We are pleased to have Alvah Parker’s contribution of this fine blog post, based upon her web presentation made to the LOMAP Marketing Group earlier today. Alvah is the principal of Parker Associates and has been a coach and practice advisor for more than 10 years. Before starting her practice, Alvah was a sales executive and sales manager for AT&T for 15 years. At AT&T she was twice elected to the Counsel of Leaders, an honor reserved for those in the top 3% of the AT&T sales force. Alvah is also a business counselor for the Northeast Massachusetts Chapter of SCORE, an organization that is part of the Small Business Administration. She specializes in helping her clients find work that is meaningful so that they are able to enjoy their work and make money at it.
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Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. The objective of all your marketing activities is to get to have a sales conversation with the potential client. The sales conversation starts once you understand the client’s needs and the client is clear on how you can provide the services he/she needs. It might take one marketing action to get to that point, or several; but, marketing includes the initial way that you found the potential client, and all follow-up conversations, until you come to the selling conversation.
Here are some techniques to use as you make your way to the selling conversation:
(1) Have a compelling response to the questions: “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Make it brief and interesting. If you only have 30 seconds, give them enough of an idea about what you do so that they want to hear more. When they show their interest, their questions will give you an idea of their particular needs, so that you can tailor your follow-up questions and responses to their interest.
(2) Create a leads exchange group. Who are the people in your network that have the ability to refer business to you? By way of example: a therapist might be a good referral source for a divorce lawyer; an assisted living manager might be a good referral source for an elder law lawyer; a venture capitalist might be a good referral source for a business lawyer, etc. Find 5 to 10 people who can refer to each other, and set up a group to meet regularly.
(3) Use every social occasion as a networking opportunity. Have your business cards ready if someone asks for one. Be ready with a success story to fit into the conversation. Make sure that in every social situation the people you are with know that you are an attorney and what your practice area(s) is (are).
(4) Offer to give talks at business meetings, or teach courses at a school or training center. Use your expertise to generate interest in you and/or your practice.
(5) Place an article about you and/or your practice in a local newspaper. Local papers are often eager to print information about people in the area. Introduce yourself to the editor, or person at your local paper who is responsible for press releases. Find out the requirements for drafting and submitting articles, and learn to write a press release for newspapers. If you give a talk at a business meeting or begin teaching a course, write a short article and put it in the local paper. Offer to comment on local issues appropriate for your practice area.
(6) Connect with other lawyers. Most lawyers today specialize in one or two practice areas. The average person does not know that. A potential client may find his/her way into the office of a lawyer whose specialty is not what the client needs. This will happen to you. In addition, other lawyers in your specialty may also hand off work to you because they are too busy. You may refer to them when you have a conflict or when a case is more involved than you want to take. Have informal referral arrangements with other lawyers, so that you refer to them and they refer to you.
(7) Have some stories about successes you have had with clients that you can tell prospective clients. The stories will be helpful when you have follow-up conversations with clients, as these stories will help them to see the value of your experience with cases similar to theirs.
(8) Volunteer to do the legal work of a non-profit and/or to sit on board of directors. Become their trusted advisor for legal matters. Choose the non-profit based on your interests as well as on your knowledge of the membership and their ability to refer business to you.
(9) Use a domain name that tells people what your business is. For example, www.doepatentlaw.com. Associate your email address with that url; e.g.–firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to use the signature file of your email to list all your contact information, and include a description of the types of law you practice.
(10) Get in the habit of asking all your clients if they know anyone who could use your services. Satisfied clients are a great referral source. Remind clients at the conclusion of their case that you built your practice on referrals, and ask them if they know someone who could use your services. Call all your former clients at least once a year to see how they are doing, and to ask them for referrals.
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Alvah’s blog post here emanates from her LOMAP Marketing group presentation on this topic. If you wish to view her slides from that presentation, “Low Cost Marketing That Brings in Clients!”, visit this drop site.