The phone isn’t ringing. Cases are wrapping up. You find yourself with some time on your hands and now you’re wondering what to do when business is slow. Here are some suggestions to make the most of your time, and your marketing efforts.
Every business has busy seasons and slow times. For me as a family lawyer, summers often get quiet. Judges take vacations causing motions to be pushed out. Parents are busy occupying their children, shuttling them to school camps and other activities. They don’t have time to file complaints.
The first couple of years in the practice, business getting slow got me nervous. Had I fallen down in my marketing efforts? Was I going to be able to find new clients? Now, though, I know it is just a seasonal slow down. Once the kids are back in school the phone will start ringing again and all will be well.
If your business works the same way, you may find yourself wondering what you should do with yourself in the meantime. Making productive use of your time when business is slow can mean the difference between making ends meet and developing a thriving business.
Take Some Time Off To Relax
Before we jump into all the things you should be doing to develop your marketing and make the most of your time, let’s stop to acknowledge that the average lawyer works too hard. If you find yourself in a slow season, embrace it. Spend an afternoon at the zoo with your kids or a long weekend up north.
Across the country, over 573 million vacation days go unused every year. American workers are afraid not to work. As lawyers, we definitely fall into that trap.
- What if a client needs me while I am away?
- What if a court filing comes in that I need to respond to?
- What if I miss a call for a big case?
The thing is, skipping vacation hurts your business. It increases your stress and decreases your productivity. Even a 4-day vacation can be enough to reset your body’s operating system, helping you avoid burnout and increase productivity. So if you want to do better work when times get busy, make vacation a priority when business is slow.
Look Ahead to Create an Online Marketing Plan
Okay, you’ve come back from your long weekend refreshed and rejuvenated, but there’s still not enough work to fill your time? Great. Time to work on blogging and marketing.
Business being slow is actually a blessing. It means you have time to pick your head up and work on your business, instead of just in it. When it comes to your blog, that means creating an online marketing plan for the next 6-12 months.
An online marketing plan can mean a lot of things depending on the size of your firm, your budget, and who you have working for you. If you have hired a social media marketing company or ghost blogger, you should probably start your planning with a meeting to set out your firm’s priorities and goals for the next period.
Then, you or the professionals you have hired, can put together a content calendar to work toward those goals. This could include a day-to-day plan for social media posts, a rotation of topics for blogs, and special pushes around holidays or big events in your industry. It might also include known speaking engagements or social events at the firm. It should also include enough flexibility to allow your content writers to respond when you:
- Win a big case
- Receive an award
- Learn about changes in the law
- Are asked to speak
Far too many lawyers try to do all this work when business is booming. By shifting your marketing planning sessions to when business is slow, you can give it the time and attention it needs to develop a marketing strategy that will push your business to the next level.
Work Ahead on Blogging
When business is slow, it can be a great opportunity to write up some “filler” blog posts. These are posts that are timeless. Maybe they address frequently asked questions or provide tips for how to handle common problems in your practice. The idea is to write content that can be posted and read at any time. Then don’t post them.
Instead, do everything get them ready to post. Find stock imagery, set all the categories and tags. Upload them to the website and then save them as a draft. Then, when things get busy and you just don’t have time to write, you’ll have something stored up and ready to go. All you’ll have to do is go back to the draft and schedule it to post.
If you are used to the seasonal ebbs and flows of business, then you already know about storing up resources for when things are tight. If you have a plan in place to pay for your assistant and your rent when business is slow, then think of this as storing up content for when time is valuable. It’s the same strategy, just with blogs rather than dollars.
Just because business is slow doesn’t mean you need to be worried. When seasonal slowdowns give you lemons, it’s time to make next season’s lemonade. By taking time to refresh yourself, create a marketing plan, and working ahead to create filler posts, you’ll set yourself up for success and avoid headaches that come when you’re suddenly “too busy to write” next season.