You Need to Market More. Yes, You.
Yesterday, Jay Shepherd, a well-known employment lawyer from Boston and SPU Professor, wrote an article for Above the Law discussing the 13 things he wishes he would have known when he started his practice 13 years ago. (You should read it, its got great practical advice and it’s moving).
One piece of advice that stood out to me was this: “market more.” According to Jay even if you
“think you’re marketing enough? You’re not.”
Its not exactly a good idea to wait until you run out of clients to start marketing. Your marketing efforts have to be ongoing so that you are always feeding the client funnel.
How Do Potential Clients Find Us?
Back in March, Susan Cartier Liebel wrote an article about the way she looks for service professionals. First, she sought a referral. When no one she knew had a qualified referral, she stumbled upon a credential of the type of professional she was looking for. That credential prompted her to contact him. When that contact didn’t work out, she went back online and did a good old search for a professional she had later remembered using in the past. I have to agree that I, and others I know, look for service professionals in this way.
So let’s review:
- You need to market more. (Why? Because Jay Shepherd said so and you already know you’re not marketing enough, so spare us the devil’s advocate arguments).
- Most potential clients look for service providers in the logical way. That is:
- Seek a referral;
- Look online and possibly offline for a credential-bearing professional worthy of a phone call or email;
- Seek to get back in touch with professionals they’ve successfully used in the past (that is, if they can remember their name for a Google search).
The Case for the E-book
“[E-books are] technically easy and when it works, your idea will spread far and wide. Even better, the act of writing your idea in a cogent, organized way will make the idea better.” Seth Godin
As in most things digital, lawyers are late to the party on e-books. I email and chat with tons of lawyers all over the world, all of the time and none of them, save two, have written an e-book for their client base. (I am excluding lawyers who write e-books for other lawyers, rather than consumers/potential clients). The two lawyers I know who have written e-books for their clients are legal pioneers (are we surprised?):
- Carolyn Elefant wrote an e-book on landowners rights in the FERC process for her client base.
- Jay Fleischman wrote an e-book called, The Consumer’s Guide to Bankruptcy, for his client base.
Based on the fact that you need to market more and considering the way that potential clients look for service professionals nowadays, I think the e-book is a logical choice for solos. Writing an e-book provides a solo with an opportunity to display their expertise and build credibility (i.e., credential building) as well as an opportunity to share something of value with their clients and potential clients (i.e., staying top of mind). For those who choose to share their e-book for free it provides a great free gift for those who trust you enough to subscribe to your blog. For those who sell their e-book, it provides an additional revenue stream.
As a side note, despite its name, I don’t think the e-book is a marketing tool solely for the social media/tech savvy lawyer. An e-book could be offered in print form to potential clients who come to a solo’s office for a free consultation. It might also be displayed at neighborhood barbershops, offered to your local library and anywhere else that potential readers frequent.
Incidentally, another piece of advice Jay gave in that article is this:
Get your name out there and keep it out there . . . Remember: you’re building a brand.
A well-written e-book can definitely build your brand!
What to Write About?
Okay, so your convinced that an e-book could be a great marketing tool for your practice, right? Now you need a topic. Pay attention to your blog posts that have the most comments or your newsletter articles that get the best response. Or do you have an innovative idea that could help your client base? Or tips on how to move on after a legal problem is resolved (could work especially well in family law, bankruptcy, consumer debt, foreclosure, etc.). An e-book may even be found in the questions clients and potential clients frequently ask.
The most important aspect of choosing a topic, is choosing to write something you are passionate about. That way you not only get to help people and get a great marketing tool, you also get a creative outlet that you’ll enjoy (and it increases the likelihood that your e-book will be really good. It has to be really good!). I am currently in the process of writing my first e-book. Its an exciting and thrilling process for me because I am writing for my beloved client base about a topic that I am really passionate about.
The sky is the limit when it comes to writing and self-publishing your own e-book. You don’t need anyone else’s permission. (And did I mention, it won’t cost you any money?) Just decide that you want to do it and then do it.
Have you written an e-book for your client base? How has it benefited your practice? What other uncommon marketing ideas have you tried?
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.