Excerpted from the Build Your Own Business blog by Dave Lorenzo of Aventura, FL:
1. Differentiate Yourself
As times get tougher, many other lawyers will "dabble" in your area of expertise. Make your prospective clients aware that this is happening. Remind your clients that you handle issues in your specialty full-time, not on a part-time basis. If you are a criminal defense attorney, explain to them that you are not a real estate attorney who takes a few criminal defense cases each year to "fill out his calendar."
The reason people chose you in a good economy is more important in a down economy. There is more competition out there. Focus on your unique value proposition and hammer it home. You must be able to articulate clearly why you are the best choice for this client in this situation.
2. Help Clients Understand the Consequences of Bargain Shopping
A client receives no bargain from cut-rate parachute manufacturers, heart surgeons, or legal practitioners. Paying less often means not getting the best work. Your prospective clients must understand this, and you are the best person who can bring it to their attention.
Help prospective clients focus on their own personal economy.
- What consequences are they likely to face if this work is botched?
- What is their exposure?
- If this situation is not handled, how much will they suffer?
- Do they want to face this possibility armed with the best possible representation?
- Or do they want to take a big, big chance with someone else?
3. Work Your Contact Lists
Every lunch you eat by yourself is costing you money. You need to stay in front of the people who know you so they remember to refer clients to you. While many people may not come into daily contact with friends or relatives who need your services you never know when they may hear of someone who needs legal assistance. If you are on top of mind they can offer to connect them with you. This happens more often than you realize.
The best way to get these referrals is to sit down with people and get to know them. Breakfast, lunch or dinner provide the perfect opportunities to breathe new life into a potential referral relationship.
Invite long-time clients to lunch. Find out how you can help them by providing some referrals to their business. They will almost always want to reciprocate if possible. The more you give to them, the more they will want to help you.
4. Keep Your Name in Front of Everyone You Know Every Month
Greeting cards are cheap, easy and effective way to attract more legal clients. Every month has a holiday that will serve as an excuse for mailing your entire contact list. The more creative and memorable your message the more likely your contacts will refer you.
If this seems goofy (after all, who gets a greeting card from an attorney?), remember that being different is the point. For example, one side of your card can say something like: "All of us at XYZ Law Firm wish you a safe and happy Halloween. Thanks for thinking of us." On the opposite side it could say: "We help people who are being chased by real goblins, monsters, and other scary creatures waiting to attack your business (or your bank account)." Below this message, you print your contact information.
The key is not to be overtly solicitous. You want to remind people what you do and thank them for thinking of you.
5. Media Exposure Can Make a Difference
Getting your name and face in the local media can make a difference in attracting new legal clients for your small law firm. You may not get clients from actually appearing on television or being quoted in an article, but media outreach can help enhance your credibility.
Prospective clients often view media exposure as a surrogate for expertise. Giving a few interviews or commenting on a few out-of-town cases for a local reporter will help keep your name in front of clients and it will position you as an expert.
There is no reason your law firm should suffer in an economic downturn. People still need assistance handling legal matters. Develop these good habits now and you will attract more legal clients for your small law firm during a recession.
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