Sometimes it’s hard to encourage lawyers to market themselves given their full plates, 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 them what the competition is doing: The number one way I’ve been able to encourage lawyers to focus on marketing is by showing them what their competitors are doing.
There’s something about seeing how another firm in their field is marketing themselves as well as where their lawyer peers at other firms are speaking and getting published.
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 getting press coverage, speaking engagements, article placements or new business), it really does light a fire under them.
Content is king: Thought leadership actually leads to new business.
I consistently recount success stories of other lawyers getting new clients through content to motivate my clients to write blog posts, client alerts and articles. I know it can be a big time commitment to draft them, but it really is worth it.
Your clients and contacts are expecting you to write about changes in the law and anticipate what they need to worry about. Even if you see that your competitors have issued a client alert or blog post 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 guidance.
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 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 based on this information, and 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 is not optional today: Lawyers must be on social media today. When your name is given to them as a referral, I guarantee you they are going online to check out your bio and your LinkedIn profile as well as your other social media profiles if you have them. So whether you use social media every day, once a month or once a year, you still have an online presence so you might as well make it work in your best interest.
Also lawyers really can create business opportunities through social media. One way is by posting content that helps to make them subject matter experts and keeps them top of mind with their referral sources, clients, prospects and other.
Another way is by using the notifications section, which provides great excuses to reach out to your connections 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.
In addition, sharing the post of a VIP connection can strengthen your relationship to them, so build that into your LinkedIn strategy.
When it comes to LinkedIn, there are so many things lawyers can do and it can be overwhelming, so what I do is provide training in modules. I do a big-picture overview of the LinkedIn landscape and then delve deeper into what I consider the three building blocks of LinkedIn:
- Building a strong LinkedIn profile
- Building a strong LinkedIn network
- Building a strong brand on LinkedIn by sharing and creating content on LinkedIn
I then train lawyers on a one-on-one basis and in groups where they can learn from each other and compete with each other in a friendly way. I’ve seen lawyers go from never having used LinkedIn to getting new clients and speaking engagements through LinkedIn in a matter of months – so I know it works!
Don’t forget the power of relationships: In-person networking is a powerful way to build relationships and it’s been harder to do so during the past two years during the pandemic.
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 and shows that you care. All of these are easy ways to build stronger relationships 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 put in time and effort but it is well worth it. Showing lawyers success stories of how these strategies and tactics have worked for others can help motivate them and give them a blueprint from which they can work.