Now for the drum roll……
The single most effective marketing technique which leads to immediate business in the vast majority of cases is to visit your client at their place of business.
This visit is not for the purpose of discussing a current matter you may be working on (unless client wants to, of course). The client should know that they are not being billed for the visit. Your purpose actually is multifaceted: relationship building, listening, learning, and meeting others you haven’t met before. The main point is to get into the client’s workspace where their day-to-day problems are found, and for which you may be able to assist them.
Such visits will not only enhance your relationship, but it will almost certainly lead to IMMEDIATE work. This has been validated many times over the years, and in my own personal experience as a sole practitioner. Many of the lawyers I have worked with in the past two decades confirm that 85-90% (okay, that’s out of thin air, but it seems like that) of such visits result in immediate new business.
So, starting today schedule a client visit or two. You will fast become a believer.

Okay, I can hear all the “duhs” from here. If it is so obvious, why don’t more lawyers do it? Clients are people too. In fact, entertainment is still one of the most effective one-on-one marketing techniques. It not only allows quality time with a client, prospect or referral source, but allows one to enhance a relationship on a highly personal level.
As a colleague of mine preaches, clients want to be loved. So, building on the emotional bond between lawyer and client is very important for long-term relationships, and for what is even more effective from a business development viewpoint – a lasting friendship.

It continues to amaze many clients that more lawyers do not seek their feedback on the legal services provided. Over the years I have met with dozens of law firm clients, and heard often that they (1) welcome opportunities to provide feedback, (2) ask why the firm hadn’t asked sooner, and (3) are surprised that more of the law firms they use have never asked.
A good time to ask clients for feedback on how your firm did, or is doing, includes at the conclusion of a matter, and on an annual or biannual basis. Clients are flattered to be asked, and most of the comments are very favorable (or they would be using another firm). Further, it is much better to ask before the client leaves for another firm, particularly if there is a problem that could be easily rectified.

The idea involves looking for opportunities to demonstrate your expertise and land specific work. I am not referring to formal Request for Proposals (RFPs), although they obviously present opportunities as well. Those are more likely to involve competition which may or may not be a good thing.
Here I am talking about asking for the opportunity to present your credentials on an issue or matter that has been identified by the client (who may have used another firm for that work in the past), or a prospect where he or she has raised a problem in a conversation. In these cases, you could have the opportunity to present your expertise without competing head-to-head with others.

As stated by James C. Turner, executive director of HALT, a national legal reform advocacy group in Washington, DC:

“One of the most frequent complaints his organization gets is that “the basic communication between lawyers and clients is terrible.” He cites one case where a client tried 13 times in a two-week period to contact the attorney. That’s the type of situation that leads to mistrust and, ultimately, to a consumer fraud complaint.”

Poor communication between attorney and client is also the most common reason clients file complaints with state bars. A failure of communication is not only unwise from a grievance standpoint, it is just dumb marketing. Even if the client may not need your services again, the client is likely to tell a number of people, who could be potential clients, about their unhappiness. That is one of the reasons I wrote Letters for Lawyers: Essential Communications with Clients, Prospects and Others. (I know, I know – terribly self-serving, but what the heck I’m just trying to help the ABA sell more books).
There are scores of opportunities (in addition to keeping the client informed about their matter) to contact clients, referral sources and even prospects; and the more contacts made the better. The best way to communicate would be with handwritten notes, next letters and lastly e-mails. Obviously, they are in reverse order of ease of accomplishing, but think about what impresses you the most. E-mails have become an annoyance to many, and not as personal in my view. The important thing, however, is constant communication.

Speaking engagements make my top 6 list of best marketing activities. Like writing articles, columns, or books, speaking adds the additional advantage of putting you in the same room with potential clients where you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise AND develop an emotional bond with your audience. These opportunities have led to immediate work when a potential client in the audience has an immediate problem relating to the same issues raised in the speech. Moreover, if the seminar or speech is sponsored by a respected organization, you receive instant credibility as a result of that association.
Paramjit Mahli of Sun Communications Group recently had an article in Small Firm Business that had some good pointers on how to get started, and what when and where to focus your efforts to land speaking opportunities. It is worth reading.

Nothing new here, right? Well, not so fast. While authoring articles isn’t a new technique, writing to demonstrate your expertise is still an effective marketing tool, if:
*It is topical and interesting (to your target audience)
*Easy to read (not legalize, unless you’re marketing to other lawyers),
*Not too lengthy (short, succinct articles are better), and
*Published in a publication that your intended audience reads (whether general public or business/trade specific).

Obviously, the purpose is to show that you know your topic and, accordingly, be perceived as having the expertise to assist the reader with those legal issues.

Developing relationships with reporters and editors is an excellent objective for lawyer-marketers. Your purpose is obvious. By getting to know media contacts (general, business and legal), they may call you when they need a lawyer’s perspective. They will appreciate it also, because they are always looking for good sources of information, particularly when they are covering a case or on deadline with the latest, hottest breaking news. They won’t think of calling you unless they know who you are.

Some suggestions and cautions:

  • Return reporter’s call immediately, if not sooner;
  • Don’t assume anything you say is on background or “off the record”, unless you and reporter agree in advance;
  • If you don’t have an immediate answer, tell them you will get back to them and do so asap (remember about deadlines);
  • Ask when is their deadline (weeklies are more flexible than dailies);
  • Don’t reveal client confidences; and
  • Don’t talk about a client’s matter without their permission, even if it is a matter of public record (clients can get ornery about such things).

So, take the time to get to know your local media – broadcast (radio, TV) and print (daily, weekly or monthly newspapers and magazines). By developing a friendship with reporters and editors, they are more likely to call you when they need a legal angle on a story. Especially when you get a reputation for getting back to them promptly, and respect the pressures they are under. Some reporters prefer breakfast to lunch, but you won’t know that until you call them.

I recently posted a couple of items on networking, one about normal encounters during your daily routines and the other which required more focused activity. A recent post on’s blog highlighted an excerpt from a chapter of Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone which is called “Connecting with the Connectors”; that is, those who seem to know everyone. He calls them super-connectors. They could be headhunters, politicians, journalists, lobbyists, fundraisers, or basically anyone whose business requires them to know a lot of people. Getting to know and making regular contact with super-connectors will definitely improve your networking results.

Over the years I have heard lawyers say that they belong to several organizations from business and trade to civic and cultural in nature, but that it is a waste of time, and doesn’t lead to additional business. However, when examined further, one finds that although they are “joiners,” they are not “doers.” Being active in organizations requires just that – activity.
So, if you want this form of marketing to help you develop business you must:

*Be more than a joiner – make a meaningful contribution
*Seek leadership position – volunteer often
*Join business or trade groups that your clients and prospects belong to
*Believe in the organization’s mission – so you will remain interested and active

There are other marketing activities that may produce results more quickly, but being active and involved in organizations that your clients and prospective clients belong to can produce meaningful results in getting new clients.