As we prepare to welcome the new year, it is an ideal opportunity to reflect on your estate planning practice. Take a moment to evaluate the successes and challenges of the past year and identify any goals you did not meet. Now is the time to set new goals for your practice and yourself. The close of the year often sparks anticipation for the possibilities ahead, including the chance to engage with new clients. Many individuals set a New Year’s resolution to initiate or revise their estate plans, and they are looking forward to connecting with an estate planning attorney.
Keep reading to learn some helpful tips to connect with new clients and elevate your practice to new heights in 2024.
1. Set Goals for the New Year
Evaluate the goals you had set for this year and assess how many you achieved. Examine your priorities to see if the goals you did not achieve are worth pursuing again in the new year. Ask yourself what adjustments you need to make to accomplish those goals on your next attempt. Then, set new goals for next year. If you are unsure of how to set goals for your practice that are both tangible and trackable, use the acronym “SMART” as a guide: your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Regularly review your progress each quarter to make sure you are on track to achieve your goals.
2. Stay Connected with Referral Sources
Referrals from fellow professionals are among the best ways to grow and continuously connect with new clients for your practice. These referral sources already have their clients’ trust, so when they recommend you personally, these new clients will be inclined to trust you as well. Strengthen your connections with referral sources such as financial advisors, accountants, insurance agents, and other attorneys. Take the time to send existing referral sources a year-end thank-you note or gift to express your appreciation for their referrals and support. If you are looking to connect on a more personal level to express your gratitude, consider reaching out to schedule coffee or lunch.
3. Plan Next Year’s Budget
Take time to analyze your budget from the preceding year before setting the budget for the new year. Did you stay within your budget or did you exceed it? Are there any unnecessary items that you could eliminate? Can you reduce your costs in categories that did not produce a good return on investment (ROI) and put the money toward other resources, such as hiring part-time support or investing in technology to improve your workflow or marketing efforts? When trying to optimize and increase profitability, think of the ROI for each budget item rather than simply reducing expenses. For example, did your investment in a new marketing venture result in more high-quality referrals from a targeted audience, or did your investment in a virtual assistant for client intake free up your time, allowing you to conduct more consultations and design meetings or attend more marketing events?
Investigate the areas in which you were over budget and determine the cause and whether the same conditions will apply in the new year. This will help you decide whether to redesign your budget to invest more money in certain areas while reducing the investment in others or keep your current budget and strive to stay within it.
4. Determine If You Need More Help
Reflect on the workload distribution among your team. Assess whether the current pace is sustainable or if there is a risk of burnout. Is each member optimally positioned? Is each staff member doing work that is in line with the highest and best use of their time and skill set? For example, are higher-level tasks such as marketing or legal work being sidelined for administrative duties such as answering the phone?
After evaluating your team and their roles and responsibilities, you might find it beneficial to expand your staff. Hiring a part-time staff worker or virtual assistant could significantly ease the workload, ensuring a more balanced and less stressful work environment. Part-time employees can handle roles that do not often require special skills or training. The use of virtual assistants or contractors is more prevalent as well, as some work can be delegated to them without increasing firm overhead as much as hiring an in-house employee would.
5. Create a Content Marketing Plan
In today’s digital world, strong content marketing is essential to generate leads for your practice by building trust and rapport with your audience and establishing your credibility and reputation within the community. This year, consider creating a proactive, comprehensive marketing plan that includes both in-person marketing opportunities and content marketing. Make sure your content is consistent, high quality, and has a unique tone and voice across all distribution channels (website, email, social media, blog, etc.).
When implemented successfully, content marketing can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts by boosting your website’s ranking on search engines such as Google. Value-based content (i.e., content that offers free, helpful information) can create opportunities for conversations and encourage potential new clients to engage with you as well. When thinking about developing a content plan for the new year, make sure you are employing a variety of content types, which can include the following:
- Newsletters and emails
- E-books, checklists, and other downloadable content
- Live and recorded webinars
- Embedded videos on your website
Determine a cadence for publishing content (weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly), and commit to publishing content consistently. Creating content can be time-consuming, but outsourcing content creation can save you time and be a worthy investment. WealthCounsel can help with your content needs through our Marketing Source subscription.
6. (Re)Connect with Valued Clients
Your current and past clients play a vital role in your success. Sending them a holiday card or small gift—or even just a quick phone call or email—to acknowledge and thank them for their support will keep you at the top of their minds. This can be especially important if they have resolved to redesign or update their estate plan in the new year or if they have friends or family that could benefit from your services.
Do not be afraid to ask your clients to tell their friends and family about the ways you and your firm can assist them, as everyone can benefit from creating a comprehensive estate plan or even reviewing their current plan. Asking for a referral can seem awkward at first, so keep it simple and sincere with a phrase like, “I enjoyed working with you and your family so much and I am looking to connect with more clients like yourself. If you can think of anyone who wants to learn more about creating a plan for the future, could you please send them my way?”
7. Polish Your Social Media Presence
Connecting with current and new potential clients through social media provides you with an opportunity to highlight your professional values and information about your practice in a meaningful and more personal setting. Refresh the content on your Facebook page or create an Instagram account to appeal to new clients and expand your reach. Add another touchpoint to ensure your audience sees your content by utilizing Facebook and Instagram Stories.
Establish a professional presence on LinkedIn to demonstrate your expertise and enable you to connect with more potential referral sources. Focus on being authentic and tell the story of what makes you and your practice unique beyond your legal expertise. Share photos that highlight your community involvement.
On X, you can display your knowledge by highlighting important topics or commenting on industry news. Follow reputable and relevant accounts to stay on top of news that may affect your clients. Retweet stories or articles along with your expert thoughts.
Lastly, be sure to engage and interact with your audience on all of your social media channels by responding to comments, messages, and questions promptly. If you struggle to manage your social media channels, you could consider hiring a social media specialist who can focus on managing the social media accounts for your firm.
8. Take Time for Yourself
While you may have ambitious goals for the new year, one of the best ways to ensure you are ready to achieve them is to slow down and take care of yourself. You will not be able to maintain and manage all of the hectic day-to-day responsibilities without also focusing on your well-being. Make sure you take time away from your desk and the office to get some fresh air and exercise and do things that bring you joy. Simply taking regular stretch breaks throughout your workday or even going for short walks can be beneficial. Consider time-blocking your calendar by scheduling times in each workday for meetings, breaks for movement and fresh air, and productivity to get work done.
Want more help with your practice goals? WealthCounsel’s Practice Success programs are designed to meet you at every stage of your law practice to help you build and grow your business, propel your marketing efforts, acquire more clients, design and improve your processes, and achieve your goals for the future.