This past week, I focused a large chunk of time to marketing. All of my peers have said that
radio/tv/and even local print advertising had very little return on investment for them, and that they gained most of their business by word of mouth. People know you, they like you & trust you, so they refer others to you.
I am invisible, if I simply sit here in my office space and hope that people will somehow "find" me. Also, some of my own family members still think that I work for my previous law firm, and had no idea that I had hung out my own shingle.
I believe an Internet presence is very important, because today's consumer often researches businesses online, rather than flipping through the yellow pages. That is one reason why I started blogging; it will allow potential clients to read a bit about me personally, and find articles and news of note, and it will also (I hope) help other solos or aspiring solos. Sadly, I received news this past week that one of my lawyer friends had lost her job, and another was in danger of losing hers at any moment. I think perhaps that many lawyers are considering going solo, or starting a practice with a friend from law school because they simply have to.
And if law is your business, you have to sell yourself.
I joined a Meetup.com group for business owners, and I was surprised at how many of them are utterly without any online presence, and have never joined and social networking groups. Many of them had never heard of Linked-In, or Facebook, and had never taken advantage of such online advertisement venues such as MerchantCircle. Some people do not even have a website.
I think it's imperative to use these tools, in addition to blogging, so that potential clients can get an idea of you, the lawyer, as a person, and as a source of professional advice.
As an aside, the online services (& MerchantCircle basic version) are FREE, and provide a surefire way to enhance your web presence.
I did send basic snail-mail "I'm in Business" announcements to family, friends, and my business group, and I have will be presenting a free seminar in town in order to let people get to know me better. These seminars will be ongoing and presented on an at least monthly basis. I think it is absolutely KEY that people learn who I am and what I do, and get acquainted with my business style. I am not a salesperson; but I am knowledgeable, professional, and I deeply care about what I do, and whom I can assist with my legal skills. These are traits that people will only recognize by meeting me.
In order to reach my local fellow business owners, I went walking & knocking, literally! I just went from business to business, introducing myself, letting people know I am here, and what I do. In most cases, the business owner was in and warmly welcomed me; in a couple of cases, their employees were there and could not have cared less. In order to reach my family, friends, business associates, and networking groups, I maintain an accurate and up-to-date data base, so that I can email or snail-mail any new events.
I plan to start a Meetup group of my own, a business support group for the benefit of local business owners of Hamilton-Wenham, to help each other during this economic downturn. These efforts do take an awful lot of time & energy, and maybe a certain outgoing personality for the walking & knocking technique, but I think that most of the strategies and tools for marketing are affordable and easy enough for even LAWYERS to employ. (Lawyers are not historically known for being technologically forward-thinking. Ahem.)
Signing off for now, got to go set up a Meetup of my own!