Make them come to you


You’ve heard it before—don’t chase clients. Because it looks bad (and feels bad) and usually pushes cliens away because you look needy and unsuccessful. 

Clients want to hire successful lawyers, and if you’re chasing, that’s not you. 

Something else, when they chase you, they’re usually willing to pay more to work with you. 

So don’t chase, make them come to you. 

How? What marketing strategies are best for attracting clients? 

First (by a long shot) are referrals. When clients and professionals and business contacts recommend you, it is the ultimate affirmation of your success. They know you. They’ve seen your work. And their recommendations make their referrals easier to sign up. 

You also tend to get better clients and bigger cases through referrals than any other marketing method.

On the other hand, you can’t scale as quickly as you might like via referrals, which leads to my second recommendation—advertising. 

Surprised? Don’t be. Advertising allows you to maintain posture.

You’re not chasing anyone because you’re not talking to anyone—until they decide they like what they see and want to talk to you. 

Yep, they come to you. 

And advertising scales. And can pay for itself. When you have an ad (or campaign) that works, you can run more ads in more places. You can run bigger ads and run them more often. And bid on more competitive keywords. 

You don’t have to advertise your services directly if that’s not something you want to (or are allowed to) do. You can advertise your book or report, your channel or blog, your seminar, or anything else that gets your name and offer in front of prospective clients and the people who can refer them.

They see, they like, they come to you.

The third way to get clients to come to you is through content marketing. 

You share information about the law, explain problems and solutions, and show people what’s possible, and in doing that, those people see that you know what you’re doing and become interested in learning more about how you can help them.

They come to you. 

You can do content marketing via a blog, newsletter, podcast, video channel, or by being interviewed on someone else’s channel or for their newsletter. You can speak at industry events, conduct seminars, network with people in your target market, or offer your content via social media. 

Or through advertising. 

Referrals, advertising, and content marketing. Three proven strategies for making clients come to you. 


Are you giving clients too many options?


Have you ever heard the expression, “A confused mind says ‘no’?” Research confirms it—when we have too many choices, we often choose nothing. 

A confused mind says ‘no’ because it is confused. 

When you give people too many options, you make their decision more difficult. In your marketing, therefore, rule number one should be to make things simple for clients and prospects, and that usually means giving them fewer options. 

Do you have an ad that describes all of your services? Do you feature all of your practice areas in your content? Clients might be impressed by your capabilities, but they’re usually looking for the solution to one problem. Too many options or offers, especially when most of them are not currently relevant, make decisions more challenging, which is why people tend to say no. 

This is also true with content creation. If you give people too many articles or blog posts to read, videos to watch, or events to attend, it is more likely they will choose “none”.

This doesn’t mean you should eliminate other options. It means featuring or leading with the best, the most relevant, the most likely to become a gateway to your other content or services. 

Post everything on your website, but make the visitor dig for it if they want it. Or send it to them later in your email sequence.

But just as offering too many options can lead to confusion and fewer “sales,” offering only one option can do the same. If the prospective client sees they can hire you for service X and service X doesn’t tick all the boxes for them, they have no other choice but to say “no”. 

Which is why it might be better to give them two options instead of “hire me or don’t”. 

When I created my first marketing course, I thought about offering several packages but eventually settled for just two: Basic and Deluxe. Instead of “yes” or “no,” the choice became this package or that one and it resulted in more sales. 

If you want more people to read your content, sign up for your list, or choose you as their lawyer, don’t give them too many options, or too few.


Always be closing? 


Sales people are taught to continually look for opportunities to close the deal and that these can occur at any time. When a prospective customer or client says something about price or fees, for example, this is often one of those opportunities, because it usually means they have decided they (probably) do need or want the product or service and are thinking about how they can get it.

So, generally speaking, “Always be Closing” is good advice. But there is such a thing as trying to close too soon. 

When you talk to a prospective client for the first time, handing them a retainer agreement and a pen may be the right thing to do, or it might blow up in your face if they see it as being too presumptive or aggressive. 

Which is why sales experts tell you to not only look for opportunities to close but to see if you can create them.

