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Four Key Steps to Effectively Market Your Law Firm

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Regardless of how limited your marketing dollars or experience may be, you're more likely to succeed if you have a plan. Best of all, the plan need not be complicated.

Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, published by Free Press in 1989, says to "begin with the end in mind." Simply put, starting a marketing campaign for your firm without a plan is like going to London without knowing how you are going to get there, where you are going to stay, or what you are going to do and see. In fact, most of us are just not that adventurous and can't imagine taking off to some foreign location without some sort of plan.

Of course, some think that formulating a plan in your head is good enough. Wrong. You don't see the holes, gaps, and pitfalls. Getting it out of your head and onto paper is not as overwhelming as you may perceive it to be. Here's a checklist:
  1. Take inventory. Assess your strengths and weaknesses before deciding what marketing you want to implement. For example, if you don't like writing and don't have the patience to write but you're gregarious and enjoy speaking, then giving seminars and presentations might be more appropriate for you. You may want to assign the task of writing articles to someone else in your firm.

  2. Are you clear about your target market? This is one area in which I strongly advise clients — especially those from small firms and with their own practices — to consider taking the time to get clear. Knowing your client market will save you time, money, and frustration. It will also save your limited marketing dollars because you will be clear on how these prospects are likely to be reached, what events they attend, what their reading habits are, etc., thereby making it easier for you to implement your marketing. Understand that you won't be able to rush through the client profiling process. The information you gather during this process will be the foundation for many significant decisions.

  3. Know yourself and your work habits and patterns. Monitor what you do for a week, and determine how much time you spend with clients, how much time you network, and when you do this. Knowing this will help make your networking and marketing endeavors work better for you. For example, if you are a morning person, then by all means attend breakfast-related networking events; on the other hand, if you prefer the evening, then schedule a couple of events in the evening. This will be different for everybody, but knowing your rhythms will make all your business development activities more effective.

  4. If you don't have a website and are in a financial bind, consider getting a blog up. It is relatively easy and inexpensive. Make certain that you include your bio as well as information that clearly demonstrates how your practice can benefit prospects. Case studies and testimonials are effective ways of doing this.
Finally, it's important to understand that there really is nothing new in marketing. Regardless of which marketing tactics you choose, the key to the success of your marketing is consistency and making adjustments when the need arises. More is not necessarily better; doing a few things right is not only considerably cheaper but far more effective. Looking for the latest marketing gimmick is a sure way to fail and demonstrates a lack of thoughtfulness. It's about knowing your strengths and weaknesses and asking for help.

About the Author

Paramjit L. Mahli of the Sun Communication Group is a former journalist who now helps small to mid-sized law firms increase their visibility and build their reputations through public relations. She has also developed a popular teleseminar, "How to Grow Your Law Practice on a Shoestring Budget."