This is the marketing plan for those who don’t have a marketing plan.
You don’t need this plan if you’ve already got something good going on. If you’re doing it, doing it, and doing it, then just keep doing it. If you’re busy executing on your plan, then don’t mind me today. In fact, you can stop reading right now. Of course, you won’t stop. You’re not that kind of lawyer. You’re still reading because you want to be sure I don’t say something useful. That fear of missing out is part of what drives your success. Feel free to join us today for our short journey.
Today, we’re outlining a plan for marketing your law practice for the coming year. It’s a simple plan. It’s a plan that works. There are no radical ideas in this plan. It involves tactics that are proven.
This law firm marketing plan will take a newbie from zero to $300,000 in the first year. It’s also a plan to take a $1,000,000 practice to a much higher level over the next year. It'll work for nearly anyone.
Do this, and you’ll get results. In fact, the only way you won’t get results is by choosing not to do what I prescribe. Reading the plan won't help you. Following the plan is the only way this will work.
Only you can decide whether you’re committed to your financial success. I’ll show you the way, but I can’t set the alarm, roll you out of bed, or make the coffee. You’ve got to be the driver on this journey.
Here’s your 2017 law firm marketing plan.
1. Create a list.
Lists are valuable. Create a big list of anyone who might be useful to you in your marketing efforts. Include their name, address, e-mail address, and social media addresses (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and LinkedIn). You won’t have all the info for all of your contacts, but don’t stress. This list will be a lifelong work in progress. Start now and add information as you acquire it.
Who should you include in the list? Everyone. Include clients, former clients, former classmates, local connections, referral sources, civic group contacts, church friends, neighbors, and anyone else who has the remotest idea that you exist.
We’ll use the list regularly for the next year. Now is the time to get it organized. What software should you use to create the list? Use anything that encourages you to get it done. A legal pad and pen are fine. The contact manager in whatever applications you use is even better. A specialized software product is great if it’s simple enough to use. Sometimes the software gets in the way of getting the list created. Don’t let that happen.
Add details about each contact. You’ll add more notes over time, but be sure at the outset to record where the contact originated. Was this person from the church directory, or is she a former client? Or is she both? Use some sort of simple system so you’ll know immediately how you know each person on the list.
2. Send the invites for your party.
You quickly identified some people for the list. These are the folks you’re most interested in and connected to in some way. That’s why they came up first.
Go ahead and plan a party. Plan it right now. Don’t overthink it. Do it in your office if you have an office. Do it in the conference room if you’re in an executive suite and have access. Do it at a restaurant in the back. Or do it in your home. It doesn’t matter at all where you do it. Plan the food and drinks later.
Send the invites out using an online service. Send them before you think too much about the party and allow your anxiety to stop you. Just do it. It’s the invites that get you noticed. Make it happen. Invite too many people. If they all decide to come, you’ll figure out where to put them and how to buy that much liquor later. Send the invites.
3. Snail mail some letters.
Write and send a letter to one-tenth of your existing clients. Use snail mail. Yep, paper letters from lawyers still get opened. Don’t use e-mail for this. Thank them for allowing you to perform their work and ask whether they’d like to talk to you, at no charge, about any issue. Have them call and schedule a phone conference if they’d like to talk.
4. Eat some lunch.
Call two lawyers from your list who might be able to refer business to you at some point. Invite each of them to lunch. As usual, don’t overthink it; just do it. Enjoy lunch, talk, and get to know one another better. Ask lots of questions. Learn about the other lawyers and their life and business. These lawyers are the first of what will become a thriving network of referral sources. It all starts over pasta and salad. Enjoy.
5. Spend a few minutes on Facebook.
It’s trendy to unplug, disconnect, and go off the grid. That’s for other people. You need to get yourself wired up, plugged in, and present on the ‘Net. For our purposes, Facebook will do the trick.
Make sure everyone who refers business to you is in your e-mail contacts list. Give Facebook access to your list. (It’s automated, and if you’re worried about client confidentiality, you might want to segregate your client list from your referral source list.) Friend all of those folks. Don’t get all wound up about crazy Internet stuff like who will see pictures of your kids. (Trust me, nobody wants your kids. We’ve got enough of our own, and they’re driving us nuts.)
Once a month, at a minimum, update your status on Facebook. Just post something simple to remind people that you’re alive. Keep it short and sweet if social media feels awkward for you. Just say, “Still alive and well…in case you were wondering.” As usual, don’t overthink it.
1. Send more snail mail.
Send the same letter to the next tenth of your clients and repeat every month until you finish in October. We're building a system here, so make sure this happens. You'll see how the pieces of this system come together each month. Don't skip steps.
