If you are an estate planning attorney, you know that your bank account is only as fat as your appointment book. Because there are few residuals, long-term retainers, or grand-slam home runs in estate planning, the marketing imperative is never ending. That’s right, you wake up mostly “unemployed” every morning. Learning how to develop that steady stream of qualified referrals, new inquiries and new clients is probably the most important – and possibly the most difficult – aspect of your particular field of law.
So what’s the secret?
Every practice in every market is unique. The details change, but the fundamentals of successful marketing and practice development are the same. Get these right, and you’re well on your way to success. We'll be sharing these "marketing must-do's" with you over the next few days.
The Top Ten Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do’s: Part 1
1. Look in the Mirror
The first thing you must do is look yourself straight in the eye and ask, “If money were no object, and I had no one to impress, please or be responsible for – foot loose and fancy free – how would I practice law?” Would you even be practicing in estate or elder law? What would your day look like? What time would you arrive at the office – or would you even have an office? How many days a week and how many hours a day would you work? Who would be on your team and what would they do? Who would be your favorite client? Your favorite allied professional?
You spend a lot of time at work, and if you don’t love it, then – honestly – it’s a long ride. You create your career every day, why not create something you love?
The first rule of estate planning marketing is to know what you want.
2. Look at the Market
It’s good to look at yourself first, but then you must develop an external focus. Examine the market and don’t take shortcuts like relying on your own gut instincts. Who is your next client? Society has changed dramatically over the past few decades and change continues at an ever more rapid pace. How do changing demographics impact your current and future client base? Who are the people for whom you plan? How should that planning be structured – and delivered? What messages will resonate … and what messages might fall flat? How many viable markets can you define within a 10 to 15 mile radius of your office? Are you located in a hot bed of entrepreneurial activity? A retirement community? Or the arts district? If you cannot identify a growing, viable market in your area, are you prepared to relocate?
The second rule of estate planning marketing is to know your market.
3. Develop a Strategic Plan
Your strategic plan really outlines how you will navigate the gap between today’s reality and tomorrow’s goals. Start by getting a good handle on where you are today. Examine your financials – not just your revenue: comb through the balance sheet and the Profit & Loss statements. Know how many people you see in an average week, and how many of those become new clients. What is your average fee, and your average hourly income? Identify what aspects of your practice will be different when you achieve your goals. Get a good picture of what success looks like to you. Now – what must be done differently to get from here to there? Remember: the strategy that got you here probably is not the one that will get you to the next level. Something. Must. Change.
The third rule of estate planning marketing is to act strategically.