More than 8 in 10 employed Americans are stressed out by at least one thing about their jobs. Although this statistic may surprise you, luckily there are many practices you can do to minimize or eliminate stress. For our cultural camaraderie program this past month, the Berbay team met with instructor Natalie Bell to discuss mindful wellness.
Bell encourages mindfulness and paying attention to the present moment. Many of us dwell on the past or concentrate on the future. By paying attention to the present, we can listen and engage better while balancing what is needed in the moment.
One lesson Bell taught us about was the STOP exercise, which stands for: Stop what you are doing. Take a few breaths. Observe what you’re feeling. Proceed with what you are doing. The STOP exercise is a quick and easy way for individuals to bring clarity and concentration to the projects they are working on and the people they are talking to.
Berbay Marketing & PR’s cultural camaraderie initiative was recently launched to promote the health and wellness of our employees as well as to encourage team building.
From drafting articles to updating websites to hosting webinars, marketing can seem like an overwhelming task. Particularly for professionals with billable hours, it’s easy to push these items to the back burner. With both current and future business equally important, how does one find the right balance? Time management is critical in ensuring that your current clients are taken care of, all while increasing your visibility to potential clients. Below are four tips to better marketing time management.
Just like you would a client meeting, schedule a meeting with marketing. Start by blocking off an hour, or even just 30 minutes per week to devote to marketing. You’ll be surprised at how much work you can get done if your sole focus is on finishing up that article or making connections on LinkedIn.
Set small goals each week versus large goals over six months. Try spending 15 minutes every Friday afternoon making LinkedIn connections or 30 minutes brainstorming webinar topics. By taking these baby steps you will begin seeing marketing momentum before you know it.
Once you see all pending marketing items written down on paper, identify those with a deadline and start with those. However, prioritization isn’t always about meeting deadlines; activities without a due date can be equally as important. For example, setting up a lunch meeting with the potential new client that you met at the conference last weekend.
Marketing doesn’t have to be a one-man show. If you’re having trouble finishing an article, ask a junior associate to help or seek out a freelancer. If you’re having difficulty scheduling marketing time, ask an assistant who is familiar with your schedule to move some things around on your calendar. Delegate some of the nitty gritty marketing work to others and focus your time on other high-level marketing items.
Building relationships and connections takes time. Many lawyers, CPAs and other professionals are unrealistic about how quickly they can win new or additional business from prospects. It’s really a step-by-step process and every communication with a prospect or client is a touch point to move that relationship along.
Sally J. Schmidt, in her article, “Building Relationships with Contacts,” shares some creative and valuable examples of creating relationships and winning business:
• When you meet someone who works at a company that could be a good source of business, set up a Google alert on that person as well as the company. That way, when something pops up about them, you have a good reason (and opportunity) to follow up with them.
• When a financial institution client has only used you and your firm for a one-off project, offer to provide some free services; for example, in-house training for loan officers or CLE for the legal department. This helps more people in the organization understand what you do; they see your expertise and as a result, they get to know you better. All good reasons for giving you more business.
There’s no question that online sales have exploded. Last year, 244 million people made an online purchase, and that number is expected to reach 270 million by 2020. But at the same time, 60 percent of people feel more comfortable engaging offline. Although it seems like we’re moving toward a digital-only world, there’s no replacement for human connection and relationship building.
While it’s less common to see a salesperson knocking on your door these days, many companies are still finding success with this strategy. Making door-to-door sales does have some unique benefits, and being successful at it requires a certain set of useful skills. Whether you’re selling a product, service or idea, every business can learn valuable lessons from traditional salespeople. Here are four tips to consider:
Know When to Move On
There comes a point when you’re just wasting time—both yours and your prospect’s. Time is valuable, and sometimes it’s more valuable than making a sale. When pursuing someone, give yourself a time limit and stick to it. And, learn to read the signs and cut the interaction off when it’s going nowhere.
