Simply waiting for the phone to ring is certain to slow your sales growth in today’s economy. Law firms that want to be proactive in attracting new business should have a list of ideal prospects they are actively working for new business development.
Create a Prospect “Wish List”
Your wish list is 10-20 high quality prospects that you would really like as clients. This is where you want to spend a considerable part of your personal business development time. Determine who the hiring contact is for your legal services, and how you might arrange an introduction to this person. Research what community or industry organizations they might support, and try to attend the same events. Perhaps you can make an initial connection on LinkedIn or through a trade association.
Always focus on what the next steps are with each wish list prospect. These steps will follow the basic business development activities of getting an introduction, becoming acquainted with the person and/or firm, building a relationship, discussing specifics of a business proposal, and hopefully signing an engagement letter. By focusing on several wish list prospects, you can keep each one moving forward at a comfortable pace without being rushed.
Don’t confuse your wish list with firms that may already be in your sales pipeline. Wish list prospects are those who have not yet established contact with your law firm. Also, keep in mind that 5-6 touch points are the minimum before most prospects feel comfortable engaging your firm.
Build a Prospect List Reflecting Your Ideal Client
In addition to your wish list, consider building a target list of at least 200-500 prospects for your legal services. These prospects will meet the basic criteria of your ideal clients. You can use your list for mailings of your quarterly firm newsletter or to invite prospects to one or more seminars or webinars that you offer.
Law firms that focus on a corporate market for services like employment law or intellectual property can obtain lists from firms like Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, or InfoUSA. Create the targeted list you need by selecting companies based on industry, headquarters location, annual revenue, number of employees, number of years in business, or type of ownership. Once you have identified the companies, you may also be able to get the names of key personnel, like the CEO, CFO, or Human Resources Director.
If referrals from other attorneys are important to you, consider purchasing a mailing list from your state bar association. You may be able to specify selection parameters like county, zip code, section, and other variables.
Attorneys who target consumers for family law, trust and estate, or personal injury services can also purchase lists. Demographic selection criteria, including location and type of residence, age, income, presence of children, and education level, all help to refine your target audience.
Many magazines rent subscriber lists, either directly or through a list broker. If there is a magazine that caters to your target market, explore whether you can reach out to their readers through direct mail marketing as a supplement or an alternative to a print ad in the magazine.
Even insurance defense firms, which need to be named as panel counsel, can create a list of insurance carriers and self-insureds they would like to serve.
Marketing to Your List
Research indicates that it takes a minimum of five to six contacts within an 18-month period for prospects to develop into clients. While this may sound like a long time, once you get an effective marketing system in place, it will begin to build your practice for the longer term.
A typical campaign schedule might include a printed or electronic newsletter every two to three months, supplemented by seminar invitations, emails introducing an informative video, and direct mail copies of articles you have published.
Over time, your prospects will become more familiar with your firm’s services. Prospects eventually turn into clients, at which point your goal is to provide the best service possible.
Remember that marketing is a process and not an event; prospect development is just one of many marketing initiatives available. Referral networking, speaking, publishing, and Internet marketing also remain essential.
About the Author: Margaret Grisdela is president of Legal Expert Connections, a national legal marketing agency, and author of the legal marketing book Courting Your Clients. She acts as an outsourced legal marketing director with a concentration in insurance defense, personal injury, and social media marketing. She welcomes your comments or questions at 561-266-1030 or via email at email@example.com.