Our firm is based in Little Rock. We currently have 12 attorneys. We were larger several years ago. We have lost 8 attorneys in the last five years as well as several business clients. Profitability has suffered? What marketing initiatives should we be exploring to improve profitability and increase the size of the pie?
On average it costs five times as much (dollars/time investment) to get new clients than it does to get more business from existing clients. It just makes good business sense to leverage existing relationships.
I suggest that your first priority is to circle your wagons around your existing clients and insure that the quality of your services and the quality of your relationship with the client is beyond reproach. Then look for unmet needs and additional work from existing clients. Once this has been accomplished begin targeting new business clients and cultivating relationships one by one.
Many of our clients that represent business clients have found the following (listed in order of value to the firm) to be a few of the more successful marketing tools at the firm and individual attorney level:
Solicit and respond to client feedback (Client Surveys)
Newsletters and solid marketing collateral materials
Up to date marketing database of clients, past clients, referral and media sources
Individual Attorney Level
Personal networking and relationship building by individuals
Client site visits
Marketing through client trade associations
Speeches and by-lined articles
The national marketing investment average for law firms representing business clients is 2.5% of revenue. While marketing costs money - often the larger investment is lawyer time as much of the effort to maintain relationships with new clients and to create relationships with new potential clients occurs at the individual lawyer level.
Two sets of marketing plans need to be put in place - firm level plans for firm marketing and individual lawyer plans for marketing initiatives by each and every attorney in the firm.
Often partners in law firm that represent business clients think that they can just put in place firm level plans, invest marketing money, put the plan on auto pilot, and sit back and wait for new work to come in. Unfortunately, it is usually not that easy. It also takes client relationship building work at the individual lawyer level as well. When this is not done the results are usually disappointing.
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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC