Achieving law firm growth in today’s competitive legal market is no cakewalk. It takes a lot of determination and more importantly, developing a strategic plan for growth and adhering to it. But fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s really quite simple. It just requires deliberate and consistent effort. Here are our 3 simple steps for law firm growth to help you get started.
3 Simple Steps for Law Firm Growth
We would like to thank Jacob Sapochnick for his thoughts and contributions to this post. Jacob is an attorney and founder of The Enchanting Lawyer, a blog focused specifically on law firm growth.
1. Focus On a Niche to Build Your Brand
When you’re trying to grow a law firm, the tendency can be to practice “door law,” AKA take on anything that comes in the door. In reality, this is a bad idea and it may actually be inhibiting your growth.
Focus On a Niche
Instead of being everything for everybody, you should try to find a legal niche. There are a few reasons why focusing on a specific practice area is good for law firm growth:
- More targeted marketing
- Effective marketing is an essential part of your law firm growth strategy (more about marketing below). When you don’t have a focus, it’s difficult to communicate your message and your target clients are less likely to respond.
- Improve your skills and experience
- It should go without saying that the more work you do in a particular area, the more knowledgable you become. Improving your skills will allow you to deliver superior results to clients and operate more efficiently.
- Develop a strong reputation
- By focusing on a niche, you become known as an expert in your field and improve your reputation in the industry. This increases your credibility and helps you build a referral machine.
When you narrow down your practice areas, you will eliminate all the distractions and become a more effective practitioner.
Build a Brand
A brand is what customers connect with, which is why all the most successful businesses in the world invest so much money into brand advertising (think Apple, Nike, Coca Cola, etc.). Attorney Jacob Sapochnick explains:
“Convey the same theme and voice in all your promotions. Use similar fonts, colors and logos for everything from your site to your advertisements. This consistency can effectively help build your brand.”
Building a brand is the first step to a good law firm growth strategy, and the way to do it is through clear, consistent communication and by occupying a niche.
2. Invest in Smart Marketing
Most attorneys struggle mightily with marketing, and understandably so. It’s a massive topic with many moving parts and different approaches. It can be overwhelming, but effective marketing is essential for law firm growth.
What Smart Marketing Means
Marketing is quite simply the way you make your brand known among your target audience. When you are in growth mode and have limited resources, your focus has to be on smart marketing – in other words, getting the most bang for your buck.
Smart marketing is:
- Highly targeted
- Cost effective
- Data driven
Smart marketing is not putting up a billboard with your name and number and waiting for phone calls. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate.
Market yourself with purpose. Leverage existing networks to build your audience. And use the right tools to analyze the results and improve over time.
How to Create a Smart Marketing Plan
Here is how you develop a smart marketing plan:
- Define your target audience
- Who are your ideal clients? Are they young or old? What socioeconomic class do they come from? Are they highly educated? Are they tech savvy? And above all, what legal problems are they facing?
- Be where your audience is
- When you know who your audience is, next figure out where they are. If they are young and tech savvy, they are online using mobile devices and computers. If they are older, they may be reading newspapers, magazines, and using yellow pages. If they’re from a lower socioeconomic class, they might be in a particular part of town, listen to certain radio stations, or rely on public transportation. Figure out where your audience spends its time, and how they consume their information, and be there.
- Connect with them
- Just being there is not enough. You have to find good ways of connecting with your audience. Connecting is best done with meaningful content and good storytelling. Don’t be cold, distant, or too “salesy.” Be authentic and human. Show your audience that you’re compassionate, trustworthy, and there to help them.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
Social media is one of the most powerful marketing channels, and is key to a smart marketing plan. Not only is it free to use, it enables you to tap directly into massive existing networks, including your target audience.
Sapochnick explains his strategy:
“Engage, educate and entertain through social media. Having a page that you occasionally update isn’t good enough anymore. Experts now suggest at least two updates a day at minimum on larger sites like Facebook, and even more often for networks like Twitter and Instagram. Figure out ways to engage your readers, such as questions or stories, but also post plenty of photos. Maybe your support team. Maybe a closer look at your office. Maybe your family.”
Sapochnick leveraged the Facebook network very effectively to grow his immigration law practice, amassing over 100,000 followers on his Facebook page in just a few years.
Social media is the perfect channel to share your message and connect with your target audience. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight. It takes persistence and dedication.
But as Sapochnick explains, “The key is to build a platform and an audience early. Once you have a solid audience, building a sustainable practice is just a matter of time.”
3. Provide Exceptional Customer Service
The last piece of a law firm growth strategy is delivery. But that doesn’t just mean fulfilling the services your clients hire you for. It means going above and beyond to please your clients with truly amazing customer service.
Service First Approach
Many firms tend to overlook the fact that law is a service based industry. Your job should really be about service first, and legal work second.
For instance, Sapochnick has been known to happily take on client matters free of charge if a client has a hard time affording his rates. He knows that the minor, short term costs endured by his firm on these matters are far outweighed by the long term benefits of top notch service.
Your Firm Will Build Itself
When you build an audience and amaze every client with your service, your firm will grow naturally through organic word of mouth. It’s all about forming strong personal relationships with your clients, and doing whatever it takes to show them that you genuinely care about their wellbeing and success.
Nothing goes further toward generating referrals than having a customer service oriented approach to everything you do:
“The best thing you could do is be super amazing to the clients you have, because they will get you the future clients that you want. Simple, no need to to stress about new clients all the time. Invest in your current pool of clients. Wow them every time, remember them, and this is the secret to great customer service.”
Read our post about how to improve law firm customer service for more.
Many people falsely assume that achieving law firm growth is too hard, or requires having a huge marketing budget or getting lucky. In reality, growing a law firm is a simple concept. All that’s required is determination and sticking to a strategic plan.
That plan has 3 components:
- Finding your focus and developing a brand
- Smart marketing and connecting your brand with a targeted audience
- Wowing each and every person you encounter with top notch customer service
When you simplify your law firm growth strategy into just those 3 things, it becomes a lot easier. You always know exactly what to focus on and you can eliminate distractions.
The real challenge is sticking to this plan long term, and having patience and persistence while you build up your audience. You can’t expect to grow your law firm overnight, but if you follow these three simple steps, you’ll be well on your way.
Photo Credit: stockmonkeys.com via Flickr (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License)