David Ackert's Top Advice on Social Media and Client Prospecting

The president of Ackert Inc. offers his insights on business development to Best Lawyers following the 2019 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference.

Social Media Tips for Law Firms
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

May 13, 2019 09:31 AM

David Ackert, president of Ackert Inc. and a recognized leader in business development innovation, spoke with Best Lawyers after the 2019 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference. Read on for Ackert’s conference breakdown, his tips on social media and client prospecting, and the hardest business development tips to master. For more LMA 2019 coverage and strategies to market your firm, read our coverage here.

Best Lawyers: What were the three biggest takeaways from LMA 2019?

David Ackert: Legal marketing continues to grow in sophistication as a profession year over year. One of the most pronounced changes I noticed this year was a greater effort by marketers to make their voices heard and respected within the law firm. This concept of creating one’s own seat at the table was echoed in many sessions at LMA19 and I think in the coming years marketers will begin to see more of the recognition they deserve (if they negotiate for it). The top three things they should do to push the envelope, in my opinion, are these:

  • Own the strategic plan. You may not have sat in on the meetings where the strategic plan was created, but you can certainly take ownership of its execution. Most firms look at their strategic plan exactly once per year (when they write it) and leave it to collect dust for the remaining 364 days. Marketers should reference the firm’s strategic plan regularly, and tie every initiative back to it. Also, create and monitor KPIs that track progress toward the plan’s stated objectives. When marketers’ efforts are oriented around organizational goals and backed by hard data, they become even more invaluable as an asset to the firm.
  • Track, optimize, iterate. Many marketers are too overwhelmed with administrative work to be able to focus on strategy, and that’s not the highest and best use of their time. While tracking KPIs is a new, nebulous, and perhaps intimidating activity for most marketers, it can be their ticket out of a mountain of scut-work if they can present hard data proving that a given activity is low-ROI and a waste of time. Tracking KPIs can help marketers focus on the most effective activities, optimize their bandwidth, improve upon existing initiatives, and ultimately achieve better results.
  • Tie your contributions to revenue. Marketing and business development professionals should find ways to get in front of prospective clients, actively generate leads, and pass them off to lawyers once they have matured down the sales funnel. When they can draw a clear line between their efforts and new revenue, their voices carry a lot more weight than someone who can only draw a dotted line between their role and “revenue enablement.”

Social media management can be overwhelming. What tips would you recommend to make it more effective?

Focus on just one or two platforms, not all of them. My team realized that maintaining our company Facebook pages was a lot of work with very little results, so we deleted them and focused our efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Your firm will have its own version of this story, but having a few platforms is always better than having too many out-of-date pages with limited activity. In the wise words of my friend Adrian Dayton, just delete your account.

How can a business maintain a proactive approach when it comes to client prospecting?

Again, narrow your focus. Recently I’ve been conducting a lot of research for a book I’m writing on networking and sales for service professionals and I came across a concept called Dunbar’s Number. About 30 years ago, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar posited that humans are only capable of maintaining stable relationships with about 150 people. In other words, each of us only has about 150 people where we “would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar,” according to Dunbar. When you subtract your family and friends from that number, you’re looking at only a dozen or two professional contacts with whom you can actually maintain regular, authentic relationships.

Your company has developed a tool called Practice Pipeline. How does it serve businesses?

Practice Pipeline helps busy professionals focus on their short list of business relationships: the clients, prospects, and referral sources who represent the greatest opportunity for new business. Unlike CRM, which can be overwhelming in its complexity and number of contacts managed, Practice Pipeline is ultra-simple and user-friendly so professionals can focus on business development without a lot of data entry or administrative work.

What is one business development strategy that even you find hard to follow?

Small talk can easily become a bad habit. Superficial conversation, like talking about the news or the weather, is an easy fallback but it does nothing for the relationship. I notice this tendency in myself when I have client phone calls on busy days. In an attempt to be productive, I sometimes rush through the niceties so I can jump into the formal agenda. This approach may make for an efficient call, but it also squanders an opportunity to reinforce my relationship with the other person. The fact is that it takes the same amount of time to ask them about the weather in Nashville as it does to ask them a thoughtful question about their work or personal life. When we are not mindful of this fact, we become lazy conversationalists, but when we make the effort to show concern for specific aspects of people's lives, our interactions become less wasteful. We create more substantial connections with people and they, in turn, become far more likely to make an effort on our behalf.

Related Articles

Where to Begin Marketing Your Law Firm

by Scott Parks

Start by identifying your target audience. Then, tailor your message to fit.

