Have you ever gone fishing with a shotgun? It doesn’t work too well. Successful fishermen use specific lures, equipment and casting techniques for the type of fish that they want to catch.

What does fishing have to do with lawyer marketing? Well, many attorneys approach marketing to other attorneys in the same fashion as a fisherman with a shotgun tries to catch fish. By this, I mean they typically buy the entire list of practicing attorneys in the state from their state bar organization. They then send out a generic, unbranded direct mail piece to everybody on that list, hoping that someone will respond. While some law firms get response to these pieces, they are usually the ones that have demonstrated expertise over time and have strong brand recognition and a strong value proposition. For everyone else, sending out generic direct mail pieces to large groups of other attorneys provides little short term benefits or results, and typically these efforts cost a lot of money to do so. Granted, over time, this strategy may work, in combination with other marketing efforts, but it’s a tough road to travel. Alternatively, we can take queues from the successful fisherman and learn from their techniques. Know what you are fishing for. Are you a(n):

  • Trial attorney looking to co-counsel cases with non-trial attorneys?

  • Divorce attorney marketing to other attorneys who have high-net worth clients?

  • Criminal defense attorney specializing in white-collar crime?

  • Personal injury attorney looking to touch base with past referral partners?

  • Experienced attorney just opening shop in a new city?

Each one of these situations is different and requires a unique strategy. As such, spending the time to define what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing effort is the first step. Fish in the right location Once you have defined what you are trying to accomplish, it is much easier to identify the target audience. In some cases, you may want to purchase a list of attorneys in a geographic location, or that are in a specific practice area. In other cases you may want to leverage your own list, but rarely do you need to send a direct mail piece to every attorney in a 6-county area, much less the entire state. Use the right bait and the right equipment What is the right format to communicate your message? It could be a newsletter, customized mail piece or a personal letter. It could potentially be a blog, podcast, or a video. What message will work best to help you achieve the desired outcome? In some cases, the message is a reminder of your firm’s brand and value proposition, in other cases it may be an educational message, and in others, it may be a recap of your recent successes. A generic message will not entice your audience to take the bait, so to speak. A well-thought-out message for the appropriate audience will, however, get bites. Remember, a successful fisherman goes home able to feed his or her family. An unsuccessful fisherman talks about “the one that got away.”