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The Friday Five

Lawyer Marketing Quick-Start Steps

By Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Sometimes it seems the only business problem you really have is knowing how to get more clients. Sure, people talk about marketing plans, but exactly what plans should you be making? What’s working for others? What should your next priorities be? Well, if you’ve been longing for someone to just tell you what to do (or give you a friendly kick in the pants) … here you go!

For a quick start, here are five baby steps to get you past any marketing inertia and rolling in the right direction.

1. Put it in writing. Create a simple written piece that describes you and your practice to potential clients. This will be something to hand or send to people who want more information about what you do. (Flyer, postcard, brochure, stickers, origami — something they can touch!) Remember: Describe what you can do for them instead of bragging about your amazing credentials. Want help? Read Teddy Snyder’s “Feature versus Benefit.” Now, condense your prose into a briefer elevator speech — a simple description that will fall trippingly from your tongue whenever someone asks, “What do you do … ?”

2. Turn up your social media game. The words you chose so carefully for that simple description are going to come in handy for online marketing. Use them in your website bio, LinkedIn description and Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profiles. Be consistent — repetition reinforces your message. (That’s called branding!) If you don’t have accounts on those basic social media platforms, get ’er done. Then get active online by regularly sharing content (slides, papers, articles, opinions) that demonstrate your knowledge and reinforce who you are, what you know and what you can do.

3. Join something. Find and join the right type of business group, association or charity. Hint: Members of the right organization will be the kind of people who can hire and pay someone like you to do exactly the kind of legal work you want to do — or who are in a position to refer lawyers to those people. Next, get involved in the organization in a way that demonstrates your competence and creates opportunities to build relationships — join a committee, speak at a conference, volunteer office space. Now start networking! But whatever you do, listen to Ruth Carter and don’t suck at networking.

4. Keep track. Create a simple system for recording and accessing contact information from all the business cards you collect. It could be as simple as a spreadsheet, or as sophisticated as client relationship management (CRM) software. But make sure you don’t mistake a sophisticated system for a system that’s easy to use. They are often not the same thing. Let Sally Schmidt tell you “The Best Way to Organize Your Contacts.”

5. Get out of the office! Commit to having lunch or coffee (or a squash game or a short walk) once a week with someone who could hire you or introduce you to someone who could hire you. While you’re thinking about it, pick up your phone now and set up the first four lunches to put on your calendar. Don’t know who to invite? Use the system you created in no. 4, or let Kristina Jaramillo show you how to use LinkedIn to identify candidates. Nervous? Get some help making small talk from Debra Fine. Mike O’Horo has good advice on how to initiate the business conversation that can come right after exchanging those innocuous niceties. Too busy to get out of the office? Open up some time by doing a better job of managing your work with Otto Sorts’ project management tips.

Bonus: Download Attorney at Work’s 54-page runaway hit, Really Good Marketing Ideas (20,000 readers can’t be wrong).

Sometimes knowing what to do is the hard part. Actually doing it? Piece of cake!

Categories: Business Development, Getting Clients, Law Firm Marketing
Originally published November 7, 2014
Last updated March 12, 2021
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Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Merrilyn is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. 

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