By Jennifer Goddard, CEO & James Campbell, Vice President, Integrity Marketing Solutions
If you’re an estate planning professional, 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 homeruns in estate planning, the marketing imperative is never-ending. That’s right. You wake up mostly “unemployed” every single 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 business.
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #1: Look in the Mirror.
The first thing you must do is look yourself straight in the eye and ask, “If money were not an object, and I had no one to impress, please, or be responsible for—footloose and fancy-free—how would I practice law?”
You spend a lot of time at work, and if you don’t love it, then honestly, it’s going to be a long ride. You create your career every day, so why not create something that you love?
The first rule of estate planning marketing is to know what kind of practice you want.
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #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 do you want your next client to be? How do changing demographics impact your current and future client base? How many viable markets can you define within a 10 to 15 mile radius of your office? If you cannot identify a growing, viable market in your area, are you prepared to relocate or open additional offices?
The second rule of estate planning marketing is to know your market.
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #3: Develop a Strategic Plan.
Your strategic plan 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. Identify what aspects of your practice will be different when you achieve your goals. Will you need more staff or a bigger office with more equipment? 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.
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #4: Define Your Brand.
Your brand is really the foundation of your marketing plan. It encompasses your principles, your mission, and your unique value proposition – – what sets you apart. Your brand is NOT your logo or your color palette. Those are merely ways in which you communicate your brand message. So, before you run to hire a graphic designer, spend some time thinking about how you want people to think about you. It’s the designer’s job to listen, and put their skills and talents to work, creating visual cues that communicate your brand in the marketplace.
The fourth rule of estate planning marketing is that your brand is your foundation.
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #5: Be a Personal Marketer.
No matter how sophisticated your marketing plan is, how polished your marketing materials look, or how famous your marketing agency is, nothing can replace your personal touch. If there is one thing that your marketing cannot succeed without, it is YOU. Some people are naturals at personal marketing (you know who you are!). For others, personal marketing is an acquired skill. It’s usually not something taught to people in law school, CE courses, or text books.
In short, the best single piece of advice is to commit to making five personal phone calls each and every week, such as to potential referral sources. Have at least three personal conversations (and no, voicemail does not count). So, pick up the phone and start talking.
Another personal marketing approach is to present seminars, even if only to other professionals or their referrals, in your office conference room.
The fifth rule of estate planning marketing is to be your own advocate.
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #6: Get a Great, Responsive Website.
People of all ages have become accustomed to finding and qualifying (or disqualifying) services on the internet. Your website is not only your first impression, but if it’s not done properly, it will be your last! Because so many of your prospective clients and referral sources will be searching for you from a mobile device or tablet, your website needs to be responsive. Responsive websites are designed to reformat themselves to deliver the best experience on every device and every browser. You need this. You just do. No arguments.
The sixth rule of estate planning marketing is to get a great, responsive website.
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #7: Get the Word Out with a Newsletter.
Print newsletters are a great adjunct to your marketing mix, but you really cannot live without an e-mail newsletter. Your e-mail newsletter should communicate your brand, provide value to the reader, and drive traffic to your website. Every time you meet a new person—whether a potential client, current client, or allied professional—ask for his or her e-mail address and ask them for permission to add their e-mail to your list. If your list does not grow by at least 20 to 30 names each month, you’re not doing this right.
The seventh rule of estate planning marketing is to get an e-mail newsletter—and use it!
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #8: Blog.
Yes, you have to have a blog and you have to have blog content up regularly and consistently. Your blog should be integrated with your website such that every time you post content to your blog, you are adding to your website’s index on Google. Your blog has to be indexed for keywords. This helps drive traffic to your website, builds your website’s search engine optimization (or “SEO”) and helps to make you a credible choice when people are trying to qualify (or disqualify) you and your company.
If this all sounds Greek to you or you simply don’t know how to do this, that’s fine. That’s what experts like us are here for! Delegate this so that you can focus on the things that you need to do for your clients and your practice.
The eighth rule of estate planning marketing is to blog—and to do it right!
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #9: Use Social Media (like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+).
I know most estate planning professionals have a strong aversion to social media and probably hoped this article did not bring it up. But, you do have to learn to be social on the internet and have a presence utilizing social media. People expect to find your profile on LinkedIn, a company page on Facebook, some presence on twitter, and at least something on Google+. If they don’t find you there, they will find someone else that is and that might be the difference between getting a prospect to contact you or having them go to your competitor.