You do that by using “trial closes” or questions designed to elicit responses that are consistent with someone who is ready to buy. “Are you leaning towards (Package A) or (Package B)?” is one example. 

When the prospect looks they are ready, go for the close. If they don’t, don’t push it. Don’t close before they’re ready. 

But we see marketers do this all the time. 

You see ads with a call to action that says, “Call today for an appointment”. That might be the right way to go, but what if the prospect is just starting to research their problem and isn’t ready to consider hiring an attorney? If the choice is between “Call for an appointment” or nothing, guess which one they’re going to choose? 

On the other hand, doing nothing might be best for you, too. If you’re doing lead generation advertising, you might only want leads of people who are ready to talk to or hire an attorney. 

But what about people who are ready to make an appointment? Shouldn’t you encourage them to do that? 

Maybe. Or maybe you should give them a choice: “Call for an appointment or to learn more. . .”

What should you do?

Should you close for the appointment? Tell them to sign up or your webinar? Tell them to call to ask questions or to download your report? Visit your website to learn more about the law or to learn about you and how you can help them? 

Lots of options.

I can’t tell you the right approach and neither can your marketing or advertising team. The only way to know for sure is to try several approaches and see works best. 

One offer may get lots of leads, but very few new clients. Another offer might bring in relatively few leads, but result in enough new clients to be very profitable. Another offer might lose money on your promotion but bring in a few clients who have lots of work for you after the initial case or engagement.

You “test” one offer against others. And let the numbers tell you what works best. And it works the same way with closing. When a prospective client looks like they’re ready to sign up, close them. If they aren’t ready, they will let you know.


It’s all advertising and it’s never free


You may not be able to advertise your legal services, or you may not want to, but news flash—you do it every day. 

Everything you do to get and keep good clients is advertising because you’re getting your name and message out into the world with the goal of attracting new clients. 

Every blog post or article you write, every presentation you deliver, every person you meet at a networking event—it’s all advertising. Even doing a good job of client relations is advertising because your aim is to get your clients to return to you, introduce you to their friends and business contacts, and say nice things about you on social media. 

It’s advertising and you pay with your money or your time.

Yes, we typically put paid ads in a different category from the rest of our marketing, and maybe we should, but it doesn’t change the fact that. . .

It’s all advertising, and it’s never free. 

Organic social media takes time. Yours or someone who works for you. Writing a newsletter for your clients, having coffee with a colleague, serving on a corporate board, playing golf with a leader in your market—advertising one and all. 

If you want to do paid advertising—display, billboard, paid search, direct mail, etc. (and you are allowed to)–I say do it. Do it with dignity, but get your message in front of more people who need your services.

Because you need clients and clients need you. 

The fact is, you can scale paid advertising much easier than anything you do with your time. So if you want to do paid advertising but still hesitate, consider another option. 

Instead of advertising your services or your firm, advertise your book, report, podcast, seminar, or channel.

The result is the same. Traffic, leads, more new clients. You just take an extra step to get there. 


Lawyer advertising is expensive. Or is it?


“How much are the ads?” is the wrong question. The right question is “how much can I profit after I pay the cost of the ads?“

Because if you spend $30,000 per month on ads but take in $150,000 in fees, that $30k ad budget looks like a pretty good deal.

The cost of ads is relative. It doesn’t matter how much you invest, what matters is how much your investment earns. Your net profit after the cost of the ads and your overhead.

Is it really that simple? Yes, and no.

Yes, because it’s just math. No, it’s not that simple because you have to consider the risks.

The risk that you won’t take in enough revenue to cover the cost of the ads (and overhead). The risk that the ads that work today won’t continue to work tomorrow. The risk that you’ll get complacent and mess up something, or you’ll let your guard down and some charlatan will take you to the cleaners.

I’ve lost a lot of money on advertising. I’ve run ads that bombed, been cheated, and spent more than it tuned out I need to spend. But I’ve also made a lot. More than enough to cover my costs and turn a handsome profit.

But if you’re considering advertising, there’s something else you need to know. You can still make a profit on ads that break even or even show a loss.

How can you lose money and still make money?

