A few years ago, I thought that it might be a great idea to get a booth for my law firm at some trade shows such as local chamber of commerce or community fairs. I thought my presence would be good for the firm because of increased visibility. I did this for about a year and about a dozen trade shows before I realized that I didn’t get a lot of return for my money. In fact, I was losing money because not only did I have to pay for the cost of the booth, I also had to offer people something to entice them to stop at my booth. So I printed out notepads and pens. At one point, a vendor tried to persuade me to buy bottled water with my firm branding on it. I passed because it would have been even worse than the trade show idea. What do people do with plastic bottles after they drink the water? They throw them away! There go my marketing dollars.
Killing two birds with one stone
I learned from the trade show experience and now for the past several years, I’ve spent my money in smarter places and the return has been a lot better. I’m very involved in my local Asian community group. Where I live, there is a 24 percent–and growing–Asian population, and half of all my clients are Asian. I’ve devoted a lot of my volunteer time with this organization and now sit on their board of directors. Since I joined the organization, I’ve reached out to other Asian attorneys in the area and we’ve started a free monthly legal clinic open to the community. This legal clinic has brought in more business than any of the trade shows combined. It’s also increased my visibility with the community because of the status that I have with the organization and the status that the organization has with the community.
In addition, every year the organization has a community banquet where I sponsor the event and buy a table for ten. I invite all of my referral sources from the past year to eat for free at the event. They come to network not only with me but with all the other people I invite. I’m networking and also helping others to network. This helps me build a better relationship with my referral sources and they continue to send me business.
This year, I’m donating a new iPad as a raffle item for the night and in turn, my law firm’s name and logo is printed on all raffle tickets that go out, helping me brand my firm.
I’m doing all this for cheaper than any trade show and I’m not only marketing but I’m also networking, helping others network, and doing volunteer work that I love for the community.
Next time you embark on a marketing adventure, think about how you can kill two birds with one stone.
Gabriel is a divorce attorney in Boston who blogs and writes about law practice management. Visit him at http://www.infinlaw.com