If you’re socially “awkward” or aren’t sure how to do this in a way that’s both efficient and cost-effective, that’s again where experts like us can help!
The ninth rule of estate planning marketing is to start getting social!
Estate Planning Marketing Must-Do #10: Love it. Be Passionate.
Nothing is more attractive than someone who loves what they do. Bringing passion to your work is the only fair thing to not only yourself, but also to your employees and your prospects and clients. It is a great service that you do in this world. You take peoples’ most heartfelt concerns, challenges, problems, and heartaches, and with your skill and expertise, you make it better. Love what you do. Understand the value of what you bring.
If you’re burned out, frustrated, and hating every single day that you’re in the office—by all means, take a break or maybe it’s time to find something else to do. (You wouldn’t be the first attorney, and certainly not the last one either, to decide to retire from law and write a book, become an actor, or even run for office! Life is too short to not enjoy it!)
The tenth (and possibly one of the most important) must-do of estate planning marketing is to love it. Really love it.
So, what’s the secret?
Every practice in every market is unique. The details may change, but beyond the surface, the fundamentals of successful marketing and practice-development are the same. Get these right, and you will find yourself well on your way to success!
SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION WITH JAMES
The experts at Integrity Marketing Solutions are available to assist you with your marketing needs. They have designed numerous websites for our fellow estate planning colleagues and have a number of strategies and tools available to help estate planners bring in more business so that you can spend more time doing the things that you love – – like meeting with and counseling clients! If you would like to find out more about Integrity Marketing Solutions and the services they offer, visit their website at www.integritymarketingsolutions.com.
To find out more about the Essential Solutions® program and to schedule a free consultation with James Campbell to go over your firm’s marketing needs, call 1-877-352-2021 or send him an e-mail. Also, be sure to let James know that you found out about IMS through The Ultimate Estate Planner and get the best packages they have to offer!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jennifer C. Goddard is the CEO of Integrity Marketing Solutions and is credited by Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorneys across the country for helping them achieve success in growing their practices to profitability. Her knowledge of the business side of Elder Law and Estate Planning practices is deftly woven together with marketing expertise and sage advice that is still not taught in law school. As a speaker before large and small audiences, Jennifer conveys her passion for helping practices grow with a straight-forward, no-nonsense Midwestern approach that is a breath of fresh air. Audiences find her engaging and accessible, and appreciate the practical insights and information she offers. Jennifer has been at the helm of Integrity Marketing Solutions since 1995, building a national marketing agency that focuses solely on Elder Law and Estate Planning firms. Prior to founding IMS, she served as a trust marketing officer for a large bank holding company, and then as practice manager for Kyle Krull’s law office.
Jennifer came to marketing from journalism, which is evident in her speaking and writing. She served as a marketing director for the Midwest’s largest health care delivery system, known then as Health Midwest. For nearly a decade before that, she was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor for a central Missouri newspapers syndicate. Jennifer received several Missouri Press Association awards for writing and reporting, and was recognized for Excellence in Journalism by the University of Missouri. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
She can be reached at 1-877-352-2021 or by e-mail at [email protected].
James Campbell has nearly 15 years of experience with Integrity Marketing Solutions, which specializes in website and other marketing. He majored in Marketing and Advertising at Northwest Missouri State University. Before joining Integrity Marketing, he worked in both retail and wholesale sales management and earned a multitude of sales awards and was several times honored as his company’s top national salesman. At Integrity Marketing, he currently is in charge of Practice Development for the company’s clients.
James can be reached at 1-877-352-2021 or by e-mail at [email protected].
OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE
- SUPPORT STAFF: “8 Steps to Hiring a Great Executive Assistant” by Kristina Schneider, Executive Assistant
- TAX PLANNING: “2014 Year-End Tax Planning” by Robert S. Keebler, CPA/PFS, MST, AEP (Distinguished), CGMA
- PRACTICE-BUILDING: “Clearing the Bubble – – Transition to a Fixed Fees” by Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
- ADVANCED-LEVEL ESTATE PLANNING: “Family Business Succession Planning” by Brandon E. Crooks, Principal at Counsel Trust Group
- FREE RESOURCE: 3rd Annual Dynasty Trust State Rankings Chart by Steven J. Oshins, J.D., AEP (Distinguished)
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