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The Magazine of Illinois Lawyers

August 2010Volume 98Number 8Page 394

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LawPulse

Market yourself to existing clients

Don't hide your lamp under a bushel, experts warn, or your clients may head for lawyers with better self-promotional skills.

You may follow the best practices recommended by every experienced lawyer and legal consultant around by having your clients sign well-drafted engagement agreements. That agreement can't prevent your clients from firing you or taking their business to another lawyer, though. Rich Davis, who heads a Florida-based marketing firm, provides several tips for preventing a client outflow in the June 2010 issue of The Bottom Line, the newsletter of ISBA's Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics.

Restate your strengths

Quoting Esther Yegelwel, another marketing consultant, he says that neglecting to market yourself and your services may be a prime reason for client defections. "If a competing lawyer is stating their case in a persuasive way through advertising, P.R. or via the Web and you're not communicating at all, clients often see the grass as being greener on the other side," Yegelwel says. "The key to winning new clients and keeping your existing ones is stating and restating your strengths over and over and over again."

Like ISBA Solo and Small Firm Conference keynote speaker Dustin A. Cole (see his interview elsewhere in this month's LawPulse), Davis provides lawyers with ideas for using technology to enhance their business.

First on his list of recommendations is creating and making available videos and seminars on your law firm's web-site. Clients may be clueless about your impressive background, the range of services you offer, and the steps you take to ensure that they receive the best possible representation, Davis says.

Short videos that you can post on the Internet can educate them and sell them on more services. Because, according to Davis, people retain far more of what they see than read, videos will stick in your clients' and prospects' minds. "They can also dramatically increase your Web site's rank on internet search engines [and] position you as THE expert in your field."

Next, Davis advises encouraging clients to grade your work on online rating sites. He suggests having a preprinted form to hand to clients for whom you've gotten great results encouraging them and explaining how to leave online comments about you. "Clients don't feel put out, they feel honored that you cared enough to request feedback."

And, he continues, making the request costs you nothing and has great yield potential. "Whether it's restaurants or law firms, people love to comparison shop and ratings Web sites give clients the perception that they're doing just that."

From e-newsletters to thank-you notes

Davis also likes e-mail newsletters as cost-effective marketing tools. "E-newsletters let everyone know what's new at your firm including new services, verdicts and settlements, community involvement and more." Though they're not without cost, e-newsletters carry no printing or mailing charges, he points out. "Plus, it's all trackable. You can see what articles were most read, who forwarded their E-newsletter," and so on.

E-newsletters show you and your firm to be a dynamic, technologically savvy business, Davis says. If there's some development that you want your clients and others on your mailing list to know about immediately, e-newsletters enable you to inform them right away. "It's not uncommon for an attorney to get a request for an appointment within 10 minutes of an E-newsletter being sent," he says.

Davis's final recommendation is lowtech, old-fashioned, and inexpensive: Send thank-you notes. Like the little black dress, a simple card to a client letting him or her know you appreciate the business is timeless and always in good taste. Surprisingly, he says, though thank-you notes, birthday cards, and thanksgiving greeting cards are some of the most effective tools for securing client loyalty, few law firms actually send them.

"This time-tested, old fashioned approach DEMONSTRATES you care," he says, far more than a mere line to that effect on a website. Furthermore, it's easy to do and distinguishes you from the crowd of lawyers who don't do it.

Join ISBA's Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics to receive The Bottom Line e-newsletter in your own inbox by visiting http://www.isba.org/sections. Dues are only $20 per year.


Helen W. Gunnarsson is an attorney and writer in Highland Park. She can be reached at <helengunnar@gmail.com>.