2. Have lunch again.
Schedule two more lunches and continue these lunches each month until November. (See the system?) What should you talk about at lunch? Ask questions and use this list of conversation starters to keep things going. Be sure to add notes to your list after each lunch so you'll remember these people. You're going to see them again.
3. Throw the party.
Remember the invitations you sent out for the party? Now it’s time to have the party. Enjoy and don’t stress. Whether you’ve got three people, 30 people, or 300 people, be sure to greet everyone and keep up with the attendees. Add notes to your list so you can easily track who’s coming and who wasn’t able to attend.
Let me just interject, before you ask, about what you serve. It doesn't matter. Beer and pretzels are fine. Wine and cheese are also fine. Lobster and fancy cocktails are fine too. It's about the people, not the snacks. Make people feel special by inviting them, listening to them, and caring about them. They won't remember the peanuts.
4. Don’t forget about Facebook.
Go ahead and do your monthly status update. This time, go big and include a picture. Pictures of you with your family will get noticed, so go for it, even if you have an ugly family.
1. Keep sending letters.
Continue with the client letters, covering another 10 percent. I suspect you're getting bored with sending letters. Keep it going. Nobody promised that marketing was always going to be exciting. This might be the right time to outsource or delegate the letter sending if you haven’t already. We’ve had good luck with virtual assistants for projects like this one. You’re looking for someone who will allow you to set it and forget it.
2. Eat more lunch.
Take two new lawyers to lunch. Why lawyers? Because they are a great source of referrals.
I know, you’re gaining weight from the lunches you’ve already had this year. Life is difficult. Join a gym, okay? And a gym is a great place to meet more people, right? If you’re enjoying the lunches, then take it up a notch and start doing more than two a month. I know one lawyer who did eight per week. She ate too much at lunch but got so busy that she often didn’t have time for breakfast or dinner. These are good problems to have, right?
3. Write an article.
Write an article for a publication. Local business publications are usually good targets, but a blog or other online publication might be even better in your market or practice area. Limit yourself to 750 words and submit it. Tell a story about something interesting. If the publication rejects your submission, then submit it elsewhere until you get it published.
4. The usual: keep it up.
Do the Facebook update and spend a few minutes making sure you’re “friends” with all of your contacts. Start “liking” their updates so they notice that you're paying attention. Hitting the “Like” button is the easiest marketing you’ll ever do. Like, like, like everything you can find to like.
1. Update the website.
It’s time for a bit of a refresh of your website. Don’t engage with this project like it’s a brief for the U.S. Supreme Court. Think of it more like a motion to dismiss on a $10,000 breach of contract case that is way beyond the statute of limitations. This is not rocket science. With websites, you should go big or go home, and you’re not going to go big right now. So, keep it simple. Think of it as a business card with more space for text and pictures.
You’re looking at building a site with a few pages (contact info, bio, list of services) and a sleek look. Hire a developer on Upwork for $500 and let the developer build you something new on WordPress. Don’t overdo it. If you've already got a decent site, then April is the time for a refresh and update.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. No video, no blog, and nothing expensive or complicated. Keep it simple, clean, and easy. Incorporate a spot on the site for you to add pages as you create articles like the one you did last month.
2. Lunches: amp it up.
Now it’s time to escalate your lunch game. You'll be doing four lunches this month (two new and two old). And that number will continue to grow.
But the good news is that it’s also time to circle back to the lawyers from January. You can take the same two January lawyers to lunch again. A second lunch is always easier than the first time meeting. Now you’re old buddies, and there isn’t the “getting to know you” awkwardness. Take those two folks to lunch and add two new lawyers to the mix. You get bonus points for doing a quick coffee with someone new this month as well. These coffees will serve as the gateway drug to a full-blown lunch with you down the road.
3. The usual: don’t stop.
You've now got a bunch of systems in place that result in your staying top of mind with a growing number of professionals. You’re doing (1) the Facebook updates, (2) the snail mail letters, and (3) the lunches. Keep it going. Don’t take a break.
What should you put in the Facebook update? It really doesn’t matter. The goal is to remind others that you’re alive and kicking. A reference to something that you’re not particularly good at doing (for me, it’s bowling) accompanied by a picture will hit the bulls-eye. A picture of your kid or your dog will work as well. Again, keep “liking” your friends' updates.
1. Do the usual: letters, lunches/coffee, and Facebook.
Letters, lunches, coffee, and Facebook are our foundation now. Don’t slow down. If you’ve delegated, and you should now be able to afford some help, then make sure your assistant has the project on track.
