Only you can prevent legal problems

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Remember Smokey the Bear PSAs promoting campfire safety? Among other things, he told us to make sure the fire was out (instead of letting it go out on its own), because, he said, “Only you can prevent forest fires”.

Preventing forest fires isn’t a difficult sell. Simple tips and reminders to be careful, presented by a cute cartoon animal, and (as far as I know), the campaign worked.

Preventing legal problems, on the other hand, is a much harder sell.

“Do this to prevent that,” you say. Yeah, but it’s expensive, say your clients. And I have time. And I don’t want to think about this right now.

It is much easier to sell a cure.

“You’re in trouble? I can save you,” you say. Where do I sign?

When someone has a legal problem, they are in pain. They want to alleviate that pain. Getting their attention and convincing them to hire you is a much easier task than trying to sell them a way to prevent the problem in the first place.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. Just that you need to understand that its more difficult to sell and adjust your marketing accordingly.

If you sell prevention, give prospective clients more evidence of what can go wrong. Agitate the problems. Tell them more horror stories. Play on their fears.

And give them more time.

Prospective clients need time to digest your message, yet another reason why you need a list. They also need time to see their peers and colleagues experience the problems you are warning them about and the consequences of ignoring those warnings.

I saw a book being advertised this morning: “5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great”. If I was advising the author, I would tell her she would sell a lot more copies if the title was, “5 Simple Steps to SAVE Your Marriage”.

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