Pay-per-ouch!

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I read an article about the options available to lawyers for marketing their services. One of the options was pay-per-click ads.

But, it’s expensive, the article says. To wit: “The search term “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer” can cost as much as $140 per click.”

Not for a lead. Just for the click.

If ten people click on your ad, you’re in the hole for over $1,000 before you talk to anyone to find out if they have a case and can show them your dog and your pony.

That’s crazy, right?

Not necessarily.

There’s a reason PPC ads for PI lawyers in Los Angeles are expensive. They’re expensive because there are a lot of lawyers competing for those clicks, and they do that despite the high cost per click because they’re still able to make a profit.

If they weren’t, they wouldn’t bid so much for those clicks and the price would come down. Supply and demand.

The seemingly high price is proof that “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer” is a profitable keyword. At least for some lawyers.

If you’re a PI lawyer in LA, it is precisely the kind of keyword you should consider.

If you have the money. And you’ve got your act together and can convert enough of those clicks into clients, and those clients back into dollars.

Lawyer #1 thinks:

“If I spend $10,000 for 100 clicks and sign up just one case that earns me a $20,000 fee, I double my investment. Plus, I might get an a smaller case or two out of those clicks. Plus, I can build my list and generate some referrals. Sure, I might not bring in any business the first few months doing this, but eventually, I could bring in one or two massive cases.”

Lawyer #2 thinks:

“Yeah, but I might not get any cases. Or the cases I get might not be any good. I could lose my shirt.”

Both lawyers are right, of course.

There are other options. Other keywords to bid on, other forms of advertising, and other forms of marketing.

Be thankful you have options. And don’t rule out anything just because it’s expensive. It might be expensive for a reason.

If you’re ready to take a quantum leap in your practice

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Who knows what danger lurks in your legal marketing?

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In the 1960s, Los Angeles based Adee plumbing began running TV ads featuring an actor who asked, “Who knows what danger lurks in your plumbing?” It was a play on the 1930s radio show, The Shadow, that opened with an announcer asking, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

In the TV commercial, the answer was “Adee do”. That ad, and others using the same concept and catch phrase, ran well into the 1980s.

Two things.

First, in your marketing, look for ways to piggyback on ideas and themes that are already in your market’s consciousness. It’s a simple and effective way to help your message be understood and remembered.

DUI defense lawyer Myles L. Berman does this in his long-running commercials that use the tag, “Because ‘Friends don’t let friends plead guilty(TM),” playing off the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) slogan, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk”.

There’s an added bonus here because of the obvious tie-in with drinking and driving, but you could use this idea no matter what your practice area.

A family law attorney, for example, could use, “Because friends don’t let friends get married without a prenup.” Okay, maybe not the best, but you get the idea.

Second point: when you have something that’s working–a tag, a commercial, a presentation, or any kind of marketing message, resist the urge to change it.

Yes, even after thirty years.

You may be tired of hearing or seeing the same thing, but that doesn’t mean your market is tired of it. It makes no sense to throw away something that’s been working well for a long time.

Test other messages or ideas, headlines, and offers against it, to see if something else works better, but make sure it does before you change it.

Who knows what danger lurks in your legal marketing? That would be me.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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A simple way to cut your marketing costs

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When you’ve heard advertising spots on the radio or TV and even online, you’ve probably noticed that after a new ad has run for awhile, you start hearing a shorter version of it. The original spot may have been 30 seconds or one minute; the shorter version might be ten seconds.

The shorter version has the same message and offer but leaves out a lot of details. Advertisers will often run the long version for several weeks, followed by the shorter version for a period of time. They might then run the long version again, or run a mix of short and long ads.

Obviously, advertisers do this to save money. But aren’t the shorter ads less effective?

To some extent, yes. People who haven’t heard the longer version won’t hear all the details and thus won’t be persuaded to take the next step. But regular viewers/listeners have heard the longer version, and for them, the shorter version serves as a reminder to do what they “almost” did when they heard the original ads.

The shorter ads also prompt listeners to pay attention to the longer ads the next time they run.

If you don’t advertise (and never plan to), note that this concept can be applied to other kinds of marketing.

All marketing comes at a cost: money, time, or both. If you create content, for example, you either take some of your time to do that or you pay others to do it for you. Creating (or ordering) a mix of long and short content can reduce your costs without a commensurate reduction in effectiveness.

If you invest a total of four hours a month at networking events or engaging on social media, you might be able to get the same results (or close to them) by cutting out an hour or two.

Instead of writing 750 words once a week for your newsletter, you might get just as much engagement and results by writing 750 words (or 500 words) once a month, and 250 words the rest of the time.

