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Well, it’s that time of year when we give those we care about something special. This year, I have a really great gift for lawyers and marketers throughout the Delaware Valley: I am giving the gift of advice from law firm marketing experts from around the country. That’s right, I have asked my colleagues from outside Pennsylvania to give you a tip that they are giving to their clients right now. So what could be better than new voices and new ideas from renowned law firm marketing experts on how to grow your practice next year? Without further adieu, here they are. Notice some similar themes. Sally Schmidt, Schmidt Marketing Inc., Minnesota: Give so you can receive. “This is often referred to as the season of giving, and it is that same spirit that will make your marketing efforts more effective. There is no quick fix in marketing, no magic bullet for developing business. You must make an investment of time and resources to show a good return. So invest in clients � learn about their industries, visit their facilities, meet their people. Give something back to an organization � serve on a committee, play a leadership role, provide free legal services. Invest in your practice � take CLE courses, write articles, give speeches. It takes time and effort to build relationships and practices. From holiday cards to trade associations, from referral sources to existing clients, you need to give before you expect to get anything back.” Tom Kane, Kane Consulting Inc., Florida: Visit clients. “Visit your client in their workspace/place of business, off the clock to learn more about their business, industry, personal life, etc. It is all about relationships. Listen to the client, asking thoughtful questions. In my 20-plus years in the legal marketing business, I have found that lawyers who conduct client visits will in the vast majority of cases return with new work. It worked for me when I was practicing law, and it has worked for lawyers I have worked with both in-house and as a consultant. It surprises me that more lawyers still don’t undertake this simple business development task.” Deborah McMurray, Content Pilot LLC, Texas: Fix up your Web site. “Look at your Web site with both a critical and a fresh eye. Whether you’ve spent a little or a lot of money, ask yourself if it is: • “Communicating your message effectively? Looking at your home page, do visitors immediately know what you do and for whom you do it? Does the design reflect your culture and style of doing business? • “Intuitive? Can visitors quickly find details about your industries and practices? Can they keyword search and get useful results? Can their questions easily get answered? Do they feel as though ‘you read their minds’ and delivered exactly what they were seeking? • “Working hard as a business development tool? Is your best material on your Web site, and is it well organized and written for the scanning reader? Can visitors create presentation-ready materials right on your Web site, and can lawyers quickly assemble pitch materials to e-mail or print? Is your most relevant experience easily found? • “Showing your lawyers in the best light? Print the bios of your lawyers and your closest competitors, and then compare the printed copies side by side. Who stands out? Who looks superior? Web site analytics programs show that visitors to law firm Web sites view lawyer biographies three to four times more than any other pages on the Web site. Visitors are searching for, finding and validating referrals to lawyers. The bios must be current, relevant and written with your most important experience right up front.” Andy Havens, Sanestorm Marketing, Ohi Don’t waste marketing dollars. “Here’s a holiday gift to your bottom-line from me: If you don’t know exactly why you’re doing something, just stop. Save the money and put it into your pocket or give it to a charity or pay your staff more. So many firms do ‘marketing stuff’ simply because they see other firms doing it, or because it seems like ‘the thing to do.’ Well, those firms are doing it because they see you doing it. So put down the checkbook until you’ve spent some real time defining what the goals and metrics for your marketing activities should be. “If you don’t understand why you’re doing something, and how it impacts your business, any success will be random and you won’t learn anything from your failures. I’d rather have 10 times the planning and understanding from a client firm than 10 times the budget. Except for my fee, of course.” Susan Saltonstall Duncan, Rainmaking Oasis, Connecticut: Focus on your own market. “Focus on what is going on around you, anticipate trends in the marketplace and develop a niche. Be ahead of the curve. Too often, lawyers have gotten caught in a rut or a downturn because they didn’t look ahead, track trends and anticipate how the economy or market forces would affect their areas of practice or their clients. “Be sure to read the daily business paper and your local papers to note trends, challenges and opportunities and convert these into consequences that either will threaten your clients, e.g., bankruptcy, job losses, divorces, liability litigation, or provide opportunities � such as exports, global