Robin Hensley, Raising the Bar Robin Hensley, Raising the Bar

Every Monday, George Menden’s alarm wakes him at 6 a.m. The co-founding partner of MendenFreiman gets dressed, prepares a light breakfast and walks into his home office. For most of the year, the sun is just creeping over the horizon, shimmering off the lake outside his window. His first call usually starts at 7 a.m., and he continues for another two hours with calls to clients and referral sources.

Menden, one of my longtime clients, anchored marketing calls into his schedule two years ago as part of our emphasis on “gold time,” a dedicated window to focus on strategic marketing. I asked him if there was a time he wouldn’t get distracted and could focus on marketing. We analyzed his schedule, as well as the list of individuals he expects to call. And, while that day and time frame may not work for everyone, Menden decided that Monday mornings were the best time for him to reach out to those folks. He calls that moment a “brilliant interchange” that has had a tremendous impact on his practice.

“At the end of the year, I was able to see an increase in originated revenue as a result of the marketing activity,” he says. And his success has only increased since then. Menden’s practice, business law and estate planning and administration, is built around personal relationships. Personal contact and face time are critical in building trust.

Calendared calls mean you don’t have to “find time.”

This strategy also removes the pressure of finding time for marketing calls during the week, he says. Before he calendared marketing time, Friday would roll around, and he would look back on the week and wonder if he did enough marketing. Like most lawyers, Menden finds that there is little downtime in his schedule. Colleagues and clients constantly need attention, and the legal work is challenging. The hours pass quickly, and tasks that aren’t scheduled may not get done.

Menden knows how valuable marketing is to his firm and feels a visceral reaction when he thinks he hasn’t done enough. As someone who reads marketing books on vacation, he is keen to try out new approaches and adjust his focus.

Every six months, Menden’s firm does a deep dive into the firm’s marketing strategy. He creates a product-market grid that shows where work is coming from, along with the specific types of business (practice area, case size, etc.). This analysis helps MendenFreiman staff matters appropriately and think about how to deploy resources.

“I use every meeting to recalibrate our marketing efforts,” Menden explains of our one-on-one sessions. For example, we developed a plan to put his firm in front of Atlanta’s CPA community, an important source of referrals in his practice. Passive marketing—like firm newsletters—expands a law firm’s reach and name recognition, but it won’t work if individual lawyers are not committed to the sustained personal marketing that sets an attorney and firm apart from competitors.

Menden understands this and is particularly effective.

Monthly meetings establish accountability.

Menden spends two to three hours preparing for marketing meetings. He scores his performance, asking himself what he has accomplished since the last meeting. As he puts it: “If you don’t put the time in, then the meetings are just pleasant conversation. I expect tangible, measurable results from my meetings. To achieve this result, I spend two or three hours of preparation for every hour I spend in our coaching sessions. The preparation ensures that my meetings center around accountability, accomplishments and the action plan for the following month.”

Armed with a fresh perspective, he will go back to his Monday morning conversations and use the time to set up in-person meetings. Earlier this year, when the new tax law went into effect, he called his affected clients to schedule calls and lunches. That personal outreach makes a difference.

He recalls observing a mentor many years ago who dropped off a modified legal agreement to a client’s home late one evening. Asked why he made that extra effort, the mentor replied, “Because I want him to know we turned the agreement right around, and we care enough about him to make a house call.”

That has stayed with Menden over the years. Like his mentor, he genuinely cares about his clients, and nothing sends that message like setting aside time for calls and personal contact.

Robin Hensley’s column is based on her work as president of Raising the Bar and coaching lawyers in business development for more than 25 years. She is the author of “Raising the Bar: Legendary Rainmakers Share Their Business Development Secrets.”