How to Make Time For Legal Marketing and Business Development

One of the chief complaints I receive from the attorneys that I meet and work with is that they just don’t have time for legal marketing. While billable hours, day-to-day emergencies and time outside the office all add up, there are definite ways to go about making time for legal marketing and business development. The key is to think of it as an ongoing habit, not something to “make time for.” Rather than seeing marketing and business development as a burden, think of it as an integral part of your day-to-day life. The interesting thing about creating this kind of habit is that once you find the right system for your individual lifestyle it should simply become second nature.

The benefits to making time are numerous. Aside from building relationships with potential clients and referral sources, taking advantage of marketing and business development opportunities can help increase your visibility AND credibility in the legal arena and beyond. Writing articles and participating in social media help you create and build a personal brand-something that every lawyer should have. True dedication and time commitment can even bring you recognition as an expert in your chosen practice area or within a specific industry.

Below are a few suggestions and lessons from attorneys I’ve worked with, as well as my own observations and experience. Choose the path that make sense for you or adapt the suggestions to work within your own day, but give it a chance. Do something! The rewards you will reap are far greater than a 5-minute time commitment.

  • Multi-task. No one I know comes into the office and immediately gets to work. One solution to the time crunch is to fold your marketing and business development efforts into your morning routine. As you sit down to your desk with your morning coffee or tea (or breakfast…) browse through your contacts or referral lists and send a few emails; read a legal marketing blog; update your social media or even spend 10 minutes working on a potential article or speech. By 9 am you’ll have accomplished something solid and can focus the rest of your day on other endeavors. Alternately, you can do the same thing during a quick lunch at your desk or coffee break. You’d be surprised how far 10 minutes can go.
  • Save it up. One attorney I know has created a special folder in her email Inbox specifically for legal marketing emails. As the weekly or daily updates from the blogs and social media groups she subscribes to come in she simply directs them to the folder. Then, once a week she takes an hour out of her day to read through the week’s emails and respond to them accordingly. She’s able to keep up to date on legal marketing news and colleague updates, post articles and communicate about possible speaking engagements without disrupting the flow of her day.
  • End your day. A colleague of mine channels his efforts into work all day but integrates marketing into his nighttime routine. With the stresses of the day (and impending deadlines, phone calls and emails) over, he sets aside 15-20 minutes a night before bed to investigate marketing leads, send emails to potential referral sources and work on articles and social media.
  • Schedule it in… for the first month. If all else fails, treat legal marketing as a literal client. Put it on your schedule and make no excuses for not paying attention to it, just as you would a client. Whether it’s once a week or biweekly, set aside specific time for uninterrupted focus. After the first month I can guarantee that finding time for business development will feel effortless.

Simple in theory but never easy in practice, without a true commitment you can never reap the rewards of a solid marketing habit. Filling your pipeline with work, receiving recognition as an expert and gaining credibility and visibility won’t happen all at once, but you can be sure they will happen. Just as with any other endeavor, it takes focus and time to see results.

Email Retention Solutions and Their Effects on Office Productivity

In the past, there was little to no enforcement on how long email records should be kept. Now, however, the excuse “Oh well, we deleted those emails” doesn’t hold up. Just like paper documents, companies are now expected to keep a record of their electronic correspondence.

The good news, there is technology available that will store your company’s email correspondence and automatically archive it. All incoming and outgoing email is saved (regardless if it is deleted from the individual user’s inbox). Improved searching capabilities on systems such as Barracuda Message Archiver and MX Logic make retrieving email easy.

Ironically, email storage systems also have a productivity benefit. Often staff will save every email on their personal workstations because they worry they might need it “someday.” This “save everything” mentality can zap email efficiency and productivity by creating slower running email software and longer search times. Do the math, 5 minutes of searching, 5 times per day, in a staff of 5 employees equals 541 hours of lost productivity each year.

An email archiving system can also improve employee responsiveness. In my experience working with companies, employees often use their inbox as their default email storage, collecting hundreds to thousands of emails. A full inbox has a way of burying emails that have not been responded to. If employees feel confident that they can find a message even if it was deleted from their email inbox they are more likely to keep their inbox clear. Messages that have not been responded to are less likely to be missed when an inbox is clean.

Ask your IT person about email retention options. In addition to legal benefits, you will increase your staff’s productivity. The average corporate user will spend a quarter of his/her working day on email. Make sure that time is as productive as possible.

Is Your Email List Legal?

Sending a regular newsletter with helpful travel advice that is sent out to your marketing list on a consistent basis can be one of your most powerful marketing tools, but are you making sure your list is legal? I’m sure you are probably like most web-savvy individuals and your email inbox gets more junk emails, or SPAM than you’d like. Because you aren’t the only one who dislikes SPAM emails, the FTC enacted the CAN-SPAM act in 2003 to limit unwanted email and text messages.

So, as a travel agent looking to build their online marketing presence by sending a regular (or even not so regular) newsletter, what do you need to know about the CAN-SPAM legislation? Is it even something you need to worry about? Can’t you just add all of your previous clients, friends and family to your list and start hitting send?

Remember that we aren’t just talking “good netiquette” here, this is a legal issue. The answer to do you even need to worry about it is absolutely YES. Is it likely that your ezine will land you a fine? Probably not but it is $16,000 per violation (meaning per mailing to your list) so do you want to risk it? Even if you don’t get fined, it speaks to your integrity as a business owner, which is undoubtedly important to your clients, right? I know it’s tempting to add every former client and email in your address book when you first get started but resist the urge.

Let’s go over the “big five” for CAN SPAM compliance:

  1. You have to ask people to opt in. If they aren’t opted in then your email has to say it is an advertisement in the header. Just because it is an article doesn’t make it “not an ad.” The definition of advertisement in the law says if it drives people back to a web site or phone number and you use either of those to generate revenue in any way, then it’s an ad.
  2. You can’t use deceptive to/from info. In other words it can’t look like it was sent from someone else. It needs to clearly show it was sent from you or from your agency. That goes both for the name that displays and for the email address.
  3. The subject line must not be misleading; it must reflect the content of the email. The big thing here is don’t say “free” if it’s not free. Don’t say 30% off if it is really “up to 30% off.”
  4. The email must contain your snail mail address. It used to be that it had to be a physical address but they’ve now made using a PO box OK. There just has to be a way for people to contact you by mail. If you are using an email list service (my favorites are AWeber and iContact) they will take care of this for you.
  5. There must be a clear and easy way to opt out and you must honor those opt outs quickly and completely. Again, a list service will handle this for you. If you are doing this yourself that opt out can be a “reply to this email with Unsubscribe” in the subject line note. Just make sure you remove their name quickly upon request. The law says it must be done within 10 days at the most.

So what can you do if you are just starting to send your newsletter and you don’t have an “opt in” list yet? From now on you can include a line in your agency terms and conditions that you have new clients agree to that you will be adding them to your newsletter list, but that they can opt out at any time. Start including a check box for “would you like to be kept up to date with travel tips, tricks and special offers?” on your inquiry forms. Add a link in your email signature to your opt in for (your list service will set you up with one of those!) letting people know why they will definitely want to opt in! As for those existing clients, since you already have an established business relationship with them you can send them ONE email letting them know about your newsletter and telling them how they can opt in.

You’ve heard the expression “anything worth doing, is worth doing right” I’m sure. That absolutely applies to building your email list and marketing to them. Remember, it speaks to your integrity as a business owner, and that’s not something you should take lightly!