Business development is an important business function of all law firms. It can keep the doors open by helping you find opportunities to expand your revenue.
If you're trying to grow your firm, it can be hard to figure out which opportunities are worth pursuing. Business development fundamentals and common tactics can help you achieve your goals.
What is Business Development?
Business development is the process of expanding a business’s revenue streams. It’s the process of finding and acting on strategic opportunities for your business.
For lawyers, some examples of business development may include things like:
- Building relationships and strategic partnerships
- Expanding into new markets
- Offering new services
No two business development approaches look the same. Since your firm is unique, your solutions will also be unique.
Business Development Vs. Business Plan Vs. Marketing
Business development, marketing, strategic planning, and your business plan all interact with one another. Knowing the differences between these terms will help you gain the benefits of all three.
Download your copy of our law firm business plan template here:
Your law firm’s business plan is the strategic document at the heart of your practice. It lays out your goals, how you’ll achieve them, your budget, and more. It’s a guiding document that lays out how your firm functions.
Business development is one of many functions that arise from the business plan. The business plan lays out your goals. The people responsible for business development efforts execute them.
The business development activities you undertake depend on the goals in your plan.
People often use the terms “business development” and “marketing” interchangeably. They are related but different things.
Both of these business functions are useful for bringing in new leads and revenue. The way they bring in revenue is where things could differ.
Marketing grows your business by bringing your message to your target audience. Marketing helps you find your audience, create convincing messages, and convert them to leads.
Business development grows your business by finding and acting on new opportunities. It involves things like expanding services and creating relationships.
6 Business Development Tactics for Law Firms
There are plenty of different avenues attorneys can take with business development. Here are 6 different tactics that you could use as part of your plan to grow business revenue.
1. Embrace the Power of Networking
Networking is a long-term approach that can keep law firms sustainable. Meaningful connections with other lawyers and businesses can help you find qualified leads.
Other firms can help you develop your business. A family law firm could redirect leads who realize they need a personal injury lawyer. Networking doesn’t just have to be with firms, either. Connecting with physicians or physical therapists could be helpful.
For example, a physical therapy client could come in for a condition from a car accident. They later realize the possibility of compensation. The physical therapy clinic could redirect them to your firm. You get a qualified lead and nurture a long-term business relationship. The lead also gets extra value out of their investment. Everyone wins.
2. Strengthen Client Relationships
Happy clients are the lifeblood of your firm. Strengthening relationships involves improving client experiences in every way you can.
When a client is happy, you gain several benefits in one go. For starters, your firm has a high chance of getting more referrals.
Word-of-mouth is extra powerful because it’s not a traditional sales pitch. Over 80% of people seek a referral before hiring a lawyer. Referrals from past and current clients increase the chances of a new one converting because they come from a place of trust.
Referrals aren’t the only benefit. A satisfied client is more likely to give your firm a testimonial. A recent study showed 79% of people watch video testimonials to learn about a business.
Testimonial videos are like repeatable, on-demand referrals. Personal referrals are one-to-one, while testimonials can be one-to-many.
And, of course, happy clients are more likely to work with you in the future.
3. Encourage Referrals
Strong client relationships will generate some referrals. But making it clear that you’re open to them can increase their total number. Referrals come from a place of trust and resonate deeply with clients. Encouraging more of them can be rewarding.
Word of mouth is a powerful pillar of support for your firm. People find endorsements from friends, family, and co-workers important to the hiring process. Studies have shown the majority of people trust referrals from people they know.
Referrals also save your firm time reaching out to new clients. You essentially get happy clients doing the work for you. Even better, this benefit keeps on giving in the long term. Referred clients are up to four times more likely to refer people to your firm.
Law firms may face some ethical restrictions on gaining referrals. The ABA has clear rules on what they will and won’t allow. These rules can also change depending on your state or locality.
Your law firm may not be able to encourage referrals the same way other businesses can. That doesn’t mean this tactic is closed off to you, though. Checking your bar association’s rules on referrals will help you tap into this tactic while staying in ethical compliance.
4. Expand Social Media Presence
Millions of people use social media every day to educate and entertain themselves. A more expansive social media marketing presence could develop your business in several ways.
The first benefit of expanding on social media is directing more leads to your firm. Meeting people where they’re at is a hallmark of effective marketing. One study found 62% of Instagram members use the platform to research brands. With the right message, you can meet your target audience where they’re most comfortable.
Another reason to expand is to prevent all your eggs from being in one basket. While some social media platforms are flourishing, others fall apart. Vine is an example of a once-popular channel that’s no longer active.
TikTok and YouTube are now where people watch videos. While Facebook and Twitter are giants now, another platform could replace them at any time.
Lawyers today see success on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and even TikTok, but some platforms may be better for you than others.
For example, your target audience could migrate to another platform. Or they may not have gravitated to that platform in the first place. Having several social media accounts where your audience hangs out means you can still help them.
One example of a firm on multiple platforms is the Champion Firm. You can find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. If one of these platforms became unusable, the firm would have several back-ups.
There are benefits to not expanding social media, too. If social media isn’t a primary channel for you, more channels won’t help much. It all depends on your goals for reaching prospective clients
5. Maximize Your Website’s Potential
Your website is where leads learn most about your firm. You can optimize your law firm website into a conversion machine in multiple ways.
One step is to focus your web copy on the lead. While talking about how great your firm is may sound nice on paper, it may not work for potential clients. Your lead comes to you with problems that need solutions. Client-first copy shows website visitors that you prioritize their needs and experience.
An example of a firm with client-first copy is Dolman Law. They use web copy that consistently puts the lead first. Notice how they bring up common concerns such as missed paychecks or treatment.
Convenient contact features are another way to increase the chances of conversion. Giving website visitors multiple ways to get in touch allows them to reach you in the way that works for them.
Dolman Law provides a free consultation form that’s easy to fill out. It only needs a little information for the lead to set the appointment up.
This just scratches the surface of what you could get out of your website. With some professional help and a few tweaks, a law firm website can become a huge driver of revenue.
6. Invest in Marketing Your Law Firm
Marketing for your law firm is an investment that pays off when done right. Getting the word out about your firm’s services is a great way to increase leads, cases, and revenue.
There are several different marketing channels lawyers can use to reach their audience, including:
Content marketing, advertising, law firm seo strategy, and even podcasts are methods that lawyers can use for business development through marketing. The marketing tactics you choose depend on your business’s goals and the market you want to reach.
A law firm marketing expert can help you find the right marketing channel. Someone who understands both your business and your audience can help you get the best results.
Business Development for Law Firms is Best Done With Experience
Business development can be complex. You have to juggle dynamic details like budgeting and lead nurturing on your way to success. We can help you with that.
Effective business development for law firms focuses on growth. You choose opportunities that align with your business values and keep you sustainable. When you combine a business plan with marketing, you increase your chances of success.
We’ve worked with personal injury firms for over a decade to help them stay competitive. When you need to focus on clients or complete cases, we’ll pick up the marketing slack. Contact us today for a consultation so we can help you develop your firm.