Ask Daliah: How to market on a budget
Dear Daliah: How do you find clients using methods that don’t cost more than $1,000 and don’t demand your every-day (every week?) attention? A simple plan to implement a marketing strategy.
Dear Karen: Not all firms are alike, and not all firms can implement the same marketing strategies. However, all firms, regardless of size or practice area, can and should do these three things to effectively attract new clients—without spending lots of money.
1. Conduct an audit. If you are at least a bit established, odds are you already have some clients. Do you know how you got them? Did they get referred from another client? Another lawyer? Did they read an article you wrote? Did they hear you speak?
What percentage of clients do you get from each of these channels?
You can’t effectively market your firm if you don’t know what’s working—and what is not.
2. Focus your energies. Once you have determined how new clients usually find you, build up those channels or relationships and stop wasting energy on others.
For example, if you determine that many of your new clients come from other attorney referrals, spend more time building and strengthening those relationships. Schedule a lunch or coffee once a month with someone who regularly sends you business instead of going to a networking event every night of the week with the hope that you might meet a client in a room of 100 or more.
Alternatively, curate your own events. Bring people to you instead of trying to find them. When I first started Saper Law, I started hosting a monthly educational series called Seminars at Saper Law. Based on the topic, I would attract prospective clients I would have had an otherwise difficult time reaching indirectly.
If you discover that much of your business comes from the internet, make sure you have an accessible, clear and professional website. Make sure you also have a solid presence on every appropriate social media network and harness the power of online reviews. Consider which review site or sites are mostly likely to be seen by potential clients (e.g. Google or Yelp), and then direct satisfied clients there.
Finally, don’t underestimate the amount of business you can generate from existing clients. You would be surprised how many of your clients either do not know the full breadth and scope of your practice areas or how many have simply forgotten you. Which brings me to tip No. 3.
3. Stay top of mind. Once you identify your best referral sources, whether they are clients, lawyers, or colleagues, stay top of mind with them via email newsletters and social media.
There are many inexpensive tools to help you do this. I use a platform called MailChimp for my newsletters and Hootsuite.com to manage my social media accounts. (Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts in advance, giving the impression of an active set of profiles while only requiring your time periodically.) In addition to reminding viewers about your services, your communications should provide value or be interesting—in a way that is relevant to what you do.
No amount of advertising replaces good old fashioned word-of-mouth marketing, so let your reputation precede you. Besides, I bet you’ll get a better return on investment of your time and money.
Daliah Saper opened Saper Law Offices, an intellectual property, digital media, entertainment and business law firm based in Chicago, in 2005. Saper is regularly interviewed on national TV, radio and in several publications, including Fox News, CNN, CNBC, ABC News, 20/20, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. She is an adjunct professor of entertainment law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.