Business Development—Five Ways to Impress Clients

By Anne Itri

The number one rule of business development is to always impress your clients.  Happy clients will continue to give you their business and are much more likely to give you additional business and referrals.  The number two rule of business development is to always impress those with whom you work.  Eventually, they will have a need for your services and remember you.

According to a joint survey by the Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law, 67% of attorneys and marketers have an increased emphasis on marketing and business development.  But what exactly does "increased emphasis" mean?  And how can you use proven and emerging marketing tools to increase your firm's business development?

In a recent survey of over 200 of the nation's largest law firms, the following five tools were the clear winners of the must-have tools for impressing current and potential clients.

1. Website

While having a website seems like an easy one, it is an important way firms are found, researched and impress potential clients.  Attorney biographies are the most-read section of a firm's website.  Be sure to update these regularly.

How can you be certain you are adding the right material to biographies?  A recent study indicated the following as the most implemented biography features of the National Law Journal 350:

  • E-mail Address (with working link)
  • Position / Title
  • Professional Experience
  • Contact Information
  • vCard Download
  • Education
  • Bar Admissions
  • Publications / Articles
  • Membership / Activities

In October 2015, Google’s search guru, Amit Singhal, confirmed that more than half of all online searches were made from mobile devices.  Google's response?  Update their ranking algorithm to expand use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.  To help combat these algorithm and behavioral shifts, responsive and mobile websites have emerged as two tools that can best enhance your firm's natural search, therefore your firm's reach and find-ability.

2. Business Cards

The trend toward heavier, more substantial business cards in the legal market is not a surprise when you think about it.  As more and more content is pushed online and more and more relationship building is beginning digitally, there is one sure-fire way to stand out—produce and hand out made-to-impress business cards.

According to surveys, over 60% of large firms have recently rebranded or were planning to at the beginning of this year.  Translation—over 60% of large firms have updated their business cards in the past three years.  If your firm isn't one of them, it is time, even if you aren't rebranding.

Here are a few simple ways to update your business cards:

  • Add an engraved or embossed element to increase the engagement through touch
  • Update the stock by increasing the weight, adding a duplex stock (the process by which two stocks are glued together to create a more substantial stock) or even including a texture
  • Increase the use of color
  • Leverage technology to promote online content and vCard downloads

3. Social Media

Choosing the right social media platforms for your firm can be tricky.  Each platform speaks to a different audience looking to engage in different ways and in different content.

Facebook is a more personal social media platform.  However, firm Facebook pages that focus on charitable events, firm and professional awards and milestones and other firm events can enhance your readership and your social brand.

LinkedIn is now the go-to online directory for professionals.  Ensure your attorneys' pages match the firm's website biography.  Then, to increase followers and readership, post relevant and timely articles related to your practice.  Be sure to encourage professionals to share with their networks.

Use Twitter to spread blog content, information about rule changes and other "sound bite" information that highlights your firm's expertise.

As always, you should also encourage all attorneys and employees to use privacy settings and common sense to avoid any potentially embarrassing incidents.

4. Seminars & Events

Don’t forget the personal touch.  While many relationships begin online, face-to-face meetings establish a personal connection you can’t manufacture digitally.

When your firm hosts seminars and events, be sure to impress each potential client by thinking of every detail.  The topic and presenters are often the "easy" part.  It's the other details of planning that add comfort and aid in the business development process.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your next function:

  • Send printed and digital invitations to maximize attendance
  • Provide a printed itinerary with speaker bios
  • Make name tags to encourage networking
  • Post direction signs for the rest rooms
  • Provide firm-branded note pads and pens
  • Include firm-branded coffee cups and napkins at breaks
  • Offer high quality, nutritious snack and meal options
  • Follow-up with attendees in writing with a note card, instead of just an e-mail

5. Marketing, Communication and RFP Response Materials

Firm budgets for these items have tightened over the years.  However, the impression left by these materials has increased as less and less physical items are shared.

As mentioned, 60+% of firms have rebranded.  If your firm hasn't, it may be time to review your brand.  Not up for a rebrand yet?  Then perform a thorough review of all your printed materials.

First, gather all the firm-branded materials in one place.  Second, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do these materials say about our firm?
  • Is our color consistent across all materials?
  • How consistent is our brand?
  • Do these provide the best market exposure?
  • How do we stack up against those of other firms?
  • Are these items compliant with our sustainability initiatives?

Be honest.  Determine the areas where your brand might need to be strengthened.  Then create a plan to develop your existing tools and build new tools to impress both current and potential clients alike.

Impress for Success

Business development remains at the core of every law firm's success.  To truly impress your clients, differentiate your firm with a well-rounded plan including digital and physical tools, networking and consistent messaging.

Anne Itri is a Regional Sales Manager for ALL-STATE Legal.  ALL-STATE Legal provides complete law office systems that maximize a firm’s efficiency and profitability and has more than 60 years of establishing the precedent nationwide.  Anne may be reached at [email protected].  

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