10 Ways Lawyers Can Find Time to Market

When lawyers fail to market, time (lack thereof) is often mentioned as the primary reason. The pressure to do billable work will usually trump investing time in developing new clients. The long term danger of this approach, though, is that by not purposefully pursuing new clients who meet pre-selected criteria, the attorney and the firm fall into slack client acceptance standards. By taking a more progressive position, one is empowered to churn some bottom rung clients in favor of a stronger client list. Yet, the challenge of where to find the time persists.

Sally Schmidt is a national leader in law firm marketing and shared some principles of better time management for client development in a recent article. What you will find below are slight revisions of her list, with some added commentary.

  1. Follow your professional passion. Instead of trying to do marketing in a niche that does not interest you, identify what you most enjoy and find organizations that serve that niche. Once you find the right organizations, research different ways you can become actively involved.
  2. Cultivate synergy. Most attorneys do marketing in either isolation or cliques. Instead of going to a meeting by yourself or attending but hanging out with people from work, find someone strategic with whom you can participate. Whether it is serving on a committee, writing an article, or making a presentation together, you should consider inviting a prospect or center of influence who may also have an interest in the organization to join you.
  3. Explore overlaps. An overlap occurs when one activity performed in one setting complements a desire to be involved in something else. Schmidt gives the example of a construction attorney who volunteers with Habitat for Humanity or similar nonprofits tied into the industry served by one’s section.
  4. Integrate marketing into life! Whether you are pursuing a hobby or hanging out with friends, it is easy to deepen your connection with your targets if you intentionally invite them to join you. (Or, find out what they are into and join them–if it fits your interests as well.)
  5. Develop and follow a plan. Set goals for activities like entertaining clients, writing articles or client alerts, or meetings with new prospects.
  6. Be consistent. As the saying goes, “the race belongs not to the swift, but the persistent.” Starting well, with enthusiasm is good. Finishing what has been started through self-discipline is better.
  7. Choose what to pursue. Instead of just taking any and all opportunities that come your way, be choosy. Establish criteria as to what–or who–you are targeting, why, and in what ways. When considering whether to pursue an “opportunity,” remember that many requests are not strategic for you to honor.
  8. Chunk your time. Put marketing and client development activities on your calendar like you would an appointment with a doctor–not easily changed unless rescheduled. Set aside days of the week, and/or times of day to focus on marketing and client development. Break down projects into tasks that can be accomplished in one sitting.
  9. Lead! Don’t just be a participant in an organization. Look for the chance to serve or head a committee, be on the podium as speaker or facilitator, or take a board role. You’ll get more “bang for the buck” with your time.
  10. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert. If you get the opportunity to speak, or write, tell people about it. Work with your marketing folks to get you some recognition via website, press release, microblog, or LinkedIn updates.

You can be a better marketer as you learn how to overcome the time objection and become intentional about your activities.

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Task Tyrants Steal Success

When one of my friends invited me to a continuing education luncheon offering credits I did not need, I debated whether to attend. Once there, I was engaged by strong networking and a guest speaker whose subject matter was very familiar to me–professional services marketing. However, his approach was to talk about the predictable objection of time availability. The challenge to the audience was to think about their schedules in a different way. When he pulled out Covey’s four quadrant model for time management (below), I was right at home as I use the tool often in mentoring on a variety of subjects.

If you are unfamiliar with the model, allow me to briefly explain. When performing tasks and crossing off “to-do” lists, too many people spend the majority of their time in quadrant #4–the items that are urgent yet not important.  Quadrant #1 activities demand our attention and get done. What suffers, however, are quadrant #2 tasks, which are often the last to be done but can make a huge difference in overall execution of business goals.

Jeff Nischwitz was the guest speaker and what he said next was very revealing. He said that most billable hour professionals know that marketing (or business development) should be something we place in #2, but our behavior usually places it in #3. As a result, our best intentions are not realized because we never place the appropriate priority or value on what fills our pipeline. He went on to say that, until marketing becomes a quadrant 1 focal point, our organizations will falter and stagnate rather than grow and flourish.

Pause and think about that and evaluate your use of time. If the things that matter keep being put off in favor of what commands our attention today that may not be as important in the long run, we are not managing ourselves well. The message that is sent to a new prospect, for instance, when a proposal is turned in the last day possible, or a call or email is returned much later that desired is that the relationship is insignificant because we already have enough (too much) to do.

Challenge yourself to be better–do what is important on a daily basis as though it were urgent!