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When you're looking to expand your client base, there's no better resource than the clients you already have. "But," you say in protest, "They're more like former clients. I haven't heard from them in months."
That might be true, but they may still need some legal assistance and they might not know you can help.
So how can you leverage old clients to create new business? Here are three strategies that may work for you:
1. Stay in Touch.
Of course, your mileage may vary, but in general, the rules on attorney advertising don't apply to current clients or clients with whom the attorney has had a relationship in the past.
So why not send an email to a client mailing list every now and then, just to remind former clients that you exist? It can be as simple as, "Hey, ever thought about a will?" Of course, the broad category of "don't you (forget about me)" isn't limited just to explicit requests for new business. Holiday cards and birthday cards are a nice way to remind clients that you still know about them and are more personal than an email blast. At the end of the day, you just want to keep the relationship up.
Don't limit yourself just to email: Write letters or pick up the phone. "Hey, Johnny," you might say one day, "It's been a long time since I heard from you. You know, my firm also does construction litigation and transactional work..." In other words, your clients' needs extend into other parts of their lives, so think bigger than just the individual.
You know what people really like? Free stuff. Whether it's a googly-eyed walnut or a T-shirt with your firm's name on it, you can remind clients that you're available by making a small investment in swag. You're also investing in subliminal advertising: Who will the client think of when something goes wrong? Probably the guy whose name is on that calendar they stare at every day.
Tchotchkes (yes, that's how the word pronounced "choch-kees" is spelled: It's Yiddish for "trinket") are controversial in the marketing realm because they've become associated with cheap crap. That can indeed be the case -- but you can also make little gewgaws that are actually functional.
Weekly or semi-monthly newsletters focusing on your practice areas are a good way to keep contact with clients and remind them that you're in a particular area of business. If you can link to articles on your website, newsletters also induce clients to go to that website, where naturally you'll be more descriptive about yourself and your practice areas. Newsletters are also subtle ways of letting clients know that they might have a case.