On the backend.

Your front end is the business (and revenue) you get directly from your ads. The backend is the business and revenue you get from repeat business and referrals.

If your ads bring in a client who has a lot of legal work, you might break even on the first case they hire you to handle, but get a steady stream of repeat business (and referrals) for years to come.

And all that backend profit is net profit, since you already paid the advertising costs to bring in the client.

Many attorneys lose money on every one of their ads, but make a fortune on the backend.

So, that’s the big picture. Advertising could be the best thing you ever do for your practice, but if you’re not careful, it could leave a big red stain on your books.

Fortunately, you can minimize your risks and simultaneously maximize your profits.

You minimize risk by learning all you can about advertising and not blindly turning everything over to someone else.

You minimize risk by starting small and testing. See what works on a small scale before rolling out on a bigger scale. You don’t invest $5000 on an ad until you see that the $750 version is doing okay.

I started out with classified ads. Then 1/4 page. Then 1/3 page. Then 1/2 page. And eventually, full page.

Start small and if you see a profit, continue running the ads and, eventually, expand into more ads, bigger ads, more publications or sites, and more keywords.

If profits decline, you fix things, or scale back.

You minimize risk and increase profits by continually testing other ad copy, headlines, keywords, and offers.

You can also minimize risk by targeting smaller markets and niches where there is less competition and the cost to advertise is lower. These can be as profitable as bigger markets, and are often more profitable.

Another way to minimize risk is through multi-step marketing. Instead of expecting to make the sale on your frontend ads, you capture leads and stay in touch with prospects, some of whom will “buy” weeks, months, or years down the road.

And you minimize risk by avoiding the same kinds of ads other attorneys run and making yours different or better.

Risk is part of advertising. But so is opening an office, hiring help, going to court, and everything else you do to build a law practice. That’s business.

But in business, success doesn’t require the elimination of all risk (even if that was possible). It requires intelligently managing your risks.

Same as everything in life.

How to get more repeat business and referrals


This isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you


I came across this line in an email. I wrote it down to share with you because it’s a great way to sell legal services (or anything else).

  • It gets attention and makes the reader curious about what “it” is
  • It adds credulity by “admitting” it isn’t for everyone (and not trying to persuade everyone)
  • It suggests exclusivity, which creates desire; people want things that are for a select group, especially if they are told they might not qualify to be in that group
  • It imbues the writer or advertiser with strength and confidence, which are attractive traits (especially in a lawyer)
  • It almost forces the reader to continue reading, to find out more

Of course “it” isn’t for everyone; few things are. But including a line like this in your headline or the body of your message might make your reader “hope” that it is for them, making it more likely they will look for a reason it is.

Look for a way to include a message like this in your marketing. It isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you.


Can attorneys outsource all of their marketing?


Can you outsource all of your marketing? Yes, you can.

But that doesn’t mean you should.

Because there will always be things you can do others can’t do for you, or do as well.

They can’t build relationships with your clients and business contacts like you can. They can’t network for you. They can’t serve as your proxy in interviews or presentations and get the same results you can.

And they will never be able to get the quantity and quality of referrals you can.

When it comes to traditional “warm market” marketing, they can’t do what you can do.

They can advise you. Help you create marketing collateral. Give you ideas and strategies you can use. Hear them out. Read their books. Sign up for their courses. Consult with them on strategy and execution.

Just don’t turn it all over to them to do for you.


It’s a different story with “cold market” marketing.

There are firms that have expertise and resources you (probably) don’t have. Go ahead, hire them to do your advertising, build your websites, and develop and implement other “outside” marketing campaigns.

But don’t turn everything over to them, either.

You need to stay involved, make the big decisions, and approve everything before you write the checks.

Which means you need to educate yourself, so you know the questions to ask, the metrics you need to hit, and how everything is supposed to work.

(And to make sure they’re not screwing up or taking advantage of you.)

Outsourcing some of your marketing might be a great investment. Just make sure you (and your accountants) stay on top of everything.


What can you do to differentiate yourself?


