A man named Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is working in his corn field in Iowa when he hears this low, growly disembodied voice say: “If you build it, he will come.” This is the beginning of “Field of Dreams” (1989). Without detailing the entire movie – which I saw again last night for the umpteenth time and which in my humble opinion is by far one of the best movies ever made – that phrase became a catch phrase for many years.
However, as a marketing and rainmaking tactic, which many attorneys have unfortunately adopted, it stinks.
What basically happens is this: Many attorneys hang out a shingle (either solo or with others) and then wait for the phone to ring. Then they complain that they have spent tens of thousands of dollars on fancy brochures, putting up a website, Yellow Page advertising, buying advertising online or in print based on the advice of a so called “legal marketing consultant” and no clients are coming in the door.
Let me start by saying this:
- I have nothing against websites – in fact, in today’s day and age it is imperative for you to have a web presence. The first place most people will go is to the Internet to learn more about you and your firm. What I have a problem with is spending ridiculous amounts of money for all the bells and whistles which you may not need. The most expensive and impressive websites out there will not bring in clients just because it is on the Internet.
- I have nothing against online or in print advertising of your services. I have a problem with advertising willy-nilly. You need to ensure that your target market is being reached and be judicious with your advertising dollars. We live in an age of information overload. Years ago it was said that unless someone has an immediate need it takes more than seven times for someone to see an advertisement before it registers on their brain. Now, it is almost 10 times. So unless you have unlimited print/online advertising budget this can be incredibly cost prohibitive.
- And obviously, as a Rainmaking Trainer and Coach, I have absolutely no problems with legal marketing consultants. However, you need to make sure that the person you hire knows your industry and can speak your language (and if you would like referrals to really amazing legal marketing experts who know their stuff; who can write amazing websites, brochures, communications pieces, Public Relations, etc , I am more than happy to provide you with at least a dozen names).
What I have a problem with is the fact that many attorneys are waiting for their phones to ring.
When my grandfather began practicing law in 1928 (he practiced for 63 years) he could just hang up a shingle and people would come. There weren’t that many people practicing law at the time. Now, there are more than 1 million actively practicing attorneys in the US.
No longer can you open a phone book and see a short list of names of attorneys in the area. Instead the listings go on and on. How the heck can someone distinguish from one law firm to another? Further, most people don’t even go to the Yellow Pages anymore.
I have said it over and over: Rainmaking requires proactivity.
It requires you to make time in your schedule to perform the activities it takes to create relationships.
What activities and strategies should you take? There are hundreds of actions you can undertake to obtain new clients*. Part of that depends upon what type of law you practice; it depends upon your target market and how to reach them. However the most important activity you can undertake is to meet more people.
- Network: Go to the places your target market will be. Whether it is Associations, Chambers of Commerce, Online Forums, Social Media websites, any where you can find the people with whom you want to work;
- Ask for Introductions: Make a list of all of the people in your current network that fit your “ideal client” criteria. Contact them and ask them for introductions to the people who fit that criterion. A simple phrase like: “Who do you know who…..” will work wonders.
- Follow –up: I have a strict rule for my business. You will receive some sort of response to your contact with me (whether it is via email, instant message, Skype or telephone) within 24 hours during the business week. Normally the time it takes for me to respond is much sooner but that is my promise to my clients, prospects, and friends.
It is also my promise to me. Within 24 hours of meeting me expect to get some sort of letter/email sent to say how wonderful it was to do so. (A post on how to follow-up most effectively with clients and prospects is forthcoming). Even when I don’t have an answer or even the time to craft an answer to a question you will at least receive a response telling you just that.
Prospective and current clients just want their correspondences acknowledged. They want to know that you received their voicemail, email, etc – even if you don’t have a specific response at that time.
I cannot stress the importance of being proactive. Get out of your office, get off of your computer, come out from behind that pile of papers, briefs and legal research and start doing something to connect with people outside of your office.
*For more information on personal Rainmaking Coaching or to schedule an in-house Rainmaking Training Seminar in YOUR conference room (or at the time and location of your choosing) contact Jaimie B. Field, Esq. Some immediate dates and dates for the rest of the year are STILL available!