This idea can be applied to direct mail (e.g., letters vs. postcards), printing brochures (e.g., full color vs. two-color or black and white), and any other marketing where your target market will hear from you more than once. Take the savings and spend it, or re-invest it in more ads, content, and so on.

Need more traffic? Subscribers? New clients? This will help

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Are you making this expensive advertising mistake?

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The other day I heard a radio commercial for a real estate broker. The show’s host said he’s the only broker he recommends and provided examples of some of the great results the broker has obtained for his clients.

The commercial ended with the host telling the audience to call the broker, provided the phone number, and repeated it.

The broker sounds like a real player, someone you should talk to if you’re thinking of buying or selling. But there was something missing. Something that could help this broker massively increase his income.

It’s a common advertising mistake. Sad because it is so easy to fix.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

There are three categories of people who hear this ad. The first category is the smallest but provides the most immediate revenue: people who like what they hear, pick up the phone and call.

The second category is the largest: people who will never call. They don’t own property, aren’t planning to buy property, have a brother in the business, and so on.

They’re not prospects.

The third category isn’t as big as the first category (those who call) but offers the most long-term profit potential. It consists of all of the people who were interested but didn’t call.

They didn’t have time to call. They’re not yet ready to buy or sell. They want more information. They don’t want to talk to someone who will try to get them to make an appointment.

Lots of good meat left on dem bones.

At some point, many people in the third group will be ready to call. Unfortunately, they won’t remember the broker’s name and will call the next broker who comes along.

The solution is simple.

Tell listeners to call OR visit your website.

At the website, they get tips about buying and selling, information about the market, hear more success stories, learn more about your greatness, and generally sell themselves on making that call.

If they’re still not ready, perhaps they will download your special report or planning guide, giving you their email and allowing you to stay in touch with them until they are ready to call.

Some won’t ever call (for a variety of reasons) but will tell their son or daughter, friend or neighbor, about you, and they will call.

Mr. Broker, by not giving listeners another option besides “call now,” you’re leaving a boatload of money on the digital table. Yes, you can continue running ads and appeal to people who are ready to call, but why not also begin a conversation with the ones who aren’t yet ready?

If there’s enough of them on your list, you may never have to run ads again.

Let your website do most of the marketing for you. Here’s how

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Weeding out the riffraff

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I heard a radio spot the other night by an ad agency describing how they helped a client company increase their sales dramatically, and inviting listeners to consider hiring them for their business. At the end of the spot, the announcer said, “…starting at just $9,000 a week…” and then gave the phone number to call.

My first thought was, “What kind of small business (which are the bulk of the advertisers on that station) have that kind of an ad budget?”

The answer, of course, is small businesses that are making a lot of money. And there are a lot more than people realize.

Plus, if you have a successful ad campaign, as new sales are made, you re-invest the initial week’s $9,000 ad buy over and over again. You can thus do a half-million dollars of annual advertising with a fraction of that much to start.

Anyway, next question: why did the ad agency announce the minimum investment an advertiser would have to spend to hire them? Because if they didn’t, they would talk to a lot of people who think they can get started with $1000 or $1500.

If you get a lot of calls from prospective clients who can’t afford you and don’t hire you, you should consider doing something similar.

In your ads, on your website, in your presentations, or when anyone asks, tell people what it takes to hire you. No, not your fees precisely. The minimum retainer or your smallest “package,” so they know whether or not they are in the ballpark.

There are times when you may want to keep things a little fuzzy, however. Some clients might get sticker shock when they first hear “how much” but have the money and pay it, once they consider the alternatives.

Another way to weed out prospective clients who are too small or otherwise “not right” for you is to spell out who you’re looking for in terms of revenue, number of employees, locations, or other factors that relate to size and ability to pay.

You can also do this with consumer-oriented practices. If you do estate planning or asset protection, you could promote your services to people with assets in excess of a certain amount. If you handle family law, you might promote your services to clients with a child custody dispute.

You can also target wealthier clients by running ads in publications for investors, direct mail to people who own larger homes, or by networking with accountants, financial planners, and insurance brokers who have the clientele you want to attract.

If you want bigger clients, stop promoting your services to “anyone” and start promoting them to bigger clients.

Here’s how to get bigger referrals (and more of them)

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What’s your second favorite method for marketing legal services?

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Let’s face it, referrals are pretty much everyone’s favorite marketing method.

What’s not to love? Clients come to you, pre-sold, so you sign up a high percentage. They tend to be better clients than the unwashed masses who find you online. They are less likely to complain or try to mico-manage you. They tend to stick around longer. And they are themselves more likely to refer.

