Busy attorneys find it greatly difficult to find enough time to handle the scheduling and logistics of marketing lunches, meetings, and other social events. They’re too distracted by constant interruptions, difficult staffing issues and demanding clients, and so they don’t take (or make) the time to do what they need to.
Many attorneys can be quite good at marketing when they inadvertently find themselves in the right situations but getting there on purpose is the issue I’m addressing here. In general, most attorneys aren’t very good at the initiation phase of marketing.
Getting started is essential. Without someone to initiate and organize these steps, most marketing efforts never get off the ground. If you aren’t successful in setting up lunches, dinners, and meetings with referral sources, then your client development efforts are going to be haphazard. If you’re not meeting with the right people, then you’re relying on happenstance to promote your practice.
Instead, I’d like suggest a more proactive approach.
Enter the Marketing Assistant
When one of our coaching clients had difficulty marketing his firm, he sought help. It came in the form of student majoring in marketing at a local junior college. Although his new assistant had little real-world working experience, the attorney immediately noticed the difference hiring a marketing assistant made to his practice.
Every morning, armed with a list of contacts, he and his marketing assistant would have a short meeting to strategize, set up lunches, and plan client development events. They also focused on placing articles about his firm in local and statewide newspapers. To accomplish this, the assistant compiled a list of publications and set up the list as an email group in their database system. Consequently, whenever something newsworthy happened in the firm — a promotion, an award, etc. — the marketing assistant distributed the news to the state or local press.
The Tapas Dinner
Another attorney we’ve worked with found it too time-consuming to market his practice to prospective referral sources. To overcome this obstacle, he hired a marketing assistant who had a background in sales.
After hiring his marketing assistant, the attorney noticed the firm’s marketing efforts were re-energized. Not only did the assistant help implement the attorney’s marketing ideas, but the assistant developed and implemented on new strategies for marketing the practice. One of those ideas was to create a dinner event for the attorney’s top referral sources. Like a Spanish tapas dinner, the evening’s menu featured many small dishes instead of one main course. While the group enjoyed the dinner, the attorney had the chance to mingle with his guests and develop stronger relationships with different people in the group. Without the support of his marketing assistant, this event never would have gotten off the ground.
To best leverage your marketing efforts with a marketing assistant, consider the different client development activities you can delegate to them:
- Scheduling lunch and breakfast marketing meetings
- Managing your database of clients and referral sources
- Planning parties, seminars, and other group events
- Building and managing a TOMA (top of mind awareness) program: newsletter, email, and birthday lists
- Help prepare for speaking engagements
- Prompting you to write thank-you notes
- Delivering gifts and buying sports, theater, or event tickets for referral sources
- Prompting you into action when you stop marketing
Small firms can employ a marketing assistant for a reasonable hourly rate. When considering what you’d be willing to spend, don’t forget that their efforts bring in more referrals and that the investment of time and money is well worth it. If your marketing efforts have not been stellar, or if you aren’t good at initiating marketing events, hiring an assistant can make all the difference. Rapid progress can be made if you hire someone who is people-oriented and loves to plan events. Someone who has studied marketing in college, a man or woman who has been in sales, a paralegal who is very good with people — all can be great candidates.
You can hire part-time help or, if you require more support, full-time marketing help. One of your existing staff members may also be drafted to help, but don’t overload them if they are still working as a paralegal. Virtual marketing assistants are an option if you have limited office space or are not interested in hiring another employee. Virtual marketing assistants work from their homes or remote office locations, so a law firm doesn’t have to free up office space or include them on the payroll. The firm can also specify how much time they will need on a weekly, monthly, or per-project basis. Virtual marketing assistants generally are paid $30 to $45 per hour depending on their qualifications and your region.
No matter how you set it up, hiring a marketing assistant works. If you work with your marketing assistant to plan two or three marketing contacts a week, by the end of a year you’ll have made 100 to 150 marketing contacts. If that many marketing contacts a year won’t stimulate new business, nothing will. If you are too busy to initiate client development activities, don’t despair — delegate.