Keep adding two new lawyers to the lunch/coffee plan each month. Also, it’s critical that we follow up with the people we went to lunch with back at the beginning of the year. During May, it’s imperative that we’re doing a second lunch with the folks from February.
2. It’s time for some reviews.
Let's do something new this month. Start asking your happiest clients and former clients to post reviews on Google, Yelp, and Avvo (if permitted by your state’s rules). These folks are pleased to help and are rooting for your success. Give them a role in making sure the business continues to grow. Ask them to write the review and be sure to thank them with something nice like a box of cookies in the mail. Shoot for one happy client review each week.
3. Tweak the list.
Remember our list of contacts from January? Go back and edit it and add to it. By now, you’ve probably had some ideas about who should be on the list, and you’ve likely found some more info on those you added initially. Bring the list up to date and keep using it to inspire new additions to your lunch program.
1. Do more of the usual.
Letters, lunches, coffee, and Facebook need to happen in June as usual. Let's add something new to the “usual” mix. Let's add the reviews we started last month. How about we shoot for one client review per week going forward? Now the regular, systematic mix includes snail mail letters, lunches/coffees, Facebook updates with a picture, and four client reviews per month. Got it? Good.
2. Lock down the lunch system.
I’ll say less and less about them in future months because you’ve mastered it and are keeping it going. You’re adding two new lawyers to the list each month, and you’re following up with another lunch with each lawyer during each quarter of the year. By the end of June, you’ve had lunch—twice—with all the lawyers from January to March. Now you’ve got six more folks to add to the follow-up list from April, May, and June. These folks, along with the January to March group, will join you for lunch during the next three months. Yes, the group is growing—fast. And they’ll all remember you because you’re following up.
3. Take a vacation.
You’re doing really well if you’re sticking to this plan. Congratulations. Now, take a week off. You deserve it. Go somewhere good and enjoy your time away. While you’re traveling, find something good and buy a bunch of them to give to your lunch contacts. Look for something that is related to where you went and that the folks you're getting to know will appreciate. Gifts are powerful. Give them.
1. Continue with the marketing system.
You can see what's happening with the usual stuff we do each month. It's a system now. It's happening month after month. It's how we build a sustainable business. Congratulations. This is an important piece of your evolution.
Each month, you're sending letters, doing lunches and coffee, updating Facebook, and getting client reviews. These monthly activities are your foundation. Keep it going.
2. Add follow-up notes to the system.
Your lunch dates have fallen into a pattern. You've got a cycle happening. You're going to see each lawyer four times a year—once every three months. In between lunches, it's important to remind them of your name and practice area. Your Facebook posts are helping, but there's more we can do.
Once a month, during their off months, send them each a personalized e-mail. Send a clipping about something they mentioned at lunch or something they might find useful. Send something funny if nothing useful comes to mind. Keep in touch so they remember you.
3. Join a club.
It’s time to level up just a bit. This time you’re going to join a civic group—something like Rotary. I know, I know, this isn’t your thing. Well, guess what? You’re going to do it, and it’s going to be better than you think. By now, you’ve likely been approached about a group by one of your lunch contacts. It’s time to accept the invitation. And, if that hasn’t happened yet, then it’s time for you to go make it happen by inquiring of your local clubs.
1. Keep up with the marketing system.
Letters, lunches, coffee, Facebook, and client reviews are the monthly foundation. Keep it going. You're writing follow-up notes to everyone on your lunch list just to check in. You're in a solid cycle with the lunch people. Do lunch, have coffee, and send a note every 90 days to everyone on the list.
2. It's time for some media attention.
Local media coverage is good. It doesn’t always open the floodgates with new clients, but it builds credibility with referral sources, judges, and others. Rack your brain for a connection to a local media outlet: TV, radio, or newspaper. You’ve got to know someone who knows someone. Just think it through for now. Ask your contacts. We’ll work on this more next month.
3. It's time to write another article.
Crank out another 750-word article. Get it published in your community and then put it on your website. Be sure to send a link to your network so everyone knows that you're a rock star.
4. Get a key position in your club.
Volunteer in the club. Take on some responsibility. Two positions have a big impact. Either (1) direct your energy toward communications (the newsletter, e-mails, or website) so you become visible or (2) get involved in programming so you meet and communicate with the speakers coming to each meeting. Either role will increase your visibility with club members and/or in the community.
Also, go ahead and write another article for publication. Plus, you’re still going to your club meetings, right? Offer to help with the club blog or newsletter. (It’s good to get your name in print.)
