Marketing isn’t rocket science. More than anything, it demands “the little engine that could” approach, just putt-putting up the mountainside, says Burkey Belser, Creative Director at Greenfield/Belser. For one of our favorite collections from the archives, we asked some widely known legal marketing pros for their favorite marketing tips to help crank up your business development engines.
See if you can find the parallels in their advice.
Check In with Old Friends
At a loss for how to ignite your sales efforts? Go back 10 years (or however long you’ve been in practice if less than 10 years) and review your client list for each year. If there are people on those lists with whom you haven’t spoken in a while, add them to your list of calls to make during the first quarter. The new year presents a great opportunity for these calls. A simple opening statement like “It’s been a while since we’ve connected and I thought I’d call to say hello” will facilitate the conversation. And people really do appreciate that you are thinking of them. We’ve seen amazing results from this seemingly simple, obvious outreach effort. Your overall objective? To reopen and rebuild the relationships, one step at a time. Try to leave the call with an action step that’s in your court.
— Silvia Coulter, Principal, LawVision Group LLC
Say It on Paper
Pen and paper are so rare now that a handwritten snail-mailed “thank you” note is golden.
— Gerry Riskin, Founding Partner, Edge International
Create an Annual “Touch” Plan
That means: Identify how you are going to touch each one of your clients every month for the entire coming year. One month it might be an e-mail about an insight you had or a relevant subject you found in the news; the next month, a mailing with samples of your work or an update on your firm or yourself; the next month, a phone call that does what the e-mail and mailing did the previous months. Marketing isn’t rocket science. More than anything, it demands “the little engine that could” just putt-putting up the mountainside.
— Burkey Belser, President & Creative Director, Greenfield/Belser Ltd.
Use a Tickler File
Create a tickler file—paper or electronic or both. Put in it all deadlines relating to dates to contact a client, dates to reconfirm scheduled meetings (the day before), dates to follow up on memos, reports or letters you have sent and so on. Check it first thing every day and take the called-for actions. Only occasionally should you re-tickle something for a later date.
— Bob Denney, President, Robert Denney Associates, Inc.
Include Handwritten Notes in Your Strategy
Handwritten notes have become a lost art, yet everyone appreciates receiving one. They are a quick and simple way of distinguishing yourself and will most likely be remembered by your clients. Because it is personal in nature, a note has a power that far outweighs the small investment in time it takes to write it. All you need to do is find good quality personalized stationery and keep it on your desk. The next time you read about a client or need to do a simple follow up to an event, take out a note and pen a short message. You’ll find that you’ve created a method for relationship building that can become a strong part of your marketing and business development efforts.
— Roberta Montafia, Principal, Roberta Montafia Consulting
Use the Phone
Call the next five people you would otherwise contact by e-mail. It will advance the relationship and almost certainly lead to new work.
— Jim Durham, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer, McGuireWoods LLP
Don’t have the Wrong Conversation
Here’s the scenario: The client telephones her lawyer and asks, “How’re you doing?” The lawyer responds, “Up to my eyeballs!” (proud of how hard he is working for his clients). “Oh, really,” replies the client (making a mental note not to burden the lawyer with new business or referrals). How many times have you inadvertently conveyed that message to clients?
— Ross Fishman, CEO, Fishman Marketing
Find Out What’s Worrying Them
So often, we hope to convince a potential client they can’t do without us by explaining just how wonderful we are. Next time you’re chatting with someone, try this: Forget talking about yourself and ask about them. “How are things going at work?” is always a good one. Even better is, “What does the new year hold for you?” My favorite is, “What’s keeping you up nights?” Once they’ve explained to you the biggest and toughest problem they have … help them find a solution. It’s possible that you may be the solution. But even if you aren’t, and you help them find someone or something that is, you will always be remembered as the person who helped them solve that horrible problem. You will be seen as the source of solutions, instead of the source of problems. And what’s better than that?
— Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, Principal, Astin Tarlton
Propose Specific Solutions in Your RFP Responses
In a high-stakes competition, your firm’s qualifications alone will not win the day. The winner will likely be the firm that says, “Your challenges are ABC. With our help you can resolve those issues and problems by doing XYZ.” These solutions must come from partners who are able to think creatively about this prospective client and its issues, not some generic client’s issues. Marketers must then present their solutions forcefully and persuasively in the proposal.
— Dr. Ann Lee Gibson, Principal, Ann Lee Gibson Consulting
Do Client Reviews
One of the easiest things you can do to facilitate meaningful relationship building with a client is a one-on-one relationship review between one of the senior-most members of your firm and a C-level executive at the client’s company. Go talk to the clients. Find out what’s on their mind; what’s keeping them up at night. Show them that you care, and that understanding their strategic challenges is important to your firm. This is not a sales call, it’s a relationship-building discussion. Talk little. Listen much.
— Mark Greene, Chief Business Development Officer, Waller Lansden Dorch & Davis LLP
Did you find the parallels? That’s right. Every single tip talks about building and caring for the relationship between you and your client or prospect. Why, you could change just a few words and apply this same good advice to your relationship with a spouse, relative or friend. So that’s the key to effective business development — there’s no magic bullet, it’s about doing the hard and constant work it takes to maintain good relationships.
Adapted from an article that appeared in December 2011.