Do something every single day, has been my mantra for many years. Why, because it’s much easier to commit to small tasks. And those small tasks can accumulate and become a tidal wave. As the saying goes, How do you eat an elephant… one bite at a time.
That is what business development can feel like… eating an elephant! It doesn’t have to feel that way if you do something every single day. So here is a 7-Day Action Plan to get you started.
In this 7 – Day Plan I present you with the tools to make marketing a lifelong habit. There are no lengthy sessions or hours of work…these tasks can take as little as 2 minutes (sending an e-mail) to as long as an hour (lunching with a contact).
For each day I encourage you to THINK about and ACT on a specific element of the process. I also give you a timely TIP that can put you on the right track…right away. Creating a new habit is not easy and it’s not instant, this will help you get started!
Day 1- Monday: LISTEN
THINK: In order to market yourself, you must first understand and define what makes you stand out from the crowd. As a lawyer, your name is your brand, and no one knows you better than your client. Listening to their feedback and realizing how they view your practice can help you focus on what’s really important.
ACT: Call three clients and ask them what they value most about your relationship and the work that you do for them. Take notes and try to be as open minded as possible.
TIP: Try to get detailed rather than general statements. Use follow-up questions and ask for examples. Hearing that your office is communicative is too general; hearing that your office updates clients on their cases on a weekly basis makes you stand out.
Day 2-Tuesday: ANALYZE
THINK: One of the most important first steps in marketing yourself is to identify and write down your “points of differentiation,” or the services and qualities that separate you from the crowd. Consider a unique area of expertise –or unique philosophy on business—that makes you stand out from the crowd. Figuring out what that is (or what you would like it to be) and how that benefits your clients can make all the difference.
ACT: Look closely at your client feedback from yesterday…you may be surprised. Using that information, write out three points of differentiation for your practice. Make these ideas the basis of future marketing efforts… and make sure people know about them!
TIP: Be specific and be creative. All attorneys say they return calls promptly. You may have a “2-hour” rule, in which all clients receive a response within 2 hours of a phone call or e-mail. All attorneys say they are experienced. You may have worked in your clients’ industry before you represented them.
Day 3- Wednesday: REVIEW
THINK: Your online bio could be a prospective client’s first impression of your skills and experience. By viewing it as more of a marketing tool than resume, you will be able to see places where a rewrite (or edit) could be useful. Think about what your client’s value about your background and the interesting details, memberships or cases that make you an expert in your field. Does everything in your bio have meaning to a client?
ACT: Read through your bio and ask yourself if it clearly communicates your points of differentiation… what your clients want to know. If not, make some changes. Keep it short, keep it informative and most of all write from the client’s perspective, not yours.
TIP: A bio is not a place to list every case, organization and committee you have ever been a part of; it’s a place to show clients how you can be of use to him or her. It should include your contact info, education information, a 2-3-sentence narrative, your most recent (or most important) cases and the organizations or committees that would be of interest to your clients. Show them that you have the knowledge and experience to help them with their issues.
Day 4 – Thursday: IDENTIFY
THINK: Once you understand who your client is, you can tailor your marketing to better reach them. Is there a niche market you are filling (or can fill)? Is there a specific industry that could be drawn to your practice? Is there a demographic that you are consistently reaching? Cater to your client and new business will find you. Stay in that niche and momentum will build.
ACT: Look closely at your client roster and analyze what ties them together. Identify your client categories.
TIP: Are the majority of your clients in the construction business? If so, you now have a clear message (knowledge of the industry) to focus on and a clear audience to market to (trade associations, etc.).
Day 5 – Friday: RESEARCH
THINK: Now that you know your client, go out and find them. What organizations do they belong to? Who do they do business with? Following their lead can bring in new business and connect your practice to other decision-makers who may need your services.
ACT: Investigate the organizations that your clients are members of. Ask them what is important to them. Identify one to join and become active in over the next 6-18 months. Choose one where you can truly make a difference.
TIP: A local or national trade organization is a good place to start. That will expose you to a large group of potential clients who have the same interests (and needs) as your current clientele.
Day 6- Saturday: STRATEGIZE
THINK: It may seem impossible, but realizing the importance of making time for marketing is an important step toward success. Just as billable hours are counted and analyzed, so should your marketing efforts. Create goals, set expectations and reward performance…even if it’s simply you.
ACT: Set a tangible financial goal. Be specific and give yourself a measurable result to be accountable for. Plan out the steps you need to take to reach those goals. Do what you say you are going to do.
TIP: Use your new organization to help set your goal. Consider how your involvement can reap results. Figure out how to network and connect via that membership and figure out how to bring in 2 clients from those connections within the next 12 months (presentations count…they can result in referrals!).
Day 7- Sunday: JOIN
THINK: The only way to reach potential clients is to get in front of them. As we mentioned before, by becoming active in organizations that matter to your clients you learn more about their needs and can offer more specified services. What do you have to offer the organization you have chosen?
ACT: Join the organization you chose on Friday and since it’s Sunday, fill out an online application. Look around their site and figure out who you will make contact with tomorrow.
TIP: Making contact with an organization President or Board Member shows you are committed to involvement and helps you stand out among the plethora of members. The idea is to get involved and meet people who will learn to trust and respect you.
Now you have a 7-Day head start on your new business development habit. You have momentum going; don’t stop now. Keep making notes of the strategies that work, keep reaching out to contacts and keep emphasizing your points of differentiation.
Part of this article is an except from Paula Black’s book, The little Black Book: A Lawyer’s Guide to Creating A Marketing Habit in 21 Day.