A great benefit about marketing is that sometimes the lowest hanging fruit can yield major benefits with little effort.

First thing’s first, what does “low-hanging fruit” mean? It is “a thing or person that can be won, obtained, or persuaded with little effort.” Since we spend so much time and effort on most of our marketing and business development strategies, it’s nice when we don’t have to work so hard on everything all the time. Sometimes all it takes is picking up the phone, crafting a thoughtful email, using LinkedIn more strategically or just letting Google do the work for you.

  • For example, just being the one who responds to an email or call first (and thoughtfully) can make you the one who gets the piece of business. One of the lawyers with whom I work answered a query on a list serv for someone who was looking for a lawyer in her area. She wound up getting the work.
  • Another lawyer just picked up the phone on a Friday afternoon while driving up to his summer house even though it was from a number he didn’t recognize. He smartly had his work phone forwarded to his cell phone, which is something I highly recommend that you all do. The call was from a potential client who got this lawyer’s name from a mutual friend. He wound up getting the matter. On the flipside, I know a lawyer who waited a week to return a phone message from a new potential client. He did not get that piece of business, and the lesson there is do not wait a week to return a call from anyone and always check your messages!
  • One of my clients spoke on a webinar and then took the time to answer some follow-up questions that were sent to her from a participant. She impressed him with her thoughtful replies and strategies, and he asked her to work on a matter as a result. So speaking engagements really do lead to new business, especially when you go the extra mile afterwards to do proactive follow-up. I’ve got many more examples like this and on the flipside of lawyers who ignored emails like this or thought it was too much work to reply.  Take the time, do the work and you’ll set yourself apart.
  • Credentialing from outside organizations also helps especially when it comes to teaching CLE programs. For example, one of the lawyers with whom I worked received a phone call for a potential matter because his name came up as a speaker for a New York City bar event from two years ago during a Google search. This again underscores the power of Google and why you should speak at conferences and write articles, and post all of these activities to your web site bio for SEO purposes. Credentialing gives you authority. Ultimately he didn’t get the piece of business due to a conflict, but she became a referral source. This is a great example of how CLE programs can lead to referrals and new clients – demonstrating subject matter expertise by teaching is one of the strongest ways you can build your brand (and business).
  • LinkedIn is an easy way to keep your professional network “warm.” It takes little time and effort to use the platform to build your brand and generate leads. Here are some examples of little actions you could take to help you stay top of mind with your contacts and referrals.

– Did someone important in your network just announce they got a new job? Send them a note to congratulate them and ask them for lunch.

– Are you headed to an industry event or upcoming conference? (Or better yet, are you speaking at one?) Post it as a status update so you can find others in your network who are also attending.

– Did someone you admire write an article or publish a book that you enjoyed? Share a link to it along with why you recommend others read it. This will greatly strengthen your professional relationships.

– Did you discover something innovative or insightful in your field that would be of interest to your network? Write a quick post just as I am doing here. I drafted this in the notes section of my iPhone. Use what you have.

  • One final thought – I encourage you to also think outside the box in terms of how you bring in leads especially with so many online tools available today. One of the new laterals (he was in the securities litigation area) at my prior firm asked me to try out a Google Ads campaign to help him bring in new clients. It was successful in terms of leading to several new client matters. It’s a great example of the new ways in which we can generate leads. More than 3.5 billion Google searches are conducted each day, and that makes Google Ads worthwhile. Google AdWords is Google’s online advertising program, which enables you to create online ads to reach audiences that are interested in the products and services you offer. The AdWords platform runs on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, so you have to pay every time a visitor clicks your ad. You bid on words that make sense for your efforts and you have the ability to set a budget and monitor the performance of the campaign.

While an ad word campaign won’t work for every practice, it’s food for thought when you’re beating your head up against the wall on how to generate new business. This can be a very helpful tool for small/mid-size firms. Sometimes a paid ad is your best bet for driving traffic to (and conversions from) your site, but keep in mind that the legal industry is one of the most competitive and heavily saturated markets out there, so you need to invest to truly compete.

Now that we are in the summer, you only have a few months to make a real impact in your business development and marketing efforts before the year is over.

Use every tool that you have wisely in this extraordinary year, and while you’ll have to be more proactive about some of them, there are those that will work for you behind the scenes with little to no effort, including those I’ve mentioned above. I hope these tips have given you some fruit (pun intended) for thought.