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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    June 06, 2008

    What Keeps You Awake at Night? What is the Best Way to Spend My Limited Marketing Dollars?

    I have no marketing expertise, limited money and even less time, but I know I should be doing something to generate new business for my small firm. Should I put my money in building a Web site, taking out ads in yellow pages or community papers, joining local community groups, or doing something else entirely?


    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 81, No. 6, June 2008

    What Keeps You Awake at Night?

    What Is the Best Way to Spend My Limited Marketing Dollars?

    I have no marketing expertise, limited money and even less time, but I know I should bedoing something to generate new business for my small firm. Should I put my money in building a Web site, taking out ads in yellow pages or community papers, joining local community groups, or doing something else entirely?

    Sidebars:

    Marketing Plans Vary by Firm

    Jennifer   Rupkey

    There is no "one size fits all" approach to effectively market legal services. As a small firm, consider the following practices:

    1) Tailor your marketing efforts to support your firm's overall growth strategy. Firms often neglect to develop a strategic plan and to implement marketing initiatives to support the plan; instead they become involved in marketing opportunities as they arise. A plan will help the firm by driving the appropriate marketing and business development activities and aligning the employees so that attorneys and staff are striving for the same goal.

    2) Determine how the firm's current matters came in the door. Most firms will find the majority of new work comes from existing clients with whom the attorneys have strong relationships. So, such firms should use marketing initiatives that further enhance relationships with existing clients, such as survey programs, visits, entertainment, in-house seminars, and others. For many small law firms, referrals are the primary source of new business. An effective marketing program would target those referral sources and track the referrals.

    3) Define the firm's target client. Target clients vary from firm to firm. For example, when marketing an employment law practice, you might target marketing initiatives to the vice president or the director of human resources. An intellectual property boutique may target a company's chief patent counsel. There also are variations based on the demographics of the target individual. When targeting owners of high tech companies, try employing more technology-oriented, cutting-edge marketing tactics, such as blogs, podcasts, and webinars. When marketing estate planning services to a more senior target audience, you might use more traditional forms of marketing, such as newsletters and in-person seminars.

    4) Develop an integrated marketing approach; no single marketing effort will guarantee new work. It is important to keep your firm front and center in clients' minds so that your firm is thought of first when a legal need arises. One way is to develop an integrated plan allowing for consistent communication over time. Employing a combination of activities targeting the same audience will increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. For example, a firm's plan for a year's worth of marketing may include a combination of the following initiatives: client plant tours, newsletters, development of a targeted Web page, speaking engagements, and trade association participation.

    5) Always follow up. Long-term planning provides a roadmap for your firm's future, and often, the fruits of marketing labors are realized years after an initiative took place. Track the development of new relationships that come about as a result of a marketing program. The benefit of one single marketing initiative may not be realized monetarily or immediately, but the contact may prove critical to the development of business in the future.

    - Jennifer Rupkey, Marketing Director, Michael Best & Friedrich, Milwaukee

    Practice Area Should Determine Marketing Strategy

    Rob Teuber

    Today, a law firm must have a Web site. While the Web site might not funnel a career-sustaining amount of work to a firm, its absence can reflect negatively on a firm's attorneys. Expect that everyone (prospective clients, opposing counsel, or the government) will search for you online. A Web site is a good way to make a positive first impression. Fortunately, a Web site can be built to fit any budget.

    Use of other marketing techniques depends largely on your practice area. Does your practice rely more on reputation or on relationships? To build your reputation, write articles, give speeches, or teach a class. Even a print ad in the phone book or an industry journal, if run long enough, will work to build your reputation. If relationships are key to building your practice, get involved in organizations and attend events that will put you in contact with people (or their advisors) who need your services. Leadership positions are preferable because they can demonstrate your commitment to a project. If time constraints limit your leadership involvement, regular attendance at an organization's events can act as a good substitute.

    In most situations, an attorney will need a combination of strategies. Time and money will dictate how much you can do, and so you should rely more on those methods with which you are comfortable. In all circumstances, make sure you enjoy the marketing that you do.

    - Robert B. Teuber, Weiss Berzowski Brady LLP, Milwaukee

    Build Your Expertise and Name Recognition to Generate Referrals

    Carol Wessels

    Put your limited marketing dollars in the bank for something else, like groceries or gas. The best way to generate new business is through referrals from 1) satisfied clients and 2) other professionals. So, instead of frittering your time away thinking about Web sites, put in an extra call to your clients just to keep them up-to-date, and send a bill that shows you didn't charge them for the call. Join a State Bar section and get on the program committee, where you will volunteer to give a presentation or write an article on a topic you know lots about or would like to learn lots about. When something happens in your community that is relevant to the issues in your practice, contact the local newspaper and talk to a reporter about the situation, offering to give insight. Tell the reporter that if he or she ever has questions on that issue, you'd be happy to discuss them. These activities cost only your time, and in my experience the ratio of successful referrals for new business is significantly greater from these sources than from Web sites, newspaper ads, or yellow pages. 

    - Carol J. Wessels, Nelson, Irvings & Waeffler S.C., Wauwatosa

    Repeat a Coherent Message Over Many Communications Channels

    David   Leibowitz

    Success depends on having a coherent message repeated over every possible channel. For example, "Lakelaw represents people in financial matters from Milwaukee to Chicago and in the 7 Rivers Region" says a lot. It tells people our markets are southeast Wisconsin and the area around La Crosse. It tells people we are interstate. It tells people that we deal with finances, but not just bankruptcy, which happens to be our core competence.

    We built a Web site, www.lakelaw.com, that showcases our people, areas of expertise, and practice areas. It has testimonials from satisfied clients. It provides resources. However, it is not enough. We also built a specialty Web site, www.krmbankruptcy.com. You can find us on any search engine. We've also built bridges to other attorneys in areas where we practice and serve as resources for them in their practices. They in turn have kindly referred many of their clients who can use our help in our areas of expertise.

    We believe that public service is very important. For example, work we do in foreclosure defense through WHEDA and U.W. Extension pays big dividends for us in public relations. While public service is an end in itself, providing this service helps build our reputation and good name. The same can be said for volunteer work my partner Jim McNeilly and I do in consumer education. So everything we do and say is designed to reinforce the message that "Lakelaw represents people in financial matters from Milwaukee to Chicago and in the 7 Rivers Region."

    Develop your own unique message based on your own unique attributes, repeat it everywhere you go, and reflect it in everything you do. Demonstrate value. Demonstrate why you are distinct from your competitors. You will gain your own position in the marketplace and the respect of your peers as well.

    - David P. Leibowitz, Lakelaw/Kenosha, Kenosha




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