If you’re a regular reader of Zen, you’ll know that I love to look outside of the legal industry to find ideas for how we can market and develop business differently. With that in mind, I’d like to share a story with you – bear with me, and I’ll explain the legal connection.
If you read my Twitter profile, you’ll see that one of the ways I describe myself is as "crazy about my bassets." I have two basset hounds (Barney and Oliver), and like any good pet parent, I love to take photos of them. I share a lot of these shots on social media, and have been tagging them with various hashtags (such as #bassetboys, #bassets, #bassethounds, and #dogsofinstagram).
I don’t have children yet, so I dress my dogs up for Halloween – basset hounds are very particular looking dogs, and seeing their faces when they have on hats, sweaters, costumes, etc. always gives me a good laugh.
So on Friday, I shared a couple of photos of my dogs, in their costumes (including the one above), which led to a conversation with Purina. It played out as follows:
My initial tweet:
— Lindsay Griffiths (@LindsayGriffith) October 31, 2014
Purina (who I don’t follow) reached out with:
— Purina (@Purina) October 31, 2014
@Purina we took a walk around the neighborhood and “trick-or-treated” at PetSmart! The boys had a fabulous time!
— Lindsay Griffiths (@LindsayGriffith) November 2, 2014
And they sent back:
— Purina (@Purina) November 3, 2014
Key things to note here:
- I’m not a Purina customer.
- I don’t follow their twitter handle.
- I haven’t tweeted to or about them before.
But someone over at Purina is monitoring hashtags and keywords, and looking to engage with customers and potential customers. SMART.
Purina reached out and engaged me on a subject I’m interested in – my dogs. They made the interaction about me and my dogs, instead of about them, or trying to sell me something. They used my hashtag in their responses, and not a self-serving one.
The result? They’ve created some loyalty in me (and I’m not even a customer), and I’m going to consider both purchasing their products and endorsing their brand….all for the cost of a couple of tweets!
What does this have to do with lawyers and law firms? Plenty! Here are just a few of the lessons we can take away from this story:
- You can be using social media to monitor keywords and phrases that are important to your clients. You don’t even have to be using Twitter – head over to LinkedIn, and start "following" the company pages for your clients and those companies you’d like to become clients. Check in periodically and see what’s new with them, and the things they talk about.
- But if you do use Twitter, set up automatic searches for keywords, hashtags and phrases (you can learn what these are by trying a few of your own to see what works, or following clients and potential clients to see what they typically use). When you have these searches set up, monitor them periodically to see who is using them and may not be connected with you already in some way.
- Use these as opportunities to "reach out and touch someone." Purina saw that I was tweeting about Halloween, and they used that opportunity to engage with me. Perhaps a client or potential client tweets some exciting piece of news out – send an email or social media message to congratulate them, and ask how they’re celebrating. Maybe their company wears jeans on Fridays to raise money for a charity they care about – you could offer to have your office participate one week as well. The idea is to find out what they care about and engage with them.
- But as importantly, the engagement has to be about THEM. It’s not an opportunity to sell, or to talk about your strengths. It’s just about having a conversation that serves as a building block in your relationship. If Purina had tweeted a message to me that included a link to their foods, or suggested that I feed my dogs something that they offer, I would have been turned off immediately. It would have felt icky, and I would have ignored the tweet entirely. But because they humanized their brand, and reached out to have a conversation, they automatically made me more interested in their products – without ever mentioning them.
Yes, legal services are not like dog food, but human interaction is the same regardless of the products or services offered – build relationships, and the rest will come. After all, how memorable would it be if your company is celebrating good news, and a lawyer offers to buy a round of drinks for your team’s celebration? Or sponsors you in a bike race to raise money for a charity you care about? Or just notices that certain things are important to you, which may have nothing to do with the legal services they offer?
All of these things serve to create these individual links in the chains of our relationships, and the more links we have, the stronger the relationships, and the more top of mind that person becomes for when we DO need help.
So today, ask yourself, how can I reach out and touch someone? Find a client or a potential client, and find a way to engage with them – authentically – that has nothing to do with you and your legal services. You may just be surprised at the business development progress you’ll be making!