Recently, a lawyer friend who used to work with me back in the big firm asked me to lunch. He wanted to know more about how to drum up business.
Seems that things had been going well for a long time, but now business was drying up. He asked me to help, so I did.
I told him about the most effective methods for getting business without having to spend money on a website, or on expensive ads, or stuff like that.
Basically, I gave him a crash course in “referral marketing.”
And, having done that, I figured I’d just go ahead and share it with you too.
Fast Action Referral Marketing
For Solo & Small Firm Lawyers
So, let’s start with…
Most lawyers rely on so-called word-of-mouth marketing. Essentially, this means they have no strategy or system for generating referrals in a way that leads to predictable income.
Lawyers who sense they need to “at least do something” usually adopt a pound-the-pavement approach—a tedious grind that involves going to lots of “networking events” in the hopes that somehow this will lead to new business.
Even if it does lead to new business, it’s a lot of work. And there’s no strategy. So any results that are obtained are paltry and sporadic.
What you want is a strategy that produces a great return on the investment of your time, energy and money.
What’s a good strategy look like? Well, it looks like this: you invest 20% of your time and energy (and very little money) and get 80% of the returns that are possible on that investment.
It’s even possible to set up a referral system that automatically allows you to multiply your best clients. But that’s advanced level stuff, and takes a bit more time to set up. So…
How just starting with the simple, easy approach that gets great results reasonably quickly and at very little cost? Here’s the process:
The Simple, Fast, Easy Approach
- Take out a pad of paper and prepare to brainstorm in a relaxed setting. Get a cup of coffee or tea. Turn off the TV and put your phone on silent so you won’t be distracted for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Start to think of former or existing clients that you enjoy working with. Ones you like so much that you’d like to clone them so that from now on 80% of the work you do is for people like them.
- When you have between 3 to 5 names stop. (Or if you’re on a roll, then keep listing names until you run out of possibilities and then highlight the 3 to 5 that you like working with the most).
- Get some nice stationery and envelopes (e.g. Crane Monarch 100% Cotton, 32 lb weight, ecru white 7.25” x 10.5” watermarked paper, along with the matching size Monarch envelopes)
- Get the mailing addresses for the 3 to 5 clients that you highlighted on your paper pad.
- Write them each a personalized 1-page note telling them that you were thinking about them recently, and wondered how things were going and would love to catch up sometime soon. The size of the paper ensures that you won’t have to write a lot, and yet however much you write will seem impressive.
- Mail the letters.
- BONUS: if you can find a relevant article to send them then you can use that as the reason you are sending them the handwritten note.
- BONUS: get nice forever stamps and put one on the envelope to make it look even nicer when it’s received by your client.
- Wait for them to call you and suggest a meeting (lunch etc.).
- Expect at least one referral to come from this approach, although it might take a few weeks.
Keep doing this every month with more handwritten letters to your former and/or existing clients.
Congratulations! You now have a simple, easy referral marketing system.
And this puts you in an elite category of less than 1% of the lawyers out there.
If you want to learn more powerful referral strategies, there are a couple of good books I can recommend. Caveat: none of them were written specifically for lawyers.
But you don’t need to read referral books specifically written for lawyers. The methods used by regular small business owners are 100% applicable to lawyers.
By the way, the reason there are no marketing books written specifically for lawyers is because most lawyers either don’t want to learn marketing, or they think they know everything about it already (when in fact they don’t). Hence there’s not enough demand for lawyer marketing books.
But here’s the most important thing you need to know…
The lawyers who are open-minded about using best practices from other businesses are the ones who succeed most, and who succeed most quickly.
If you’re anything like me, you want to be one of those kinds of lawyers. So, give this new referral system a try and let me know how it works out for you.
I’m 100% confident that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The Bottom Line…
Too many lawyers struggle to get a “cash flow friendly” stream of high-quality clients. The problem is they don’t know the vital elements of effective marketing.
Most solo & small firm lawyers have vague assumptions about how marketing works. This ignorance creates insidious dangers.
For example, when lawyers become too desperate for clients they tend to trust those they shouldn’t trust. People such as greedy consultants, or well-intentioned-but-clueless amateurs (i.e. “marketing morons“).
If you’ve been given bad marketing advice, or if you feel less than 100% certain how to market your practice effectively do NOT spend any more money on websites, consultants or advertisements.