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The Five Rules of Manual Marketing For Successful Law Firms

There are two types of marketing: automated and manual. You need both. Automated marketing involves reaching a majority of your prospects at once with a focus on efficiency- getting the most bang for your buck. Manual marketing, or as I sometimes call it, human-marketing, involves direct, one-on-one communication with individual prospects. One isn’t better than the other, and a successful marketer uses both types. Whenever you are doing manual marketing, always think of these five rules.  


1. Target, Target, Target

Did I mention “Target”? You need to be thinking about who you’re spending your time with. There are so many wonderful people in this world you may want to spend time with on a personal level. That doesn’t really mean that they are the right people for you to be connecting with on a business level.  These are two independent things.

You are the owner of your business, and you can spend your personal time with whomever you want. But when you're working for your business - when you’re actually building your business - you must target.

You must be always asking yourself:

  • Who are the right people that should be on my list?
  • Do they have an audience?
  • Are their clients the kinds of clients that could become my clients?
  • Are these the kind of people I want to work with?
  • Do they match my ethics, my perspective, etc.?

A lot of people just end up with a bunch of names on a list and it’s not really thought through. They think they're marketing, but they're spending all-important personal time with people who won't actually move their business forward.

It’s much better to prune your contact list, move certain people to a VIP list and others to a friend list, and make room for folks that are going to send you business. Remember, target, target, target!

2. Set Meetings, Don’t Take Them

We all fall prey to this when someone else asks us to lunch. When another attorney asks you to lunch, and it’s very flattering, they’re asking you to take some time with them. That’s great, but of course you have to think that they're also asking for your most precious and scarce resource - your time. If the person asking you to lunch isn’t really part of your target (target, target, target), then you have a choice to make.

If you want to take the lunch and the person isn’t part of your target market, then that’s fine, but don’t fool yourself and call it the best and highest use of your marketing time. You can call it a social meeting, but don’t think that you’re checking the box on marketing time by taking the lunch.

When someone is coming to you it’s probably because they’re like most attorneys. It’s feast or famine. Things have dried up and they’re desperately looking for a lunch. They’re just going to talk to anyone and everyone. Yes, they may like your company, but they're thinking of you now because things are light for them. And frankly, they're confusing activity with accomplishment.

They’re not thinking through this the way that you're thinking through this right now.  They’ll just spam out, “let’s have lunch” to anyone, using the 'spray and pray' method. They’re not setting meetings with a target and they don’t understand if you are within their target ... which means it’s probably a two way street.

The more you can set meetings with real marketing targets, versus taking meetings from whomever, the better off you are.

This means that sometimes you’ll have to politely decline lunch meetings, coffees, and other time wasters. I politely decline meetings all the time - and have for years. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like the people. But when it comes to my business development and marketing time, I have to look at it as taking an hour that can be invested in a lot of other things. Maybe I’d like to see that person in a different context, but during business time that hour can be spent on marketing. Real marketing.

3. Manual Marketing Should Be Data-Driven

Take a look at your VIP list. This is will help you start a data-driven feedback loop. While going through names on your list, ask yourself:

  • Are they actually sending me business? How much? How often?
  • What kinds of clients do they have?
  • How is this relationship evolving?

Really, what it comes down to is whether or not they’re helping you generate business. If not, then should they really be on the list?

That’s what I mean by data-driven manual marketing.

While it’s easy to keep people you simply like on your list over people who are productive for your business, you need to draw the line between you as a person and you as business owner.

4. Ruthlessly Prioritize Your Time and Relationships

I’m using the word “ruthlessly” here for shock value. Yes, shameless shock value. That’s how you need to think of it, as unpleasant as it may be. People will take your time and they’ll suck it away. You don’t get that time back.

Think about how when you’re spending this time, are you really, really, really doing the right thing for your marketing? We all get sucked into this trap and then, guess what… we’ve spent five hours of “personal marketing time” this week and it’s all pointless because it hasn’t been prioritized.

Make sure you're not confusing activity and accomplishment.

5. Do Your Best, Forget The Rest

Do your best and forget the rest. You'll never be perfect at this. Pointless meetings will creep onto the calendar until you realize it and change course. The reason is that inherently, manual marketing is a little sloppy.

As much as I stress being data-driven whenever possible, it’s not an exact science. You probably won’t have the kinds of volumes of folks running through the system that you can get 100% accurate results. Just do your best.

You may find yourself in a groove, quickly getting a whole pile of great people on your list that start pumping in business right away, or it might take two years. You just don’t know. The bottom line is that following these rules (and following them regularly) is your best bet for always moving one step closer to having a really vibrant VIP referral list of 20-30 people consistently sending you business.

Raj Jha