Is the phone suddenly not ringing? Do the emails you receive contain nothing but spam? Are the other lawyers in your shared office space getting mail and you are not?
If you want to skip the story I am about to tell you and go right to learning how to market without stress, scroll down to the bottom for the link to my calendar.
I, too, used to worry about my caseload drying up all the time.
That was until I stopped relying on clients and referral sources to define my practice and replaced it with a niche for which I became known as the “go to” lawyer. I really love this new practice area and it shows. The excitement I get when I talk about what I do and how I help business consultants is attractive and helps me stand out in a town (Washington, DC) where even the janitors have law degrees.
An example of how this works happened to me on the 4th of July. It was starting to rain so I went into the local cigar shop (yeah, I know) sat down with a BuenaVentura (great value on a cigar by the way) to read some marketing material from a sales training coach that I work with.
I got interrupted by one of the regulars who asked what I did for a living. I told him I was a lawyer (groan). He asked what type and – in the past I would go into a boring monologue about contract litigation, how I protect people, blah blah blah. But now I have a niche to talk about. I told him how I meet with coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs and by delivering my services in packages, they get the help they need to grow their businesses. The length and quality of our conversation showed how much I love their business model; and how I have found a way to support them that is not taught by any traditional law firm or continuing legal education class that I am aware of.
You see, by doing what I love, I was able to convey my energy. The fact that I love serving entrepreneurs showed. I am able to speak in the language of my clients (turns out he was a sales trainer and so in a related industry) which as it turns out is far more interesting than legalese. (Go figure!). He and I began to have a really great conversation about business, sales training, leadership development, etc. It developed organically how a lawyer could be helpful to a business consultant. The conversation flowed naturally; it was not forced with me trying to “firehose” him about my law firm’s ability to serve needs in the hopes that he would know someone to refer to me even if he did not need me himself. (A pattern of communication that happens all too often at networking events).
The lesson here for me was that as long as I have a niche practice that I love, clients and referral sources will be naturally attracted to me. Of course there is more, I learned how to make my work accessible and available to a wide range of clients and my marketing has taken care of filling my pipeline with work. But the foundation is that I am doing what I love so the extra work of marketing is a joy rather than a drudge.
Let’s face it. Given the current economy there are a lot of people now consulting either full time or on the side. They need help and most lawyers don’t know how to tell them how to run their business from start up to maturity.
Do you know how to address the needs of coaches, consultants or entrepreneurs who deliver goods and services on-line? What they do touches on a lot of really neat areas of the law varying from routine contracts to copyright/trademark issues to employment issues with non-competes. And, given that most of them are plying new territory with personal and business development services, it is very easy to have fun talking about and learning about their businesses. For me it’s far more fun than saying I protect people from getting screwed. That kind of talk, while helpful and true, is fear based, and that kind of “marketing speak” just does not resonate with me. As it turns out potential clients and referral sources don’t care for it much either.
But, when I can talk about how we can actually help people to design their business lives, I find my marketing efforts are much more enjoyable and much more productive. I even picked up a client on my way out of the cigar shop.
I was glad I discovered this way to approach marketing. To be honest, I am somewhat of an introvert (remember I went into the cigar shop with something to read). Just walking into a room full of strangers and pulling in a client is not natural to me. I have to work it the hard way. I have to study, analyze and then approach with a game plan. I learned how to do this through social media and through old fashioned socializing. The fact that I do something that is unique and that I love is a bonus, and helps me stand out.
AND, IF I COULD LEARN HOW TO DO IT, SO CAN YOU.
If you want to talk more about all of this, how to put a plan in place to attract coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs as a profitable client base, get on my calendar and we can have a virtual cigar or latte or tea (pick your poison) and chat about marketing without the stress. I know getting on the phone with someone these days is rare. We check in via email, text or social media, but I’m a fan of the good old phone. Bonus: When our phone is on our ear, we can ignore those email notifications and status updates for a while. We literally can’t check it. It forces the focus on the conversation, which is really important.
If you read this and thought, gee I know a colleague who would love this, please send it to her or him. And if you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch. Here’s my calendar link one more time.