07/08/2011 10:54:00 AM EST
Clients Still Hire Lawyers Not Law Firms, So Get Off Your Duff!
Over the years I have met many a lawyer
who wasn't into marketing or sales. The reason: the firm will do it. Well, the firm
can't do it. Individual lawyers must, because clients continue to hire lawyers,
not law firms.
In a recent article entitled "How
to Make It Rain By Marketing Individual Lawyers," on Law360 the authors, John Hellerman
of Hellerman Baretz Communications and
Steve Bell, with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, take on the idea
that firm branding brings in clients. In fact, they point out the error of Howrey's
extensive advertising and branding of the "Howrey" institution rather than "selling
its top products" (naming specific lawyers). They don't say that branding the law
firm doesn't have a purpose for certain audiences or is a bad thing. Rather, it's
just that "lawyer-level marketing (and sales), ... actually bring in clients." You
can read more about their institutional viewpoint and how today's forces heighten
"the need for attorneys to focus on individualized marketing efforts,..." in their
My thrust here is on their tips on building
your personal brand. Here are a few of my favorites from their 10 suggestions:
- Define what you do.
Not with a standard elevator speech, but rather, what you offer and the need
you fill that differentiates you from others. I would add that a good way to
ascertain what makes your personal brand different is to ask clients and your
key referral sources;
- Don't be afraid to ask for referrals. As Hellerman and Bell state, "Referrals are the most effective
marketing technique for lawyers," and, in my experience, account for at least
70% of new business for law firms. Embarrassed to ask? Don't be. Just tell
them that you "are always looking for good clients like them";
- Speak to smaller groups. Rather than only look for opportunities to speak at a
conference or convention of trade groups on a broad topic, look for opportunities
to speak to smaller audiences in practice area specific settings; and
- Tell stories about your successes. People like stories. More importantly, they like case
studies that tell a "powerful story about how a specific lawyer helped a client
brings that attorneys skills to life..."
The lesson in all this? Business development
is up to you, not the firm.
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