Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

Using Client Data To Grow Your Practice

By Barbara Bix and Maria E. DeLuzio

Many lawyers are spending more of their time marketing, and as with any time-intensive endeavor, it is important to maximize the results from this effort. To make sure you are getting the best return on this investment, you need to analyze client data and then use the analysis to refine your marketing strategy. The goal of most marketing efforts is to increase profits. A key way to boost profits is to increase revenues, which is multifaceted. Charging enough for your work is one prong; another is to increase the amount of work that is coming into your firm. Using the proper help also is key.

Rate Structure
Start by looking at your rate structure. Do you lose any work because your fees are too high? If not, there probably is room for a rate increase. As there are a finite number of hours in a day, you want to be sure you are earning the most you can for the hours you spend working. Start by asking potential clients who do not hire you if the reason was related to your rates. Take a look at the percentage that doesn't hire you because of your rates. Then try raising your rates and follow up with the same analysis. You might lose a little work, but you probably will have enough work at the higher rate to keep your income level at least even and free up some time. You then can use that time to market your practice.

Define Your Practice Area
Take the time to define the type of work you want to do. By understanding clearly the kind of work you'd like to do, you will be able to target your marketing efforts. This is especially important in identifying referral sources. You can't know who will be your best referral sources if you can't express the type of work you want to attract. For example, if you want to increase the amount of divorce work you do, your best referral sources may be therapists and accountants. If you want to increase the amount of real estate work you do, those sources may be realtors, local banks and mortgage companies.

Hire The Right Help
Again, in deciding to hire help, you need to look at what kind of help would be most cost efficient. If your goal is to step up your marketing efforts, an assistant who can do the time-consuming work is a great asset.An assistant can manage your database, set up appointments, prepare materials for presentations and articles, and follow-up with contacts. By using this kind of help, more of your time is available for billable work and the marketing piece that only you can do.

10 Steps To Utilize Marketing Data
Once you have completed the initial work and have defined how you want your practice to grow, you and your new assistant can focus on the task at hand — a targeted marketing effort designed to attract the type of client you want in your practice.

1. With the help of your assistant, create a database, asking clients and potential clients for key pieces of information.
2. Determine if you are undercharging (no loss of business due to price).
3. Determine how far you can raise your rates (the point at which you start losing business due to price).
4. Identify what your best clients have in common.
5. Identify your best referral sources and what makes them so.
6. Create a system that ensures frequent communication with clients and referral sources on topics of interest.
7. Track your communications to see what triggers additional referrals.
8. Begin networking in a way that is targeted toward the type of work you want to attract.
9. Refine this system in such a way that your assistant can do much of the marketing legwork.
10. Conduct a semi-annual review of these efforts to determine what is working and what needs changing.

By mastering these steps, you will be able to identify your best clients. Who are you doing business with now and what do they have in common? Once you answer these questions, you will be able to articulate clearly to others the type of client you want to attract.

You also will be able to identify your best referral sources for the type of clients that you want to attract. You then can incorporate incentives to motivate them to refer more business to you. These include thank you notes, progress reports and return referrals. In addition to working on increasing referrals from people you know, you also must begin to work on improving visibility by writing and speaking. This will help you widen the circle of people you know who may refer business to you.

Whenever you speak, you need to collect the names of people who attend your talk and add their contact information to your database. You then can set up a program to stay in touch with them on a regular basis. You want them to think of you when they have a legal problem that your firm can solve.

The Results
By implementing these steps, you will be able to track and measure your marketing efforts over time. You will know what is working and what is not. You also will be able to adjust and fine-tune your strategy to ensure that the time and energy you are expending on marketing is bringing you the kind and amount of work that you want to be doing.

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