Dec. 2, 2020 – In Wisconsin, most solo or small-firm attorneys rely upon word-of-mouth referrals from clients or other attorneys for new client revenue – but the pandemic has greatly reduced opportunities for in-person networking and other traditional ways to obtain new clients.
In addition, for many firms, the pandemic caused a drop in revenue from new clients and decreased billings from existing clients.
As we look into the new year, the goal is to thrive and not just survive – and here are tips and considerations to help you do just that.
Consideration #1: How much revenue does your firm need to collect from new clients in order to meet your profitability goals for next year?
You can you use your firm’s figures from this year to forecast the amount of revenue you will need to collect from new clients next year, in order to meet your firm’s profitability goals.
To do this, take a look at your firm’s collected revenue from this year, then:
make a list of the new client matters that were opened (and not new cases from existing clients);
determine the total collected revenue; then
subtract that sum from your total collected revenue for this year.
This is the figure your firm needs to collect from new client revenue.
Next, find out where or how your new clients were referred to you.
To do this, take another look at the list of new client matters, and determine the referral sources. Then, separate the referrals into different referral “buckets” (aka, categories) based upon your firm’s marketing activities. For instance, your firm may have the following new client referral buckets:
marketing activities (newsletter, articles, social media and web advertising); and
networking activities (presentation to local business, conferences, meetings, and virtual meetings).
Do not be discouraged if your firm only has two or three buckets filled. The unfilled buckets represent marketing opportunities for your firm to attract new clients.
Consideration #2: Using a Website to Market Online
Starting your firm’s marketing activities from scratch can be a daunting task. If you do not have a website, start there first. Select a domain host that has a website builder template – this will save the cost of hiring an expert to build a website.
Christopher C. Shattuck, Univ. of La Verne College of Law 2009, M.B.A. U.W.-Oshkosh 2015, is manager of Practice411™, the State Bar’s law practice assistance program. If you have questions about the business aspects of your practice, call (800) 957-4670.
In addition, if you haven’t claimed free lawyer profiles, or created social media pages, it is still possible for those pages to appear. Some websites will create a profile for a firm after receiving a client review – even if a profile or page does not exist.
Client reviews, whether negative or positive, are the first impressions potential clients will receive when researching your firm. Removing or addressing negative client reviews is critical to making a great first impression on new clients.
Keep in mind that lawyers should understand the rule requirements and implications before engaging in any marketing activities. The Rules of Professional Conduct outline lawyer advertising in SCR 20:7.1-7.6.
Navigating those rules requires an understanding of how to effectively communicate a lawyer’s services and fields of practice without violating the advertising rules. Non-lawyer advertising rules, such as confidentiality, may also limit the extent to which negative and positive reviews can be addressed or used by a firm.1
Once you have created a website, you should consider creating content for it that is helpful to your potential client base. Remember to create content that can be understood by the average client you are seeking.
Once you have created helpful content, the next step is to effectively market the content. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are good platforms to share content and increase the social media presence of your firm. As likes, shares, and direct-link clicks of content on your website increase, so will your firm’s search engine optimization. The higher your firm appears on a search engine search, the more likely a potential client is to click on your website.
Consideration #3: Using Networking Opportunities to Boost Client Referrals
The biggest challenge to networking is finding your comfort zone. Some people find the idea of group settings very nerve-wracking.
Try looking at professional networking as an opportunity to learn more about others and for others to learn more about you. If you are too nervous to explore the networking world by yourself, consider bringing a friend or colleague along.
Once you have conquered your networking anxieties, your next goal should be to prioritize your networking groups. For this step, you will want to consider your ideal referral sources.
As an example, if you represent businesses, you should consider networking with certified public accountants, investment advisors, and banking representatives. Networking with professional spheres of influence will help drive quality word-of-mouth referrals to your business.
Great ways to get connected with professional spheres of influence include attending conferences those professionals attend, publishing articles in publications that those professionals read, and speaking at local events those professionals attend.
Remember, it takes time to establish relationships and generate word-of-mouth referrals. In addition to the competition from other firms, it takes time to build a relationship where another professional would feel comfortable providing a referral from their existing client base.
Reserve Your Spot: Lawyer Marketing and Networking Expo, Jan. 13
Interested in more tips and considerations?
Discover how to operate a more successful, profitable law firm with proven tools and techniques at the Lawyer Marketing & Networking Expo 2021, on Jan. 13, 2021.
The Expo is a one-day, online event presented by the State Bar of Wisconsin Practice411TM law office management assistance program. The tuition cost is only $49 for the full-day event.
At the Expo, you’ll gain insights from Wisconsin attorneys, practice management advisors, and marketing professionals on:
- the dos and don’ts of advertising;
- search engine optimization (SEO) best practices;
- social media strategies and addressing negative reviews;
- measuring your marketing effectiveness;
- the most helpful apps and software; and more.
Most importantly, you will have an opportunity to ask speakers and network with presenters and your peers during dedicated Q&A and networking sessions. And, if you are considering hiring a company to provide marketing services, you can visit the vendor hall and chat with booth representatives.
For more information, visit wisbar.org/marketingexpo.
1 Find out more about ethics and online reviews in two past Ethical Dilemmas in InsideTrack: Ethical Dilemma: Are Social Media Incentives Allowed? (Dec. 18, 2019) and Dilemma: Is it OK to Encourage Client Online Reviews? (Aug. 19, 2020).