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Is Your Referral Network Eroding?

Desperate situations call for desperate measures. The work has just about dried up, so it might be time to do some (gasp) marketing!

It's a way of life for most attorneys. Marketing isn't happening on a regular basis. Instead, it's driven by fear, and the results are all too predictable.

You market and market until you have too much work. Then you stop marketing and that work dries up. Then you need to market some more. You’re marketing in bursts, which means your clients come in bursts.

When you’re marketing, you’re billing. Earning. When you’re not marketing, you’re not billing. You can’t help but hit a ceiling.

Here’s what makes this approach even worse.

Think about what most lawyers consider “marketing” – an endless parade of networking lunches, coffee meetings and bar association mixers (argh!) – all done in person.

What happens next? If the person who had coffee with you likes you, maybe you’ll get whatever referrals they have over the next 30 days.

60 days? Probably not too many.

90 days? They’re not sending you any referrals. If they have referrals, they’re going to someone else.

Why? That’s just how human memory works. We remember things that are recent (what researchers call "recency effect"). After 90 days, you aren't front of mind - and that coffee date doesn’t think of you when a perfectly good referral crosses their path.

Since you're marketing to people who are going to forget about you, you can’t market fast enough or frequently enough.

It's like you've got a leaky bucket. You pour your time and money into networking, marketing, to fill the bucket with prospects and contacts. But there's a hole in the bucket. It's leaking. And at some point, because of your client work, your marketing slows down. And the water - potential referrals from that hard-earned marketing - starts to drain out.

Then you have to fill the bucket again. And on and on it goes.

The smarter thing to do is…

Plug the holes in the bucket. Market consistently instead of in bursts.

Constantly remind people about why you matter - to them, and to those who they might refer. Even when you’re not able to physically get out there into the real world. I've written elsewhere about how to do that without being pushy, but the fact is that marketing done right is a marathon, not a series of sprints.

This way, you've plugged the holes. Your time and money is spent filling the bucket instead of spinning your wheels while water leaks out of the bottom. The level always rises.

This is why so many lawyers who have been practicing for 30 years haven’t experienced any growth in the last ten. They’re treading water.

But other lawyers who have only been at it for five years are growing 30 percent or more each year. They’ve plugged the holes in their bucket - because they understand how marketing works. And they did something about it.

Marketing is absolutely critical to growing your practice. Sustained, consistent marketing.

Figure out how to get it done. If you don't have the time, hire someone. It's what we do for attorneys, hint hint - but even if you don't qualify to be a member of our programs make sure someone is helping you just get it done. It will make the difference between feast and famine, and consistent progress every year.

Raj Jha

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