• When cultivating new referral relationships, focus on the passions, hobbies and interests of the referral source. If the person happens to love the same things you do, your relationship will thrive on your shared passions. Always search for common ground.
  • If you are someone who spends most of your time cultivating familiar referral sources, remember that there’s going to be attrition in this group of people, no matter what. Some will change jobs or move away. Some may encounter health problems. It pays to always keep your eyes open for new faces – new potential referral sources are everywhere. Don’t forget to cultivate them as a hedge against the fall-out that will occur in your Top Twenty.
  • If you don’t already employ one, hire a Marketing Assistant this year. They can dedicate time each week to scheduling lunches with referral sources, posting on social media accounts, participating in community events and promoting upcoming firm events. For a relatively small investment, they can do a lot to bring in new clients and raise top-of-mind awareness about your firm.
  • The holidays are over – but the importance of marketing your firm knows no season. Think back to all of those holiday parties and the people you cheerfully agreed to have lunch with as you made your way from the appetizer table to the bar. It’s not too late to follow up with them by sending a quick e-mail or text to invite them to lunch. Consider also reaching out to the new people you met at those events. Plenty of new referral relationships have started with casual introductions at parties and blossomed into mutually beneficial friendships from there.
  • When you look at building your brand in the new year, assess your office environment. What kind of initial impression do you want your firm to make? Do you want to be seen as trustworthy, professional, friendly, accessible, modern or cutting-edge? However you brand your firm, ask yourself if the look and feel of your office reinforces that message. If not, use the first quarter to remedy the issue.
  • As the holidays approach, take time to reflect on the fact that most of your business probably came from clients and referral sources who know you, like you and trust you to do good work. Make a list of those people that deserve an extra acknowledgement from you this season – either in the form of a gift or in time spent together. We say it every year – you can never go wrong when acknowledging others for their generous contributions to your success. Show your gratitude to them in some way during the holidays and set yourself up for continued success in 2019.
  • ‘Tis the season: this is the time to plan your end-of-year holiday marketing efforts. Whether you decide to give gifts to your Top 20, host a holiday event or sponsor a charity event – they all take advanced planning. Set yourself up for a great 2019 by sitting down with your Marketing Assistant or your team to start the planning process.
  • If you’ve had your behavioral profile done (at Atticus we typically use the DISC Profile) you can gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to marketing, those who have great people skills will tend to rely on their natural persuasiveness, while those who are more analytical tend to market themselves by becoming experts in their field. They attract clients by giving lectures and writing books. Over the years, we have seen that everyone, no matter what their profile, has the ability to develop new clients using their particular mix of abilities.
  • Take good care of your referral sources. Each one is capable of sending thousands of dollars worth of business to you every year. Multiply that by the 30 to 50 years you’ll be in business and that represents a significant revenue stream. Your referral sources provide a great deal of advertising for you and deserve to be carefully cultivated.
  • Be sure to schedule a “Phantom Day” on your first day back in the office after a vacation. The idea is to come into the office but not meet with clients. This means there is less pressure on you on your first day back and allows you to catch up on the emails and phone calls that require immediate attention. It also gives you time to be briefed by your team on any issues that need your input and intervention.
  • Make sure your Marketing Assistant devotes time each week to scheduling marketing lunches, updating your Social Media platforms and making sure your Referral Sources are acknowledged for the referrals they send. None of these things take a lot of time, but most of them won’t get done without someone specifically assigned to take care of them.
  • Remember to include something in your Laser Talk that really distinguishes you from your competition. Surprisingly enough, one of the most humanizing things to reveal about yourself is that you’ve endured the same pain that your clients experience. The divorce attorney who reveals she’s been through a painful divorce is much more appealing to clients because she has felt their pain. The estate planner who has experienced a family torn apart after the death of a loved one due to lack of planning is much more attractive to clients because they want to help clients avoid the pain they endured.
