By Kimberly Alford Rice
Special to the Legal
It’s hard to believe that we are in the last quarter of 2012 with the holidays right around the corner. What you do in the next several months could very well determine how successful your practice will be in 2013 and beyond.
I’ve outlined a few tips below that top rainmakers have shared on how they leverage the end of the year to grow their practice.
Maximize Opportunities to Connect
The fourth quarter is filled with holiday gatherings that create an inherent reason to reach out and connect with your clients, referral sources and highly valued prospects. Call existing clients and wish them a happy holiday season ahead. Invite referral sources to holiday events. Send out holiday greetings and/or holiday e-blasts. Reaffirm your appreciation for the opportunity to work with them in 2012. Reassure them that despite recent economic turbulence, you are looking out for their interests and are always available to answer any questions they may have.
Ask for Referrals
Though some lawyers find it difficult to do, remind clients that you gladly accept referrals and appreciate the opportunity to lend your help. There are plenty of people struggling, unsure of what their options are in today’s economic climate, so let them know you are a resource they can turn to – whatever their situation. If you do not have the immediate answer, your clients know that you’ll get them.
Double Down on Your Marketing Efforts
There’s no better time than the fourth quarter to automate the processes for your marketing initiatives as you head into 2013. We all experience how life gets in the way sometimes, and, without fail, we get really busy, over-scheduled and over-committed, especially as we head into the fall and winter holidays. That is when it is too easy to overlook or allow high-impact marketing initiatives to fall between the cracks. Don’t let it happen again this year.
Put a plan in place to ensure that you have all systems “go” for your firm to remain visible and stay top of mind. Look ahead now at the targeted networking opportunities (those that put you in front of qualified prospects and high-impact referral sources) coming up in the next few months and pencil the dates on your calendar. Then keep the commitment and attend with a professional networker’s mindset.
Circulate website content assignments among your attorneys so everyone is contributing and no one attorney bears all the responsibility of generating fresh content that is super-important to a high-performing Web presence.
Along those same lines, draft a few blog posts to drip out between now and early January. Blog posts need not be more than 300 words and can be as simple as commenting on a development in your area of practice.
Arrange to make client visits in the next few months. Though it may seem like a trivial exercise, research studies show us that clients absolutely love and appreciate a personal visit. And it is a direct indicator of future work. If your top clients are not local, schedule one trip a month to stop in and personally demonstrate how much you appreciate your client and the opportunity to work with him or her. The goodwill you garner will make it more than worth the disruption to your schedule.
If your clients are mostly local, then contact them this week to schedule a holiday meeting for the same purpose. Get on their calendars before they are booked up.
Take the Road Less Traveled
Author M. Scott Peck did not promise us that the road would be easy, but rather worth the effort if we dare to stand out and have a deeper journey. Applied professionally, it is not always easy to be memorable and develop top-of-mind awareness among your targeted audiences – clients, referral sources and highly valued prospects. Not easy, but possible.
The truth is that 80 percent of most lawyers do not take the extra steps to build a successful practice. Many will focus on looking backward and lament all the things they have not done in 2012 and how far behind they feel, or how defeated they are. Many lawyers will simply do just enough to get by – no more, no less – and move forward with their practices stuck in status quo mode, indefinitely. They wonder why their client lists do not grow, why they are not earning more year after year, and how they feel burned out in the practice of law.
Then, there are the other 20 percent of lawyers who will step up, stand out and stay laser-focused. They will end this year on top, crushing their goals and kick-starting 2013 with vigor and renewed sense of purpose.
To which group will you belong? The top 20 or the bottom 80? What you do in these next few weeks may make all the difference.
Kimberly Alford Rice is principal of KLA Marketing Associates, a business development advisory firm focusing on legal services. As a legal marketing authority, she helps law firms and lawyers develop practical business development and marketing strategies which lead directly to new clients and increased revenues. Additionally, she provides career management services to lawyers in transition. She can be reached at 609-458-0415 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.