In part 1 of this series, I wrote about the different, but ineffective, strategies many lawyers undertake to create new business and why it is important to have a written business development/marketing plan in order to become a Rainmaker.
As mentioned, there are only three things you need to figure out in order to begin to create a rainmaking plan:
- Who are your ideal clients? What is your ideal niche?
- What are the goals you want to achieve? and
- How are you going to achieve these goals?
In this post we will focus on how to find your ideal clients.
Ideal Clients/Ideal Niche:
The day of generalization is over. No longer can an attorney be “all things to all people.” The only caveat to this statement is if you are the only attorney in town. And then, being a general legal practitioner may work – however, the laws and legal system have become extremely complex; new legislation is constantly being passed which effect specific segments of the law.
As a result, when we leave law school, we tend to become involved in specific practice areas - for example, criminal law, insurance law, taxation, family and matrimonial law just to name a few.
While becoming a practice area specialist can result in bringing in legal matters, it is becoming harder and harder to obtain clients just because you practice law in a specific area. This is because the amount of competition out there is tremendous. For example, according to the ABA website, there are more than 25,000 members of the Labor and Employment Law Section (and remember, not every attorney in the United States is a member of the ABA, so the number of attorneys practicing labor and employment law is almost definitely considerably higher). Competition for clients can be ferocious.
So finding your ideal clients means targeting a niche.
Niches Markets can be very broad or very narrowly defined. They can be defined by demographic information:
- ethnic background
- socio-economic factors
- or even hobby
What makes it a niche market is a concentrated, well defined segment of the population who engages in the same behavior or has the same wants and needs.
With all of these demographic pieces, how do you find the perfect niche or target market for you? You can do so by asking yourself the following questions:
- Who do I like to work with?You are going to practice law for a very long period of time. My grandfather practiced for 63 years; my father is now in his 53rd year of practicing. Now, I’m not saying that you want to practice for these lengths of time, but if you are going to practice for 15, 25, 35, or 50 years shouldn’t you choose clients with whom you like to work?
- Can they afford to pay me?While this shouldn’t be the only criteria, this is still an important factor. This doesn’t mean you should be charging ridiculous fees – in fact, ethically speaking, you are not allowed to charge unreasonable fees (RPC 1.5)
- Is the market large enough?There are many resources out there to determine the size of your niche. Google can be your first step.
- Who is my competition?Again, this requires research. If there is a lot of competition in the market, are you willing to do the work it will take to distinguish yourself? If there is little competition, maybe there is a reason?
- Do I understand my market?This may be the second most important part. You need to know everything about your niche. Not only do you need to know your ideal client’s legal issues, you should know everything about them. Becoming their trusted advisor starts with you understanding everything that motivates or scares them.
And the most important question, after you have determined your ideal market or client:
Where do I find them?
Finding Your Ideal Clients
Your ideal clients are out there. And now, because of the internet, it is so much easier to find them. Once you find them, you can literally “clone” them.
Almost every industry, hobby, lifestyle has an association in which your ideal clients gather whether virtually or in reality. Almost every criterion you can come up with can be searched and you will find a website, a magazine, a group that exists that these individuals visit and read.
Find where your ideal clients congregate and you can begin to reach out to them. Because you understand them, because you know what makes them happy, because you know what keeps them up at night, you can offer your assistance to make their lives and businesses better. You can offer information that will help them with their problems.
Take the time to write down a list of what your ideal client or niche looks like. Who do you want to serve?
In the next installment, we will address setting goals and how to achieve them.
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®.