Referral marketing for lawyers–roots before branches

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Let’s say you want to get more referrals from your clients. Not a bad idea. Now, how will you go about it?

Your strategy might be to give your clients lots of attention, show them that you care about them, and make them feel good about choosing you as their lawyer.

Good. An excellent strategy. What techniques will you use to effect your strategy?

What will you say to them at their first appointment? What will you give them? What will you send them, and when? What will do, and how often?

Strategies before techniques. Roots before branches.

Strategies derive from your values and beliefs. If you believe it’s important to surprise and delight your clients with over-the-top service and extra value, if you believe that doing so will endear them to you and make it more likely that they will return to you, say nice things about you, and send you referrals, your actions will reflect those values and beliefs.

If you believe that giving clients lots of attention takes too much time and won’t produce more loyal clients or more referrals, however, your actions will be different.

If you believe that your clients can provide you with more referrals than they now provide, you will be more inclined to invest time equipping your clients with information and tools they can use to send you more referrals. If you believe that your clients do what they can and can’t do any more, you probably won’t.

What many lawyers do, I think, is implement certain techniques before they have firmed up their beliefs and committed to a strategy. They hear that it’s a good idea to send new clients a thank you letter, for example, so they do it, but their heart isn’t in it. They say the words, but they don’t feel the sentiment behind them.

Sure enough, when they speak to the client, their words and behavior often tell a different story.

Start by asking yourself what you want to accomplish and choose one or more strategies for accomplishing it, based on your values and beliefs. Only then should you examine the techniques that are available to you.

My new course, “Maximum Referrals,” can help you do that. It shows you both the strategies and techniques you need to build a successful referral-based practice.

Check it out, here.

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Faster than a speeding search engine

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Information. You need it, you want it, and you have it, thanks to the search engine of your choice. But there’s something that’s often better than a search engine. In many cases, it’s faster, too.

I’m talking about experts. People who have the answer to your query on the tip of their tongue. Their real-world experience allows them to instantly provide you with answers, or at least point you in the right direction.

Unlike a search engine, you don’t get 101 links of possible solutions. You don’t get sent down a rabbit hole of never-ending research.

You ask, they answer. Done.

We all need to maintain a list of names and contact information of people who know things, and who know people. A group of folks we can call upon to quickly get information,  recommendations, and referrals.

I’m not talking about paid experts, although we need them, too. I’m talking about friends and business associates and networking buddies who know things and know people and will help us out without sending us a bill.

If we have a computer problem, we have someone who can walk us through the solution, or recommend someone who can fix it for us. If we want to find a CPA on the other side of the country for a client who is moving there, we can tap into our network and get referrals.

An information and referral network can benefit you and your clients and other contacts.

Your network makes you better at your job and helps you bring in business. It also allows you to add value to your relationships with your clients and professional contacts.

Let people know that you know a lot of people in different fields and different parts of the country and when they need information or referrals, they should contact you first.

If you know someone, great. You’re a hero. If you don’t know someone, you can find someone you don’t know and expand your network. Nothing like contacting a professional and telling them you have a client who might need their services.

Your network will make you more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Build your professional network with this

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The most important (and neglected) element in legal marketing

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Alrighty then. You’ve got a blog and a newsletter. You crank out reports, ebooks, articles and presentations. You do email. Maybe even social media.

You’ve got this content marketing thing down.

Or do you?

If you’re like many lawyers, there’s something missing from your content. Something important. Something your clients and prospects want to see.

You. There’s not enough “you” in your marketing.

You’ve got the law down. Procedure, too. You obviously know your stuff. Anyone who accesses your content can see that you are qualified to help them. But then so are all of the other lawyers out there who do the same thing.

The thing that differentiates you from your competition, more than anything else, is you.

Because clients buy you before they buy your services.

Clients want to know what it would be like to work with you.

The law? Not that interesting to most people. Clients want to know that you understand it and can work your magic with it and get them some great results (or die trying), but in the end, they are far more interested in hearing about the man or woman behind the curtain.

