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More business from blending online and offline marketing

Originally From Delia Venables' Internet Newsletter for Lawyers

Kim TassoThere's still some who - like King Canute - deny that social media will have any impact on their practice. There are others who propose that social media is a panacea to cure all practice development ills. I fall into a middle camp that suggests you use social media to supplement and enhance your traditional marketing and business development activities.
 
Listen to the market
 
One of the areas where lawyers tend to fall down is the area of research – to select a market on which to focus (whether geographical, sector oriented or a specific business or life challenge) and identify suitable targets – whether these are intermediaries or potential clients. Social media can be immensely helpful here. To supplement your web and specialist media monitoring you can set up Google Alerts and join key online communities (for example, LinkedIn Groups or Twitter lists) so that you are kept aware of new developments, the issues about which everyone is talking and the key influencers and events.
 
Attend events
 
Attending events in order to gain market intelligence and make connections with both potential referrers and clients is a mainstay of any professional's marketing activity. Social media will help you to improve your effectiveness - you can show your intention to attend and meet people online before meeting them in the flesh. You can also do a little research so that your conversations are more targeted and informed.
 
Follow up
 
An easy way to make that awkward first contact after meeting someone in real life (IRL) is to connect with them on a social media platform - LinkedIn is probably the most popular business and professional network. So invest a little time in making your profile interesting to them. Reviewing a contact’s profile and recent posts also oils the wheels of those first few exchanges as you have an instant insight into the topics of business interest and their personal pursuits. You might also be able to identify contacts that you have in common.
 
Manage your contacts
 
There are a host of online tools to help you improve your marketing and relationship management productivity. If your firm doesn’t have an all singing, all dancing CRM (Client Relationship Management) system then you can use one of the free (or low subscription) services to help you categorise, prioritise and manage relationships and your sales pipeline.
 
Promote your referrers and clients
 
Everyone needs more exposure and more business so use social media to promote the material of your referrers and clients. This a good way to show some reciprocity and also to introduce valued contacts into your circles.
 
Create a campaign
 
The best marketing takes place in a campaign where you use a number of different tools over a period of time to convey a specific message to a particular audience and move them along the “pipeline” from cool to hot. Whilst you will use traditional methods here – producing the research, writing media articles, preparing White Papers and booklets, presenting conference papers, organising seminars and roundtables as well as preparing pitches for sales meetings it is possible to use online methods to increase the reach of your work.
 
Optimise your web content
 
Your web site is your on-line shop front and people will check it to obtain contact details and see your background. But it should also work for you in attracting the right people when they encounter the sort of issue that you can solve. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a bit of a fast changing black art although some of the basics (e.g. key words, titles, headings, descriptive HTML etc) can be mastered. While waiting for your SEO efforts to pay off then it is possible to use Google Adwords to drive traffic to your site, to sign up for newsletters or to download papers and Apps – although it might be good for you to use specialist help in this area. Google Analytics is a free tool that will allow you to measure your web site traffic and show what content is of most interest and what key words got people to your site – informing your future SEO and Adwords activities.
 
Demonstrate your expertise
 
Whilst there is still a role for newsletters and e-alerts being sent in emarketing campaigns, it is quicker and easier to provide a flow of your observations, expertise and comments through a blog. If you have developed well-defined campaigns, then you will have identified the key areas on which you can help and your blog entries will reflect this. As well as drawing traffic to your web site through search engine optimisation (SEO) you can distribute links to blogs through social media (LinkedIn and Twitter are linked so you only have to post links once to reach both groups of connections and Google+ has a slightly different user profile).
 
Provide intellectual gifts
 
Ensuring that you always provide something of value at every interaction is a cornerstone of good relationship development, you can use blogs to produce snippets of information that you know will be of interest to your clients and contacts. Calling them or mentioning these pieces of information provides another opportunity for real contact. You can place key presentations and documents for your connections to download from your LinkedIn profile, but try to find some way to get them to interact as this is the only route to a successful sales conclusion.
 
Stay on their radar
 
The automatic weekly email from LinkedIn to all your connections means that you stay on the radar in an unobtrusive yet time efficient way. They get to see what you are doing, who you are connecting with and where you will be. They might see things of interest that prompt them to contact you. So make sure you make regular updates to your status and post links to things like blogs or articles.
 
Make regular contact
 
Part of your relationship development and sales plan will be regular contact to learn more about your client, build trust and mutual understanding and identify opportunities to pitch. Social media will provide a stream of information about your clients so use it to identify snippets that provide you with an excuse to call or meet.
 
These are fairly basic ideas for what a lawyer might do to manage new and existing relationships. The online environment is just another facet of this activity because at the end of the day, new business is generated by you having a compelling proposition and developing strong relationships with people who are in a position to hire you.
 
Kim Tasso is a strategic marketing consultant specialising in the professions and a freelance writer. kim@kimtasso.comwww.kimtasso.com


 
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