We love us some referrals, don’t we?

Anyway, other than referrals, what’s number two on your list of favorite marketing methods?

Me? No question about it. Advertising.

Advertising gives you control. You run an ad and if it works you continue to run it. And run it more frequently. And buy bigger ads. And run ads in more publications or on more sites.

If your ads don’t work, you change something–the headline, offer, copy, publication or list–until you find the right combination.

You can start with a small budget. If your ads work, you scale up. If they don’t, you pull out.

You can use ads to test new markets, new services, and new offers.

You can advertise your services directly, or you can advertise your seminar, book, or report, and build a list that produces clients over the long term.

Advertising can bring in clients fast. Run an ad this morning and you can have new clients this afternoon.

Yep, advertising works. I’ve done a lot of it over the years and swear by it. It’s my number two pick, however, because you have to know what you’re doing. (The preponderance of horribly ineffective attorney advertising proves my point.)

So, start with referrals. Make them the foundation of your practice-building strategy. Then, if you have a mind to, use advertising to scale up your practice, but take your time to do it right. Your referral-based practice will give you the time to do that.

If you do it this way, referrals first, you’ll also have more flexibility with your advertising. You can run ads that break-even, for example, because you have a system in place for getting referrals from those new clients.

Make sense? Good. Now go make some dollars.

Marketing legal services via referrals

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You won’t know for sure unless you try it (again)

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You say you don’t like networking but have you given it a fair chance? Maybe you’ve been doing it wrong. Maybe you haven’t met the right people. Maybe you haven’t done it enough to get good at it.

So how can you say it’s “not for you”?

I thought network marketing wasn’t for me until I found something I couldn’t refuse and made a fortune with it. I learned that I could do it without compromising my values or being someone I am not. And, whereas I didn’t stick with it in the past, this time, I gave it the time it was due and it made all the difference.

There are a lot of ways to market legal services and you should try as many of them as you can. If you’ve tried them once and they “didn’t work” or you “didn’t like them,” try again. You may find that things have changed, or that you have changed. What was once off the table may become a valuable practice building tool for you.

Start by learning as much as you can. If advertising has always been distasteful to you, for example, or you haven’t considered it because your bar rules forbid it, keep learning. You may discover a way to do it that “you never thought of”. Here’s an example: instead of advertising your practice, your services, or yourself, advertise your book, report or seminar. Sell it or give it away and let it sell readers on you.

Next, find some practitioners who use these methods and study them. What are they doing? How are they doing it? Can you make some changes that better suit your style and market?

Finally, if you’re still not crazy about a marketing method, consider other ways you can get the benefits of that method without a lot of personal involvement. Delegate to staff or to VAs or hire an outside company to do it for you.

In other words, you don’t have to love something to profit from it.

Don’t be like many attorneys: stubborn, closed-minded, stuck in your ways. The world is changing and if you don’t change it with it, you may be left behind.

Start or restart your marketing with a plan

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You could be in big trouble if you don’t read this

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AIDA is an advertising acronym that speaks to the elements of an effective ad or marketing message. The letters stand for “Attention, Interest, Desire, Action”. “Attention” is first because unless and until you have the reader’s or listener’s attention, there’s no point in presenting anything else.

One of the most effective ways to get the reader’s attention is to say something that speaks to their self-interest. Something they want or something they fear.

If you are a criminal defense attorney, for example, your ad’s headline might use words like, “handcuffs, jail, guilty, or sentencing”. Or about the charge itself, e.g., DUI.

It’s the same for email. You want to get the recipient’s attention and get them to open the email because if they don’t open it, you’re not going to get them interested in what you’re selling.

But email has some other considerations, as illustrated by an email I got this morning from The State Bar of California:

“Dear State Bar Member,

We have received numerous calls and emails alerting us to a fraudulent email being distributed with the following subject line: “The State Bar of California Complaint.”

Please be advised that this email is not from, or authorized by, the State Bar. If you receive one of these fraudulent emails, please do not respond or click on any attachments. Delete it immediately. These emails are NOT from the State Bar of California and may contain links to files that open malicious software.”

The subject line in the referenced email would get many lawyers to open it, wouldn’t it? It speaks to one of our greatest fears. That fear would override our knowledge that Bar complaints, like notices from the IRS, only arrive via regular mail.

So plus one for getting attention.

The spammer probably wasn’t selling anything but was looking to do harm, but suppose they were selling something like information on how to avoid ethics violations or services in the event of being so charged? Putting aside the fact that the email was unsolicited, we’d have to admit that the headline worked because it got us to open it.

