By Eric Fletcher
Virtually every lawyer I know would pay a lot for an efficient way to connect with qualified leads. The possibility of a steady stream of new clients is the ultimate siren song of marketing strategies and technology platforms.
Given the impact of COVID 19 on many traditional ways of connecting with the market, the idea of a system that delivers new prospects may have increased appeal.
But we should tread carefully as we explore expanded marketing communication efforts. (Do minimal research and you’ll see multiple in-house counsel saying enough with all the alerts.
Sure...visibility is valuable. Subscribers, friends, fans and followers are assets. SEO and web traffic is important. But all are of little value if a strategy does not provide for a connection that leads to an engagement.
And a solution that delivers on the promise has historically seemed elusive for most lawyers. So I get it if skepticism runs high.
Lead Generation: Hype or Real?
It is possible for marketing efforts to open doors and purposely instigate conversations that result in new client relationships — including the kind that bring highly profitable and sophisticated work.
Here ’s the catch. These relationships are decidedly not the byproduct of playing a communication numbers game, employing the genius of automation or a one-off initiative.
But there is a formula that helps build a pipeline that will deliver measurable organic growth.
Here are the four required building blocks.
1. Identify Targets
This is the foundation of an efficient professional services sales initiative. No matter how creative or eloquent or persistent, cast a marketing effort out there hoping to connect with anyone who needs a lawyer, and you will continue to be frustrated and wrestle with questions of ROI. Bank on the belief that prospects will knock on your door simply because of your firm ’s name, and you ’re tossing resources into the wind.
On the other hand, invest in identifying targets for whom your firm’s/individual lawyer’s services are especially relevant, and your outreach can become a critical link in the sales process.
If naming specific targets is problematic, it is time to put the brakes on your plan and dive into the work of Target Identification.
2. Become Relevant
This is about understanding the business issues faced by the target. In consultant-speak, know what keeps your target up at night. In plain English — what causes stress, is a drain on resources, impacts profitability, and threatens existence. Become relevant in these areas and you have a shot at being deemed valuable by the prospect.
(Sound familiar? Clients have been telling us this for years.)
Insist on turning every communique into pitch that is all about you, and risk being relegated to market noise — where every message looks and sounds the same — and where there is a shrinking pool of quality prospects.
3. Deliver Value
With a clear understanding of what your target cares about, the way to differentiate an effort and prompt prospects to take action is to deliver value around this issue(s).
Let’s face it...this is where marketing efforts often go awry because we go to the marketplace with what we deem to be valuable. Our message. Our offering. Our answers. When a neighbor’s house is on fire, listing all the features of your property is not the best way to engage in a conversation.
And today many of our best prospects feel they are stranded in the middle of a burning platform.
Effective lead generation — that is, a productive on-going connection and conversation with a qualified target — is initiated by delivering something the target defines as valuable.
4. Keep the Conversation Going
In what endeavor of consequence does delivering a message once get the job done?
A healthy pipeline keeps the conversation going.
Wherever a go-to-market strategy does not include intentional, strategic and personal follow up, the effort will most likely be one more less-than-productive initiative.
The nature of the follow up will vary depending on the situation. But without on-going dialogue, the market is left to do the hard work — identify what differentiates you from the competitor, and beat a path to your door…undistracted by the messages and promises of competitors. The deck is stacked against you.
These are the four keys to building a pipeline of predictable sales. How you personalize and wrap them will vary widely. This is where the innovation and creativity of professional marketers comes into play.
Think of these four ideas as strategic cornerstones, and find creative ways to apply them as you relate to a marketplace reshaped by COVID-19.
Eric Fletcher, Eric Fletcher Consulting
Eric helps lawyers, accountants and other professional service providers design communication, marketing & growth strategies. He is an author, a TEDx speaker and proud dad.
He resides in Austin, TX.