Marketing fundamentals for attorneys

Share

There are lots of ways to market legal services but (news flash) you don’t have to do all of them. A few basics are all you need to build a successful practice and if I were you, that’s what I would focus on.

You can do more, but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to? 

Okay, what are the fundamentals I’m talking about? 

  1. Repeat business. Serve your clients well, make sure they know about all the services and benefits you offer, and stay in touch with them before, during, and after their current case or matter. 
  2. Referrals. Teach your clients and professional contacts how they benefit when they refer others to you and the easiest and best way(s) to do that. You can ask for referrals, but it’s usually easier (for you) to mention that a case or client you’re talking about (in your newsletter, for example) was referred to you and how much you appreciate your client or colleague for doing that. 
  3. Third party validation. Make sure your clients, prospects, and professional contacts see the benefits other clients got by hiring you. Gather reviews, testimonials, endorsements, and success stories, and feature them in all of your marketing content.  
  4. Build relationships. All of your clients and professional contacts should hear from you regularly, via your newsletter, holiday message, or personal email. Spend personal time (in person or on the phone) with your best clients, referral sources, and closest professional contacts. 
  5. Lead generation, not branding. If you do any advertising, direct mail, networking, writing, speaking, blogging, or any other marketing to the “cold market,” i.e., people you don’t know), don’t make it “one shot”—capture their email, stay in touch with them, tell them more about what you do and how you can help them (and people they know), and never stop doing that. 

The key to building a successful practice is maximizing the lifetime value of your clients, and these fundamentals are how you do that. 

The Attorney Marketing Formula

Share

Beyond FAQs

Share

The FAQs page on your website gets a lot of views because prospective clients want information about the law and about your services. They use your answers to those questions, and how you answer them, to decide to continue reading and take the next step towards hiring you. 

Bottom line, FAQs (and your well-thought out answers) are good for business. 

Some say you shouldn’t tell them too much because the more you tell them, the more questions you answer, the less likely they are to contact you (or hire you) because you’ve already given them the answers they seek.

And the more likely it is they’ll find something they don’t like and cross you off their list. 

And never tell them how to “do it themself”. Answer some things they say, not everything, or they won’t need you.

I say it’s just the opposite. The more you tell them, the more you sell them.

The more value you give them, the more likely they are to see the value of working with you. “If she gives away this much free information, she must have much more information (and help) available for paying clients.”

You sell legal services; you’re not in the information selling business. So give them lots of information. As you educate them, you show them the scope and depth of your knowledge and experience, and upir generosity in giving away all that information. They’ll still need to (and want to) talk to you (and hire you) for advice and help with their specific situation. 

One way to do this is to add “SAQs” to your FAQs. Questions they should ask but usually don’t.

Not only will they get more information they need to know, you’ll prompt them to identify other issues and questions they didn’t know they need to ask. And thus, identify more reasons they need to hire you.

As Steve Jobs said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Clients don’t know what to ask until you until you tell them. So tell them. 

Do that and you won’t need to tell them why you’re better. They’ll know.

Share

Reverse marketing

Share

When I opened my practice, I looked at my skill set and experience, choose services to offer, and went looking for clients who needed those services. 

That’s how most lawyers (and businesses) do it. It’s also why they struggle. 

It’s much easier and more effective to do things in reverse. 

What I should have done (and eventually did) is to first choose the clients and market I wanted to serve, and only then choose services to offer them. It’s more efficient that way and much more likely to be successful. 

For one thing, you don’t have to hold yourself out to “everyone” and let “everyone” decide if what you do is right for them. Knowing what types of clients and markets you want to work with, you can (and should) tailor your marketing to the specific needs and wants of those clients and markets. 

Do you want to work with small businesses and professionals, big businesses, or consumers? Which industry, market, or niche? 

Do you want to work with clients who want premium service and will pay more to get it, or clients who want low cost, no frills services?

Do you want to work with clients who have lots of legal needs or clients with fewer but bigger matters? 

Figure this out first and then figure out what to offer them and how to package and promote it. 

You’ll have a lot less marketing overhead, a lot less competition, and a much higher “closing” ratio. You’ll also attract more word-of-mouth and referrals and build a much more lucrative practice. 

Use your existing “best” clients and markets and create a profile. Based on that, create content for your website, blog, or social channels, and marketing documents and offers, with examples, stories, and industry-specific language that will resonate with the people in that market.  

You’ll attract clients that are a good fit for you, and “weed out” clients who aren’t.  

You’ll also attract more referral sources and opportunities (speaking, networking, writing, joint ventures) who see you as a good fit for them and/or their clients. 

Market in reverse. Life will be good.

How to choose your ideal client and target market

Share

The 80/20 of attorney marketing

Share

How’s your marketing? Let me guess—some things you do work better than others, some don’t work at all, some strategies you enjoy, some you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. 

