Paying clients for positive reviews

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How much is a good review worth to you? A client who says you helped them, made them feel safe, gave them tremendous value and solved their problems, someone who ssays they recommend you to everyone who needs help?

You’ve gotten great reviews before, so you know how good it feels when they show up. You also know they are worth a small fortune.

They bring you more cases from people searching for a lawyer online. More referrals from professionals who check you out before they refer their clients to you. And they make your other clients feel good about their decision to hire you because they can see that others say you’re the best.

Who wouldn’t love to get more positive reviews? You can’t buy that kind of marketing.

Ah, but you can. You already do.

No, not with cash. Don’t be silly. You pay for positive reviews by giving your clients an incredibly positive experience with you.

You don’t just do the work and deliver the results. You do more. You invest your precious time to serve them, go out of your way to take care of them, surprise and delight them, and build a relationship with them.

When they notice and thank you and say they appreciate what you do for them, there’s only one thing left to do.

Give them the link to the review site you favor and thank them, in advance, for sharing their experience and recommendation.

Okay, one more thing. After they post a review, thank them again.

In writing.

Send them a handwritten note and tell them how much it means to you that they took the time to write that review and say those nice things about you.

You’re not done paying until you do.

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Your practice-building prime directive

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We usually do it when we’re speaking to a prospective client or interviewing a new one. We rarely do it at any other time.

But we should. Because it’s the simplest and most effective way to develop new business and build stronger relationships, which are the essence of building a successful law practice.

Which leads to the prime directive:

Find out what people want, so you can help them get it.

I’m not just talking about their legal needs. I’m talking about everything they might want or need in other areas of their life, because there’s a lot you can do to help people beyond performing your services.

The most obvious is to refer them to other attorneys who handle things you don’t. But you can also:

  • Refer clients or customers to them or promote their business, practice, or cause
  • Provide information—legal, business, consumer, and about their niche or local market
  • Introduce them to people who have information or can help them understand something or do something
  • Recommend tools, books, websites, or ideas
  • Encourage them and give them a shoulder to cry on when things go wrong

Be there for them, for whatever they might need.

If you have a client who needs a recommendation for a job or a loan, help them. If you have a client who is interviewing job candidates, tell them about the book you just read that made this easier for you.

But don’t just wait until they ask for your help. Take the lead and find out.

You do that by observing, listening, and asking questions. What are their goals? What (or who) is stopping them? What do they want to get fixed, avoid, or do better?

You may not be able to help them directly, but you might know someone who can, or. . . know someone who knows someone who can.

Be a matchmaker. When you do that, you help 2 people and get credit for making the match.

You won’t always be able to help people, but you will always get points for trying. When folks hear you ask questions about their situation and what they want or need, when they see you pay attention to what they say, ask follow-up questions, and take notes, they’ll know you really want to help them.

Most lawyers don’t do that. You’ll be “the one” when you do.

Yes, you have time to do it. Because this is the stuff of relationship building and the benefits always exceed the cost.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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The simplest path to loyal clients

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How much is a loyal client worth to you? I’m talking about the client who hires you for all their legal work, regularly sends you referrals, shares your content, promotes your events, provides a positive review, and otherwise toots your horn so you don’t have to.

Yeah, they’re worth a fortune.

It makes sense to do everything you can to cement your relationship with all of your clients, because you don’t know who might become your next champion.

Yes?

This week, we talked about doing things that make clients fall in love with you, and avoiding things that push them away. You also know, because I talk about it often, that there are other things you can do for your clients to win their hearts, things that go beyond your legal services.

Like sending them referrals and promoting their business or practice, providing a character reference when they apply for a job, and offering a shoulder to cry on when they suffer a loss.

Because when you give your clients more than they expect (and deserve) you surprise and delight them and show them why you deserve their loyalty.

But there’s something else you can do that’s even easier. Yes, you’ve heard me talk about this before, too. I think the word is “incessantly.”

Stay in touch with them. Because familiarity builds trust and trust is the key component to loyalty.

Keep your name “in their minds and their mailboxes” so they are continually reminded that you’re still doing what you do and can still help them and the people they know.

Send them an article you think they’ll like; it doesn’t have to be written by you.

Send them a pdf of a form or checklist they might find helpful.

Send them answers to questions you are frequently asked by clients and prospects, or people who attend your events.

Recommend a video, website, or app you think they might use.

Send them anything they might find interesting or helpful (or amusing). It almost doesn’t matter what it is, but send them something regularly, so that when they need help or have a question, they think of you and call you (or hit reply), and there you are.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Do your clients love you this much?

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Years ago, I was sitting with a client, looking at her auto insurance policy, and I noticed a few things I thought she should change to improve her coverage and reduce the cost. As I recall, she and her family were paying nearly $4000 per year, which is a lot today but was crazy expensive then.

