J. Nick Augustine J.D., “The Law Publicist,” is the principal of Law Publicist Communications, an ALR/PRA, Incorporated agency. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations, marketing and practice management. Nick shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.
Attorneys in transition engage in marketing for several different reasons. Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association Board of Directors: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Today I will focus on lawyer marketing for three purposes: (1) Attracting new clients; (2) Attracting client referrals; (3) Upward mobility in your current organization. Smart marketing plans generate top of the mind awareness. Marketing systems require the repetition of a few basic activities. When we build marketing habits we increase top of the mind awareness.
(1) Attracting new clients
The first step in drafting a marketing plan is identifying the information you want to share with potential clients. Too often attorneys assume clients know enough about various practice areas. You should break up the causes of action into basic keywords most people will understand. Next, draft a few short paragraphs about how you could help people in several situations. By simply explaining the value of your services you can also think more about where you want to place these messages. Making it easy for clients to understand your practice and find you is the basic goal of attorney marketing.
Action item: Make a keyword list that describes your practice area. Draft succinct marketing materials identifying how you can help clients in common situations. Prepare a welcome letter template and send it along with your marketing materials to people who contact your firm. Whether the prospects hire you or not, they might send other business your way in the future.
(2) Attracting client referrals
Client referrals come from friends, colleagues and businesspeople in the community. Most of us suggest professionals we think can help someone in need. When we make referrals we want the resulting client engagement to go well. When there is a good match and a happy client, the source of the referral is likely to pass on a trusted name in the future.
Action item: People make referrals to the professionals they already know, like and trust. Make a list of everyone you know, like and trust. Where appropriate and consistent with the rules of professional conduct, send letters to potential referrals, letting them know what you do and that you accept referrals. Where appropriate, take the opportunity to have coffee, learn more about another’s business so that you might also be able to spot a client match for them.
(3) Upward mobility
Associate attorneys in larger firms fear their contributions go unnoticed among partners and firm management. Highlighting accomplishments to senior members of a firm is helpful when asserting your contributions to the firm. Staff attorneys and associates usually have annual opportunities to share their dedication to quality legal service and the advancement of the firm generally.
Action item: Draft a short summary of a case you are working on and share it with other members and professionals at the firm. If the firm has a marketing and communications department they may be looking for newsletter or press release content. The managers of practice groups like to know what other groups are doing; taking credit for your input is a good way to earn advancement in the firm.
A marketing system is a set of simple activities and you repeat consistently on a regular basis. There are many resources for developing marketing systems. Some additional marketing systems can be as simple as making a list and sending hand-written notes to thank clients and referral sources. You can also start writing a weekly or monthly blog, discussing your areas of expertise and examples of positive results. Set time aside in your schedule and start working on a few simple activities. It doesn’t take long to build an effective marketing system.