Most lawyers fall into one of two camps.
Some have what they think is a marketing plan, but let’s call it what it is – a loose collection of tactics.
Some lawyers are too intimidated to put together a marketing plan in the first place. They think they’ll have to come up with pages and pages of ideas and timelines and metrics. They think they’ll have to spend hours of time each day working on it.
After all, most lawyers – from both camps – aren’t marketing experts.
If you don’t have a marketing plan, or you’re not sure if your marketing plan is actually a marketing plan, don’t worry. Before the end of this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to think through what should be in your marketing plan.
Step 1: Begin With the End in Mind
Before marketing begins to evolve from an amorphous blob in your brain to a fine-tuned plan, you need to ask yourself a simple question.
What am I trying to accomplish with my marketing?
I know, that sounds obvious. You want to get more clients.
But more specifically, you want to get ideal clients. Not any clients.
Which clients are good? Which are bad? Why? What’s the checklist for an ideal client?
Write. It. Down.
I can't stress this enough. I talk with dozens of lawyers a month who aren't really, truly clear on who their ideal client is. It varies from "anyone with a checkbook" to "people who are buying a business"... In both cases, too vague.
Can you write a paragraph about them? A page? Because that's what it takes to really start to understand them.
Begin with the end in mind. Identify who exactly your ideal clients are so you can focus on acquiring as many of these clients as possible. We're going to use this in:
Step 2: Fish Where the Fish Are
Every group of people has places where they congregate, whether it’s an industry association, affinity group, professional organization, trade show, you name it.
Ask yourself, what groups cater to your ideal client? What is it about these groups that might be appealing to you? What is it about you and your firm that might make you appealing to them? Where do your ideal clients congregate?
Think about it this way. You're not the first person to be interested in these people. You didn't just make it up. People have organized into groups - affinity groups - long before you.
Leverage that work others have done. Find the pond where the fish already are.
I'll say it again. Leverage. Reinventing the marketing wheel is pointless.
Step 3: Target, Target, Target
Choose the highest value groups. The groups that will provide access to people who can become ideal clients or strong referral sources.
Not every group (every pond with fish) is best. Some of them aren't a match.
Ask: What value can you offer to people in that group whether or not they become a client? How can you position yourself as a trusted advisor to the group?
That might mean offering the group your written content or putting together a presentation that allows people to walk away smarter than they were before. (No, written content isn't your brochure. It isn't old-school marketing collateral. It's what we call "expertise content"... but that's an article for a different day.)
Keep in mind that not every group will produce ideal clients, and you can’t introduce yourself to every group.
Target the highest value groups first. Find out how much traction you have in each group. If you don’t gain any traction, move on.
Remember, marketing is a numbers game. Always.
Before today, you met hundreds of people, and not all of them are A+ referral sources today. You've already been playing a numbers game, whether or not you knew it. Now you know it.
Because marketing is about:
Step 4: Doing the Reps
This strategy works. But it doesn’t work overnight.
Most attorneys who try something like this get halfway through the process and give up. Maybe they make a list of groups, work on it for a while, and then stop.
Take those groups and your initiatives and put them on the calendar. If you spend six months doing this, you’ll see results. If you spend a year doing this, you’ll see even better results.
Unfortunately, as I write this I know for a fact that too many lawyers won’t get past step two. Which is sad. Getting it done is the glue that holds your marketing plan together. It’s the difference that can make or break your plan.
The fact that it takes time and work is why most attorneys focus on pay-per-click, SEO, buying directory listings and other stuff.
They feel like they’ve accomplished something because they’ve thrown money at the problem. But have they done anything to solve the problem?
You still have to manage those marketing tactics. You still have to go through the thinking process I just explained. You still have to know who your ideal client is. You still have to do the homework. Yes, even if you're paying someone to handle the plumbing.
That’s why you have to evaluate every marketing channel against the same question.
Do my ideal clients congregate here?
With those paid marketing channels, the leads stop coming when you stop paying.
When you do this in the real world, you end up with an asset. An asset you own.