Few attorneys are eager to step away from client work to find new business, yet it’s an essential part of your practice. Since you must invest the time, what’s the best way to get the most from your effort?
A new research study identifies three business development methods that are the most successful for law firms. What do they have in common? All three are ways to demonstrate expertise and educate clients on matters they find compelling.
Business Development Tactics with the Best Return on Effort
These three methods work for practices of any size. They attract new business by encouraging clients to approach you, rather than the other way around.
1. Speaking. There are many opportunities to address future clients, including speaking at workshops, presentations, conferences, and even webinars. Each venue is a little different, of course, and requires its own tactics and level of preparation.
TIP: First and foremost, seek out an audience that is representative of your target market. Industry trade associations are a good place to start. Be sure to speak in plain English (no legalese) about a topic your audience is interested in learning about. You don’t have to be a seasoned trial attorney to succeed at this. You’re simply educating people and making a complex subject understandable. And don’t worry about covering every possible scenario or nuance of the topic; keep it simple and practical.
2. Writing. Like speaking, writing takes place in many forums, including other organizations’ websites, business journals and publications. Look for opportunities to write articles or blog posts where your target audience will see them. For example, if you practice intellectual property law within the life sciences industry, look for publications or sites that target heads of life sciences companies.
TIP: Remember, you’re writing for prospective clients and the people who influence them — not your colleagues. This means you’re often writing for a lay audience, so avoid legalese and stick to the fundamentals, whatever topic you’re addressing. If you play your cards right, you may be the only attorney demonstrating expertise to the audience on that platform.
3. Social media. In terms of finding and developing new clients and identifying new matters with existing clients, LinkedIn is the most effective platform in social media. The site features many groups and opportunities to share your expertise on topics that interest potential clients. It’s also an ideal place to share any blog posts or links to articles you’ve written elsewhere. Of course, you need to abide by bar rules regarding solicitation or offering legal advice, but there are plenty of ways to share expertise ethically.
TIP: Update your own LinkedIn profile to highlight the aspects of your expertise that are most meaningful to potential clients — for example, by joining a LinkedIn group focused on an industry you serve. As is true with blog post writing, find a niche where you can provide expertise that members of the group don’t have themselves.
Choose Your Topics Wisely
Start by determining what potential clients actually want to learn about.
- Think about the questions you regularly field from clients.
- Research which topics are addressed in the trade publications your clients read.
- Also, consider the implications of recent court decisions or the impact that new laws will have on your clients.
Whichever way you choose to share your expertise — speaking, writing, social media — the underlying strategy is educating clients on topics that matter to them.
Successful marketing requires you to make some type of investment, whether it’s monetary or takes your valuable spare time. Generally, the three methods above will mostly require your time, but the investment in laying the groundwork that leads new clients to you is well worth it.
Lee Frederiksen is an award-winning marketer, researcher, author and renowned business strategist who helped pioneer the field of research-driven marketing. As Managing Partner of Hinge, a leading marketing firm for the professional services industry, he draws on his Ph.D. in behavioral psychology and his entrepreneurial experience as CEO of three successful firms to help clients achieve high growth and profitability.