BOSTON, MA — Q. Do you have any advice on what I should be doing for marketing and business development activities during these challenging times? Is marketing even appropriate right now?
Give it a rest?
A. You should absolutely be focusing on marketing and business development right now, and it is appropriate to engage in marketing and business development activities.
This is a very difficult time for all; however, it is important to stay positive and move forward while adjusting to a new way of working and marketing. Legal needs continue during these times, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t position yourself to be the lawyer who gets contacted and hired when a need arises.
For lawyers with booming practice areas, this is a prime time to continue marketing activities to capitalize on additional client opportunities. For those who have practices that have slowed down, this is an opportunity to reset and develop new marketing habits, including focusing on marketing activities that you have let fall to the side — some of which are very basic and not heavy lifting, but important things you should be doing and thinking about.
Go through your contacts and do outreach
This is always a good exercise. If you don’t already have a list, develop one. Think about who should be on your radar screen, including existing clients, past clients, referral sources and business friends. Go through contacts, LinkedIn, old emails and email folders, current and past client lists.
Next, do outreach and check in to see how your clients and contacts are doing. During a time when in-person interactions with others are limited, people really appreciate social interaction and your interest.
It’s also an opportunity to get to know your clients and contacts on a more personal level, which is a key piece in relationship-building. Maybe they recently had a high school senior or college student graduate, and they want to share their family’s experience. I have found that many people are sharing more now about their families and what they are experiencing than ever before.
When scheduling an actual meeting, keep in mind that not everyone wants to meet virtually and may still have a preference for a phone call.
This is also an ideal time to learn more about what is going on in your clients’ businesses, which you should always be doing, and provide strategic advice on how you can help them now and in the future. The client alerts they may be receiving often provide advice at a high level, and your client will appreciate you giving individual, tailored advice.
This is a time to remain visible and not disappear, which can be accomplished in several ways:
- Social media: An effective marketing practice that takes minimal time is to stay visible on social media. Share your own content, your firm’s content, and your contacts’ simply by clicking “like” or making a brief comment. It will help you stay top of mind, which is great for referral and potential client opportunities.
- Write articles: Have you been wanting to write an article and be published yet have been procrastinating? Many lawyers are not commuting to work right now and have additional time to write. This is the time to get out there as an expert and thought leader in your area. There are so many media opportunities right now with what is going on in the world, particularly for busy practice areas or those practice areas that will eventually spike. Media mentions only help in internet searches and enhance your firm’s website and blog.
- Speaking opportunities: While in-person meetings are not happening right now, they are happening virtually. Speaking opportunities are a good way to get your name out there and show expertise, and many online meetings now have a high attendance rate. Use the extra time you may have to do that speaking engagement you have been procrastinating about.
- Volunteer: Volunteers are much needed right now in so many areas. This is a great time to give back to others while also meeting others and adding to your network.
- Network internally: This is a good time to get to know other attorneys in your firm on a deeper level. Schedule virtual meetings or calls and ask a lot of questions. It will help you connect the dots in the future for cross-selling purposes.
- Attend virtual meetings: Virtual meetings are a real opportunity for introverts, who normally are uncomfortable attending in-person events, to attend events and meet new people. Additionally, there’s no commute involved! As in the past, don’t forget to follow-up with those whom you meet, and put them in your contacts.Now you have the option of a virtual follow-up meeting or call, making it much easier to get together with those you meet and get to know each other. Don’t forget to stay in touch and keep up with the relationship. (Also, if you attend virtual meetings in any setting, whether it’s a firm meeting, board meeting or event, be aware of the background you are portraying to the outside world.)
- Update your bio: Especially if you plan to become more visible, this is a great time to review and revise your bio. It is a good practice to update regardless. Time flies and you may be shocked to see how outdated your bio is. Is there representative experience you can add? Are there practice areas that are no longer relevant? Add any prior speaking engagements, articles, professional involvement and awards.
This is a challenging time for all, but we will get through it. It is important to keep a positive mindset, focus on self-care, and turn crisis into opportunity.
Focus on marketing and business development and better position yourself for more visibility and new client work. Set goals, develop a plan of action, and act on it. Don’t forget to continue practicing professional etiquette!
Ellen M. Keiley is president of EMK Consulting Group, which offers business development coaching and consulting, public relations and training for law firms and other professional services firms. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.