Blog/Podcast: Watch Your Practice Grow with These 4 Marketing Dos and Don’ts

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Many believe that if you change your mindset, everything else changes. Therefore, it stands to reason, the best way to improve your marketing strategy is to change the way you think about it.

Kimberly Rice, president and chief strategist at KLA Marketing Associates, helps lawyers develop their “marketing mindset” and make their practices more prosperous. She joined the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast to talk about her top dos and don’ts for shifting your perception and maximizing the return on your marketing investment.

Do think of yourself as a business owner

Many lawyers don’t feel like they’re business owners because they’re part of a firm and getting a regular paycheck. But the fact of the matter is that any attorney in private practice owns their own business, simply because if clients stopped giving them business, they would have no job.

Attorneys don’t always recognize this, largely because it’s not covered in law school. Although some schools are advancing, many still don’t teach students the business realities of the legal industry. This means it’s up to lawyers to develop their marketing mindset and build up their business development skills on their own (and hopefully with the support of their firm). Those who don’t, do so at their own peril: we learned in the last recession that the lawyers who don’t bring in business are the first on the chopping block during times of instability. Start thinking of yourself as a business owner now, and you’ll have a stable client base no matter where your career takes you.

Don’t assume what works for someone else will work for you

During Kimberly’s time working in large law firms, she frequently saw lawyers from one practice area giving talks to other lawyers in a completely different department, explaining how they found clients and built their books. What was never mentioned, however, was that every message needs to be targeted to the appropriate audience, and what works in one area of practice will not necessarily work in another.

Marketing strategies should be based on client needs and demands, not generic marketing trends or tips. A commercial real estate lawyer has a very different target client than a personal injury lawyer, and their business development tactics need to reflect that. Although some marketing tips are universal, when another lawyer shares their road to success, take it with a grain of salt. There’s no one path to prosperity and your path will be unique from everyone else’s.

Do base your marketing strategy on these three pillars

When writing her book, “Rainmaker Road Map: A Step by Step Guide to Building a Prosperous Business,” Kimberly and her team looked at every business development and marketing tactic they could think of, and discovered that each of them fell into one of three distinct categories. Kimberly calls these the “three pillars.”

First is relationship building, which includes targeted networking and organizational involvement. This is what expands your circle of contacts and gets your name out there. Second is reputation enhancing through speaking engagements, published articles and digital marketing. You could be the best at what you do, but if you haven’t developed a strong reputation or personal brand, it’s unlikely that clients will call on you. Third is contact management with email marketing and communications programs. This is the final step—keeping in touch with prospects until, eventually, they become clients.

The trick to growing a prosperous business is using a few marketing tactics from each of these pillars. It’s impossible to do everything, but if your marketing strategy includes aspects of each, you’ll have a strong marketing foundation.

Don’t engage in random acts of marketing

Without a long-term plan to guide them, many lawyers go through spurts of marketing activity, which inevitably fails because it’s done hastily. When lawyers don’t get the results they want, they get frustrated and stop marketing entirely, until they decide they need more clients and start the process all over again. It’s an unsustainable way to develop business, yet it’s exactly what happens when you don’t have a clear vision.

The real secret sauce of marketing is consistent, tailored and targeted action over a prolonged period of time. Marketing is a long, sometimes difficult road that requires patience and tenacity. It can take months or years to see the value of marketing show up in your profits, and networking sometimes ends in rejection. But you can’t let these challenges disappoint you and prevent you from following through. Make your legal practice prosperous by including a range of tactics in your marketing plan and be persistent in pursuing them.

Click here to download/subscribe to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast.

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