Low-Cost, High-Impact Marketing Ideas

Every day, James Reed sends one personal note.

“In this day and age, anybody can shoot off an email or text, but everybody knows that it requires just a little bit more effort to hand write a note,” the Ziff Law Firm partner in Elmira, N.Y., said. “You can send out 10,000 emails but it doesn’t resonate with people like a handwritten note.”

Reed sends thank you notes to clients and colleagues and peruses the local paper to send congratulatory notes when he sees a new business has opened or reads a wedding announcement.

“We spend a lot of money to try to create top-of-mind awareness through TV or radio ads or beautiful brochures, but people tune them out,” Reed said. “You can’t tune out a handwritten note.”

Mark Merenda, president of Smart Marketing in Naples, Fla., who works with Reed, said the notes are an incredibly powerful marketing tool.

“It causes [a lawyer] to have a personal touch with people in the community,” he said, and with five notes a week and an average of 20 each month, that results in 240 personal touches each year.

This low-cost, high-impact marketing idea is perfect for a small firm like Reed’s and just one of several he employs. Reed, who handles personal injury and medical malpractice cases, also teamed up with a local insurance agent to give three free seminars on auto insurance.

He spoke to the roughly 50 attendees at each gathering about what type of insurance is necessary and what coverage is most important. He then spent about five minutes with each attendee to go over their existing policies and discuss what was sufficient and what needed improvement.

His costs were the time spent in preparation and at the event itself. For those few hours, he gained personal contact with approximately 150 individuals that resulted in “tons of work,” Reed said, both from attendees and referrals.

Merenda also advises clients to give out gift certificates.

“Lots of lawyers offer free consultations,” he said. “But free in the mind of the consumer equals worthless.”

Instead, print up gift certificates with your hourly fee and a specific function.

For an estate planning attorney, the gift certificate might read “Estate planning consultation” and have a value of $350. Include an expiration date to encourage potential clients to visit sooner rather than later, Merenda suggested, although if someone shows up at your office outside of the time period, be flexible and offer to make an exception.

Gift certificates “give a physical, tangible reality to something that is invisible and intangible – an hour of your time,” he said. “And who doesn’t love a gift certificate?”

Lawyers can carry a few in their back pocket and should offer the gift certificates at seminars or community events. Provide a few to people in your referral network, Merenda said, such as a financial advisor or insurance agent. In those instances, write something like, “For a special friend of [the financial advisor].”

“It’s a win-win-win,” Merenda said. “The lawyer wins because the financial advisor is sending clients, the financial advisor wins because he or she is giving the client something with a $350 value and the clients win because they get a free consultation.”

And for all that winning, the cost is low. Merenda estimated that the cost of printing up 1,000 gift certificates is around $65.

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