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The Smart Lawyer's Guide to Referral Marketing

When most lawyers think about marketing, they disregard referrals. They know referrals happen, but don't really think of it as part of their marketing.

Because it's not obvious that you can create referrals. Instead, they think linearly (hey, it's how we're trained, right?).

They think, "I’m doing SEO. I’m blogging." They focus on these tactics for lead generation because it's linear. "I spend X, and I (might) get $Y in return."

If they keep paying the SEO guy, they can build traffic and maybe get some clients. If they maintain their blog and keep producing written content, they can get it in front of a few of the right people and maybe get some clients.

So they block a certain amount of time and budget to each of those tactics.

What they don’t realize is that referral marketing is very much a form of marketing. Attorneys are under the impression that referrals just happen, and they can’t do much to influence it. So they wait for referrals to fall onto their laps.

In reality, there’s a lot you can do to make referrals happen.

If you want referral marketing to work, you need to actively orchestrate the referral instead of passively waiting for it to come in.

Do the right things to influence the outcome instead of relying on outside forces to get what you want.

Related: Why Your Thinking About Referrals Is Broken

If you’re doing SEO, blogging and referral marketing, that doesn’t mean you have to spend an equal amount of time and money on each part of your marketing strategy. That’s rarely the formula for influencing the outcome and producing the desired result.

View marketing as a sequence that begins with referral marketing.

Referral marketing comes first because you need to make sure the relationships you have today are producing business for your firm.

Every year, every quarter, every month, every week and every day that you do nothing to nurture those relationships, they're going stale. You're losing them.

Before you spend time trying to meet and cultivate relationships with new people, wouldn’t it make more sense to pay attention to the relationships you already have? The people who already know they can trust you and are willing and able to send you business?

Too many of us suffer from shiny new object syndrome. They’re always on the lookout for that "breakthrough tactic" – a newer, sexier approach to marketing – that will set their business on fire overnight.

Sorry, life doesn't work that way.

It’s like the guy who eats an entire cake... then runs off to buy some "supplement" to burn it off. He expects the magic pill to do the work. To be ripped by the time he gets home and looks in the mirror.

The other guy uses moderation. And goes to the gym three days a week for a year.

Not quite as sexy, but which approach actually works?

I know. It's hard. Doing the right thing, every month, and making sure it gets done. Your marketing. Networking with the right people. Even when you're exhausted with the grind.

Eating right and going to the gym. We don't like it.

But it's the recipe for long term success. It's why our marketing services group handles it for our members. Yeah, we go to the gym for you.

Related: How One Lawyer Generated Referrals on His Very First Marketing Campaign

So – if you're not a member yet, what's the formula?

Don’t try to be a hero. Use your brain.

Before you go on the hunt for the next shiny new object, make sure you don’t lose what you already have.

Realize that getting referrals isn't about a one-and-done. Realize there isn't a magic pill. That it means doing the right things, again and again.

I hear you groaning. We all like the shiny new thing. Doing the right thing, day in and day out, isn't sexy today.

But in six months? Wow.

Just do it. Or have us do it for you. Either way. Just get it done.

Raj Jha