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MARKETING THE FIRM

How one firm handles its marketing with just one letter a year

A California general practice firm does all its marketing with just one annual letter to clients and business contacts.

The letter goes out on the firm’s anniversary, says the manager of the five-attorney firm, and carries a simple message—a thank-you for past business and an outline of the firm’s other services. And it’s only one page long.

But it’s effective to the point that it brings in business the firm wouldn’t otherwise see, the manager says.

Most of it is repeat business from long-ago clients; some of it is referrals; and some is work waiting in the wings. The attorneys hear from many clients who tell them “I didn’t realize you did this or that type of law.”

The first and only marketing

The letter began after the firm’s first year of operation. It was the first marketing effort the attorneys made and, other than putting up a website, it’s the only marketing they have done since.

They developed the letter when they realized their clients didn’t know about all the services they were providing.

Over and over, they were hearing clients ask “what else do you do?” One real estate client even asked for a referral to an attorney who could help with franchise law. That client did not realize the firm handles franchise matters.

One page that packs a punch

The letter is not a sales pitch. It begins by stating a purpose. It explains that the firm is celebrating its anniversary and that during the years it has been in business it has seen such-and-such expansion, has added an attorney, or whatever has recently happened.

Next is a thank you: “And for our good fortune we owe each of you a huge debt of gratitude.”

And then comes an interesting twist. It says that the firm “has done absolutely no marketing” in its entire history but attributes its growth and success to its clients’ continued business and referrals:

  • “Not only have you continued to express your confidence and trust in us with your legal matters, you have kept us growing by referring your family and friends. For that, we sincerely thank you.”

It continues that:

  • “our lack of marketing has resulted in some of you being unaware of the range of services we provide. So let us remind you that our firm provides…”

The ending is an invitation to visit the website and a repeat thank-you that echoes the opening:

  • “Once again, please accept our sincere thanks on this, our anniversary, for your confidence and support.”

A selective list of recipients

The firm’s goal, the manager says, is to be a personal lawyer of sorts to its clients and to meet all their legal needs to the point of referring them to other attorneys for the work it doesn’t handle. The letter pushes that concept. It presents the firm as a one-stop shop.

The letter goes to clients, referral sources, and all the professionals the attorneys do business with, including financial planners and real estate agents and brokers. It also goes to referring attorneys.

But there’s a limit to the mail-out. The letter is sent only to people who have had direct contact with the firm and never to people who have had no contact with the firm. Its purpose is to reach the firm’s own clients and to keep the firm fresh in their minds.

By keeping the list selective, the firm gets the clients it wants, rather than just anybody.

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