Why Fishermen Chum
Growing up, I spent summers with my dad in southern Alabama. He lived near a swamp formed by the backwaters of the Pea River, outside of New Brockton. A few times a week, I would dig for worms and head off to catch a few bluegills or bass with a cane pole and Zebco 404. My typical approach was to bait the hook, adjust the bobber, toss it in and wait, and wait some more.
A few years ago, I went on a fishing trip with my friend, Captain Brad. We jumped in his boat, found the right spot and spent a few minutes chumming the water with baitfish. Before you knew it, we were pulling in some large redfish off the Florida flats.
Both of the above techniques worked. One simply had much better results and produced them more quickly. This lesson applies to marketing your law practice. At the risk of overdoing the metaphors, let’s consider a few tips you can use to grow your client base in 2016.
“Why Do Fisherman Chum?” is the title of my article published in the LBA’s Bar Briefs (Feb, page 20) and in the Fayette County Bar Association’ s Bar News. The article uses fishing examples to help firms consider aspects related to marketing.
Testing the Water
If you’re new to marketing, fishing is a good example. Most successful outings begin with testing the water. You need to figure out where the fish are. A typical fisherman will put multiple lines in the water so he/she can use different lures positioned at various depths. Once the fish begin biting a certain lure, the fisherman will be able to adjust the other lines.
Law firms should put together plans to test the waters. Blog posts, videos, articles, social media all provide valuable information in different formats to a target audience. Certain clients will prefer specific formats or types of information. You may find clients gather and consume information in a variety of ways.
If you only have one facet to your approach, you may not be presenting your “bait” in the most effective way. I spent hours sweating on the banks of the swamp with my hook and bobber.
By implementing multiple marketing tools (e.g. website, blog, YouTube channel, social media campaign, etc.), you’ll be able to figure out what works best for your firm and client base. Chumming the water will produce effective results as long as you’re using quality bait.
There Are Other Boats on the Water
The legal services market is crowed. Depending on your area of practice, there may be a lot of other boats on the water. That’s okay. You need to go where the fish are. Do you have a competitor who tends to be successful in a certain type of law? Figure out what they’re using to get the fish to bite. You may be able to incorporate or adapt it for your strategy. Realize there’s always a risk that what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. You’ll still need to change your bait from time to time.
If you’ve used a couple of tools to market your practice in the past, consider adding something new. You can do this by adding a brief video to a few website pages, or doing a video post on your blog. It might mean dressing up your attorney profile or online listings. That new presentation can often wake up an existing client base, while attracting prospective clients to your firm.
Develop a Brand that Attracts More Fish
Your blog post and videos do more than simply provide information. These assets provide insight into how you think, who you are and what you do differently. Posting this information online allows the Internet to keep your bait in the water.
I helped a client to promote his healthcare law focus. We used a number of tactics to deploy relevant information for a specific legal niche. Many fishermen are secretive about their favorite fishing holes. Realize though, once you’ve identified a niche, you still have to bait the hook. Internet marketing is a great way to do it.
My clients are frequently surprised when an older blog post they wrote shows up in a recent Google search. There are a lot of reasons this happens, but it’s good to know that these lures are still actively attracting new fish. Remember, fish tend to swim in schools. It’s important to continue chumming. Google rewards those who are actively engaged.
Effort Yield Results
If you’ve ever been to southern Alabama in the summer, you’ve experienced a serious combination of heat and humidity. Sitting on the bank of a swamp swatting mosquitoes, fire ants and other pests can test the resolve of any fisherman. But like my dad told me when I started to complain, “Jimmy, it’s a lot easier to catch one if you’ve got a line in the water.” His advice still holds true today. While I get a little nostalgic when I see a cane pole in someone’s garage, I still prefer a day on the water with Captain Brad chumming and reeling them into the boat.
For more information on marketing your firm, visit my website. If you’re more of a visual person, subscribe to my YouTube channel.
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