Industry Advocacy as a Legal Marketing Strategy
Would you like more people in your target audience to know you?
Can a leadership position in a community increase your credibility?
Are you looking for a way to differentiate yourself from everyone else who does what you do?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, this might be the best article you read all day.
Because I’m going to give you the quick and easy steps you can follow to achieve all three of those outcomes.
The answer lies in industry advocacy and how you can leverage it to increase visibility, improve credibility, and differentiate yourself from everyone else who does what you do.
Step One: Find an Issue
Talk to your clients. Find out what’s keeping them up at night. Ask them about their biggest frustrations. Who are they angry with? What bureaucracy is preventing them from being more successful?
Are they victims of overregulation? Is there a local, state, or federal group taking up an agenda that will choke off their livelihood?
The way to find the answers to these questions is to undertake a traditional research approach. This consists of:
- Reading trade journals
- Attending industry conferences and meetings (often sessions at these meetings will serve the same purpose as a focus group because you will get an interesting cross-section of opinions).
- Conduct individual interviews with members of the industry/community
One of my clients, a trust and estates attorney, receives referrals from financial advisors and planners. She regularly attends conferences, participates in webinars, and speaks with people involved with these events. This gives her great insight into their mindset, particularly related to regulatory issues.
Step Two: Identify the Solution
Once you are sure you have an issue that is aggravating your target audience, you must determine who can resolve this issue and formulate a solution.
Sometimes, this is as easy as lobbying a public official or writing a few letters to an industry organization’s head. Sometimes that activity is simply the first step in a long process.
Once you have some ideas for a solution, bounce those ideas off your clients and industry professionals. Refine the ideas as necessary.
In the example of my trust and estates attorney-client, she realized that the ‘fee-only’ financial planners with whom she worked didn’t have someone advocating on their behalf with the local chamber of commerce. These folks were different than stockbrokers, yet they were lumped into the same category.
The educational seminars being promoted by the chamber of commerce were dominated by the big financial firms (whose representatives all received commissions for recommending investments). The fee-only folks are paid based upon the dollars in the client’s portfolio. Thus, my client believed the fee-only advisors’ interests were aligned with the client’s interests.
Step Three: Take Action
The final step in this process is to take action on behalf of the people in your target audience. Make telephone calls. Write letters. Give interviews. Lead rallies or educational sessions. Do what you have to do to raise your profile while advocating on behalf of your constituents.
In the case of my client, she:
- Wrote an article in the money section of the local paper about the difference between fee-only advisors and brokers.
- Spoke at several investment club meetings to educate investors on the difference between the two types of advisors
- Lobbied the local chamber of commerce to separate stockbrokers from financial advisors in their category listings
While some of these efforts generated a change in the industry (locally) and some did not all of this activity got my client noticed by people in this profession. As a result, her referrals increased, and her visibility and credibility increased as well. She was the only non-advisor to be invited to all the industry events, invited to publish in their magazine and newsletter, and given carte blanche to continue to advocate for this industry.
Many of the folks in this community (statewide) don’t think of her as an attorney. They think of her as an industry spokesperson and advocate.
What This Means For You
This translates into a tremendous opportunity for you. Right now, there is a group in your target audience just waiting for someone to stand up and help them. These folks want and need leadership. You need to do a little digging, find them, and jump right into the fray. Get out and be an advocate. You will raise your profile, and your business will grow as a result.