  • First impressions are key. Make sure your digital first impression sends the right message to your target market – it should be designed to appeal to their wants and needs. In order to maximize your credibility, this client-centric approach should extend to your materials as well as your brick and mortar space. The more everything looks and feels like it’s consistent, the more the client will unconsciously believe you to be professional and credible.
  • Be sure to do a “Financial Status” check on each file reviewed in your Case Status Review meeting. This is a great way to keep an eye on whether or not clients are staying current with their payments for open and active cases. It also ensures that team members and associates don’t continue to bill on a file that is not up-to-date, payment wise.
  • Take a look back on 2017 and ask yourself what worked and what didn’t when it came to your marketing plan. Try to extract the lessons before you move forward. Plan to do more of what worked and less of what didn’t. And push yourself to take all of your marketing efforts up a notch in 2018.
  • One of the best habits you can put in place this year is that of blocking time on your calendar for regular marketing lunches. Most attorneys are ruled by their calendars and if there is no time blocked out for marketing, it won’t happen. Blocking time for client development not only elevates it in importance, it institutionalizes your marketing efforts and makes it easy for a marketing assistant to schedule lunches for you.
  • As you look back and evaluate your marketing activities for the past year, most of you will find that it was the face-to-face activities you engaged in that generated the most good will and produced the most referrals. Keep this in mind as you set up your marketing calendar for 2018 and be sure to book time for at least three marketing activities a week.
  • Thank you for your ongoing commitment to this firm –we appreciate the fact that you stay late so often to help out. We know you have a family at home.” These simple words, modified a little to fit your particular situation, are helpful to acknowledge team members, from secretaries to associates, who work late despite the fact that they also have a family that depends on them. Both male and female team members are constantly making decisions regarding which of their responsibilities can be temporarily sacrificed to serve the others. Juggling important priorities is difficult and adds a lot of stress to their lives. Make sure you recognize the many small sacrifices they make on an ongoing basis.
  • It’s time to start planning your holiday marketing strategy whether you are focusing on gifts or get-togethers for your referral sources and special clients. Take the time to meet with your team and go through what you’ve done in the past that got a big reaction – and what you’ve done that received a lukewarm reception. Then make your plans accordingly.
  • If you live in an area where you can enjoy being outside during the summer, think of the marketing events that you might plan to take advantage of being outside. Client appreciation events such as BBQs or picnics can be fun and can accommodate families. Many of our coastal clients charter fishing boats and take referral sources out for a day on the water. Outdoor sporting events can be fun as well. So, take a look around and see what you can create to incorporate a little bit of summer into your marketing plan.
  • Perhaps the best advice we can give you is to keep the 4 Ds in mind when processing your e-mail: Do It, Delete It, Delegate It or Delay It. If you keep these four options in mind, they can help you quickly triage and route your e-mail.
  • In addition to your outside marketing efforts, one of the most effective ways to get existing clients to refer more business is to say, at the end of your business with them, something like this: “I’ve really enjoyed working with you. If I can help any of your friends, family or colleagues, please let them know. I’ll do my best to help them with their issues.” This simple statement, modified to fit your practice, lets clients know that you’re interested in their referrals and stays with them when they have an opportunity to refer someone down the line.
  • With the arrival of spring and better weather, see if you can organize outdoor marketing activities. From watching baseball teams in spring training to playing golf or tennis, the winter thaw paves the way for marketing in the sunshine. Take advantage of the opportunity to get yourself out of the office.
  • Keep an eye on your conversion rate with qualified potential clients. You should be converting at least 50% of them and up to 80% or 90% when you’re the go-to attorney in your market. If your numbers are low, experiment with your consultation conversation to test new techniques. Be sure to include reflective listening techniques to capture your client’s objectives – all potential clients like to feel their issues have been heard and understood.
  • Use your Marketing Assistant to handle all of the scheduling and logistical aspects of marketing that won’t get done by you. Usually having support in these areas make it much more likely that you’ll meet your goal of three marketing contacts per week. Also use your Marketing Assistant to handle buying tickets, sending thank you cards and posting content on your social media sites.