That’s you.

They want to hear your voice. If not literally (via audio and video and live presentations), through your writing. They want to know your personality, your opinions, and your habits. They want to know about what’s important to you.

They want to know something about your personal life. What do you do when you’re not working?

They want to know about your other clients. How do they feel about you and what you did for them?

They want to know about your staff, your partners, and others with whom you associate, because our associations are a big part of who we are.

They want to know your opinion about things–cases and clients you’ve handled, trends in the law or in their industry or community. Maybe your predictions, too.

They want to know what it would be like to sit in your office, sharing their secrets with you, and looking to you for help.

So put more “you” into your marketing. Not too much, of course. You don’t want to sound like a politician who can’t stop saying “I”. Just enough about yourself so that people can see who you are, not just what you do.

Because people buy you before they buy your services.

Legal marketing is easier when you know The Formula 

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What’s the best way to market your legal services?

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So, you want to know the best way to market your legal services? Read on, my friend, and all will be revealed.

But first, we need to talk about the two kinds of markets to whom you are marketing. The first is your “warm market”. This consists of people you know. Your clients, former clients, friends, business contacts, and other people who, to some degree, already know, like, and trust you.

Generally speaking, your warm market will hire you or recommend you without your having to “sell” them. They’re already sold on you.

They know what you do. They know your reputation. They’ve seen you in action or heard about your successes with clients they’ve referred to you in the past.

How do you market to your warm market? Basically, all you need to do is stay in touch with them. Keep your name and contact information in front of them, reminding them that you’re still in business and can still help them and the people they know.

Make sure they know about “what else” you do (your other services), and send them information about why they (or people they know) would need those services. Occasionally share some success stories about other clients you’ve helped.

The easiest way to stay in touch with your warm market is email. Stay in their minds and their mailboxes until they’re ready to hire you (again) or send you referrals.

Email is also best because it is a personal communication and gives you maximum control over the process. But you can also keep your name in front of your warm market via advertising, speaking and networking at their events, writing for their trade journals and blogs, and other means.

Am I saying that all you have to do with your warm market is stay in touch with them? Yes. Pretty much. You don’t have to do much more, although doing more is usually a good idea.

Consider reaching out to your warm market and helping them in their business and personal lives. Build a relationship with them, especially the ones who bring you the most business.

There are other things you can do, but if all you do is stay in touch with your warm market, you will probably get the lion’s share of their business.

(Note, prospective clients are often not warm market. You’ll want to send them more information, share more stories, make special offers, and do other things to encourage them to hire you or take the next step. Again, the easiest way to do that is email.)

Okay, let’s talk about the cold market. These are people you don’t know.

Most attorneys spend too much time and energy marketing to people in the cold market rather than focusing on their warm market. Remember, people in the cold market have to be found and they have to be sold. This is more difficult and expensive, especially since you are competing with all of the other attorneys who are trying to do the same thing.

There’s nothing wrong with advertising, blogging, social media, SEO, and other methods of attracting prospective clients. Especially if you handle divorce, litigation, criminal defense, personal injury, and other practice areas where “something has to happen” before people even think about looking for an attorney.

But there’s a better way to attract cold market prospects. Much better, because when they do come to you, they really aren’t cold market at all. I’m talking about referrals.

Instead of spending all of your resources finding and wooing cold market prospects, invest in growing your network of lawyers, other professionals and other centers of influence in your niche market or community.

Help them get to know, like, and trust you. Then, when someone they know needs a lawyer who does what you do, you’ll be in line to get their referrals. Those clients won’t have to be sold because someone they respect and trust is vouching for you.

There. Now you know the best way to market your legal services. Class dismissed.

Expand your referral network of lawyers and other professionals with this

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How to make rain at holiday parties

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I got an email from an attorney friend and subscriber who is hosting a holiday party for 80 clients, referral sources, and prospective clients. He asked me for ideas about how to get more business out of the event, “either at the event itself or soon thereafter”.

