One letter out of place on a contract or deal could spell disaster and damage your reputation. A lawyer's life is full of pressure: to keep up with changes in the law, to be completely accurate, to bring in more business.
And you still have to spend time marketing yourself and getting new clients. But how to find the time and can it be enjoyable?
Marketing is often confused with pushy selling when it is very different. The definition of marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is: "The management practice concerned with anticipating and satisfying client needs profitably."
Lawyers possess many skills ideal for modern marketing approaches, although many do not realise it. These skills include: research, influencing, stakeholder management, and writing. Understandably, modern marketing with all the different types of social media platforms can feel overwhelming on top of your day job, but they are great for creating visibility and building your personal brand. Finding the time to do this, while delivering your fee earning targets or keeping your boss happy at work, can be a real challenge.
On the positive side, two vital types of modern marketing are well suited to lawyers' skills: content marketing and influencing stakeholders of various types.
When you are time poor or don't enjoy marketing yourself or being in the limelight, what's the best approach to do marketing expediently?
The answer is to market yourself indirectly.
It feels more comfortable because it isn't focusing on you, but on others e.g. how you help your client, whether internal if you work in-house, or external if you work in private practice.
Clients buy with their emotions even if they come to you with practical problems to be solved at key points in their personal or business lives. Demonstrating how you satisfy clients is important when marketing yourself and giving examples.
Lawyers are excellent at helping and advising their clients – providing excellent client service is a 'win-win', with both parties benefiting profitably. The client has their problem resolved and you gain fee earning/enhance your professional reputation.
8 tips to market yourself indirectly
Client case studies
What are your most common client problems? Creating written case studies of these or an infographic to bring them to life and sharing them with colleagues and referrers is an easy way to help people to help you get more clients and understand specifically what you are looking for and what value you bring.
How can you demonstrate your knowledge and writing skill to attract future opportunities to you? Interviewing clients or people in the market sector in which you specialise and developing a white paper to send to clients and prospects is an expedient way to demonstrate your expertise to current clients and to prospects to get further work.
If you prefer speaking to writing and can access speech recognition / voice response software, imagine you are speaking effortlessly at an event so that the article creates itself.
Make sure that you know the key words for your legal specialism, market sector and target clients. Google key word planner is a great tool for this.
Referrers, ambassadors and influencers
Who are the key people in your network who can get you clients or help you do your job better? How many 'supernetworkers' do you have in your network who have large high-quality networks? Create a graded referrers/ambassadors/influencers keep in touch system with hot, medium and cold sub-segments to help you prioritise the frequency with which you meet, speak or contact them.
Who are the people in your employer or sector crucial to influence your career success? Gather information about them, find people close to them and diarise time to influence them.
How do you ask your clients for feedback at the end of a case or deal? Creating a simple feedback questionnaire helps you to improve client service. You can include a question asking who else they know who has a legal need and request a testimonial to use in future marketing.
Quote someone else
It is common for lawyers to feel uncomfortable saying "I did this", or "I want that". The way to counter this inner resistance is to do it indirectly, e.g. "the client said the case was well-managed".
A huge volume of information is being shared online: words, images and videos. How can you stand out from the crowd? A distinctive personal brand, physical prop or original piece of content such as an animation can cut through the noise on-line and attract clients, referrers or future employers to you.
Send a handwritten card through the post. It is cost-effective, impactful and effective and speaks volumes.
It can be a real challenge to find time regularly to do marketing and for it to feel comfortable. Which of the 8 tips most appeals to you? What action will you take and when will you take it? Diarise it now.
Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.
Rachel Brushfield is the author of the Law Society's new practice management book: Smarter Legal Marketing. Practical strategies for busy lawyers. The book has chapters dedicated to marketing, content marketing, and time management.