I know many of you feel out of sorts right now (that includes me). Our daily routines have been thrown a huge curveball and staying home is our job right now to keep ourselves and others safe against the spread of COVID-19
Remember this too shall pass and things will return to “normal”; your job now is to lay the foundation for when that does happen and also to be ready, willing and able to assist your clients during this time of great change, confusion and stress. Empathy is the single most important characteristic you can have right now to build stronger relationships.
In case you are looking for some “homework” in the marketing and business development area, here are a few ideas to keep you busy during this period.
- Show genuine care and concern for your clients and don’t only rely on email to communicate. This is the time to call your clients and ask how they are doing. It’s not business as usual.
- One of the very first things that someone does when they want to find out more information about a lawyer is to Google them. And their website bio is usually the first search result that appears, with their LinkedIn profile in second place. Your bio and LinkedIn profile are your opportunity to showcase your work, capabilities and areas of expertise, and what makes you stand out from your competitors, so spend the time to craft a bio and LinkedIn profile that truly conveys your value proposition. Add representative matters to your bio and fill out all the sections on your LinkedIn profile to achieve “All Star Status.” Create a strong LinkedIn headline and profile cover image.
- Read what your competitors are writing and do it better than them or take a different angle. Don’t sit on content just to perfect it—time is of the essence right now.
- Plan your personal public relations strategy. Do you want to be quoted in the press more? Work with your PR/communications team to develop a plan to raise your profile in third-party publications, which can greatly help with brand building and referrals down the line. Make a list of the top publications read by your clients and provide the PR team or your agency with a list of topics you want to speak on along with insights/updates in that area.
- Make your content work harder and smarter for you by repurposing and updating your content into: blogs, videos, podcasts, case studies, multiple social media posts, company history/milestones, collages, lists, webinars, CLE programs, email blasts, daily digests and newsletters.
- Speaking of content, to fill in content gaps and take a break from the heavy topics of late, intersperse lighter posts that feature your employees and the good works of the firm. Create a #TBT (Throwback Thursday) or #FBF (Flashback Friday) campaign to reuse and repurpose photos and significant milestones and firm history in present day. Consider creating a campaign focused on anniversaries (one year, five years, 10 years, etc.). This is another great way to highlight past successes and milestones.
- Speaking engagements are a great way to demonstrate mastery of subject matter and connect in person with key people in your industry. They can also open many doors, such as leading to additional speaking opportunities, article writing, media placements, committee appointments, referrals and the very best case of all—a new client matter. Offer to help make a conference virtual if they plan to postpone or cancel. Create virtual CLE programs for clients and prospects. You will become a trusted and invaluable resource if you offer your clients with CLE credits and learning during this time.
- Write coronavirus-related legal alerts, articles and blog posts. Explore how the current crisis affects your clients’ businesses and report on updates in the law. Look to see what your competitors are writing about for inspiration and competitive intelligence. Also, think about what the post-COVID-19 world looks like for your clients and write alerts and blog posts to explore the future implications of the pandemic.
- Get involved with a bar association, pro bono organization or industry committee. There is plenty of work you can do virtually to take a leadership role in an organization that is meaningful to you.
- Speaking of pro bono, volunteer to do more pro bono work. Again, much of this work can be done virtually, so raise your hand to help out those who need you the most. There will be a lot of pro bono opportunities as this crisis continues.
- Set up Google alerts for yourself (so you know what’s being said about you) as well as your top clients and VIP contacts so you can keep abreast of significant news about them. This information gives you reasons to be in touch with these contacts and can reignite relationships.
- Train your employees on how to effectively use social media. It’s important that your employees share the content the firm posts to social media to their valuable professional networks in order to greatly increase the reach of your posts (they likely have important connections who are not following your company page). I find that setting up virtual trainings is very effective to demonstrate how to do this. I’ve been walking my clients through the steps to like, comment and share posts to their individual networks and it’s been
- Set up at least two video conferences and virtual happy hours/coffee breaks each week. These are great outlets for you and others to maintain relationships while social distancing.
- Create your own intimate virtual group of key former colleagues and classmates from former educational institutions to build relationships and stay connected. Get together by Zoom every other week. The best part is that you will be connecting individuals in your network to each other, which will be appreciated by everyone.
- Reach out to five contacts with whom you haven’t been in touch for six months or more, including referral sources and former clients. This is a great time to rekindle relationships.
- Read the great networking bible Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. Essentially the book is about how to maximize your relationships and make each meal productive, which you can still do while social distancing. If you’ve already read this book, choose another business book or podcast. Reading is a great outlet and learning tool during this stay-at-home time.
- One of the smartest things you can do when you have downtime is to look at the brand-building activities of your top competitors. Information is power, especially when it comes to how your peers are marketing themselves, so make a list of your top 5-10 competitors and conduct due diligence on their marketing and business development activities. Pay special attention to the events, publications and news section of their web bios as well as their recent updates and activities on their LinkedIn profile (just remember to mark yourself as “anonymous” before you conduct any major reconnaissance on LinkedIn so your research is done on the DL). You’ll be able to incorporate a few new ideas into your branding efforts from this competitor research.
- Create a podcast or video series related to the coronavirus crisis. This does not have to be a high-budget production—right now no one expects that. Speak from the heart about how the coronavirus affects your clients, invite special guests to provide insights. Podcasts and video engagement was growing before the COVID-19 outbreak, and it will only continue to do so with so many people looking for a way to break up their days at home.
- Engage on LinkedIn in some way every day—comment on a status, share an article or “like” someone’s post.
- Use hashtags and more importantly, the right hashtags, with every social media post, especially on LinkedIn. You can find the right hashtags by typing in terms into the main search bar with the # symbol preceding it.I hope I’ve given you some ideas for enhancing your marketing and business development efforts. While we may not be able to gather in person and in groups, online networking and content marketing are the most powerful ways we have to build relationships and market your firm and yourself. There’s no time like the present to start.