He’s a sharp cookie and an astute marketer. He buys all my stuff. Yeah, he’s that smart.

Anyway, his question is a good one. What can you do to leverage the event to build your practice? What might you say to the guests? Do you hand out anything? Announce anything? Invite them to see or do something?

The answer is no. Don’t do any of those things. Just be a good host.

You don’t want to be “that guy” who turns a festive gathering into a sales pitch. You don’t want people to question your motives for inviting them to a party.

Be a good host. Enjoy the event and make sure your guests do, too.

As host, your job is to introduce your guests to each other. Say something nice about each one and make sure the other person knows what they do. This will stimulate conversations among your guests, which is always a good thing, especially if they talk about you and how you’ve helped them. Your guests may make some new friends. They may also get some business from those new friends.

And you get the credit for introducing them, you yenta, you.

By the way, you should do this at parties where you aren’t the host. At networking events, too. Be a matchmaker. Introduce people to other people.

After your party, send everyone a note thanking them for coming. Tell them you enjoyed seeing them again (or meeting them) and you’d love to get together with them sometime soon.

No agenda. No offers. Just friends.

Later, when you meet with them or talk to them again, look for ways you can help them in their business or personal life. If you have something going on–an event, a special offer, news–go ahead and share it. But keep the focus on them.

When these people see your name on caller ID, or see your email or letter, you want them to smile and eagerly take your call or read your letter. You want them to think fondly of you and be glad to know you. You don’t want them to lump you in with everyone else who is pitching something.

They already know what you do. Stay in touch with them, help them, and when they need your services or know someone who does, they won’t call anyone else.

Learn how to grow your practice and income: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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The starving artist’s guide to marketing legal services

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Suppose that instead of you being a talented legal professional you were a talented singer. How would you go about marketing that talent?

Traditionally, you would try to get an agent or manager in the hopes that they could get you some gigs and eventually a record deal. Today, most singers market themselves. Much of this is done online, by posting videos, showing off their chops and hoping to get discovered, or simply selling their work directly.

But they also audition at clubs and restaurants and network with people in the industry. They build relationships with people who can hire them, advise them, and introduce them to people who can help their career.

The Internet makes marketing easier and less expensive, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals.

Use the Internet to meet more people. Use it build your list and get your name out to the world. But don’t stop there. Talk to the people. Meet them in person if you can. Find out what they want or need and then help them find solutions.

Like building a singing career, marketing legal services is very much about relationships. There’s a lot of “you” in it. You can hire people to help you with websites and advertising, but never forget that the client doesn’t sign up because you have a great ad campaign or website, they sign up because of you.

Marketing legal services online–go here

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Why you should teach prospective clients to do it themselves

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Suppose you are a personal injury attorney. And suppose you write a report showing people how to handle their own property damage (no injury) insurance claim. You tell them what to do and how to do it.

You tell them not to admit fault, teach them how to measure and document their damages, give advice about what to do if it’s a total loss, and equip them to present and negotiate their claim.

You know, stuff you often do for clients and prospects without charge.

Show them how to do it themselves so they don’t ask you to do it for them. Of course you also tell them what to do if they do have injuries. You tell them what an attorney can do to help them maximize their claim and have peace of mind and how hiring an attorney usually pays for itself.

You distribute your report to your clients and prospects and to anyone else who wants a copy. You give it away on your website and hand it out when you’re networking. You contact other lawyers who don’t do personal injury and let them give the report to their clients and contacts.

What will happen? You’ll get a lot of people who are grateful to you for your sound advice. Some will be injured and call you. Some will hold onto your report and call you when they have an injury claim. And some will call you with questions about their property damage claim, even though you showed them what to do and assured them they could do it themselves.

That’s okay. Take their call. Encourage their call. Give them a few minutes of your time. Write a letter or make a call for them, without charge. It’s an investment in their future business.