1. The usual stuff: let's review.
Our usual stuff has become quite a system. We’re doing:
- snail mail letters,
- lunches and coffee,
- lunch follow-ups via e-mail,
- Facebook updates,
- client online reviews,
- periodic updates to your contact list, and
- club meetings.
You're awesome. This is fantastic. You're driving it, and it's working. Yes, it's working.
2. It's TV time.
Go ahead and approach that media contact we identified earlier and offer to be helpful. Place a quick call and mention that you’re an expert in your practice area. Don’t ask about being on the news or in the paper. Just let the contact know that you’re available and willing to help. Be ready when the contact calls and asks for some help. Be generous and see where it leads.
3. It’s party planning time—again.
Pull out your list and send out invites again. It's time to repeat the party from earlier in the year. Invite some of the folks from the first list plus some new people as well. Be sure to invite everyone you're having lunches or coffee with. This party should be much easier to pull off and will be dramatically less stressful now that you're nine months into this plan.
1. Keep pushing the marketing system.
Just let it roll. Keep it moving. Now it's about fighting decay. Don't let anything slip. The list is growing, and the lunches are becoming more frequent as the numbers grow larger. The new clients are coming through the door. Entropy is the enemy now. Don't fall into the “we got too busy to market” trap. Push it—hard.
2. Shop for gifts.
Get ahead of others and start thinking about holiday gifts for key players in your life. Recognize the people sending you business. Recognize those who are contributing to keeping the system healthy and strong. Plan to send something to each important referral source and client. Some lawyers send mail-order cookies or pears. Those are great gifts. Some lawyers invest some time reflecting on the perfect holiday gift for each individual. That requires some thinking. October is a good time to start.
3. Let's party.
The invites have been sent, so it's time to throw the party. It's critical to get it in before things heat up for the holidays. Do something by mid-October, or you'll miss your window. If you're crushing it, then go big with a caterer. Why not give these folks a party they won't forget?
1. Work the marketing system.
Take a break from client letters. You’ve made it through the client list by doing 10 percent each month for the first 10 months of the year. Great. Now, send holiday cards to everyone. Keep everything else rolling during this period as well. Things are busy in November, but you're running a system now. Don't stop.
2. Double down on lunches.
November is a key time, before the holidays, to get ahead on lunches with your network. Assume you need to do all of your November/December lunches before November 15. Realistically, that's four lunches with new lawyers plus 13 follow-ups. That means you need to do two a day, more or less, for the first half of the month so that you can take some time off over the holidays without falling behind. Remember, entropy is the enemy, and this is where you'll see the system start to decay if you don't push yourself. Keep it up.
1. The marketing system never sleeps.
Keep everything pumping along. December is the stress test for your system. Don't let it decay, even in the face of holiday busyness. Pay careful attention to each element.
2. It's time to party.
Go to the parties. Attend your club holiday party, your bar association holiday party, and your firm holiday party if you're having one. Parties give you a chance to efficiently touch base with lots of folks. Attend, but don't drink, and don't get trapped in a corner. Talk to everyone briefly. Work the room like you're winning, because if you've been following this plan, then you're winning.
3. Reap the rewards.
By the end of the year, you’ve sent all of your clients a letter reminding them that you exist and can help. You’ve met a bunch of new referral sources and had a chance to get to know them. You’ve met a ton of new people in your club. You’ve been recommended numerous times on Google, Yelp, and Avvo. You’ve likely been published in several places, and you’ve probably been quoted in the local media. It’s been a very good marketing year.
4. Make a new plan.
Spend some time in December thinking about and planning for next year. Come up with your new marketing plan and take it to the next level. Use this plan as the basis of your upgraded plan, but be very conscious of tweaking the new plan to suit your personal talents, skills, and abilities. Your next plan will be even better and take you to an even higher level of success.
Now, You've Got a Plan
That’s the law practice marketing plan for 2017. If you execute on this plan, you’ll have a good year. If you don’t, you probably won’t. Marketing can be systematic, entertaining, and productive. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Try this plan. You’ll be glad you did.
The plan works. The difference between having an okay year and a really good year comes down to following this plan. Are you going to make it happen?
Do what I’ve suggested, and the clients will call and the revenue will come. I promise.
For marketing to work, you need to do the marketing. Nothing I've outlined above is complicated or difficult. It simply requires diligence and adherence to a system. At the end of 12 months, you'll have grown your business and built a marketing machine. This year will feed into next year. The growth from this year will promote even more growth in subsequent years. This is how you build a thriving practice.
You've got the plan now. All that's missing is your committing to the plan and then executing on it day by day for the next year. Are you in?