How to attract business clients

friday, 27 july of 2007

How to attract business clients: Interaction and persistence effective at opening doors

by Trey Ryder

Marketing to corporations can be difficult, especially if they already have lawyers they trust. Still, at one time or another, executives look for additional legal help, either because they don't see eye to eye with existing counsel, or because they need lawyers with added expertise. These tips will help you position yourself so business executives seek out your services.

1. Specialize in one area of the law. A Florida lawyer recently told me he dramatically increased business when he chose one area of practice. Before, he had offered services in several areas. This blurred his focus and never clearly defined what he did in the minds of his prospects and referral sources. Now, since he has specialized, he has seen a dramatic increase in business. It's easier for people to remember what you do when you limit yourself to one area. Plus, they are more inclined to seek out -- or send referrals to -- a lawyer they perceive as a specialist.

2. Educate prospective clients. Use different educational tools, such as seminars and newsletters, to explain potential problems and the risks of allowing them to persist. Then offer your recommendations. Even if business owners and managers haven't hired your services, they will appreciate your insights and suggestions. Keep the lines of communication open with ongoing information and advice.

3. Write articles for trade and professional publications. Two business and insurance lawyers recently had their first article published in a statewide trade journal. Within days it brought them new clients. Media publicity should never be your entire marketing program. Still, when carried out properly, it can prove to be a powerful piece in your marketing mosaic.

4. Speak at business meetings and conferences. Prepare a flier about your program and send it to trade associations. When meeting planners know you offer a seminar, they often invite you to make your presentation if the subject interests their audience. Also, make sure editors know about your program because they often play a key role in planning conferences.

5. Present in-house seminars for executives at companies you’d like to represent. Mail your program flier with a cover letter to key management personnel. Offer to present roundtables for top executives -- and seminars for executives and managers.

6. Mail your newsletter every two to four weeks. Add companies you'd like to have as clients to your mailing list. Invite executives to add names of their colleagues to your mailing list. In your newsletter, give readers ongoing reasons to interact with you, such as attending your seminars and requesting your educational materials. (In most jurisdictions, mailing unsolicited educational material does not meet the definition of "targeted direct mail to people known to need legal services", as regulated by many bar associations. Check your local bar rules.) As an alternative to a printed newsletter, send a weekly e-mail alert. Make sure you set up a method by which prospects can opt in so they welcome your e-mail.

7. Establish an education-based web site. Lawyers continue to report positive experiences from education-based web sites. A web site creates the perception that you’re technologically advanced. It provides a quick and easy way for prospects to get a great deal of information about you and your firm. A web site is an inexpensive way to deliver your marketing message, compared with other marketing methods. And we’ve reached the point today where if you don’t have a web site, prospects often conclude something’s wrong with you.

8. Network to build personal connections. Ask for introductions from professionals who work with executives. Don't underestimate the value of relationships. When prospects like you, they are drawn to you at both the conscious and subconscious level. Approach prospects by letter, not telephone. Add them to your mailing list so they receive notice of your seminars and your offers of free educational materials. Give new prospects time to get to know you. Also, network with members of law firms that don't have attorneys in your area of expertise.

9. Start a radio talk show directed at your target audience. Then invite executives or managers who are your prospects to come on your show as guests. Often, executives like to be the focus of attention, especially on shows directed toward their industry or profession. (When I hosted a radio talk show, not one person declined my invitation to appear as a guest.) What's more, they come into the studio in a friendly, upbeat mood because they want to be at their best. This gives you the opportunity to meet and work with executives when they don't have their defenses up. What's more, they appreciate your invitation. The real value of having your own radio talk show isn’t only the audience you reach over the airwaves. You also benefit from the many relationships you build with your guests.

10. Volunteer your time where you will meet prospective clients. A Durham, North Carolina attorney serves on the board of a community college foundation along with 35 other members, primarily senior executives from banks and major corporations. As a sole practitioner, she reports, "This allows me to rub elbows with local executives. I can see how top managers work and think, and pick up business, too."

11. Start a non-profit organization that will help members of your target audience. In addition, invite onto your advisory board professionals from whom you can receive referrals. When you and your prospects work together for a common cause, you get to know and trust each other. This paves the way to a lawyer/client relationship. And when you and your referral sources have the opportunity to work together, those relationships flourish as well.

12. Start small at first. Offer to help prospects in small ways, such as providing second opinions or reviewing documents. Offer to identify problem areas and recommend solutions. After you get your foot in the door, you will go from small tasks to larger projects. But don't expect a lot of work at the beginning. Give executives time to evaluate your skills and judgment as you establish your credibility.

13. Don't give up. It may be tomorrow -- or next year -- but at some time, company executives will need more legal help -- or need to bring in a specialist. And when that day arrives, you want to be in the strongest competitive position. Some managers may follow your articles and seminars for years, but unless they have a specific reason to call, you may never hear from them.

Create opportunities and reasons for executives to interact with you. Be patient, polite and persistent. Let them know you're there when they need you and that they’re welcome to call anytime with their questions. Sooner or later, they will come to you with their problems. If you take them off your mailing list, they might conclude you don't want their business -- or that you’ve closed your firm. Remember, when you're out of sight, you're out of mind.

Don't give up!

© Trey Ryder

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