I was talking to a lawyer recently who shared with me a story I hear too often. His client’s longtime in-house legal team changed when the general counsel left his role. My client was left odd-man-out when the new in-house counsel arrived and brought in his own favorite law firm.
Uunfortunately, this lawyer hadn’t developed close relationships within the organization beyond the legal team and his main contact, so there was no one to advocate for him to stay on. He was phased out, and as a result he had a difficult 2021.
It didn’t need to be like that. If only he had planned ahead.
Have you heard the saying don’t put all your eggs in one basket? Well, it’s especially true for business professionals, especially lawyers.
Diversification of your client base is crucial for lawyers. Don’t rely on one or two clients for all your work, because change happens within organizations and to organizations every day.
People leave companies, needs change, mergers happen. Companies go out of business. You just never know.
It’s so important to also make sure that you’re building relationships with many different people at your client organization – not just your main contact – because, again, if one person leaves the organization, you don’t want to be left in the lurch.
Although word-of-mouth referrals will always remain one of the most powerful means of attracting new clients, it is out of your control as to ‘when’ these referrals might happen.
This is exactly why I always say it’s so important to be marketing yourself and your business even when you don’t think you need it, because anything can happen.
This is also how LinkedIn can help you because it’s such a visible and free way of marketing your capabilities and expertise.
Speaking and writing can also help you, as well as networking and sending regular emails that are helpful to your clients and referrals. That’s how you keep them warm and that’s how you say top of mind with them.
Here are a few ways to broaden your client base:
- Make networking a priority. Mix business development into your existing activities. Look through your address book and get back in touch with clients with whom you haven’t done business in a while. Then reach out to referral sources beyond your immediate network. Ask current clients to refer you to others who could use your services.
- Do a website audit. Make sure the content on the site is client-centric. The more you talk about yourself, the more you will turn people off. The more you talk about your clients, the more you will engage them. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile viewing as smartphones now account for fully 70% of total time spent on digital media. Add and edit existing pages and show prospective clients your knowledge about the problems they are facing by creating content that showcases your expertise. If your website doesn’t already feature client testimonials, now is a good time to add those. Case studies highlighting how your company helped clients can attract new business. You can pull some of these from your LinkedIn profile recommendations.
- Establish a presence as a thought leader through content marketing. Use blog posts, articles, videos and podcasts to demonstrate subject-matter expertise in your field while improving your Google search results. Value-added content provides you with useful reasons to get in touch with clients and leads. You should set up an email newsletter to promote your content and post it on social media. Becoming an author is also a great way to appear in searches during a prospect’s research phase. Including a blog on your website, and updating it regularly, can also be one of the easiest ways to continuously produce fresh content, which then tells search engines that your website is active and frequently updated.
- Enhance your online presence. Ensure that your website is updated and highlights your firm’s strengths. Make sure you’re taking advantage of tools such as SEO (especially local SEO) that can help you spread the word about your business. Google My Business is a fundamental essential to boost your local SEO, enabling your organization to be visible on search results pages relevant to its location. You can set up your free Google My Business listing here. Doing so will help prospects easily locate and identify your firm when searching online.
- Embrace social media marketing. If it seems daunting for you, start small. You don’t need to be on all of the social channels, but you do need to be on LinkedIn to reconnect with your clients and prospects. Here are some tips.
- Expand your offerings. Consider ways of expanding your existing expertise to offer new products or services. This may help you move into new industries and markets. For example, ask yourself what ancillary services or products could you easily create in order to allow your company to serve more types of clients?
- Consider partnerships with other organizations. Find ways to partner with other businesses with which you may already have an informal relationship or get creative and market your product and services in different ways.
- Highlight your good works. Get more involved with professional organizations, pro bono work, community service organizations, your alumni networks – all of these are great ways to meet people who could be potential clients and referral sources. Plus, you’re doing good for the community.
- Focus on PR. This is a great time to focus on enhancing your visibility, which can raise your profile and keep you top of mind with current clients as well as people who aren’t familiar with you. You can do this through traditional public relation (quote and article placements) as well as speaking engagements and owned media such as starting your own blog, podcast or video series which you can then promote on social media, email and other channels.
- Never eat alone. While it’s more challenging to network in person in these socially distant times, it’s not impossible. And you should make it a priority. While social media, email marketing and webinars enable you to reach more people in a shorter span of time, one-on-one, in person communication still provides a stronger connection to people that fosters relationship building. Remember that people do business with those they like, know and trust so that is your ultimate goal.
- Build relationships. Every person you meet could be a potential client or referral source. How you act towards others will also determine whether they are likely to be your client in the future. This also includes the vendors with whom you work. In addition, reconnect with people with people you worked with early in your career. This includes your peers in college, law school and your employers. All of them could become clients or refer work to you.
If we’ve learned anything over the past two years it’s that anything can happen. So never stop marketing yourself or building relationships. And always be prepared – this is how you make sure all of those eggs don’t crack.
Stefanie Marrone advises law firms of all sizes, professional service firms, B2B companies, recruiters and individuals on the full range of marketing and business development consulting services designed to enhance revenue, retain current clients and achieve greater brand recognition. She also serves as outsourced chief marketing officer/marketing department for small and mid-size law firms. Over her nearly 20-year legal marketing career, she has worked at and with a broad range of big law, mid-size and small firms, which has given her a valuable perspective of the legal industry. Connect with her on LinkedIn, sign up for her email list and follow her latest writing on JD Supra.