Five cards and 3 feet

By Edward Poll

The Daily Record Newswire

Social networking sites are part of many lawyers' marketing efforts, but personal contact remains the ultimate differentiating factor. Differentiation gets attention, which defines marketing by educating potential clients that you exist and that you can assist them. Lawyers too often find marketing daunting because there are so many potential clients, so little time to reach them and so many options for pursuing them. But start with the premise that personal contact is the key to marketing success, and a simple process can help you generate momentum to create marketing results. It's called "five cards and 3 feet."

The "five cards" element recommends that each week at random you pull five cards from your Rolodex -- or five entries from your Outlook database. Either way, the people represented by these cards or entries could be current clients or simply contacts. Once you have the names selected, apply to them the mantra that defines marketing success: "meet people." If you're not meeting people to sell your services as a lawyer to them, your practice has no future.

In this instance, the "five card" selections define the meeting process for you. Each day take one card and call or pay a visit to that person. Talk to them and find out what they're doing. Ask what concerns them, if they've got new problems or opportunities. The goal is not an overt sales pitch. It's simply a variation on the old adage, "out of mind, out of sight." When you as a lawyer get back into someone's sight with such call, they will often remember the things they intended to do with a lawyer and reach out to you, because you took the time to contact them.

Just as "five cards" is a simple marketing strategy to meet and engage potential clients, so too is "3 feet" -- defining what you would say to a potential client who is standing just 3 feet away from you. It is essential to communicate easily to clients and prospects why they should engage you rather than someone else. If you can't think of what makes you unique, you're really nothing more than a commodity.

Just as important, you need to express what makes you unique concisely and clearly. Develop what marketers call your "elevator speech" -- a 20-second summary that you could quickly give it to a potential client next to you in an elevator. As a litigator you might say, "We provide solutions to your commercial problems -- We get you where you want to go faster!" Such a brief statement will engage a prospective client in a dialogue about how you can help them more effectively than another lawyer would.

Your marketing efforts as a small firm practitioner should be designed to make people aware of you and to encourage them to call. If they have a need, and they know who you are, they will seek to learn whether your skills match their needs. In the end, it is invariably the buyer who makes the decision to reach out, not the seller. But taking the marketing initiative is essential. If you're there right from the start, using five cards and 3 feet, it shows that you will be there going forward -- in a relationship with a new client.


Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, is a law practice management thought leader and contributor to this publication. His website is at

Published: Tue, Apr 3, 2012


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