The business of law is increasingly competitive and success requires us to challenge long held beliefs that could be hurting your practice. See how many of the following myths you’ve been holding on to and consider if you’re ready for a new perspective.
I know my clients well enough – Surveys and client interviews tell us differently. The gap between what a lawyer knows about the client and what the client reveals to a third party (best if it’s someone other than the client’s lawyer) varies, but the gap is ever-present. The gap in and of itself is not so worrisome if lawyers would accept it and instead, dig a little deeper where opportunities among exceptional clients may exist. I had one very business savvy managing partner tell me recently that he was knocked over when he discovered a long term client had other business interests that suggested a significant business development opportunity. That was probably a month ago and that managing partner is still shaking his head.
For your most active clients and referral sources, ask questions, be curious, do your research, stay in touch and discover what you don’t know yet. In the meantime, always mind the gap.
- Good legal work alone will consistently attract new work – Good legal work is essential to keeping and attracting work, but if all you do is practice law, you likely won’t reach your potential or attract the kind of work or the type of clients you want. Sure, there are exceptions where you might have unique skills or experience and a client has few choices, but, it’s likely you’re already engaging in marketing activities without actually identifying them as such. Client service, client entertainment, keeping in touch, sharing information and extending invitations are all part of client care and client development and are investments in your practice and essential to the success of your business. Increasingly, legal work is won in a competitive environment. Understanding and anticipating client needs are essential to retaining clients and attracting new work.
- Marketing is about events, newsletters and database management – That’s only a part of marketing. Equally important, is the strategy that drives the activities. Knowing why you are investing in a variety of activities and what you hope to achieve is your strategy. It reveals your plan, how activities support and leverage each other to achieve a desired impact, where your budget is best applied throughout the year, and it provides benchmarking of marketing tactics and outcomes for your areas of law for each year. Much of marketing is busy tactical work that first requires thoughtful and careful execution. Behind all the activity, is the critical process of planning and the allocating of precious non-billable time towards a specific goal. It also involves the training and coaching of your lawyers in marketing and client development.
Your website is your online presence – It’s not. Others are talking about your lawyers and your firm online in other formats. We are no longer in control of our own online reputation or profile. Good or bad, others are influential in the decision-making of some of your clients. Online listening strategies will help reveal how your firm has been evaluated and what clients (and others) are discussing about your lawyers. This is just one reason why your firm should be participating in social media.
At a recent law firm retreat, I presented a favourable Yelp review of the firm and one of its lawyers. I took a small risk that most of the lawyers in the room already knew of this review and might even be able to recite some of the amusing parts of this review. Aside from the lawyer celebrated in this review, none of the other lawyers had seen it before. It might have been just one review, but the “reviewer” had more than 800 people following her. Influential indeed.