The problem is that it was unsolicited email and there are some additional rules.

If instead of an email the same headline was used in a print ad, or in a letter sent by regular mail, we’d read it wouldn’t we? If there was a legitimate offer we probably wouldn’t complain to the state Bar. And we might be more likely to buy something because once the advertiser got our attention, however provocatively they did so, we saw that they offered a product or service we wanted to buy.

Context is crucial in marketing. It’s okay to be provocative and take risks. More than okay, it’s often a great way to get attention. Just make sure you don’t break the rules to do it.

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You stink and nobody should hire you!

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A recent article highlighted an increase in lawyer advertising among personal injury firms in major markets in response to “a slowdown in legal services and increasing competition”. The latest trend among some advertisers are ads where lawyers attack their rivals.

The thrust of these ads is to point out the shortcomings of other firms in an attempt to scare prospective clients away from them and into the loving arms of the advertiser.

A marketing consultant noted the reason for the growth of this type of ad: “The law-firm category here is just so cluttered,” she says. “They’re all saying the same thing.”

But that’s always been true. Whether it’s a big firm advertising on TV or a solo lawyer with a simple website, lawyers have always had messages that “said the same thing”. But is “going negative” a viable option for differentiating yourself?

I don’t know but since most lawyers probably won’t do it, I’d rather talk about something every lawyer can do.

In The Attorney Marketing Formula, I showed you many ways to differentiate yourself from other lawyers. It’s actually not that difficult to stand out from the crowd and show prospective clients why they should choose you instead of any other lawyer. With a little bit of thought, you can show them why you’re different or better, without saying a word about any other lawyer, negative or otherwise.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to make yourself a part of the marketing message.

You are unique. You have a personality, a background, a story that is uniquely you. When you are the face of your firm, you will get noticed. Clients will choose you because they “know” you, even if what you do is essentially the same as other lawyers.

Put your face and your voice in your TV and radio ads. Put your photo and your words in your print ads. Talk about yourself on your website, on your “About” page and throughout your content. Write in the first person. Make yourself a part of the story.

Let prospective clients see you and get to know you, because it is you that they hire.

If you have partners or work for a firm, it’s no different. Market yourself, not your firm. Remember, nobody hands out your business card to a referral and says, “Call my law firm”. They say, “Call my lawyer,” and then talk about you.

Don’t ignore the firm. The firm’s capabilities, reputation, and resources all help. But at the end of the day, it’s you the client will speak to and hire. So show them who you are before you show them what you do.

More ways to differentiate yourself here

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Thinking is hard but it pays well

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If you have multiple practice areas or offer a variety of different services, which one or ones do you promote?

Your best sellers? Your weakest? Your most profitable?

Do you lead with a low priced “entry level” service, seeking to create a new client, and then offer additional services through upsells and on the back end? Or do you lay out all of your wares up front and let the client choose?

If you advertise, which service(s) do you feature? Or do you offer information to build your list and talk about specific services only after they subscribe or inquire?

What do you highlight on your website? When you speak or write, what examples do you use? When someone asks you about your work, what do you say?

If you are a family law attorney, handling divorce and adoptions, but you’re not getting much adoption work, do you double your efforts and promote that or do you continue to advertise and promote divorce? Or do you do both?

Even if you have one practice area and offer one service such as plaintiff’s personal injury, you still need to decide where you will focus. Do you list a variety of different injuries, types of torts, or causes of action, or just one?

These are things you need to think about because they are fundamental to your “brand” and to how you conduct your marketing activities and spend your marketing dollars.

They are, of course, also an argument in favor of specializing. It’s a lot easier to make decisions about where to advertise or network or speak when you offer fewer services to a smaller segment of the market.

But I’m not going to bust your chops about that today. I’m just going to remind you to spend some time pondering these things and making some decisions.

You thought I was going to give you the answers? Sorry. No can do. It’s too complicated. There are too many variables. You have to answer these questions yourself.

All I can do is ask the questions and encourage you to explore your options.

I can also point out that the ultimate way to answer these questions is to test and measure your results.

Run ads for two different practice areas or services and see which one brings in the most inquiries or leads, which one converts to the most dollars on the front end, and which one results in more profits long term.

So you advertise your divorce services and your adoption services and see.

Testing allows you to make a decision based on hard evidence. That’s the “science” of marketing.

Of course marketing is also an art. Don’t ignore your instincts or your heart. If you think your market is ready to learn more about adoption, or you’re passionate about the subject, go for it. Even if the numbers don’t add up.

For help sorting things out, get this

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