14 Steps to Building a Regional or National Practice
by Trey Ryder
Many lawyers are now expanding their practices beyond state boundaries. If your field of law lends itself to a multi-state practice, going past state boundaries could be a profitable move, for at least four reasons:
REASON #1: You have more opportunities to attract the clients you want. When you draw clients from several states, you have a much greater selection than when you limit yourself to your home state.
REASON #2: You have many more opportunities for media publicity. Getting publicity outside your state is often easier than getting in-state attention because you’re competing with every business that wants a feature article in your local newspaper. But when you pursue articles in regional and national publications, you often find yourself competing with fewer businesses and fewer lawyers.
REASON #3: The "mystery of distance" works in your favor because you’re from out of town. This principle says: The farther you go to get a product or service, the better and more valuable it is. This means if you travel to another state, you must be better than any lawyer already in that state.
REASON #4: You can live wherever you want. Many lawyers don’t need to see their clients often. Some never see them at all. If you can service clients by e-mail, phone, fax, and overnight delivery, then you can live and work wherever you like.
Here are 14 steps to building a regional or national practice.
STEP #1: Identify the type of clients you want to attract who are ready, willing and able to hire your services.
STEP #2: Compile and keep on computer a list of prospective clients, former clients and referral sources. Then implement a marketing program that attracts new prospects at whatever rate will bring you the number of new clients you want.
STEP #3: Make sure prospects and clients can reach you easily and without hassle. Put systems in place so you can accept calls and messages through your toll-free direct line, cell phone, e-mail, fax — and whatever other methods your clients like to use.
STEP #4: Define the geographical area from which you want to draw clients.
STEP #5: Compile a list of newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations in your target states. You can find media lists online and at the library reference desk.
STEP #6: Launch an aggressive publicity campaign by sending news releases, feature articles and query letters to your entire media list. If you send articles 4 or 5 times each year, you could have an ongoing flow of articles appearing around your target territory.
STEP #7: Contact high-profile publications and interview shows on an individual and exclusive basis to gain the highest level of publicity. Offer to write ongoing columns for publications, and appear as a guest expert on interview shows. Also, you might offer to host your own legal, news-talk or interview show.
STEP #8: If you’re seeking business clients, compile a list of professional or trade associations to which your prospects belong. Ask these groups to sponsor your seminar for their members, in hopes that the seminar marketing effort will also benefit you.
STEP #9: Compile a list of referral sources in your new target territory. Send them your education packet so they have information about your background and services. Invite their referrals and offer referral fees, when appropriate.
STEP #10: Compile a list of past clients. Send them a letter announcing your regional or national practice and a copy of your information packet. Ask for their referrals to friends and colleagues in other states.
STEP #11: In your marketing materials, tell prospects the geographical area from which you accept clients. Otherwise, prospects might think you practice law only in your home city.
STEP #12: Establish a website. This is the easiest way to reach prospects in different states. In addition, the more relevant information you provide, the more likely you are to get high search engine rankings — and the more likely you are to win new clients.
STEP #13: Market your seminars nationwide. Make sure clients, colleagues and referral sources know you offer educational presentations. While the people on your mailing list may not be the contacts for programs, they can make your seminars known to the right people.
STEP #14: Collect e-mail addresses from everyone on your mailing list. Then send your
e-mail alert every week or two. The more often you stay in touch with prospects, clients and referral sources, the more new clients you’ll attract.
After your publicity starts to appear, you’ll receive inquiries from prospects. Trade and professional associations will invite you to speak. And, one by one, you’ll start getting clients from throughout the geographical area you wish to serve. Soon, you’ll have a profitable, prestigious nationwide practice.
Trey Ryder specializes in Education-Based Marketing for lawyers. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.