Stephen Fairley 0000-00-00 00:00:00
"SO how was your holiday vacation?" 1 asked a new attorney client of ours."What vacation?" he replied, "I worked the entire time! I tried to go on a family vacation and spent the whole trip putting out fires at the firm!" Sound familiar? Perhaps a little too close to home? Over the last two articles we've been talking about how to build a "lifestyle law firm"—a firm that gives you the contra and freedom to live a life of meaning, purpose, and satisfaction versus a firm that destroys your relationships, controls your life, and eventually burns you out. I've never been afraid of hard work and for many years I allowed my business to control me and dictate my life. I was afraid to take vacations longer than a few days because I was certain my company would implode without my physical presence. I admit that for far too long I've tied a lot of my sense of self-worth and value directly to how my business was doing. If things were good, I was flying high, but if we lost a client, or didn't land the "next big deal," or was forced to sue a former company executive, let's just say could be miserable to be around. Sound familiar? I thought sc.except perhaps for that last one. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that I've now reached nirvana and I never; ever allow my business to control me or that I never fee down if something goes wrong in my company but the lows aren't nearly as bad as they used to be and typically don't last nearly as long. It's taken several years and a lot of time, energy and hard work to get where we are now, but I'm proud to know that last year was our best year ever and we doubled our revenues in the last six months of the year! I fully expect this year to be even better I don't share this with you to impress you, but to impress upon you that we absolutely, positively could have never achieved these goals without a strong, supportive team and the systems we have put into place to help us "run" the business. We have assembled a dynamic team of over 40 people who are truly specialists in what they do—helping attorneys market and grow their law firms using creative, cutting-edge strategies that increase their referrals, improve their conversions, and develop long-term relationships with clients and other professionals. In previous articles, we have discussed the four options you have when it comes to implementing a business development program and a Marketing Action Plan (MAP): • Do it yourself • Delegate it • Done for you with outsourcing • Don't do it at all If you missed the previous two issues that focused on the first two options, I strongly recommend you go back and review them. Whether you are just hanging out your shingle for the first time or you've been in private practice for decades, business development is a never ending journey There are some attorneys who have the belief that no one else can market their law firm better than they can, so they try to handle all their business development efforts and then wonder why they can never take a real vacation or truly unplug. Other attorneys expect their already overworked staff to handle all the marketing on top of everything else they do and then go around complaining when their staff never gets around to implementing any of their well-laid out plans. I'm not against having the right staff person assist you in your business development efforts nor do I have a problem with attorneys taking personal responsibility for implementing part of their overall marketing strategy. However; to build a successful law firm (read "business") you must learn the power of leverage by doing what you do best and either delegating or outsourcing the rest, especially when it comes to marketing your law firm. Done For Your Marketing: Outsourcing Your Business Development A growing number of law firms are finally recognizing what non-legal companies have known for decades: to build a financially successful business you must focus on your core competencies and either delegate or outsource the rest of your business functions. As a small business owner or sole practitioner, you are unlikely to have an expertise in accounting or payroll processing and you may not have a large enough law firm to justify hiring a full-time bookkeeper so your best option is to outsource that to a company that specializes in that specific area. A similar parallel can be drawn to marketing—with some notable exceptions. Most of the time and labor intensive parts of marketing can be outsourced, for example: designing and developing a new website, writing content for your blog, running your social media efforts, improving your Google rankings with search engine optimization, or sending out a monthly e-newsletter However, you cannot completely outsource your marketing the way you can with bookkeeping. There are some activities that you, as the Partner or Owner; should always be involved n, such as developing relationships with referral partners, conducting seminars or presentations to promote your law firm, and connecting with your top clients.When it comes to outsourcing some or most of your firm's marketing and business development efforts here's a 4 step process we recommend our clients follow: 1. Identify the marketing strategies and business development tools you want to use. 2. Analyze your firm's realistic ability to effectively design and implement the plan. 3. Select which strategies your firm will handle & which ones you want to outsource. 