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The first rule of marketing is to never, ever, ever stop marketing. The second rule of marketing is to never, ever, ever stop marketing.
Now is a good time to kick-start your law firm’s marketing plans to make next year your best year ever. To get started, focus on the first three months of next year. Here are three questions that, when answered honestly, can help direct your firm to get a quick start:
  • What one thing can you do in the first quarter to get your marketing moving forward?
  • What’s one thing that scares you, but you know if you did it that it would be a big marketing boost?
  • What’s one thing that would give you and your team the most marketing confidence?

How you answer these questions will be different for you than for different firms and, unless you just completely drop the ball, there are really no wrong answers. Anything that gets you moving, that motivates you, is worthwhile.

With that in mind, let’s look at your referral marketing — because referral marketing is one of the least expensive and most productive marketing activities in which you can engage.

You need a systematic process for building relationships with key referral sources and clients. For those who bring you the most and best work, you should have a system to track and record their spouses’ and kids’ names, birthdays and anniversaries, and what they like to do for fun.

All marketing actions should be consistent with your personal beliefs and values. You can’t fake it and get very far with personal relationships if what you say in your referral marketing isn’t genuine and from the heart.

The intent of referral marketing is to gain high-value clients on a consistent basis. To dive a little deeper, consider the five keys of successful referral marketers:

Keep it simple. Schedule breakfast, lunch or dinner with your contacts. Take them to a favorite sporting event. Send a book you know they’ll enjoy.

Keep moving. Every day, every week, every month, you need to be marketing. Here at Atticus, our goal for clients is to make at least three marketing contacts per week. If you’re just not very comfortable asking for business, try at least one marketing contact per week and work from a script you have rehearsed and pretty much perfected.

Be authentic. If you try to be someone you’re not, sooner or later it’s going to turn people off and hurt business. Let your personality shine through, and be the true you with your referral sources.

Be selective. You want a pipeline of good clients, so be prepared to say “no” more than “yes” to potential clients. Being selective also goes for your team because one bad apple really can spoil the whole barrel.

Give guidance and build in accountability. Train your team well and hold them accountable for the jobs they do.

If you hope to successfully market your practice, you’ll need to keep what worked in the past and build upon through time. What are three things that worked for you this past year?

  • Was it taking the time to send a handwritten thank you card to one of your referral sources or best clients at least once a day?
  • Was it sending cards around the holidays and including a gift card to Starbucks?
  • Was it getting more involved in a local community charity and taking a leadership position on a committee?

Whatever you do, try to make it a habit.

Other things to think about:

  • It’s not too late to say thank you to five to ten referral sources with a lunch or dinner — and ask how you can help them.
  • Ask for referrals as often as you comfortably can, but at least once a week.
  • Consider hiring a marketing assistant, whether in-office or virtual (remote).
  • Prioritize your referral list of your top 20 existing sources.
  • Block out time on your calendar to market throughout the next 12 months because if you don’t write it down, you risk forgetting to do it.
  • Meet with your team to plan a signature event, such as a holiday party or golf tournament.
It’s never too late to start a marketing plan, but the end of the year is a natural time to take stock of it and kick start it into next year. With a consistent approach, we anticipate great things for your firm next year — and in the years to come.

Happy holidays!

Steve Riley

Certified Practice Advisor & Attorney

Steve Riley has coached attorneys for more than 20 years. His one-on-one coaching focuses on a limited number of top producing attorneys committed to taking their practices to new levels of excellence, profit, and personal success. He also presents at group coaching workshops around the country for individual law firms, state bar associations, and other legal organizations.

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