Attracting people to your business
Marketing has two sides for professional firms such as lawyers, Auckland lawyer Michael Smyth says.
"First of all, you need to attract people to your business by identifying a problem they may have and by identifying that you can provide a solution to that. Then, when people start coming through your door, from that point on it's about providing a good service."
When he started out, Mr Smyth was doing a lot of the attraction work. One of the ways he set out to attract new business was through his website (www.approachablelawyer.com).
An engaging website
"Search engines these days are increasingly becoming more of a useful way to get work," he says. "When people have a problem, no matter what kind of a problem it is, whether it's a legal problem or something else, what people tend naturally to do these days is to jump on the internet first.
"A lot of people jump on Google. They are looking to get some guidance on where solutions may lie.
"If your name comes up somewhere on the first page, or at least on the first two pages, and then if you have got an engaging website that backs that up, I think that is a good investment for any firm really.
"Providing helpful information in the form of articles is a really good way of convincing potential clients that you can help with their problem. The important thing is to write the articles in such a way that they are easily understandable."
Mr Smyth has quite intentionally avoided writing in an academic way and has avoided using footnotes.
"I deliberately write my articles in a chatty tone and when I write an article, I try to put myself in the position of the person reading it."
Using public relations
"The other method which I've employed quite a lot is PR as a means of getting my name out there." Mr Smyth has written a couple of books on employment, both directed at the lay person rather than the academic.
"If you create a book, you can get some PR around that, so every time I've released a book I've had an article printed in the [New Zealand] Herald or another New Zealand business magazine.
"It's a great way of getting your name out there and establishing yourself as an expert in your chosen field. I find it extremely useful when publicising who I am and what I do."
Another method Mr Smyth employed, particularly after he just started out, was networking.
"When I first started out I used to belong to a business networking group, which was invaluable in the early days."
At the time, he didn't have many connections and he was also new to New Zealand, having just come here from the United Kingdom. Networking "was a great way of getting to know people and learning about the problems potential clients faced," he says.
"What I have found over the years is that most business comes from referrals. And it's clients recommending you to other people. Providing a really good service to your existing clients is the best way to generate those referrals." And if you do that, then business "grows exponentially," Mr Smyth says.
This article was also published in LawTalk 864, 8 May 2015, page 10.
Last updated on the 22nd July 2015