As a solo or small firm practitioner, you have to be so much more than an attorney. In addition to being a bookkeeper, office manager, and human resources department you also have to be a business development representative and the entire marketing department. This blog post is to help you take a thoughtful and efficient approach to develop your marketing strategy, allowing you to devote more time to the practice of law.

1. Define your talent – Resist the urge to be all things to all people. For one thing, dabbling in different areas of practice is a risk management no-no. Focus on an area that interests you and that fill a real need in your community. Become the expert in that area and then you can tell a more focused story to promote your firm.

2. Find your people – Before you start crafting your marketing strategy, really sit down and think about who your potential client base will be. Is it young families? Budding entrepreneurs? Then think about the places where “your people” get information about professional services – perhaps its social media or small business networking functions. Many of these venues are free or have a minimal cost, like a membership fee. So start here before investing heavily in traditional paid advertising. Solo Practice University founder, Susan Cartier Liebel, has great insight into tapping into your network.

3. Create a referral system – As you build your client base, you’ll find that they will be the most trusted form of marketing for your firm. Make it easy for them to tell others about your services and what a great job you did for them. Send each client a handwritten thank you note with five of your business cards enclosed. Include a subtle plug to pass them along to others they know who may be in need of your services.

4. You are not the hero – In all forms of communication, from the “About” section of your website to how you respond to an email inquiry, consider your client and what they are going through. They don’t necessarily want to hear how great you are. They want to know that you understand them and can help them. Reaching out and making a connection is always more effective than patting yourself on the back.

5. Assess your efforts – As your firm grows and you take on more and more clients, your time to invest in the actual running of your business becomes more valuable. Schedule yourself a check-in every six months to review what you’re putting out there. Does it still make sense? Ask your existing clients what they most value about your relationship. Are you promoting that asset to your prospects? The best way to stay true to yourself is by taking a look in the mirror every so often.