target audiences and less of what does not. This kind of information often inspires lawyers to write more. If you find that the lawyers with which you work are perfectionists, which holds them back from publishing timely content and missing the boat so to speak, send them this article: How to Overcome Content Paralysis and Get the Attention You Deserve.
Social media makes it easy to reconnect: If you have any examples of lawyers who have gotten business lately from social media, such as through LinkedIn (the notifications section provides great excuses to reach out to individuals with whom you’ve lost touch, especially when they announce they’ve taken a new job or celebrated a work anniversary). Sending them a quick congratulatory note on LinkedIn (which is easier than ever with its pre-populated suggested text) can open the door to renewed relationships and new business.
Don’t forget the power of relationships: In-person networking will always be the best way to build relationships with others. I often speak about how effective social media can be to build your brand and business, but there is no substitution from getting to know someone on a personal level and seeing them in person. Encourage your lawyers to set up in-person check-in meetings with clients, meet with referral sources, set up an informal small alumni group that meets in person quarterly, offer to conduct a CLE program for free at a client’s office and if they make a product, go visit their plans and see how it is actually made. Also, periodically ask your clients how their weekend was and ask non-invasive personal questions – this helps you to build closer ties with them. All of these tactics demonstrate your commitment to your clients and the fact that you care about them, which are easy ways to build stronger relationships with them and ensure that you continue to be their go-to resource.
Simply put in order to be successful at marketing and business development, you must make time for it. If you are in the coveted position of not needing to market yourself because you have a full roster of clients and more work than you can imagine, I commend you. But for most lawyers, the idea of making more money and getting more clients is at the top of their to-do list. You can inspire them to do so with some of these tips.