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Can email marketing help you grow your business?
E-mail: The Hype-Free Tool to Market Your Firm
E-mail is probably the best single way for small, solo, and even midsized law practices for easy, quick, low-cost and effective marketing.
If you’re not doing much now to market your firm – you’re too stretched for time, budget, creativity, or energy – make e-mail the backbone of your overall business development efforts.
With it, you can create simple connections with your prospects, clients and referral that don’t sound like self-promotional hype, and that are appropriate in tone and content for attorneys.
The key is to write short messages that offer a snippet of advice or information that your audience needs to know about it. Write something short – just two or three sentences is fine – that your audience cares about, instead of the message they expect – something that touts how great you are. Let another firm send that kind of message – and most will, thereby diluting the value and impact of anything that takes the same approach.
Instead, you’ll position yourself as a resource in the marketplace, and your value will soar. Two reasons why you should keep each piece short:
- Your goal is not to educate or advise, but to remind prospects that you exist and you have expertise on a topic they care about;
- If it’s short, you’ll get it done.
Aim to create and send at least six brief messages a year to your target list – more if it’s all you’re doing to market. Without spending anything, you’ll be establishing six or more connections with your market – prospects, clients, and most important, referral sources.
For this strategy you don’t need consultants, budget, or even much time. You just craft those few sentences about something that is obvious and well-known to you and your peers, but valuable information to your client base. In this way, you position yourself as an expert in the marketplace, not another salesperson.
Some attorneys initially think this is too difficult for them. That’s because they are envisioning something more complicated, like a full, specific exploration of a topic that they might share with a client, or like a brief, where by training and instinct they want to be thorough. But the idea here is NOT to be detailed, to alert people to a small bit of information, and invite them to contact you directly to learn more. Of course, you always note that your message is general, and no substitute for direct legal advice.
Your whole purpose with this marketing technique – as with most others – is simply to stay “top of mind” with the people on your list, so they’ll call or refer you when they’re ready. Even if they’re your biggest fans, they may not be thinking of you next week or next month, when they have a new need, or when they play golf with someone who has a need you could fill.
You can either send a simple text message to your mailing list – make sure you enter their names in the “bcc”, or blind copy line, so their names don’t all get published, or you can use a simple, low-cost service like Constant Contact, which lets you send something in a more attractive visual format with virtually no effort. (Online services like this handle all the work for you – including, if you want, all the administrative chores of managing your list.)
Either way, it’s important to have permission to send messages to the people on your list. That’s a general rule for e-mail marketing, but especially so for anyone in a professional practice. You have to be ethical and responsible in your marketing.
Getting permission isn’t as daunting as it sounds. When I meet people, whether one-on-one or when I speak to groups, I’ll say something like, “Give me your card if you want to see some more common-sense marketing suggestions once in a while,” or “If you’d like to follow what I’m working on and thinking about, give me your card and we can stay in touch.” Anyone who signs up for my monthly e-newsletter automatically sees a privacy statement and a way to unsubscribe.
You don’t ever need to buy lists of names. That would reduce you to the equivalent of cold-calling. A better investment: use your resources to improve, increase, and enhance your outreach to the people already in your database.
Are you a spammer if you send out a few hundred, or even a few thousand messages to the world? Not if they have permitted you to stay in touch. When you have obtained permission, your words fall on receptive ears and eyes.
But will many recipients skip your message and hit the delete key? Sure. That’s inevitable — a reality of marketing. But you’ll do better than most marketers, because your audience is primed to expect something of value from you – not the usual marketing drivel. Recent research I’ve seen concludes that people open e-mails from companies they trust, and that the way to win that trust is to be user-focused, with useful information.
More important: even those who delete you (and by the way, the entire Internet marketing industry thrives despite the reality that 96 percent of people do delete) will see your name and your message’s subject line first. You’ve scored an impression; you’re on their radar screen for another month. Remember – they already know and value you. The impression you leave when they see your name even for a second actually means something. 
1. Ned Steele speaks to audiences of busy people in professional services who want to build their practice and accelerate growth. He is the author of two books, Awaken the Marketer in You and 102 Publicity Tips to Grow a Business or Practice.