Independent Thinking: Breaking Out-Expanding into a New Practice Area

September 4, 2012

Small Law: Independent Thinking

Independent Thinking: Breaking Out-Expanding into a New Practice Area

Part 2 – Finding Your Client Base

In the first part of this series we identified your target client and services. Today, we’ll use that information to find prospects that resemble your target client.  The next, and final, post will help you define and implement strategies to turn those prospects into clients.





Identify Your Client-Initiation Points

In part one, we identified the services that you’ll provide and grouped them from the client’s perspective.  The next step is to understand when a potential client needs your services.  To do this, define all of the circumstances under which clients will engage you for the services you’ve listed—a family law client might first come to you for a prenuptial agreement, to initiate a divorce, or to draft a will.

Create an Engagement Map 

Next, and a critical step to growing your new practice, from each client initiation point, create a service-evolution map that traces the possible services needed over time by a typical client starting at each engagement point.

In example, a startup company first coming to you for formation assistance may eventually need an employment manual.  Referring back to this map over time informs how you can evolve you relationship with new clients and helps prevents lost opportunities.

Identify Your Service Boundaries

Then identify any services that you are currently uncomfortable or not equipped to offer—services beyond your current experience or training or that require additional certification.  These items represent short-term partnership needs—how you can partner with other attorneys to fill your service gap—and referral sources—networking and establishing relationships beyond your expertise expands your referral network.  These items also serve as a long-term service-expansion roadmap—what steps do you need to take to offer the additional services?

At this point your roadmap should look something like this:

If this is our map, it looks like it would be a good idea to partner with an accountant and a tax attorney familiar with business tax planning and mergers and acquisitions.  It also looks like we may want to network within franchise industry groups and get to know a franchise attorney.

Find Your Prospects

To find your prospects, list as much information about the client at each engagement point.  Taking the startup engagement point from the map above, ask yourself: 

  • Who is the potential client (what subset of your prospect pool is this)?
  • Where are they physically?
  • What is the client doing or trying to accomplish?
  • How urgent is their need?
  • What is there state of mind?
  • Do they recognize their need for your services at this point in time?
  • What questions does the client have?
  • Where would they go for this information / answer?
  • What steps are they taking to reach their goal?

The answers to questions like these provide the starting points for your market entry strategies—the topic of the next post—and provide the understanding necessary to transform your prospects into long-term clients.


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