The Pareto Principle, aka The 80/20 Rule, can help. 

The idea is to examine all of your options, do more of what works, and eliminate or do less of everything else. 

The Pareto Principle says that in any endeavor, “a minority of inputs or actions tens to yield the majority of outputs or results” and that minority is often around 20%. If you use 10 marketing strategies in your practice, you’re likely to find that just 2 of those strategies bring you most of your new clients, repeat business, leads, referrals, etc.

And if it’s not 20%, it’s probably close to it. 

It’s not just the strategies you use, however. For referrals, you might find that 20% of your referral sources, whether clients or professional contacts, provide you with 80% of your total referrals. Knowing that allows you to give those referral sources more attention and increase your referrals.

If you use paid advertising, you might find that 80% of your leads or inquires come from just 20% of your keywords or publications. You can significantly improve your results by spending more dollars on your best performing publications or keywords and less on the rest. 

The actual numbers aren’t critical. What’s important is that you examine your activities and your results, focus your time and dollars on the “precious few” activities that deliver the majority of your results, and ignore or do less of the “trivial many” that don’t. 

So, you have to look at your numbers. But don’t be ruled by them. 

If you’re good at something, speaking or writing for example, and you enjoy doing those things, do more of them, even if they don’t (yet) deliver big results. 

Why? Because the most important and valuable part of marketing isn’t the specifics of what you do, or how you do them, it’s that you do something

Anything that qualifies as marketing is good. Especially in a profession where resistance to marketing is so pronounced. 

Doing any marketing is the “20% that delivers 80% of your results”.

Because it will lead to new ideas, relationships, and opportunities that would otherwise never materialize.

Do something you enjoy. Eventually, the numbers will come. 

Share

The quickest way to generate additional income for your practice

Share

The quickest way to increase your revenue is to sell new services to your existing clients. It’s easier and faster and more profitable than finding new clients for your existing services. 

Your existing clients know and trust you. They hired you once and will hire you again. And you can communicate with (sell to) them at no cost. 

Start getting excited. 

Hold on. What if you don’t have another service to offer? 

Could you re-configure your existing services to create a “premium” version? Something worth more that can justify a higher fee? 

(Start working on that.)

How about optional add-ons or extra services to add to your current services? Perhaps an annual consultation package advising clients about taxes or investments, for example. You might team up with other professionals who specialize in those areas. 

Could you develop a smaller version of your standard services, without all the trimmings, to appeal to clients who don’t need (or can’t afford) your standard package? How about branching out to different niche markets with specialized services for those markets, or by appealing to different languages and cultural features?

Could you develop a consumer “division” of your business firm? Could you start a small business division for consumer clients who are interested in starting or buying a business?  

And, if you don’t want to develop a new service, or change any of your existing offers, there are always referrals—to and from other lawyers and businesses who may be able to reciprocate.  

Your clients have lives and interests beyond the services they hire you to perform. Find out what else they need or want and figure out a way to help them get it. 

Share

Go deep with fewer people

Share

You don’t have to go to networking events, do seminars, write a newsletter or blog, advertise, or “chat” on social media. It can be beneficial if you do, but you don’t have to. As long as you regularly connect with the key people you know or want to know—your best clients, top referral sources, most promising business contacts.  

The plan is simple. Make a list of 5-25 connections who fit that description and call or email them once a month. 

What do you say? Anything. Because anything you say can make a difference. But here are some suggestions: 

  • “What’s new with you?” What’s new in their business, what are they working on, what’s the latest in their personal life? 
  • Congratulate them on something they’ve done (personal or business). 
  • Comment about news you read about their company, industry or market. 
  • How can I help? (Referrals, introductions, advice, information).
  • Compliment their new venture, campaign, website, product, or service.
  • Invite them to coffee or lunch; invite them to play golf. 
  • Invite them to accompany you to your next networking event.
  • Volunteer for their committee.
  • Offer to do a private seminar for their business.
  • Contribute to their favorite charity or promote their favorite cause.
  • Interview them (or let them interview you).
  • Send articles, videos, books that may interest them.
  • Ask, “What are you reading?” Get the book, share your thoughts.
  • Introduce them to your other business contacts.
  • Help their kids (get into college, support their team, buy their Girl Scout cookies). 

If you can’t think of anything else, just call and say hello.

Keep in touch with your most valuable business contacts. Help them, build relationships with them, be a friend. Inevitably, they will help you. 

The Attorney Marketing Formula

Share

How to get more prospects and clients to say ‘yes’

Share

You’re in the risk mitigation business. You help your clients avoid or prevent risk and lessen the consequences when something goes wrong. The safer a client or prospect feels about the advice you provide them, the more likely they are to follow that advice. 

The same is true for hiring you. 