  • Keep in mind that your clients will form their first impressions of you and your firm by looking at your building, surveying the furnishings in the waiting room and assessing the friendliness of your receptionist. These are some of the physical elements of your brand. Make sure they come together to convey the message you intend to send.
  • When you use social media to attract clients, go beyond self-promotion to provide value. Post helpful articles, blog posts and links that address their hot button issues so that they begin to see you as a valuable resource and an expert in solving their particular problems.
  • As you wrap up 2016, take a look at who sent you business this year. Examine your Top 20 List and ask yourself if these referral sources continued to be strong contributors in the last year. Likewise, look at your Farm Team list and ask yourself who has sent significantly more, or less, business. These lists don’t stay static from year to year –relationships shift and change. Be aware of, and thank, anyone who’s been a strong contributor to your success this year. It’s the best way we know to set yourself up for a great 2017.
  • As the holiday season grows near, meet with your team to decide what you’ll do to thank your referral sources. Taking them to lunch or giving them small gifts can go a long way to making up for the acknowledgement you may have failed to give them during the year for the clients they’ve sent.
  • Identify how your clients benefit from your services. Then stress these benefits in more emotionally-oriented language such as, “We help to give our clients peace of mind,” instead of emphasizing the more substantive, technical aspects of how you help people.
  • Hire a Marketing Assistant to maximize your firm’s marketing efforts. The ideal candidate is detail-oriented enough to handle all the logistics but personable enough to work well with all types of people.
  • When looking for ideas to include in your summer marketing activities, consider family-oriented events if your key client demographic involves parents. You can give gift certificates for tickets to summer blockbuster movies that families would enjoy. These earn a lot of points with parents that want to keep their kids entertained. Tickets to baseball games and water parks are fun options as are firm sponsored “client appreciation” events which feature entertainment for the kids and child-friendly foods such as barbecue, tacos or hot dogs.
  • There’s no substitute for action when you want to develop new referral sources. Thinking about it, worrying about it and writing down names only takes you so far. You have to get out on the playing field to score.
  • Schedule a weekly or monthly marketing meeting to discuss your client development and community involvement goals with your partners, your associates or your marketing assistant. Having a regularly scheduled meeting creates a structure of accountability for you and whoever else is trying to market your firm. We know from experience that plans and commitments that are made public and discussed with others are much more likely to happen.
  • Prior to meeting with a new referral source, take a look at their website and any social media platforms on which you can access their profile. Surveying their internet presence will give you a good idea of what’s important to them both in their business and personal lives and can serve as fodder for your conversation. You don’t want to sound like an Internet stalker, just someone who’s taken the time to do a little research.
  • Think about getting a group of like-minded colleagues or referral sources together to create a book study group and focus on books about marketing. Read a book a month if you’re ambitious, a chapter a month if you’re pressed for time. Then meet monthly to discuss and challenge each other to take your marketing efforts to the next level, using what you’ve learned.
  • Becoming an active member of your community and volunteering for causes you are authentically excited about will not only help the disadvantaged it will  build your firm’s reputation.
  • Remember all of those people you saw during the holidays? The existing referral sources and maybe a few people who had the potential to become new referral sources? Get in touch with them and mention that you enjoyed seeing or meeting them. Then ask if they’d like to meet for coffee, lunch, dinner or a cocktail to catch up. This kind of follow-up separates the real rainmakers from the wannabe rainmakers.
  • Holiday gatherings offer abundant opportunities to develop rapport with new and existing referral sources. When parting, take the opportunity to tell each one that you’d like to get together for lunch in the next couple of weeks. Then follow up with an e-mail to set the date. This will help jumpstart your marketing opportunities for 2016.
  • The holidays are coming and it’s a good time to polish up one of your most powerful conversational strategies: the Laser Talk. Once you’ve become comfortable with it, you can use different versions in different social situations. Whether you’re meeting potential clients  or potential referral sources, it’s a succinct way of letting people know the how and why of what you do.
  • Make it easy for your receptionist or marketing assistant to gather data on incoming calls by using a call tracking form which allows you to capture how many inquiry calls come in, who sent those callers, and how many of those callers convert to initial consultations.
