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Marketing Work Comp Legal Services - Part 1

Monday, September 2, 2002 | 1078 | 0 | min read

The practice of law is necessarily a personal service. Marketing the law practice is also a personal activity. The general rule is that advertising is good for name recognition and building leads, but when it comes down to hiring a lawyer, the prospective client is going to remember personal attributes.

Personal professional attributes are developed two ways: front office marketing (which despite the term, most professionals are aware of) and back office marketing (which despite the term, most professionals frankly have no clue about). This article will focus on the most obvious, front office marketing - direct contact with prospective clients and referral sources.

This doesn't mean that you have to glad hand everyone that you come in contact with - a personal reputation can be built in a public way. One of the first steps to professional services marketing is ensuring that your name has a good reputation, because most clients come from secondary sources of referral rather than direct contact. If your name is associated with professionalism, you will beat out your competitor for the business that either doesn't have name recognition or suffers from negative name recognition.

One way to build your public name recognition is publicize yourself and your skills. Do this by volunteering for speaking engagements, writing articles or publishing, and attending industry conferences and seminars.

Speaking engagements are a particularly effective way to build your name recognition because people get to see and hear you. You must come across to your audience competent, knowledgeable and authoritative. Most trial lawyers have the skill sets necessary to engage an audience in this manner - you must come off confident, speak clearly, show excitement for the topic, and be able to captivate the audience. As a kid, were you one to volunteer for school plays? Sort of the class clown? Able to thrill others with your oratory skills? If so, then speaking engagements are going to be particularly effective for you. But don't forget to practice, practice, practice. You want to be polished, and present flawlessly, even if the presentation arena isn't perfect.

Another avenue of front office marketing that is effective, particularly over the long haul, is publishing. Writing articles within your area of expertise for industry trade magazines wont' turn into instant cash, but you will be remembered for a long time afterwards. Publishers are always hungry for content. Don't be shy about contacting the publisher with article proposals or drafts, and don't be discouraged about rejections. Like presentations, authoring professional quality articles for publication takes some skill sets that are developed over time, but eventually pay off.

The key to landing your article on the pages before a captive audience is first to be knowledgeable about your audience, then make sure that your article "speaks" to them in a language that they will understand. For instance, if you were writing an article about discrimination in a workers' compensation case for a union's monthly member communique, do not use technical legal terms, and keep the article short and concise. That audience wants to know the bottom line, not the fine technical attributes of a 132a presentation. On the other hand, if the article is for a legal journal with the intent of getting cross-professional referrals, then your technical knowledge should be of interest to the audience.

Attending industry conferences and seminars, or glad-handing as we like to refer to it, is effective for putting your face in front of prospective referral sources one on one. Be ready with your business card, have a smile, and don't be afraid to introduce yourself. Avoid the hard sell, but let people you introduce yourself to know what you do, and where you do it, and return the favor by requesting such information from them. The key is to engage the contact in personal dialogue. If they remember something unique about you, even if it is unrelated to your professional offering, then you are closer to receiving that all important initial referral from that person.

In future articles we'll look at the all important, but frequently neglected, back office marketing.

Author Lynn Hartzell is the owner of Lynn Hartzell & Associates, and specializes in marketing professionals to the workers' compensation community. She can be reached at 626-331-7027, or by e-mail at lynn_hartzell@workcompcentral.com.

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