Make Your Call-to-Action Quick and Easy
Tell your prospect exactly what you want them to do, and make sure they do it now, while you have their attention. Even if they can’t meet your ultimate goal right away, at least have them take a step in the right direction. Make the process as simple and transparent as possible.
Know What You’re Selling, Inside and Out
If you’re feeling doubtful or if your elevator pitch is unprepared, your prospect will pick up on it. Preparation will improve your confidence, making the sale less intimidating. Take the time to research your audience and anticipate their questions and reactions as well.
Take Rejection in Stride
Rejection will happen; there’s no getting around it. It’s your reaction to it that will make all the difference. No sales attempt is a complete waste of time, because each one gives you more experience and practice. Sometimes, a quick rejection can actually be beneficial, because it frees up more time to focus on other projects and prospects.
Talking to a prospect face-to-face may seem antiquated in the digital age. But regardless of whether you’re selling Tupperware or legal services, don’t forget how powerful relationship building can be.
Why is it that two firms – whether it’s law, real estate or financial firms – operating in the same city and focusing on the same practice area can have wildly different revenue? It all comes down to their positioning: where the firms have placed themselves in the market. Firms that understand their niche and intentionally market themselves to specific kinds of clients tend to be more successful than firms that don’t have a clear picture of what differentiates them.
Positioning isn’t just the area you practice in; it develops through a combination of your firm’s characteristics. Consciously positioning your firm is important not just because it affects your marketing activity, but because it informs your entire business strategy. The following three questions can help you define your positioning.
What services are needed?
The first step in positioning is figuring out what benefits you can provide that are lacking in the marketplace. Take a look at your competition and see how you stack up. Where are they succeeding? More importantly, where are they struggling? Is it in an area where your firm can step in? Don’t think of this just in terms of legal, real estate or finance services. Maybe your competition has a reputation for being expensive, and your firm offers clients a money-saving payment model. Whatever it is, your firm’s distinctive benefit is the foundation for your positioning strategy.
Who is your ideal client?
Pinpoint the clients that you enjoyed representing, or the type of client that you would like to see more. What ties them all together? What do they need or value? Understanding their needs will help you target your services to them. Demographics are also important to consider. Are you located in a large city full of wealthy business-people who will become regular clients? Knowing this will help you refine your marketing and business strategy.
What do you do better than anyone else?
Lastly, after ensuring that your services are needed, the key to positioning is identifying and marketing your firm’s differentiation point. For example, there might be many firms located in the same area, but perhaps there’s one firm that has worked on different clients involving different issues. The firm can leverage that expertise to differentiate itself from the competition. Although it may take a little digging, every firm has at least one characteristic that no other firm shares. What is yours?
In recent years, there’s been an uptick in legal tech startups, including Legal.io, RenewData, casetext, and Axiom, all of which provide different services, such as network platforms, e-discovery, legal research and online legal services, respectively. As these technologies develop and become part of a lawyer’s day-to-day, some have wondered if technology is replacing people. The answer is no. In today’s digitized world, more and more law firms are looking for software and technologies that assist lawyers in providing efficient legal services to clients.
For example, firms are utilizing cloud-based platforms for everything from drafting contracts to messaging to billing. Cloud computing allows all lawyers within a firm to access the most up-to-date documents whenever and wherever they may be. Early adopters of cloud-based platforms in their day-to-day have reported an increase in work productivity and client service. It will be no surprise that these platforms will move further into the cloud and onto mobile devices.
Communication between law firms and their clients is becoming increasingly transparent. Clients are interested in immediate access to data, documents and billing, as well as a clear line of communication. Tools, such as Slack, provide firms with an encrypted and private website primarily for messaging and file-sharing. By opening the lines of attorney-client communication, clients have reported an overall increase in service satisfaction.
On the other hand, it’s no surprise that lawyers are not the best change agents. In fact, studies show that some firms that are stuck in their traditional ways would rather pay more money than adopt some sort of change. The best way to get your firm to embrace these new technologies is to slowly integrate them into the workflow. In no time, these firms will start to see how cloud-based technologies are here to help them provide efficient legal services to clients—not replace them.