  • Marketing requires patience. Clients may come from a new referral source immediately, but it usually takes numerous meetings for the referrer to trust you enough to risk recommending you.
  • If you doubt the validity of the 80/20 Rule, take a look at your closet. You probably only wear 20% of the clothes in your closet most of the time. This means that 80% of your clothes don’t contribute much. The universal ratio applies to your clients as well: 20% of your clients/cases/files will most likely produce 80% of your revenues.
  • When your marketing time blocks are preset and blocked in advance, it is easier for your marketing assistant to schedule marketing meetings and lunches since she doesn’t have to constantly recheck your availability.
  • Your personal presentation is either going to further your brand or work against you. Never forget that, even in these days of “business casual,” people will still judge you by how you dress. Aim to dress a notch above how your competitors and referral sources dress.
  • If you can’t bring yourself to write thank you notes on a regular basis, you may consider having your marketing assistant or paralegal do them. It can then be signed with something like: With thanks from all of us at the Smith Law Firm. That way, it’s still personal yet you are not trying to pass off an employee’s handwriting as your own – though we know many firms who do this and feel comfortable doing so. However you decide to do it, make sending the thank you note an item on your file opening checklist – it’s much more likely to happen that way, and referral sources will feel appreciated.
  • Most human beings learn new information visually – that is, they process images before everything else. Make sure your personal image sends a clear and professional message to your clients. It is essential that their first impression of you is a good one.
  • It’s much less expensive to do work with existing and past clients. The time and effort it cost to initially land them as clients is covered and any future business with them is more profitable.
  • Think back over the past year and consider the clients you enjoyed working with and those you did not. Notice what attributes those you enjoyed working with had. Ask yourself what lessons you can draw from your recent past that you can apply to the way you select clients in the future. Enjoying the clients you work with is one of the biggest predictors of satisfaction in your practice. Be your own best friend and resolve to reduce your stress this year by reducing the number of difficult people you take on.
  • Your competitors will focus on delivering a high-level of technically correct service to clients. Set yourself apart by delivering the kind of service that also recognizes the human being behind the problem.
  • ‘Tis nearly the season. Building rapport during the holidays with referral sources is easy. Hold an open house and invite them to your office. Or, make it a point to take each one of them out to lunch over the holidays to express your sincere thanks for all the business they’ve sent throughout the year.
  • Put the time you spend doing professional reading to good use. Forward on-line articles to referral sources with a quick e-mail that says something like, “I saw this article and thought you might be interested.” It’s a quick way to maintain top-of-mind-awareness by amplifying something you’re already doing.
  • An increasingly popular exit strategy among attorneys is to bring their book of business to another firm, merge their clients with that firm’s client base, and then act as of counsel for that firm until they completely retire. For those attorneys who don’t want to go through a sales or succession process, this is a great option. Difficulties arise, though, when the attorney’s database is either not up-to-date or not easily transferred because it is on paper (yes, index cards are alive and well in some firms). A poorly kept database is much less appealing to a merger partner who will want to mine the database for future business. Take a look at your database and assess its usefulness – it could be a valuable asset in your exit strategy plan.
  • When your marketing time blocks are preset and blocked out on your calendar in advance, it’s easier for your marketing assistant to schedule marketing meetings and lunches. He or she won’t have to constantly check your availability. But this will only work if you consider those time slots inviolable and don’t steal the time for other matters.
  • One of the best strategies to deploy when developing a new referral relationship is to use stories. A well-told story can be a teaching tool and instruct your potential referral source about the kind of clients you serve and the lengths you go to to help them. A well-told story can even be humorous and a little self-deprecating. Story telling is one of the most effective tools you have to communicate your values and give your new referral source a reason to trust in you.
  • Your invoices can be a marketing tool. Does that sound strange to you? Here’s how: if you add descriptive detail with action words that illustrate the effort you and the team are undertaking on the client’s behalf it helps the client to understand and appreciate the work going into their matter or case. Curt, concise descriptive language will obscure your efforts instead of emphasizing them. Do yourself a favor and tell a story with your invoices.
