Can I randomly email businesses promoting my firm?

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Attorney J. B. writes and asks, “Can I randomly email businesses promoting my firm?”

I respond, “I don’t know, can you?”

Okay, I didn’t say that. But I thought it. Blame my seventh grade English teacher.

Anyway, here’s what I have to say on the subject: Don’t do it.

Don’t randomly send email to prospective clients promoting your firm. If you do:

(a) you’ll be subject to penalties from the spam-gods, from your bar association or law society, and from ISP’s who designate your email as spam and relegate it (and other emails you send) to the Internet sub-basement;

(b) you’ll fall flat on your tush. You might get some business out of it but not as much as you want and it won’t be worth it. See “a” above.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t email prospective clients. But you’ve got to do it right.

(a) Don’t email “randomly”. Learn something about the prospective client and send them a “personalized” email.

Go through their website and learn something about the business and the people who own or run it and say something about this in your email. Say something nice about their business or about their website.

Find a connection between them and you or someone you know. You know one of their customers? Great! Say that. You know their accountant, broker, vendor, supplier, neighbor, landlord, competitor, a former employee. . . great! Say that.

Show them that your email is anything but random.

(b) Do NOT promote yourself or your firm. Resist the urge to say anything about yourself, what you do, or why you’re the best thing since sliced bread.

The moment you do something like that, you lose. They write you off as someone who just wants their business and is wasting their time.

If you’re lucky, they’ll delete your email. If you’re not, they’ll mark you as spam and remember you as that clueless lawyer who spammed them.

No bueno.

(Sign your email with “Esq.” or “Attorney at Law”. Put your website address in your email signature. Just a link. No promotional copy. If they’re interested in finding out about you, they’ll click and take a look.)

Clear?

So, what might you do instead? Lots of things. Here’s an easy one: Send them a link to an article you found online about their industry, about one of their customers, or a prospective customer for them.

(Send a link, don’t attach the article.)

What will this accomplish? Not much by itself. But it might open the door to future communication with them, and right now, that’s as good as it gets.

Over time, there are other things you can do to get to know the principals of the business and for them to get to know you.

Want to speed things up? Send them a referral. Introduce them to someone you think they need to know. Promote their merchandise or services or their content.

Now you’re talking.

Don’t subscribe them to your newsletter. Don’t (yet) ask if they want to subscribe. Don’t move too quickly. You don’t even know if they need a lawyer (or a new one) right now. That might not happen for a year or ten.

Take your time. Woo them. Don’t “Harvey” them.

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