The year is young, “overwhelm” has yet to set in, and I find my clients eagerly embrace a few practical steps that they may take to yield high impact results in growing and strengthening their client base. Effective execution when combined with consistency and persistency can make the difference between a thriving practice and hanging on by a thread. No one-shot wonders here.
As emphasized many times before, there is no single action which wins the day for growing a healthy practice, for helping firms to reach “top-of-mind” status among its key audiences (existing clients, referral sources, and prospects) though there are a few particularly “high impact” business development initiatives which come close. That is what we will focus on in this article:
Reach Out Regularly
With the rampant number of ways to connect (email, social media, texting, snail mail, Skype, video conferencing, webcasting, etc.), it has never been easier to get and stay in touch with others. Some individuals still pick up a landline telephone and actually place a phone call. Find out how your targeted audiences prefer to be communicated with and leverage the available technology to develop a regular means of staying in touch. This could take the form of a monthly e-blast to a different segment of your clients on an issue of particular relevance to them. Or, it could be a program notice for an in-house “lunch n’ learn” on a timely topic which may adversely affect your client’s business, if left unaddressed. Whatever the means, schedule outreach into your calendar to make sure it happens consistently.
There are plenty of expert local resources available (just ask us) to assist you in developing a system for staying in touch with a growing number of clients and contacts. Developing and executing a system will make all the difference in the world for supporting your goals and rendering tangible results in growing a practice. Don’t leave your communication with targeted audiences to chance or continue a scattershot approach. As so many have seen, it simply does not work.
It’s tough, if not downright impossible, to build and grow a healthy practice without proactively meeting and cultivating relationships with individuals who are in a position to retain your services. There are a plethora of passive marketing tactics (such as advertising, article publishing, strategic web development) which can be very effective when combined with active marketing tactics (speaking engagements, networking events, organizational involvement), recognizing again that there is no one activity which is the magic bullet.
As the number of networking opportunities has increased, we advise clients to be very strategic and selective in committing to which events they will attend and in which professional organizations they will become involved. The absolute best events to attend are those at which your “profile” clients will be present. In short, you want to “go where the clients are”.
For example, if your area of practice is in management side labor and employment law, the folks who typically make legal hiring decisions may be a VP of Human Resources, Human Resources Director, CFO, or even a business owner, depending on the size of an organization. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to attend and become involved in the same organizations in which those folks are involved. One such organization is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). It is there that you will find professionals struggling with a myriad of employment law issues to which you can lend your expertise.
It bears repeating that it has never been easier to get and stay in front of key audiences than it is today given all the technological tools (read: economical) available.
Assuming your firm has a website (and if you don’t, that is a whole other conversation), I encourage clients to upload fresh content frequently. This may take the form of a short article (no more than 750-1000 words), blog posts (no more than 300 words), or even a hyperlink to an article you published in a print or online publication.
Study after study shows us that there is tremendous opportunity for revenue generation with online marketing initiatives. It is commonplace that upon meeting a prospect, a possible professional services advisor, etc., we all check out their online bio and other offerings, whether that is on their website, an attorney directory (like Martindale or AVVO) or even LinkedIn. If you frequently upload new content to your website, you will boost your online credibility, which can increase your retention rate.
As 2012 unfolds while the economy sputters along and clients become even more selective in their legal services hiring decisions, I challenge you to initiate at least 3 new high impact business development activities to get and stay in front of your most prized clients and wannabes to make this year a success for you and your practice.