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Should Lawyers Be Thinking About Marketing Right Now?

Aren’t you glad that COVID-19 isn’t in the title?

We cannot count the number of emails that we have received in the last couple weeks that have referenced COVID-19. Sure, if every business doesn’t give a nod to this crisis, they are tone deaf. But with saturation, you eventually don’t hear what they are saying or even engage with them. Should we be talking about marketing now? Is this something that we should even be thinking about?

Yes, this is a crisis. The extent of challenges presented by COVID-19 aren’t even fully known or appreciated yet. But as lawyers, our profession is built on crises. People come to us for help when they are facing some of their biggest challenges and unknowns of their life or their business. And the challenges presented by COVID-19 will be no different.

You have some experiences and skill sets that will prove valuable in dealing with some of the legal issues which have or will arise.

What are they? Now is a good time to take stock of those strengths. What are you good at? What do you like to do? How can you put those talents to use helping others? People need to know about those abilities.

Now is also a good time to make yourself unique.

Every time there is a new law, new cause of action, or new challenge in the legal marketplace, people take advantage of being one of the first to deal with it. Think about it. Remember the revisions to the Bankruptcy Code? Electronic discovery? Twenty-five years ago, there weren’t specialists in data security or data breaches. And there was a time when sexual harassment wasn’t legally actionable. Uniqueness is not simply centered on cutting edge legal claims or fresh legislation. The needs in the market change. Can billboard lawyers provide the help people need now and in the foreseeable future arising from COVID-19? Probably not – unless they change their model and their skill sets. Think about the opportunities you have as a result of daily developments.

Even though the way we and our clients live and work has been disrupted (for how long, we don’t know), there will undoubtedly be a need for even our pre-COVID-19 services and certainly a need for any new strengths that we develop.

If you find yourself with a little extra time (if not, make it), in addition to thinking about your unique strengths, think about who you need to tell about them and how you are going to do that. Does most of your work come from other lawyers? Play to your strengths. Plan to tell or remind them what you do. Do you have some new capability that would appeal directly to consumers? How are they going to know what it is and that you provide it?

Take inventory of your contacts.

Regardless of how long you have been practicing, you have developed a treasure-trove of potential business sources right in your email contact list or your practice management system. Begin creating a database to use in your marketing efforts. Remember, it isn’t improper to solicit work from other attorneys and individuals who are family or someone with whom you have a current or prior professional relationship. It’s in Rule 7.3, if you are curious. If you already have a database, now is a good time to review it, clean it out, update it, or simply sort it for different targeted uses.

Can people learn about you and easily connect with you online?

It is good that we are a society in which everyone has become more digitally engaged. In times of quarantine and social distancing digital avenues have provided opportunities for communication, connection, and education, in ways never before experienced. People who were not active digitally have become so and people who had stuck a toe into that digital pool are now all in. That isn’t going to change. It is now, more than ever, ingrained into our society, regardless of one’s age, education, or inclination. How engaged are you? How does your digital presence look?

Use the time to develop and enhance your relationships.

Interestingly, despite our electronic connectivity, this isolation has illustrated the importance of human face-to-face interaction. It simply cannot be replaced. Now is a good time to think strategically about how you can physically connect with clients, potential clients (subject to Rule 7.3), and referral sources when our social restrictions are lifted. Identify those with whom you plan to connect. Make a list. Then, make a plan. Remember, no one likes nor has time for sales calls or pitches, even if they are professionally allowed. Have a purpose for each meeting. Meeting with an existing client? Plan to review a pending matter or some particular development either in that matter or in the law which could impact them. That opportunity to work will also provide an opportunity to strengthen your bond with them, to connect on a personal level. Or maybe you don’t have a reason to meet them at their office. Plan to meet for breakfast, lunch or an after work adult beverage. People will be longing for opportunities to interact with others socially. As a society we have always longed for what we could not have. Regardless of where you meet, don’t talk about you, talk about them. Ask them questions about their life and their work. Practice active listening. Use the time to develop and enhance your relationships. You’ll be surprised at the benefits. If they aren’t immediate, they will come eventually.

Like it or not, and call it what you will, this has all the makings of a marketing plan. If you don’t have one, you should. Now is a great time to create, update or review your plan. And if you don’t like thinking about it in those terms, then don’t. Think about it as a way to help others. Chances are that is why you chose this profession to begin with.


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