In the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, southern California auto dealer Cal Worthington featured an assortment of chimpanzees, elephants and other circus animals in his TV commercials. Worthington rode a bull and a pig (and referred to them as “my dog spot”), offered free ice cream and train rides for the kids, and promised to “eat a bug” if you could find a better deal on one of his cars.

Other dealers competed on price or service or selection. Worthington offered this, too. But it was his over-the-top commercials, which ran night and day, that helped him become one of the biggest dealers in the country.

Surely I’m not suggesting you do something like this to promote your law firm. Of course not (and don’t call me Shirley). I’m suggesting that if you want to differentiate yourself from the legions of other lawyers who do what you do, you need to do something to stand out.

It doesn’t have to be outrageous. Just different from what most lawyers in your niche or market say or do.

Fortunately, since most lawyers do and say the same things, are rarely do anything that might raise an eyebrow, this shouldn’t be terribly difficult.

In days past, where lawyers advertised solely in the yellow pages, some lawyers stood out by running ads in newspapers. When everyone ran one-shot ads, e.g., “Here we are, call us,” some lawyers stood out by running lead-generation ads and direct mail campaigns to build a list.

What does everyone in your field do today that you could do differently?

Commercials that are in black and white? Or commercials where someone interviews you. Maybe “editorial style” print ads that look like news stories, like I used to run.

Think. Or hire a creative team. It could be well worth it.

Note that while advertising is likely to bring you the biggest and quickest results, you don’t have to advertise to stand out.

Post something on your website, offer something in your articles or blog, do something in your presentations, and word of mouth will do the rest.

Not-so-crazy example: where other lawyers invite prospective clients to call to make an appointment or ask questions, you might say you are currently accepting new clients “by referral only.”

Different. And suggests that you are in high-demand and don’t accept everyone.

Most lawyers sing from the same hymn book and it’s hard to tell one from the other. Give some thought to what you could do to get noticed.

Marketing ideas to get you started


The Bandwagon Effect


Psychologists tell us most people tend to think or act a certain way when they believe others are doing the same. They don’t want to make a mistake or miss out so they usually follow the crowd.

The “Bandwagon Effect” is a cognitive bias that causes people to buy a certain product or act a certain way because it is the more popular option.

Prospective clients often choose the attorney who appears busier for the same reason.

You can use this innate cognitive bias in your conversations and presentations with prospective clients.

When you present two or more options to a prospective client, e.g., Package A (your “starter” service) and Package B (your bigger service), for example, before you ask what they’d like to do or which option they prefer, tell them which option is more popular: “Most of my clients prefer Package B” (if that’s true) and tell them why.

You can do something similar in your articles and blog posts, and in your sales materials.

“Most of the people I talk to about [issue] tell me they don’t want to wait, they want to take care of this immediately because. . .”

Most people want to follow the ostensibly safer and better path chosen by others, so make sure you tell people what most people usually do.

Ready to make this year your best year ever? This will help


Advertising for lawyers who don’t advertise


My insurance company sent me a couple of face masks. The masks have a message on them, about staying safe, and the name of the company.

Just the latest in a long line of “advertising specialties” businesses and professionals send to their clients and customers. Things like pens, scratch pads, key chains, calendars, coffee mugs, and the like, containing the name and phone number or website of the business or professional.

Every lawyer should consider something like this, even the ones who don’t advertise, because the real purpose of that pen or calendar or key chain isn’t primarily to advertise your services to new prospects but to keep your name in front of the people you send them to–clients, prospects, and business contacts.

Each time they use that pen or notepad, they see your name. If and when they need legal help, or talk to someone who does, they are more likely to contact you or give your name to their friend.

Search “ad specs,” as they referred to in the trade, and you’ll see a long list of things you can send or hand out to people, everything from drink coasters to desk caddies to refrigerator magnets, and now face masks.

Along with your name and website, you can print a list of your practice areas, and any advertising jargon you deem appropriate.

If you have a slogan printed on it, here’s a tip: Don’t use ‘Lawyers do it Their Briefs’ or “My Lawyer is Better than Your Lawyer.”

Wait, that last one might actually be okay. Maybe I’ll have that printed on a baseball cap.