By guest blogger Michael Hammond
Do you think of marketing as just another one of those things you know you have to do but don’t have time to do? The truth is that even if you’re the best lawyer you know, all of that technical skill and professional expertise means nothing without clients who need your services. The viability of your practice depends upon your ability to generate a steady stream of new business. Client development is one of the highest and best uses of your time, but who can spare the time? The reality is that in order to be effective at referral-based marketing, you must first become effective at time management.
The Technician vs. The Marketer
Even in the early days of Atticus when our main focus was client development, we heard the common refrain: “I know I should be developing new business — but with everything I have on my plate right now, I can’t find the time.” Here’s the problem: when it comes to time management, the legal technician in you – the part of you that does the technical legal work that lawyers do – always controls your calendar. The work product you are responsible for will get done. In this deadline-driven arena, you will make sure that you rarely miss the mark. Compared to your own technical production, marketing shrinks to an optional activity with few clear cut goals and no urgent deadlines demanding your time and attention.
Three Marketing Contacts Per Week
To add structure and urgency to your client development efforts, we recommend that you schedule and make three marketing contacts a week. Three lunches are ideal and serve as the weekly goal for many Atticus clients. If you were to block out three lunches a week and dedicate them to marketing, you would make well over 100 marketing contacts per year — that’s the kind of consistent time commitment it takes to maintain rapport with existing referral sources and cultivate new ones.
To make this happen, block the time out on your calendar ahead of time, then stick to it – even when the technician in you wants to commandeer that time for production. Blocking out the time on your calendar creates a visual reminder to think ahead about which clients or influencers you can take out to lunch to fill your three weekly marketing time slots.
How To Make Marketing Work
Even attorneys who are gifted and seasoned marketers often struggle with the logistics of marketing – the updating of contact information or the scheduling of luncheon appointments, for example. To ensure this strategy works, delegate the scheduling to an assistant — a part-time person hired to focus only on marketing or a receptionist who has extra capacity – somebody to keep your lunch schedule filled in advance.
Here’s how it works: identify the days you’ll be available for lunches, supply the assistant with a list of existing referral sources whom you wish to see, and then have them fill those time slots. It helps to meet with your assistant once a week to check their progress in filling the schedule and to coach them on how to communicate with your referral sources. At these meetings you can also provide your assistant with information on any new people you’ve met and want to add to your list of marketing contacts. Using an assistant helps you maximize the time you actually spend out from behind your desk marketing.
An alternative to the lunch idea is to have a standing Friday or Wednesday afternoon time block dedicated to marketing. For many Atticus clients, the Friday afternoon golf game is a very popular marketing strategy. Inviting one to three other people to play golf every week could amount to 50 or more golf games and as many as 150 marketing contacts annually. When you consider the amount of face time that occurs while playing golf, this is a significant opportunity to develop relationships and build rapport with your important referral sources. You can both expand your referral source network and concentrate all of your weekly marketing activity into one highly efficient and effective time block. Who knows, it might also improve your golf game!
If playing golf or going to lunch aren’t for you, then try adding a monthly or bimonthly evening event to your calendar. These might be dinners with spouses, charity events or gallery openings. You can also invite referral sources and their families to events such as a barbeque, a boating excursion or a sporting event. Going to a game with your son or daughter and inviting a referral source to bring their kids is a great way to spend more time with your family and even enjoy marketing.
Marketing: A Numbers Game & A System
Referral-based marketing is a numbers game. Making three marketing contacts per week consistently with those referral sources most likely to send you clients will generate business for your firm. Think of marketing as a system for the continuing growth and vitality of your practice – when you make those three weekly marketing contacts, the increasing number of referral sources you’re getting to know better over time are themselves referring a steadily growing flow of prospective clients to you, which in turn allows you to be more selective in the clients you add to your expanding client base. And that’s why effective time management = effective marketing.