Think “clients” not “cases”.

If you don’t handle personal injury, you can do something similar in your practice area. Teach people how to file their own simple divorce, quit claim their property to their spouse, or file a fictitious business statement.

Help people do things for themselves and when they have something they can’t do themselves, they’ll call you.

Want more referrals? Quickly? How about 30 Days?

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I just met you, and this is crazy. But here’s my number. . .

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You just met someone. You give them your card. Then what? What do you do?

Do you tell them to call you? Do you give them a reason to do it? Something you’re going to share with them, or something you want to discuss with them?

Or do you leave follow-up to them?

Okay, maybe it’s too soon to call. Fine. Tell them to go to your website, to see an article you think they’ll be interested in, or a checklist they can fill out, or to download a report that covers the topic you’ve been discussing with them.

Because if they see that article or download that report, they will be one step closer to knowing what you do and how you can help them or the people they know.

Tell them what to do. Give them a reason to do it. Don’t leave it up to them. Don’t say maybe.

Too aggressive? Nah. You’re telling them about something that might benefit them. If they don’t want it, they won’t do it.

By the way, what’s on your card anyway? I see some attorneys make the mistake of not putting their website and email on their card. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they don’t have a website or use email, and if that’s true, that’s an even bigger mystery.

Hello, is this on?

But then making it easy for people to find out more about you and how you can help them is only one of the reasons we carry cards, and it’s not the most important one.

It’s not? No. The most important reason for giving someone your card is to get their card. So you can contact them. Because it’s your practice, not theirs, and marketing and following-up with people you meet is your responsibility. It’s also your best bet for turning a one-time meeting into new business.

So, I just met you, and this isn’t crazy. Here’s my card, may I have yours, so I can call you or send you something?

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I’d love to interview you

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You get an email from an admirer. Someone who reads your blog, gets your newsletter, or sees your social media posts. Or someone who heard you speak and thought you were the bees knees.

They have their own blog or newsletter, and they want to interview you and share your wisdom with hundreds (or thousands) of readers who happen to be in your target market. The interview will be 20-30 minutes over the phone, or they can send you five or ten questions you can answer via email.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Some great exposure for you. Could bring in a lot of new clients. The answer is “yes”.

Of course it is. And that’s exactly what the person you ask to interview for your blog or newsletter will say when you reach out to them.

That’s right, while you’re waiting for someone to ask you for an interview, you find people with a following in your target market and interview them.

You’ll get interesting content for your blog or website or newsletter. Your readers will like it, and like you for sharing it, and you don’t have to do any writing.

You’ll get traffic to your site, via search engines and social sharing. More prospective clients, more subscribers for your list.

You’ll get traffic and subscribers from the friends and followers of your interview subject who will undoubtedly promote the interview to his lists.

And you’ll get a new contact who appreciates the opportunity to be interviewed and who will at some point realize that they should interview you.

So, what are you waiting for? Go interview someone.

Marketing online for attorneys: Click here

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Take a loser to lunch

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An excellent way to grow your practice is to spend time with other lawyers. Once a week, invite a successful lawyer to lunch and get to know about them and their practice.

Look for ways you can help each other, with referrals, introductions, promoting each others events and content, guest posts, and so on. Ask lots of questions about what they want and need and look for ways to help them.

But don’t stop there. Learn from their successes. Ask questions about how they market their services and look for ideas you can use to market yours. What do they do, where do they do it, how did they get better at doing it?

Jim Rohn said, “If you want to be successful, study success.”

Also keep your ears open for what hasn’t worked for them, or hasn’t worked as well. Learn from their mistakes.

If you can see what they’re doing wrong, offer suggestions on how they can improve. If they aren’t getting as much traffic to their website as they want to, for example, share what’s working for you.

On that note, every once in awhile you might want to spend time with unsuccessful attorneys. Find someone who isn’t doing well and take them to lunch. Ask about what they’re doing and then do the opposite.

More on joint ventures: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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