  • Most referral sources are more than willing to introduce you to people in their network. To make the introduction easy, arrange a lunch meeting and suggest they bring the person along. In these situations, we recommend you also pick up the tab.
  • Reinvigorate your marketing efforts as spring approaches. Invite referral sources to participate in outdoor activities as the weather begins to warm up. We know marketing can be hard to fit into your busy schedule, but make the effort to heat up your referral relationships while you enjoy the outdoors.
  • Take a moment right now to think of a referral source with whom you haven’t communicated in a while. Then take another moment to e-mail (or text) and invite them to lunch to catch up. In the space of a few moments you can reach out and initiate contact with someone that can result in future business.
  • Never underestimate the power of doing three substantial marketing contacts a week. It’s one of the most effective rainmaking habits because it delivers more direct results.
  • Refine your room-working skills by attending holiday parties with a mission: vow to meet one new person and tell two people you’ll call them for lunch after the holidays. Or come up with your own small marketing goals – they don’t have to be overly ambitious to work. Notice that you’ll navigate the party more strategically if you have a few goals in mind.
  • Some Atticus attorneys introduce themselves in clever ways, like the construction law attorney who calls himself the “Hardhat Lawyer,” the business attorney who calls himself, “The Business Owner’s Best Friend,” or the divorce attorney, now practicing collaborative law who calls himself, “A Recovering Litigator.” This seemingly lighthearted approach is not only a great way for them to brand themselves, it causes their listeners to be curious enough to ask questions about their practice.
  • Start planning now for the upcoming holiday season. Thanksgiving cards are still rare enough that they will really be noticed and won’t get lost in the flood of holiday cards that are sent every year.
  • In the world of commercial sales, studies show that 81% of the sales happen on the fifth contact or later. In the Rule of Seven from the book, Personal Village, a person attempting to establish a relationship with a new group or community must be seen seven times to be considered an “insider.” Keep these numbers in mind while attempting to build relationships with people who could become referral sources – patience is a virtue.
  • Partner up with someone in your firm if you are reluctant to go to marketing events alone. Having someone to talk to makes it much more likely that you’ll go and make the rounds. It can be beneficial to both attorneys to team up in this way. Each one can make it their goal to introduce the other to new people who can benefit them.
  • You can use Twitter to follow people in the legal profession whom you want to cultivate and eventually meet. Using social media as a way to become acquainted with potential referral sources and extend your networking range is often a more viable strategy than trying to directly cultivate new clients.
  • Hire a Marketing Assistant to maximize your firm’s marketing efforts. The ideal candidate is detail-oriented enough to handle all the logistics but personable enough to work well with all types of people.
  • Take advantage of all the big spring sporting events: organize a gathering of referral sources who are golf, basketball or baseball fans and either attend a game, attend spring training events or have a party at your house centered around a game. Using sports is a great way to connect with like-minded referral sources to build rapport and raise your top-of-mind awareness with them.
  • When your marketing lunches are designated in advance and space is reserved on your calendar, it’s easier for your Marketing Assistant to schedule referral sources since she doesn’t have to continually recheck your availability.
  • If you have vowed to make this the year you develop your social media presence, start a new habit: every week turn Friday into “Facebook Friday” and commit to posting something on your social media accounts that day without fail. Better yet, appoint a savvy team member as your social media liaison and give him or her items, ideas and event details to post every Friday.
  • Jump start your Client Development efforts in the new year by following up with all of those contacts you made at holiday gatherings. Think about the people you should reconnect with, be they old referral sources — or new ones with potential. Call, e-mail or text them to see if they’d like to meet for coffee, lunch or dinner to catch up. There is no downside to initiating a meeting like this. Remember: nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Be vigilant in your efforts to spot potential clients for your referral sources. There is no better way to get their attention and inspire their sense of reciprocity.
