It's officially now spring, which means (for most of the country) blue skies and warm weather. People are outdoors at fairs, festivals, and farmers markets.
What are you doing indoors on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? You should be out there, at the fair, drumming up business. Outdoor events are a great way to talk to potential clients, and even if you don't sign anyone up, you get your name out there in the neighborhood and be part of the community.
Think Locally, Market Locally ... Basically, Be Local
The Internet has brought us some of the best videos of cats playing the piano, but really, legal consumers aren't using the Internet to do amazing new things; they're just using it to do the same old stuff they used to, which is look for lawyers nearby. That's why local mobile searches are so important: A great lawyer in Singapore can't really help the person in need of a divorce lawyer in Wichita.
But if you go to a farmers market or a county fair, you're making it known that you work in the area and you're available for whatever a potential client needs. Be sure to bring a couple stacks of business cards. If a person has easy access to your contact information, and remembers what a great guy/gal you were, then that person doesn't need to search the whole Internet for a lawyer. She'll just call you.
Ah, the Free Consult
Here's where you can provide some added value at the farmers market or the fair beyond giving away some branded tchotchkes. Like the person in the next booth offering 15-minute massages, you can offer quick consults about legal problems. The key here is not to offer a whole lot of substantive legal advice; that would create an attorney-client relationship, which you probably don't want to do on a sunny afternoon next to the vegetable stand. What you can do is recommend that the client come to your office for an actual, in-person consultation. Will it be free? Will it cost money? You get to decide that.
So what's the point of hanging out at the fair all day? It's to be personable. From the client's point of view, hiring a lawyer is a big deal, and besides, lawyers are nasty and scary, based on all the "Law and Order" episodes they've watched. Your job is not so much to actively drum up business or provide legal advice, but to show that you're an awesome person, a consummate professional, and that you're available for work. Basically, the prospective client doesn't have to comb the vast reaches of the Internet for a lawyer when you're literally right here.
If you're looking for some more advice on how you can market yourself, FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing can help out. They might not be able to provide googly-eyed paper weights with your firm name on them (mandatory for any county fair booth), but hey, they are still worth checking out.
Editor's Note, May 6, 2016: We were recently asked whether having a booth at a farmers market violates ethical rule 7.3 regarding direct solicitation. This is a bit of a gray area, so we can't give a clear answer. Always do your own research and talk to your local bar association before embarking on a new advertising venture.