Manager of First and Lasting Impressions
Most lawyers are very concerned with their reputation in the community as lawyers. Yet they often give little time or thought to the person most involved with the public perception of their law firm on a day-to-day basis. The receptionist is the person who makes the initial contact with almost everyone seeking to do business with you. The receptionist can make a big difference in everything from losing a client to the initiation of a professional responsibility complaint. Yet often the receptionist is the most underpaid, unappreciated and under-trained person in the office. Make sure that those answering the phone and/or stationed in the reception area are competent, confidential and friendly and attentive to callers.
Capture Contacts Quicker
“Copy2Contact” is a great little utility that helps you quickly capture contact information from email and documents and add the information to Microsoft Outlook or your smartphone with just a few keystrokes. Best of all, it drops the information into the correct fields both, saving you time and aggravation.
Get Your Own Domain Name
With the low cost of domain names and hosting space these days, you can’t afford not to take the plunge. Also, if you don’t have your own domain name, your site isn’t portable.
Optimize Your Website
Build for Google. Google holds a staggering majority of the market. Let the chips fall where they may for the other search engines. Google is the place to be. Remember what they rank highest – in general, your domain name, then the title of your site, your sub-headings, and the text on the home page, with hyperlinked items ranked higher. Make sure there are “alt” tags (text tags which name each graphic). Google’s algorithms are held more tightly than most classified data, and they change frequently, so it’s important to review your website for optimization. Do not believe those salespersons who pitch you that your site can be made #1. If your site content is deep and broad, you’ll show well in the rankings.
E-signatures – the overlooked marketing tool!
Most clients prefer email as their main method of communication: it’s a fast and efficient way of communicating with the lawyer. However, many use email correspondence they have received from a colleague, coworker or client as a source of contact information. With this in mind, here are a few tips to ensure that you’re using your email signature to its full potential:
- Don’t ignore your e-signature but keep it simple: consider using one font size and colour;
- Use Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman: they are easy to read and professional looking;
- Include your full contact information: name, title, firm name, full mailing address, email link, website address, telephone and mobile numbers. If you have Twitter or LinkedIn account, consider adding those as well;
- Include your firm’s logo and tag line;
- Use disclaimer and confidentiality notices.
Using a comprehensive e-signature line can be a great marketing tool for you and your firm, so be consistent and keep it professional!
Include a confidentiality/privilege notice in your signature such as:
This email and any attachments are confidential and they may contain privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by return email, delete this email and destroy any copies. Any dissemination or use of this information by a person other than the intended recipient is unauthorized and may be illegal.
Create a “Thank You” File
In it should go the letters from satisfied clients, the replies from speaking engagements, the minor league support letter-anything that demonstrates that you are making a positive difference in someone’s life. What gets measured gets done. Start measuring the impact that you are having on the world.
Market to Existing Clients
Increase your business by hosting an informational seminar for each of your business clients. Ask each business client to present a seminar to your firm about what is going on in the client’s profession or industry, as well as the specific business issues and changes presently facing the client. Coordinate with the client to invite their accountant, banker, and other professionals. After the presentation, hold an open discussion to identify possible legal needs and ascertain possible solutions. In the end, you will have a better understanding of your client needs, an improved lawyer-client relationship, and maybe some new business from your client as well as the other professionals at the seminar.
Business cards: far from an obsolete marketing tool
Business cards may seem obsolete, but they still play a role in helping you successfully market your business. While social media platforms play an important role in helping you establish your online business identity, business cards help establish your offline identity, but it needs to be done right.
Here are some tips on using your business cards effectively in today’s digital world:
- include your traditional address and phone number;
- include your blog URLs, and LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter handles;
- include your firm’s brand name and website address;
- consider adding a QR (quick response) code to that make that connection digital; and
- to avoid carrying – or losing – a business card, consider downloading a phone app such as CardMunch, Cardcloud or Google Goggles, to convert your business cards to digital contact information.
While many have embraced the digital world in an effort go to paperless, do not underestimate the importance of personal hand-to-hand communication with the inexpensive business card. Not yet convinced? Ask yourself: When was the last time you shared your digital device at an in-person networking event!
Practice management as a marketing tool
Good practice management is also good business. Claims and complaints are more likely to arise if you “dabble” in an area of law in which you are not competent. From a marketing perspective, that also makes sense. How do you build your practice while maintaining good practice management skills?
- Do your homework! Focus your practice on a specific area of law, one that you are interested in and which is under-served in your area.
- Decide who your ideal client is. If your answer is “anyone”, then consider narrowing your focus.
- Other than advertising through the traditional media sources, consider using non-traditional means such as social media websites, writing articles, and joining business and community groups.
- Once a client has retained you, make their experience as positive as possible. Keep a well-maintained office in a good location; train your staff to be friendly; return phone calls and greet clients with enthusiasm – never underestimate the impact of good customer service.
- Remember to document your relationship – use retainer agreements and document your advice.
- Be prepared to withdraw from the file, especially if your client starts to blame you; the fees you lose won’t be nearly as valuable as the claim or complaint you avoid.
Good marketing, like good practice management, begins with good planning.