How can you reduce your clients’ (especially new clients’) perceived risks and, therefore, make it more likely that they will hire you?

Submitted for your approval: 

  • Free content. Articles, blog posts, presentations, books, reports, webinars, podcasts. Show them what you know, how you think, and how you can help them. 
  • Free consultation. Give them an hour with you to hear what you think about their problem, recommend solutions, and get a sense of what it will be like having you represent them.  
  • Money-back guarantee. They are satisfied with your work or pay nothing. Limit this to one week or one month, or one case or engagement. Enough for them to see what you can do and decide if they like the cut of your jib. 
  • Special offers. Discounts or free services for new clients, or for specific services, situations. 
  • Testimonials and reviews. Lesson their risk by proving you can do what you promise, as you have done for others. 
  • Likability. All things being equal, clients prefer hiring lawyers they know, like, and trust. Help them get to know and like you and they’ll be more likely to take a chance on you (and then you can earn their trust). 

These may not be appropriate for every practice or service, but consider them. You don’t have to advertise or promote your offer to everyone, offer it ad hoc, and see what happens. 

If something works, it could provide you with an incredible advantage over your competition, and bring in a lot of clients who otherwise might have said, “I need to think about it”. 

More. . .

Share

Winning

Share

Okay, maybe you’re not the best lawyer in town. Other lawyers have better skills, more experience, a better track record, deeper pockets, more charisma, and better connections. They look better, smell better, and have a boatload of energy. 

How can you possibly beat them?

By working harder than they do? Maybe. But that gets old. 

You beat them not by outworking them, but by out-marketing them. 

That doesn’t mean your marketing has to be amazing. Just better. You do a few things well and do them more consistently and enthusiastically.

It means knowing your market—what they want and need—and committing to helping them get it. 

It means providing great “customer” service to all of your clients, and building strong relationships with your key clients and referral sources. 

It means making marketing your top priority. Something most attorneys are unwilling to do. 

They go through the motions. Or believe they only have to do good legal work and the growth of their practice will take care of itself. 

You know, the ones who say, “I didn’t go to law school to become a salesperson…”. Who don’t understand that the legal work is only one part of building a successful practice. Or think marketing of any kind is unprofessional and beneath them.

You can beat them. 

Because you understand that a law practice is a business, first, and job one is bringing in a steady stream of clients and keeping them happy. 

When you do that, you might not be the best lawyer in town, but you might be the wealthiest. 

Share

Shrek would have made a good lawyer

Share

On the outside, Shrek was tough and scary. A monster who could slay dragons and vanquish villains. On the inside, he was gentle and kind. 

Your clients want you to be Shrek on the outside, fighting their enemies, protecting them, and being tough. On the inside, where they deal with you, they want you to be warm and caring and easy to talk to. 

How do you attract clients by showing them your strength without scaring them off with bluster?

By being open and friendly and warm in your writing and speaking, in your blog and newsletter, on social media, in the “About” page on your website, and in all of your marketing. 

That means not writing like a lawyer. It means being informal and open, speaking directly to your readers and listeners, and not putting distance between you by writing the 3rd person. 

It means being “normal” and friendly on social media. Some lawyers sound anything but. They come off as “too cool” to talk to people, sounding distant, or worse, sarcastic or confrontational. 

 It’s not complicated. If you want people to approach you, you need to appear approachable. 

That means making people feel comfortable about talking with you and working with you. 

You can do that. You can be warm and friendly and still be professional. 

You can show people you’re tough and also easy to talk to. 

Shrek did it and so can you. 

Share

Why social media marketing doesn’t work

Share

Many attorneys do extremely well with social media marketing. It doesn’t work for me, however, because I don’t like and don’t do it. 

I could learn. Force myself. But life is too short to do things we don’t enjoy, and if you don’t enjoy something, you won’t get good results. 

Couldn’t you hire people to help you or do it for you? Sure, that’s an option. But since there are other things you can do, why not do something you like? 

For me, that’s email. My newsletter has an insanely good ROI. It’s low overhead, doesn’t take a lot of time, and I enjoy writing it. 

It works for me, but if you don’t want to write a newsletter, it might not work for you. If you want the benefits it offers, however, before you write it off, make sure you’re doing it correctly. 

  • Make sure you’re sending it to the right people. People who need or want what you offer, and who have told you to send it to them (opted-in). 
  • Make sure you use a subject line that promises a benefit or makes subscribers curious, so they open and read your email.  
  • Make sure your email is interesting, well-written, and easy to read. 
  • Make sure you tell your readers to call or write, to make an appointment or ask questions, and tell them why. Tell them the benefits of hiring you or taking the next step. 
  • And make sure you email often. Once a month is probably not often enough. 

Some lawyers say “email doesn’t work”. They really mean it doesn’t work for them. But it can, if they use it currently.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

Share