I also told her she should shop around and get some quotes from other companies because she was paying top dollar with her company. I had just written a book on the subject and told her that by shopping around, she might get the same coverage and cut her premiums by one-third or even more.

She thanked me for my advice, but said she wasn’t going to change anything. She and her husband had been with their agent for several years and trusted him completely. He took good care of them when they had a claim and she would never think of leaving him, even if she could save $1000 or more per year.

Clearly, they loved this guy. What was his secret? And what can you do to inspire this kind of undying loyalty with your clients?

In my view, it had nothing to do with the “work” he did for them and everything to do with him.

He made his clients feel appreciated and well taken care of.

And yes, that’s enough.

Your clients might be pleased with the work you do for them, and think your fees are reasonable, but c’mon, they can get good legal work and reasonable fees from your competition.

But there’s only one you.

Build relationships with your clients and you’ll never want for clients.

Pay attention to the little things you do for them—the way you greet them, the way you remember their birthday, their dog’s name, and that their daughter does Irish dancing or plays goalie on her soccer team—that’s the stuff people appreciate and remember.

When you make your clients fall in love with you (not your work), they’ll never leave you, even when other lawyers offer to do the same work for less.

Marketing is simple when you know “The Formula”

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They key to effective marketing

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You want to bring in new clients and better clients and have them send you lots of referrals, don’t you?

Okay, no brainer.

You also want this to happen almost effortlessly, without requiring a lot of time or effort.

More empty-skullery

Now, you might think I’m going to give you a complicated formula for achieving this—a long list of things you have to know or do.

But I’m not.

I’m just going to give you one thing you need to do. Because if you embrace it and do it, it will bring you everything you ask.

I’m not exaggerating. It was the key to my success in my practice and my businesses. The “one thing” that made everything else work.

It’s not a strategy, technique, or tool. The key to effective marketing is simply understanding your market.

To know all about the market or niche and the people in it. What they want, what they need, what they talk about and worry about. Because the more you know your market, the more you’ll know what to say to them to get them to see you as the solution to their problem.

Not just one solution, the best solution.

The more you understand them and the world they occupy, the more easily you can relate to them and they to you. And the more likely they will be to say yes, give you all their legal work, and refer their friends and business contacts.

Study your market and the people in it. Learn about their fears and insecurities, their pain, their desires, their fears and their doubts.

Yes, it is that simple.

Of course, in order to know your market, you have to have a market. This will help you choose the right market for you.

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If your accountant managed your law firm

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Remember the last time you called a company about your order, your payment, or your account and what it took to get to the right department? Remember the joy of wading through a phalanx of options and when you didn’t find what you wanted, choosing any option, hitting “0” or shouting out “customer service” so you could talk to a human being?

God forbid you made a mistake and had to start over. 

Who decided this is the right way to treat customers? 

An accountant. Or committee thereof.

Bean counters counted the beans and realized that it was a lot cheaper to use automation than to hire humans to talk to people. No doubt that’s true. But what they didn’t “account” for is how frustrated customers might be battling the automated devil.

Or how much business they would lose when frustrated customers gave up and bought their wares somewhere else. 

They also didn’t think about the other side of the equation. They didn’t consider how much goodwill and loyalty they could engender, and how much additional profit they might derive, by eating the expense of providing some old-fashioned hospitality on the phone. 

I’m not saying automation is bad. Just that management should consider not just the savings, but the cost. 

How much is it worth to ensure that a customer returns to your store? How many new customers might find you when existing customers share their positive experience with you via reviews, social media, and word of mouth?

I’m not just talking about the phone. There are many areas of customer service where a company should consider spending more to make more. 

That goes for law firm, too.

I encourage you to consider spending more to make clients feel welcome and appreciated and giving them an exceptional experience with your firm. Look for “pain points” and areas of friction your clients and prospective clients might experience and put some money on the line to fix them. 

But don’t just fix them. Turn those pain points into your areas of strength.

It might give you a competitive advantage over other firms that listen too much to their bean counters and don’t listen enough to the people who pay them.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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How well do you know your clients?

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Some lawyers do their best to get to know their clients on a personal level, not just during the pendency of the case or matter, but thereafter.

Some lawyers don’t.

The first group may be described as adopting a “relational” approach to building their practice. The latter group, those who do the work and move onto the next client, are said to take a “transactional” approach.

The advantage of a relational approach is that it tends to lead to long-term relationships, which are more likely to result in repeat business and referrals. The lawyer also may get to know the client’s personal and/or business contacts, leading to additional clients and opportunities.

The disadvantages are that it takes time to build relationships, as well as interpersonal skills and being comfortable with a higher degree of transparency.

The transactional approach avoids those disadvantages, but tends to miss out on some of the advantages.

Bottom line, the transactional approach looks at the short-term—the size of the case or the number of billable hours, while the relational approach focuses on the long-term and the lifetime value of the client.

Is one approach better for you than the other? Or should you consider a hybrid approach, as many lawyers do? Many lawyers adopt a transactional approach with most clients and build relationships with their best ones.