growth, upward trends in real estate or industries, economic development incentives and new companies in the region, etc. “No one should be caught completely off guard. The best place to be is ‘ahead of the curve’ in a new niche or with a new service. When you are ahead of your competitors, you can be the expert in the new or emerging field and charge higher fees without as many other lawyers with whom to compete.” Larry Bodine, Larry Bodine Marketing, Illinois: Spend 200 hours on marketing. “I recommend that lawyers devote a minimum of 200 hours a year on business development. This works out to four hours a week and is an easy target to hit. In one week, a lawyer can meet a referral source for coffee in the morning, on another day visit a client’s offices, and another day attend a trade association. This easily fills four hours. Rainmakers spend part of each and every day on business development. They view everyone they meet as a potential client. They are marketing all the time. “For lawyers who want to be rainmakers, 20 minutes a day is a very reasonable target.” John Remsen, The Remsen Group, Georgia: Have a plan. “Every law firm should develop and implement a written strategic plan. The bottom line is that planning leads to profits, and there is a growing body of research suggesting that law firms with strategic plans outperform those without them. Yet, we have found through our surveys of managing partners that more than 70 percent of law firms do not have one. “Too many firms go through the planning process and fail to implement. It’s not unlike a school teacher giving homework assignments that aren’t required to be turned in and, on top of that, they aren’t graded. Planning without implementation is a colossal waste of time and money. Structure and accountability are critical to insure successful implementation.” Elizabeth Lampert, Elizabeth Lampert PR, Washington, D.C.: Happy birthday, client. “When’s the last time you wished a client happy birthday? Sent a personal congratulatory letter? Often overlooked, communicating with clients is the single most important tool for growing a successful practice. It’s no substitute for delivering solid work product, but effective communication can make the difference when it comes to landing a new client, holding on to an existing one, or expanding the amount and kind of work you’re called upon to do. People do business with people whom they trust, and trust comes through relationship development. That’s where communication comes in.” Sylvia Coulter, Coulter Cranston, Massachusetts: Meet face to face. “Connect with everyone. Nothing, and I mean nothing, replaces face-to-face meetings. The next best thing is phoning. In fact, you will almost always receive business within 60 days of visiting a client. Clients expect their service providers to visit them at least once a year. And by clients, we mean all clients. “Go back to your billing sheets from up to 10 years ago and start calling to re-connect. You will be amazed at the results. Many who have doubted us have phoned back to say they are delighted by the results. Hot tip: When speaking with clients, ask them what their research and development teams are working on. This information will give you great insight about future legal needs of your client and allows you to anticipate their needs. This kind of conversation provides information that if acted on, gives you significant competitive advantage.” Micah Buchdahl, HTMLawyers Inc., New Jersey: Keep what works secret. “The best marketing tips never appear in print, or at seminars. I never discuss those things that work best, as that is why it gives firms a competitive advantage. So, my tip is that if you are reading it, most people are already aware of it. Find something that nobody knows about.” Conclusion Thank you colleagues for your advice. Now it is my turn. Remember that you have to leave your office to get new clients. You have to develop relationships with people to get referrals and new business. Put yourself in the shoes of the client or referral source and imagine what kind of service you would like to receive. Learn all you can about people’s businesses and lives and understand how they make money and what gives them enjoyment in life. Think about marketing every day and with each person you meet. Work on your handshake. Practice your 30-second elevator speech. Make sure your appearance is such that you look like a top-notch attorney. Be a client in your own office and sit where your visitors do and see what they see. Get enthusiastic about some cause or organization and get involved. Be passionate about your work and delivering outstanding client service. Be a great person to work with (and for) and have a sense of humor. So as I like to say: Get up, get out, and get going in 2008. Stacy West Clark is president of Stacy Clark Marketing. A former attorney with Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Clark was the firm’s first marketing director � a position created for her in 1986 based on a proposal she made to the firm’s management. To be informed of future Delaware Valley Law Firm Marketing Programs, e-mail [email protected]or go to http://www.dvlawmarketing.org.

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