Marketing in a small town can present unique challenges to the solo or small firm practitioner. You have a smaller pool of potential clients from which to draw. You also have a product — or, in this case, a service — which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the traditional advertising and marketing methods of other industries. So how can you get the word out to your rural community about your services? How can you attract clients who will not only utilize your services but will also recommend you to their neighbors? By being creative!
Drawing both from my background as the office manager of a rural law practice and my graduate studies in business administration, I believe that the best way to market a rural practice is to set aside conventional marketing and advertising wisdom and take a more personal approach.
5 keys to small town marketing
Make the most of your current connections. Don’t assume that your colleagues, acquaintances, or even friends and neighbors know that you are a lawyer or what kind of law you practice. Take the time to tell them who you are and what you do without soliciting them as clients (see RPC 7.3).
Be a booster.
Run ads in the local print newspaper, trivia reader at the diner, high school football program, and weekly church bulletins.
Utilize your picture.
In all of your community marketing — from your website to ads in the local newspaper— include a picture of your smiling face. Once your picture is out there, be prepared for people to recognize you at the bank, hardware store, or your children’s school. Be ready to talk about your practice and the services you offer when asked. Do be careful that your conversations don’t respond to individual legal scenarios, as you don’t want to create a prospective client-attorney relationship.
Attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting, sponsor a team at the Boys & Girls Club, volunteer to be a senior project panelist at the high school, or speak at career day. By getting involved in your community, you put yourself in a position of coming into direct contact with countless potential future clients. And even if the people you come into contact with don’t need your services, they may very well recommend you to others who do.
Stay in touch with former clients.
When you are communicating with an existing client at the end of your representation, you can tell them that you would be happy to see them again in the future and that you welcome referrals. Don’t overlook keeping a line of communication open to your former clients as well. Send a holiday card personally signed by you and your staff. Write a letter announcing new services, new employees, or a new location. Be sure former clients know that you care.
Marketing in a small town boils down to making connections, presenting a consistent message, and being an integrated part of your community. The WSBA Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) team is available for affordable one-on-one consultations on marketing and other aspects of running a solo or small practice. Contact us at 206-733-5914 or 800-945-WSBA, ext. 5914, to find out more.