  • Start new referral relationships by listening closely to your potential referrer when he or she talks about family, hobbies, passions and interests. Listen for anything that you have in common because these commonalities can jump start the relationship and form the basis for ongoing rapport.
  • Don’t be reluctant to use your Marketing Assistant to schedule lunches with other professionals. It’s a commonly accepted practice and your assistant will generally be dealing only with the other person’s assistant as they schedule the lunch.
  • Hire a young intern – preferably a college student studying marketing – to re-energize your marketing efforts. They can set up your Social Media sites and even interview you to ghostwrite your blog, saving you time and effort so you can focus on face-to-face marketing activities.
  • Don’t make the mistake of sending the same tired form letter when thanking your referral sources. It makes you appear as if you don’t value their efforts enough to send something personalized. Take a little extra time and send a book on a subject they like, take them to lunch or call to personally thank them.
  • When planning your Social Media Marketing strategy, be sure to use the sites most favored by your target audience, be they referral sources, past clients or some combination of the two. Professionals and business people tend to favor LinkedIn and non-business clients tend to favor Facebook. Set yourself up to post on both sites if you have a mixed target audience. Also, don’t make all of your posts self-promotional – offer a solid mix of postings that give helpful advice to your readers in the form of articles, website links or videos. Reserve about 10% of your postings to showcase personal hobbies, passions or interests – but stay away from divisive political topics that may turn-off potential referrers.
  • Hold a “VIP” lunch to introduce important new clients to your partners and key team members. If you have a client with whom you have a big new case or whom you think will be the source of much future business, invite them to lunch in your office and make them the center of attention. This small event can go along way in building “know, like and trust” with them, plus it will encourage them to use other services the firm has to offer.
  • Most case management systems allow you to input notes about the referral source that sent you each case. Be sure to track this information, not only to have a convenient place for all your notes, but because you can also easily generate a list of all the cases/matters they have sent. This is particularly useful when you are updating your Top 20 list and trying to determine who’s responsible for sending you the best referrals.
  • Finding common ground is essential when building a new relationship with a potential referral source. Channel Barbara Walters and ask questions about the person’s background, their education, their hobbies, interests and passions. Look for areas in which you have similar interests. Real rapport and long-lasting friendships are created when your interests, views or background are genuinely similar to theirs.
  • Take the time now to build upon the many social contacts you made over the holidays. Gather all of the business cards you were handed at holiday parties and initiate contact with those who have the potential to become a referral source for you. Also, take a look the gifts you received at the office and call or e-mail those people who went out of their way to send you something. This will help you stay connected to your existing referral sources. Both of these actions are easy to do and will go a long way to helping you grow your practice.
  • The holidays are a good time to acknowledge and thank referral sources for their ongoing faith and confidence in you. Schedule a lunch with those who have been your most faithful supporters and express your gratitude – this simple act of gratitude is the best way to set yourself up for more business in the coming year.
  • When a prospective client or referral source meets you for the first time, what do they see? Someone who projects a polished, professional image? Someone who looks reliable, trustworthy and capable of solving complex problems? If not, you may need to upgrade elements of your wardrobe such as your shoes or your briefcase. When people have little else to go on, they will judge you based on your appearance. Make your image work for you, not against you.
  • When you’ve successfully completed a matter for a client, take him or her out to lunch and let them know you enjoyed working with them. Close your lunch meeting by letting them it would be a pleasure to assist anyone they know who might need your services. This is a graceful way to ask for referrals.
  • Build rapport with potential referral sources by asking how you can help develop new business for them. This will create the foundation for a healthy exchange of referrals and should inspire them to ask the same of you.
  • Ask yourself this question: who among your Referral Sources have you been neglecting? Who do you take for granted? Referral Sources who send you business are literally putting money in your pockets – don’t fail to thank and acknowledge them for their generosity. They don’t automatically know that you appreciate their help – you need to tell them.
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Atticus®, Inc.
345 South Highland Street
Mt. Dora, FL 32757
Toll Free: (888) 644-0022
Office: (352) 383-0490
Fax: (352) 383-8637