First Things to Do When Marketing Your Law FI

Six Steps to Social Media Success for Law Firms

by Bria Burk

Firms can use social media to promote awards, establish their positions, and bring attention to a practice area.

How Should Law Firms Use Social Media?

Highlights From the 2019 LMA Annual Conference

by Best Lawyers

Did you make it to LMA 2019? Read the Best Lawyers recap of this year's biggest takeaways.

2019 LMA Conference Recap

How to Handle a PR Crisis

by Mike Androvett & Mark Annick

Planning your strategy in advance, and having a team ready to handle a disaster, can help you tackle a problem before it starts.

How Law Firms Should Handle a PR Crisis

Press and Publicity: How Television and Social Media Impact Legal Careers

by Justin Smulison

In recent years, with social media giving minute by minute reporting, many lawyers are finding themselves thrust into a spotlight they never planned for. How are lawyers grappling with unexpected stardom, media coverage and merciless influencers?

Close up of camera at news station

What Do Your Clients Want, Anyway?

by Emilia Levisay

Law Firm Strategies to Best Serve Clients.

Sticky notes on black chalk board that says quality, cost, and efficiency

How Does Your Firm Measure Up?

by Best Lawyers

BL Intelligence provides your firm with valuable industry data.

Best Lawyers 27th Edition Stats

4 Ways to Engage Your Client on Their Terms

by Scott Distasio

Upping your customer service skills could boost business, propel your career, and help you retain top clients.

Engaging Your Client on Their Terms

An Interview With Serhiy V. Piontkovsky of Baker McKenzie

by Best Lawyers

The head of Baker McKenzie's Real Estate practice group in Ukraine discusses the firm's standout attorneys.

Baker McKenzie Wins Law Firm of the Year

How to Create a Bio that Attracts New Clients

by Mark Annick

Put your most relevant information first. Make it sound like you.

What Should A Lawyer's Bio Do?

Our Tips on Top Lawyer Lists

by Pat Rafferty

What are legal rankings, and how can you get your name in the top spot?

A Guide to Lawyer Rankings

Hanging Your Own Shingle? Put Your Best Foot Forward on Day One

by Scott Parks

How to market yourself to get new clients and keep your old ones after starting a new firm.

Tips for Starting Your Own Firm

The Publisher Is You: How to Tell Your Story Effectively

by Kit Frieden

Control the narrative and bring attention to your work and expertise with these publishing tips.

Self-Publishing in the Legal Industry

In the News Weekly Roundup: Millennials in the Legal Profession

by Best Lawyers

A roundup of relevant news, partnerships, and publications from our listed law firms.

In the News Roundup: Millennial Lawyers

FinTech Innovation Poses Data Privacy Challenges

by Michael Brown

FinTech companies are disrupting traditional financial models—and creating new data privacy concerns.

FinTech Might Put Your Data Privacy at Risk

Social Media and Other Innovations Are Jarring the Judiciary

by Michelle V. Rafter

Judge Shira A. Scheindlin means it when she says social media is “totally disrupting the court system.”

Law: Predictive analytics & social media

Trending Articles

The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers proudly announces lawyers recognized in South Africa for 2023.

South African flag

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

Best Lawyers Voting Is Now Open

by Best Lawyers

Voting has begun in several countries across the globe, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Below we offer dates, details and answers to voting-related questions to assist with the voting process.

Hands holding smartphone with five stars above phone

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Australia.

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees

by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some

by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Could Reign Supreme End with the Queen?

by Sara Collin

Canada is revisiting the notion of abolishing the monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, but many Canadians and lawmakers are questioning if Canada could, should and would follow through.

Teacup on saucer over image of Queen's eye

Rising Transfer Taxes

by Angus C. Beverly

Transfer taxes in California are becoming a statewide trend with potentially national implications. Here is a breakdown of the effects in several cities.

State of California in orange with city in backdrop

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

The Upcycle Conundrum

by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests

by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers

by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

Best Law Firms® Research Has Begun

by Best Lawyers

Best Law Firms® rankings are annually produced awards recognizing the top law firms across the United States. We are here to offer insight into the submission process for all eligible firms.

Black background with colorful squares and faces

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect

by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

Thirteen Years of Excellence

by Best Lawyers

For the 13th consecutive year, “Best Law Firms” has awarded the most elite and talented law firms across the country through a thorough and trusted data review process.

Red, white and blue pipes and writing on black background