Having identified your ideal client type, the next step is to decide on the best methods of communication with those clients and prospects – and to understand the cost implications of the strategy.
First Things First - The Law Firm Database
As we have iterated many times before, the starting point should always be the data the firm already holds in its database. The database should contain all of the details relevant to profiling the client – including status (lead – qualified or unqualified – or current or past client), their current need, any potential future needs, and preferred method of communication. All contact should have been opted-in for.
If this data is not accurate and up to date, this provides an important task for someone in the support team. It may well be that fee earners will also need to gather the missing information in subsequent client meetings, and some aspects of the database (such as the will bank) may need extensive cleansing to ensure the integrity of the data.
Return on Communication
Without doubt, the cheapest way to communicate with clients is via email. However, in some practice areas this is not always practical. Business clients are likely to appreciate email, and keep in touch campaigns such as newsletters should also be electronic. Others, such as elderly private clients, may prefer telephone or even personal meetings. Each communication has a cost attached – even with electronic communications, in terms of fee earner time. Law firms are very good at measuring time billed – but not always so good with the hidden costs often involved in legal Business Development.
Keeping in touch with clients, and especially with prospects, can also be effectively done using new social media methods. Again, this requires careful consideration. Business clients may well like to be kept up to date via LinkedIn. Some services, especially to individuals, can be effectively marketed through a Facebook page. Certain partners and fee earners can promote their personal profile through regular blogging. Twitter can also be a good way of reaching new clients, especially amongst the younger generation (although many professionals also see Twitter as a good way of keeping abreast of news in their markets).
The Costs - and Benefits - of Business Development
As with all marketing channels, each should be subject to a rigorous cost-benefit approach. The legal marketing mix should involve a range of methods – traditional relationship management, married with online keep in touch campaigns, social media where appropriate, and possibly targeted advertising.
Ultimately, the measure of success should be the return on investment in any of these areas – and those that deliver sufficient levels of profitable work to the firm deserve further investment, while those that consistently underperform (as many traditional methods do) should be jettisoned.