Paralegal and professor Reena Basser outlines five trouble spots for new paralegals who want to market their services.
I have been in a sole proprietorship as a Licensed Paralegal for a while and have learned many valuable lessons in the arena of marketing.
In my experience, new licensees falter in their first year with these avoidable missteps:
1. Paralegals avoid telling their friends/family that they are in business:
“I can’t tell my relatives. I can’t charge them anything and what’s more, what happens if I make a mistake? I’ll never live it down.”
I have heard these woeful words repeatedly, but this is a serious error in your business. If you don’t start with people you do know, you may never start. You will not gain any experience, and you will lack the whole business experience that is required for this job.
2. Paralegals immediately take out expensive ads or enroll in expensive plans to advertise their business.
“I have to spend money on advertising. Everyone says: you can’t make money if you don’t invest money.” “Those large companies cover so much ground that I think I will attract so many clients.”
This is very misguided. Watch out for those large companies who “hunt” you down from your website or your ads on other sites, speak nicely, call you by your first name and offer all kinds of services. They are likely too expensive for the first year.
3. Paralegals think they need an expensive business card or website.
“Eye-catching business cards are so it!” “The current colours, glossy stock, and all kinds of other features are going to get me my clients.” “A website is so important in today’s marketing scene. How can you advance without one?”
Yes, cards are important and so is a website. Studies have shown that most people want to see a bricks and mortar office AS WELL as a website. However, there are plenty of cheaper or free options that should be investigated in the first year.
4. Paralegals only consider “paid” advertising as one that has any value.
“I can’t think of any place to promote my business outside of the standard marketing sites.” “I have no hobbies, or I can’t write a blog or lead an information session live.”
Business today is wild—one can attract clients in many different settings, different sites and in ways unexpected. Paralegals need to figure out how to make themselves known through alternative ways so that potential clients will know how to call on you when the need arises.
5. Paralegals assume that the public KNOWS our areas of practice and how we can help them.
“I don’t need to explain anything to potential clients, because our field has been in existence for many years now.” “Many people don’t want to go to lawyers because of the expense, so they will think of me.” “Everyone knows what ‘small claims court’ implies.” “Oh yes, and everyone knows how much is the monetary jurisdiction for small claims court.”
People are very ignorant when it comes to our practice. We are still a new profession; we still need to educate the client, and potential clients, of our services and areas of practice.
How to resolve these marketing mistakes? Tune in next week.
“So, You Have a Licence. Now What?” – Paralegal Kevin Birmingham’s tips and developing an effective business plan
“From Student to Sole Proprietor” – Brett Lockwood’s article about his transition from graduate to legal services provider
“Find-a-Paralegal” – SCOPE’s service directory for paralegals, legal offices, and other business services
LSUC Advice for Advertising and Marketing Online