4. Interview and select an outsourced legal marketing company who can assist you. Clearly, there are many other internal steps along the way, but those are the basic four steps involved. In my experience, the most difficult ones for attorneys are the first two. While it's outside the purview of this article to coverall 65 different strategies and tools available to today's aw firms to increase the number and quality of their leads and generate more referrals,there are two major categories we teach at our Rainmaker Retreat two day marketing intensive—online and offline marketing. Offline Marketing • Referrals from Current & Former Clients • Monthly Client Newsletters • Referrals from Professionals • Client Satisfaction Survey • Keep In Touch Letters • Client Only Events • Speaking & Seminars • Networking Events Online Marketing • Website and Blog • Link Building • Search Engine Optimization • Mini Practice Specific Websites • Social Media: Facebook & Linkedln • Online Video Marketing • Press Releases • Article Marketing Very few of the top producing law firms rely on just "word of mouth marketing" or "random referrals," as I refer to it. They actively promote their legal solutions to a specific target market using several best practices. Once you have selected which tools you want to use, the next step is to analyze your law firm's current ability to design, develop, implement, and maintain the marketing plan. You must remain realistic! The worst thing you can do is try to do it all by yourself or force your staff to do it because in the end either it will only be done half-heartedly and haphazardly or it will not get done at all! When we work with a new client we use a simple process: direction, development, deployment and delivery. Direction & design of the overall strategy & Marketing Action Plan (MAP) Development of the process, protocols, procedures and systems to be used Deployment of the MAP including assignment of roles and responsibilities Delivery ongoing implementation, and accountability for results When working with any outsourced legal marketing company on your business development efforts here are the questions recommend you ask to evaluate their services: 1. Do they specialize in working with attorneys in small law firms? 2. What is their experience working with attorneys in your specific practice area? 3. Do they understand the business of law (how the law works)? 4. What is their knowledge of legal ethics and how attorneys are restricted in how they market their services? 5. Have they researched how prospects "buy" legal services—both online and offline? 6. What is their knowledge of your competitors? 7. How many of your competitors are they currently working with providing the same service they are offering to you? 8. Is their service geo-exclusive or are they offering the same services to all your direct competitors? 9. Do they have the assets to allow you to compete or are they a one person show? 10. Is this a"Done For You" service or will you/ your staff need to do the heavy lifting? 11. Are you "leasing" their marketing efforts or s it a "work for hire" service? Who owns the end product when you part ways? 12. Will they be around for the long-term? Are they growing or declining? 13. Who will actually be implementing the service? What are their credentials? Can you speak with them? 14. What are the processes, procedures, protocols and systems they use when implementing the service? 15. How do they measure results? How will you know if they are successful? How long will it take before you start to see results? 16. What are the time frames to develop and deploy the marketing service? 17. Can they give you the contact information for several references? The Rainmaker Institute is an outsourced aw firm marketing company with a proven track record of consulting, training, speaking and coaching with over 8,000 attorneys to help them develop and deploy a "full press" marketing strategy into their law practice.To find out how we stack up against those questions or for more information about our white glove, completely done-for-you marketing strategies, we invite you to contact us. Don't Do It am truly hoping that if you have read this far, you realize not doing anything is not the wisest option—if your goal is to build a "lifestyle law firm." The old Zen quote may say it best "to know and not to do is not yet to know." You do not need to use all 65 different marketing strategies to build a financially successful law firm, but you do need to create a Marketing Action Plan (MAP), a team to help you implement it, and metrics to measure the results! I want you to hear me loud and clear: the ability to have a successful, "lifestyle' law firm" is within your reach! For many of our clients, last year was their best year ever! We have clients who experienced double and even triple digit growth in the last 12 months. I can tell you with some authority that it starts with moving your mindset away from believing the myth of the "law as a profession"to the new reality that "law s a business" and must be treated as such! It's about making a commitment to study the best practices of top Rainmakers, deciding on a path of action (MAP), and then working with a team of experts who specialize in implementing your MAP which allows you to focus on mastering what you do best! Even in difficult economic times, you can build a law firm with cutting edge marketing that delivers a steady stream of new clients and maximizes the amount of money you can make with your existing clients. As one of my most valued mentors, Bill Martin, taught me, it's not just about the money, it's about the meaning our life has and the relationships we build along the way. Money can give you options, but it can't give your life meaning. Money is a necessity that gives you the ability to lead a self-directed life, but it is the living that you do with the money that gives your life true meaning! Remember—it is the relationships you build along the way, the life you lead, and the legacy you leave that matters most.
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