Using Public Data for Business Development
I submitted this article to the Fayette County Bar Association for an upcoming edition of their Bar News. It’s taken from a segments of a CLE I presented. If you want to grow your law firm, consider using public data for business development. You may be surprised at how useful this information can be when crafting your marketing and advertising strategy.
Attorney advertising in Kentucky has become extremely competitive. A generic, or template, approach may not yield the desired return on your investment. It’s important to take time to assess your local market and determine how and where to target your efforts. There’s an old saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll be sure to hit it every time.”
When in comes to effective business development for a law firm, a little effort can go a long way. I hope the following tips and advice will help you to improve your legal marketing strategy.
Using Data to Identify New Markets for Business Development
Have you noticed how many new firms have launched in the past 12 months? Are you noticing outside firms beginning to advertise for clients in your traditional market? Maintaining an optimal caseload and figuring out how to ensure the influx of new clients is becoming more complicated.
I’ve seen firms struggle with this for over a decade. During my CLE presentations and in my various articles, I challenge attorneys to analyze their current client base. Albeit this is much easier if you’re actively tracking your new client intake. Might I make a simple suggestion? It might also be time to track your clients by geography.
Some trends take place over time. We may not always notice them. In fact, significant changes in your market may be occurring without much notice. During my MBA program, several professors emphasized the importance of periodically doing an “environmental scan.” It forces you to step away from assumptions and look at data-driven facts.
There’s an amazing amount of information available to help you deal more effectively with the issue of generating new clients. Here are a few resources you can use. The new insights might just surprise you.
#1 – Census Data
Take a few minutes to look at the most recent census results for Kentucky. You’ll find a ton of information about demographics and trends. Look for issues in adjoining counties that may open opportunities. For example:
- An increasing industrial base could generate new workers’ comp claims.
- Growth in households may indicate future divorce client potential.
- A decrease in overall household income could lead to higher crime rates.
#2 – Agency Reports
Did you realize you can easily find online reports about Kentucky accidents broken down by roadways, types of accidents and other related data? There are reports about crime rate statistics and even coalmine accidents and penalties. Augmenting your marketing and advertising becomes much easier when you know where to invest based on data.
#3 – Industry Databases
Available reports can show you information about hospitals and patient care ratings. You can review nursing homes and how they rank in penalties and fines. All of this can be helpful in focusing your geographic exposure via various marketing/advertising tools.
#4 – Online Directories
Review online legal directories (e.g. Lawyers.com, FindLaw.com, Avvo.com, etc.) for practice areas with relatively few premium listings. Purchasing a few of these can give you instant exposure. The county listings tend to be significantly less expensive. You might be able to increase your visibility in specific geographic areas, for much less than you think.
The pond your firm currently occupies will continue to become increasingly competitive. You many soon realize the need to swim in a bigger pond, or better yet, an entire ocean. I recently presented a CLE, “Adopting a Blue Ocean Strategy for New Business Development.” One of the key concepts involves assessing your current market and finding ways to vector into specific markets (typically by practice area and geography), which offer new client potential with less competition.
You don’t have to abandon your current market or practice area focus. However, as more and more attorneys (read “competitors”) enter your area, if you don’t begin to expand outward, your cost to compete will only increase. In some instances, there’s going to be a finite number of cases available. Your odds of landing enough of those cases are rapidly decreasing.
Here’s a practical example taken from an online report about 2015 traffic fatalities in Kentucky. There have been 334 total fatalities, through 7/06/15. That’s a decrease from 3 out of the 4 previous years. A portion of those accidents won’t result in viable lawsuits. Of the remaining, another portion will go to heavy advertisers. Still, many of the remaining cases will involve surviving family members who have never heard of your firm.
Your ability to identify how and where to invest your marketing dollars is increasingly important. You can count on the fact that many of your colleagues will decide not to alter their current tactics. However, for those of you who do take the time to dig a little deeper, you may be able to identify new markets you’ve previously ignored.
Implementing a plan to take advantage of this new information may make a significant difference in your firm’s financial performance. For some, it may impact their firms’ very survival.
If you’d like more information about business development, visit my website at JimRayConsultingServices.com. I currently consult with firms from Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati. My phone number is (502) 208-9639.
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