Because there are only so many hours in a day.

I recommend a slightly different approach.

I recommend building relationships with all of your clients, just not all in the same way.

Because there are only so many hours in a day, I recommend staying in touch with all of your clients via email, and investing personal time with your best clients.

You absolutely can build relationships with your clients (and others) via email.

You can and you should.

To learn how, get my course on email marketing for attorneys

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Make this your next project

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Before you do anything to bring in new clients, your next marketing project should be to win back former clients and engage or re-engage prospective clients with whom you’ve lost touch.

Former clients know, like, and trust you. Prospective clients may not trust you yet, but they know who you are and have given you permission to contact them.

Send them one or more emails. Reintroduce yourself and your services to people who can hire you or refer you, immediately or down the road.

It’s one of the most effective marketing strategies you can use.

What do you say to them?

Some clients left because they were unhappy about something. They should probably be called and you should be prepared to apologize and make amends. A surprising number will come back and forget all about their differences.

Most clients don’t have an issue, they simply drifted away. So, hearing from you again, even if you don’t say anything special, may be enough to get them re-engaged.

And, you can write about almost anything. Here are some ideas to grease your wheels:

  • Just checking in/How are you?/Thinking about you (It’s amazing how well this works)
  • It’s time. . . (to update something)
  • Have you moved? (Verify their contact info)
  • Check out this (article, video, post)
  • Happy birthday (or holiday)
  • It’s our anniversary (of working with you)
  • I’d like your opinion about (something)
  • I have a question for you
  • A client success story
  • A client who didn’t (do something and got hurt) story
  • A gift to you (free ebook, training, form, checklist)
  • Let’s connect (your social media channels)
  • I’m sorry (for not staying in touch)
  • News (about you, your services, a legal issue) that can affect them
  • An invitation to an event
  • Yeah, just about anything

A few guidelines:

  • Write from “you,” not “the firm”
  • Be yourself; speak plainly
  • Build on what they already know and value
  • Consider including a special offer
  • Tell them what to do (call to action)
  • Invite them to join or re-join your newsletter (so you can continue to stay in touch)

You invested time and money to bring in these clients and connect with these prospects. What might happen when you connect with them again?

You might find one or two former clients who hire you again or send you a referral.

You might find a handful of prospective clients who decide they’re ready to get started.

And you might find yourself smiling all the way to the bank because you’re bringing in an additional ten or twenty or fifty thousand per month that would have otherwise passed you by.

Why not write a few emails and find out?

Email marketing for attorneys

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A simple way to get more people to trust you

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It’s only logical. If people don’t trust you, they won’t hire you or return to you or refer you.

Or follow your advice.

We show them positive reviews, testimonials, awards, endorsements, and our other bona fides, and share stories about the clients we’ve helped. We write articles and give speeches, filled with proof that we know our stuff.

And it’s all good. But sometimes, it’s not enough.

Because other lawyers say a lot of the same things and because we all seem to tell people nothing but the good stuff. We make ourselves look almost perfect.

And people know we’re not.

If you want more people to trust you, the best thing you can do is admit it.

Tell people you’re not perfect. And then, prove it.

Tell them about one of your flaws, weaknesses, or mistakes.

Careful, though. Not all mistakes are created equal.

Tell them about the time you showed up late to a hearing and got yelled at by the Court. Don’t tell them about the case you lost because you sued the wrong party.

Let them see you do things you know you shouldn’t do. You don’t get enough exercise; you spend too much at the Apple store; you tell your grandkids stupid jokes.

You know, the stuff humans do.

People know you’re not perfect. When you admit it and show them a flaw or two, they’re more likely to trust you.

Probably also like you. Even if they don’t laugh at your stupid jokes.

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You only need a few

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Clients come and go. They pay us for our services and we may never hear from them again, even if they’re thrilled with our work.

They may return, they may refer, but as a whole, they are an unreliable asset. Treat them well, be there when they need you, stay in touch with them, but don’t count on them to do anything more than pay your bill.

Unless they show themselves to be among the precious few clients (and professional contacts) who can truly be described as a fan.

A fan is someone who promotes you, your services, your content, and your events. Someone who is not only willing to send you business but goes out of their way to do that, because they like you and appreciate you and want to help you.

They join your list and read everything you write. They share your content and send traffic to your blog. They praise you publicly, through reviews and testimonials, and privately, by telling people all about you.

When you recognize a fan, pay attention. Remember their name, take their calls, find out all about them and their business, and go out of your way to help them, and not just with legal services. Find out what they want or need in their business or personal life and help them get it.

Give your fans more attention than regular clients and contacts. Invite them into your inner circle and stay close to them.

Because they are your future. They can help your practice not just grow but multiply.

Fans will attract more fans, lead you to opportunities and opportunities to you. They are also a reminder that what you do is important.

Clients come and go. Fans are rare. But you only need a few.

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