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Play to Win

Riding a Wave of Business

By Sally J. Schmidt

When discussing business development, we often talk in terms of strategies — identifying top prospects, building niche practices or targeting selected referral sources, for example. But every now and then, I am reminded there are terrific chances to get business that fall into the category of being opportunistic — like riding a wave. Some lawyers reap great returns for a year or two from these efforts; others enjoy the benefits for an entire career.

Opportunities will present themselves to every lawyer at some point in his or her practice. To take advantage, you must recognize a trend, an emerging issue or a hot topic and then find an audience to promote it to — quickly.

Opportunity Marketing

To be successful with this approach, you need to keep your antennae up for things that are happening with clients that may have an effect on others. For example:

  • You helped set up a private foundation with a unique tax structure from which other foundations would benefit.
  • You handled a tricky regulatory issue for an M&A deal that others in the industry might bump into.
  • You had a fantastic result for a client that involved a novel legal argument that could be used by other companies in that jurisdiction.

Once you have identified the opportunity, you need to get the word out to those who may be affected — or those who may know them. Your targets could include:

  • Existing clients
  • Potential clients
  • Referral sources or intermediaries (such as accountants, bankers, other lawyers)
  • Trade, professional or industry associations serving those potential clients
  • Publications/media targeting those audiences

When you have identified your targets, you can approach them by:

  • Setting up a webinar
  • Writing an article
  • Sending a news release
  • Setting up face-to-face meetings
  • Starting a blog
  • Offering to provide in-house workshops
  • Preparing a client alert
  • Preparing a guide or white paper

Riding a Wave of Opportunity Can Make Your Year … or Better

In some cases, the resulting business can last a lifetime once you carve out a reputation as the lawyer who first handled “X.” So keep your eyes open and always ask yourself, “Who else would benefit from knowing about or doing this?” Then go out and find them.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Sally J. Schmidt Sally J. Schmidt

Sally Schmidt is President of Schmidt Marketing, Inc. which offers marketing services to law firms. She was a founder and the first President of the Legal Marketing Association. She is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and was one of the first inductees to LMA’s Hall of Fame. She is the author of Marketing the Law Firm: Business Development Techniques and Business Development for Lawyers: Strategies for Getting and Keeping Clients.

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