Sunday, April 20, 2008

Find Smart Clients in an Economic Downturn

Peggy Nordeen, President of the Fort Lauderdale-based integrated marketing firm Starmark International, spoke to the monthly luncheon meeting of the Florida Direct Marketing Association last week.

Her topic was on marketing in the travel and tourism sector, and she provided excellent advice that works equally well for law firm marketing. "Find smart clients" when times are tough, is what she advises. If your law firm seeks to expand its client base during these challenging economic times, find those clients who understand that moving forward during a recession will generate a competitive advantage.

Many companies tend to cut back on discretionary spending during a recession. This is a natural tendency, and can apply to budgets across industries in the areas of training, legal, or marketing. The smart firms are those who know that by making an investment when everyone else is pulling back, they will be able to emerge in a stronger position when the good times return.

"Never stop marketing," advises Nordeen. (We strongly agree with this, as stated in our legal marketing book "Courting Your Clients.") "Don't cut your budgets; use your marketing dollars more effectively and make your budget work harder."

To managing partners and law firm marketers, the Rainmaking Club suggests that now is a good time to craft a strong "value proposition" for your best prospects. Give some serious thought to the prospect's competitive environment and their economic considerations (best done after you have gained some personal insight on their circumstances). Then ask the prospect if you can have a few minutes of their time to demonstrate how your law firm might be able to assist them in increasing market share, or reducing expenses, or minimizing risk, etc.

Personal, thoughtful attention can go a long way toward favorably impressing a prospect with your attorneys and law firm. Relationships that are forged during economic slowdowns may blossom when the economic outlook brightens, thereby protecting you from account poaching.

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