Last week, I promised to post some more about the Total Practice Management Association's "Get a Life (TM)" Conference, and some of the specific tips I picked up as I was "live-tweeting" the conference.
First up is Ross Fishman, who was not only an entertaining speaker, but was of the presenters who used his PowerPoint presentation most effectively. He started off his lecture talking about law firm websites and contrasting two different firm websites - actually a 'before' and 'after' of one of his clients (although he didn't reveal that until later).
Fishman emphasized the importance of developing relationships over time and becoming a niche expert. He also distinguished between 'marketing' and 'sales,' saying that the purpose of your marketing activities is to provide you with sales opportunities. In other words, you use various marketing to get a prospect to contact you or to set up an appointment (the sales opportunity). The sales opportunity is when how you get the business.
The sales and marketing distinction is an important one, because many lawyers make the mistake of trying to 'sell' prospects all of the time, rather than using marketing as an interim step to create an opportunity to have the sales conversation. Often, even lawyers with good intentions who would be a good fit for the client and who have the ability to effectively solve a client's problems turn off the client by trying to 'sell' the client at the time of the first contact.
Your marketing materials - including your website - create an impression of your firm. Fishman suggests reviewing your materials from a new perspective. As you look at your materials, ask yourself: What opinions do you form looking at your materials? What do your clients want? What will those clients respond to? Do your materials reflect what your clients want and respond to?
Although your marketing materials must respond to your prospect's wants and needs, they must also be a genuine reflection of you and your firm. If you misrepresent who you are, your efforts will ultimately fall flat. Do your marketing materials reflect who you are and your firm's culture/personality?
Fishman cautions lawyers against making these common mistakes:
Engaging in "Hummingbird selling" - the lawyer meets someone, goes to lunch, talks all about themselves and their firm the whole time and then hits the person up for business. Instead, remember that you must LISTEN to others first, to learn about them, and take the time to establish a relationship before asking for business. RELATIONSHIPS develop SLOWLY - it is a long term process which requires between 7 and 20 face to face contacts. The "Random acts of lunch" approach is not efficient.
Failing to build a robust contact list. According to Fishman, "non-rainmakers" have 10-15 people on their contact lists, while "rainmakers" have HUNDREDS
Marketing too broadly. The way to build your practice is by positioning yourself as THE expert in your area in the mind of the prospect. The way to accomplish this is to market narrowly by creating a niche. You can practice in more than one niche area, but you must focus your marketing on a small segment of the population. Just as large companies such as Proctor & Gamble have several different brands, such as Tide, Dove, Crest and Pampers for different purpose, you want to create 'brands' that you can market to a small segment of the population, and then target those people by getting involved in their trade associations or groups. To be effective, Fishman says you must:
Be a leader
Some of Fishman's 'quotables' included:
- Most people's networking is like throwing business cards out the back window. It may work, but it's not likely
- Your goal should be market leadership/market dominance
- The basic issue in marekting is creating a category you can be first in
- Everything in marketing flows from the message - do you have a unique message?
- Focus your marketing - you can practice broadly, but market narrowly
Need help developing a niche or a marketing strategy that's narrowly focused? Feel free to contact me to see how I can help.