The primary purpose of law firm websites used to be for housing anything and everything about the firm, its attorneys, and its services. Websites were once a collection of static pages containing information. Now, today’s law firm websites are moving from passive to aggressive. Since the average website visitor’s attention span is limited, this means they need to constantly be moving throughout the site. Speakers at the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Tech Conference emphasized the importance of having a high-engagement website. Below are some tips for things that law firms can do to keep their visitors coming back to their website.
Offer Free and Interactive Tools
Visitors will come back to your site if they know that they are getting something out of it. Consider creating user-friendly tools, such as an insurance risk calculator, a contractor decision tree, or a step-by-step guide for seeing if you have a viable case. Law firms can take this one step further by promoting this tool at industry-focused seminars, or in a series of blog posts. Whichever tool you choose to promote, don’t forget to give visitors the opportunity to contact you for a more detailed discussion.
Make Sure There Are No Dead Ends
80% of website traffic comes through pages that are not your homepage, such as links through blogs, social media, etc. For example, once a visitor is done reading your employment practice area page, tease them with links to related blog posts, articles or webinars at the bottom of the page. By doing so, you entice the reader to keep moving throughout the website.
Include Visually Compelling Content
Break up heavy text on pages by adding visually compelling images to them. With such little attention spans, readers need to be able to digest information in bite-sized chunks. Another great tool for incorporating images into your website is the use of infographics.
If your firm’s website doesn’t meet any of the above, it doesn’t mean you need to completely scratch and rebuild. Firms can check website traffic to find out which pages are gaining the most traction and which pages are getting the most clicks. Most importantly, this can serve as a starting point for creating a high-engagement website.
Most law firms know that business development is necessary for a strong bottom line. However, many lack the tools or plan to set it in motion. Many in-house legal marketers have to balance a fine line of stressing the importance of business development while not infringing on the amount of billable hours attorneys must account for. Due to a increasingly competitive market, law firms are placing a growing emphasis on business development. However, the accountability placed on attorneys to engage in these activities is conservatively low.
Most business development challenges revolve around attorneys’ unwillingness or inability to bring in new business as opposed to lack of opportunities or competing firms. This internal struggle is often due to a lack of consistent follow-up and follow-through. Consistency is key in business development. It’s not the first or second follow-up with the prospect; it’s the 10th, 15th, or even 20th contact that changes the tide. Prospective clients need to see your face, they need to hear your name.
A lack of structured plan or strategy often inhibits effective business development. Far too often leads are being taken into the firm only to end up in an abyss of spreadsheets with no accountability from anyone on next steps. An adequately structured business development plan is vital to the success of a firm. Whether it means having a practice group manager who implements the plan or an outside marketing firm that offers support, every firm should have a set of business goals with objectives that follow.
Lastly, many lawyers don’t see the monetary value of business development. This frequently plagues associate-level attorneys. Young attorneys are often not encouraged to bring in business and when they do, they fail to see any financial gain. It is vital that attorneys understand and see actual benefits that make business development efforts worth their time. This entices them to attend more networking events, mention their practice groups, and essentially build their book of business.
As one grows professionally, he or she will meet people along the way that will help further their business goals. Developing a business is not a sporadic endeavor. It requires a plan of action, motivated team members and, most importantly, accountability for all involved.
The 3 Geeks and a Law Blog article, “Managing Partners on Change: Clients Don’t Ask, Partners Resist,” shared data from the 2016 Altman Weil MP Survey. Managing Partners provided their opinions on the permanency of important market trends; more price competition, technology replacing human resources, more non-hourly billing, erosion of demand for law firms, decreased realization rates…and more!
Prior surveys have addressed many of these questions. The article shows how MPs have responded over the past 8 years on whether they think certain trends are permanent.