Don't waste time and money marketing your law practice until you are prepared. I have worked with many lawyers over the past 15 years helping them develop their legal marketing skills. What all of these attorneys had in common when they came to me was that they did not know what to do and, if they did have a marketing idea, they executed it inconsistently. The results spoke for themselves.
The simple truth: Attorneys need to know what to do to market their law practices and they need to market consistently. Before you start marketing, you need to plan. Here is a pre-legal marketing checklist for you to follow:
1. I Know Myself. You need to consider yourself both as an individual and as an attorney. Ask yourself what you want in the future: retire at 50, sail around the world, become a judge, enter politics, become a partner, start your own law firm… Think about your future so that you do not waste time and effort marketing for a future you do not want.
2. I Know My Ideal Client. For every law practice and legal practice area there is an ideal client. Not just someone who pays well and is easy to work with, you need to know the demographic of the client you would ideally like to serve. For a tax practice it could be wealthy individuals, for a family law practice it could be working professional women, for a business transactional practice it could be smaller businesses with gross sales of over $2,000,000 per year. Take the time to visualize this client. The more you know about the clients you want to attract, the easier it will be to strategize how to reach them. If you practice in several legal practice areas you may have a separate ideal client for each practice area.
3. I Know the Marketing Tools I Will Use. We are all different. No one-size-fits-all marketing method will work for every attorney. You must decide on what marketing tool(s) will work best for you. For some it might be networking in large groups. But, if you hate it, you will most likely not follow through or, if you do, it is unlikely that you will be very successful. The idea is to find the marketing tools that work for you and with your personality. There are many to choose from. Here are some examples: public speaking, small group networking, one-on-one networking, writing articles, connecting with your existing contacts, staying in touch with past clients, developing your referral network, joining organizations and going to trade association conferences.
4. I have a Marketing Budget of Time and Money. You need to determine how much money, calculated on an annual basis, you will commit to marketing your law practice. For many types of practices this is not a major issue. However, if your marketing plan includes advertising, attending a number of out of town conferences or joining a country club, you need to think this through carefully. More important is your time marketing budget. You need to determine the number of hours each week that you will commit to spending exclusively on legal marketing and you must dedicate those hours each and every week to marketing your law practice. Consistency is vital.
5. I Have a Written Marketing Plan. This is crucial to your legal marketing success. You must know what you are going to do and by when you will do it. You need strategically plan specific goals and the action steps to take to achieve these goals. It is important to set out a timeline for when each action step and goal is to be started and completed. By planning your entire marketing campaign you can better allocate your precious resources of time and money. The form is not critical. You can use a Word table, Excel spreadsheet, project management software or an online project/task management website. The important thing is that you are able to look at the entire plan, track your progress and make adjustments as necessary.
When you can say Yes to each of the above you are ready to market. Go for it! Market wisely and consistently and your law practice will be successful beyond your expectations.
Have a Great Practice!