Why some firms charge more for the same services 

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A friend sent me an email he got from a company that offers law firm management consulting. He’d spoken to them about what they could do for his practice and wanted to know if I knew anything about them or if I had any advice.

I didn’t know them. My advice? Get more information. A lot more.

Granted, all I looked at was the email. I didn’t see a website or any other marketing materials. But what I did see left me less than impressed.

They have different packages ranging from $1500 per month up to more than $4000 per month, which isn’t expensive if they can help you grow from six-figures to seven-figures, something they allude to.

But can they? And what exactly do they do?

The email was a model of vague generalities. It talked about meetings and coaching, but not much about the subject of those meetings or that coaching. It talked a lot about bookkeeping and accounting. It mentioned the word marketing once.

Why anyone would talk so much about counting beans instead of getting more beans to count is beyond me.

So yeah, not impressed.

But here’s the thing. Some lawyers are paying these guys thousands of dollars a month to do whatever it is they do. So I have to assume that they deliver some value to their clients.

Whether or not they’re good at what they do, one thing they’re doing right is packaging their services in ways that make it difficult to compare what they offer with what other consulting firms offer.

And that’s the point, my little droogies.

When you offer the same services your competition offers, and you charge the same range of fees, you make it easier for clients to compare you to everyone else.

Sometimes they choose you. Sometimes they don’t.

On the other hand, when you offer something your competition doesn’t appear to offer, you give clients a reason to choose you. You can charge more, too.

Don’t offer what other lawyers offer. Package your services in ways that allow you to emphasize results and benefits and not the activities or time needed to deliver those results. Charge monthly fees or flat fees, not hourly.

A little slight of hand? Smoke and mirrors? Maybe. Or maybe just good marketing.

For more good marketing, go here

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You get what you pay for and so do your clients

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I buy a lot of books. I also download a lot of free Kindle books. Many free books are excellent. Most are not. And since you “pay” for books not just with money but with the time it takes to read them, paid books are usually a better value.

There are exceptions. Some great books are free because they are on a promotion. Some paid books are over-priced because you’re paying a premium for the author’s celebrity or the higher costs associated with being published by a major publisher.

But when it comes to books, you generally get what you pay for.

How about when it comes to hiring a lawyer?

Many clients believe that better lawyers charge higher fees because they’re better lawyers. They have more experience, greater skills, and deliver better results. Clients are willing to pay more for that experience and those results, and fear they won’t get them if they hire a lawyer who charges (a lot) less.

Sure, many clients don’t appreciate this distinction and will opt for the lowest fees. But unless you operate a “discount” law firm (and you shouldn’t), you should avoid these kinds of clients.

Some lawyers take advantage of the “perceived value” concept and charge more than they’re worth. But I find that more lawyers charge less than they’re worth, less than the market will bear.

Most lawyers don’t raise their fees, or raise them high enough or often enough, fearing they won’t be able to compete. When most of your competition does the same thing, it drags down everyone’s fees.

Most lawyers charge what other lawyers charge because they’re doing what everyone else does. They offer the same services and do nothing to give clients a reason to choose them instead of their competition.

Show prospective clients that you are better or different and you won’t have any competition. You’ll be able to charge what you’re worth.

It’s called differentiation and it’s the key to marketing your services.

Here’s how to differentiate yourself

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Competition? I don’t have no stinkin’ competition!

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One school of thought about building a successful business or practice is to find a successful business that does what you do (or want to do) and copy them.

Not literally, of course. You couldn’t do that even if you wanted to. Your practice will be as individual as you are, even if you have the same practice areas, target the same markets, and deliver the same caliber of service.

You are unique. So is your practice.

So don’t worry about being a copycat or being accused of stealing ideas. Your implementation of those ideas will differentiate you.

What I’m suggesting is that you don’t need to do something nobody else does. Do what others do but do them differently.

If there is a lot of competition in your market, that’s good. It means others are making money. When your town is littered with personal injury attorneys, your TV and radio airwaves are filled with ads from other PI attorneys, if the cost-per-click of advertising is insanely high, these are signs of a healthy market.

You can get a share of that market.

One way you can compete is to use different marketing channels and techniques. When everyone else is advertising, you focus on referrals. When everyone else proclaims their success in getting big verdicts and settlements, you focus your message on the types of people you’ve helped and problems you’ve solved.

Instead of touting that you handle “injuries,” you can differentiate yourself by emphasizing your experience in representing victims of one type of injury, one type of tort, or one type of client. In other words, niching what you do.

You can also differentiate yourself with your ads or marketing message. Talk about a benefit you deliver that all attorneys in your practice area deliver but don’t talk about. A USP (Unique Selling Proposition), is yours to own if you are the first or the only one claiming it.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Copy what successful lawyers are doing. Just do it a little differently.

More ways to differentiate your practice from the competition, here

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Marketing a law firm like a strip club

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One of the biggest challenges in marketing a law firm is getting prospective clients to see how you are different or better than other lawyers who do what you do.

It takes a lot of thought and wordsmithery to come up with the right benefit statement. I don’t have any shortcuts to offer, but I can give you a place to start.

Imagine that instead of an office you work from a retail store in a big shopping mall. All of the other attorneys in town also have stores at the mall. The lawyer next door? He offer the same services you do. The lawyer across the hall? The same.

In fact, the entire mall is filled with your competitors. The shoppers in the mall are your prospective clients. They came to the mall looking for a lawyer to hire and they walk through the mall trying to decide which one to choose.

Will it be you? Or the guy down the hall?

You don’t want to leave it to chance, do you? You want to get them into your store.

What will you do? What will you put in your store window? What signs will you put up to entice them to stop?

Hold on. We know it’s only a matter of time before one of the other lawyers starts standing at the entrance to his store calling out things to passing shoppers. Yeah, like those guys who stand on the street in front of strip clubs encouraging passers-by to come to see their show.

You’re not going to let them get all the business, are you? Hell no. You’re going to stand outside your store, too. Whatcha going to say?

Before you know it, all of the lawyers in the mall will be standing outside their store hawking their wares. It’s going to get extremely noisy in that mall. You’ll need to be really clever if you want clients to choose you.

Yes, this is a picture of a nightmare. But it’s also a decent analogy for the real world. You don’t stand outside a store shouting at passing clients, (at least I hope you don’t) but you do something similar on the Internet, in ads, and at networking events.

Use this exercise to brainstorm ideas for headlines you can use to get the attention of prospective clients who are scanning lawyers’ ads, web pages, or listings in a directory.

What could you say to get their attention? What could you offer? How can you stand out from the crowd?

Here’s a hint: Your name or your firm’s name is not a good headline. It’s not going to get anyone to come into your store. Nobody but your mama cares about your name.

The good news is that all of those ads and web pages your competitors use with their firm name as the headline make things much easier for you. You can say almost anything else and get more clients than they do.

Write a headline that promises benefits. What do you do for your clients that other lawyers don’t do (or don’t say they do)? What makes you unique or better? Why should they come into your store?

The Attorney Marketing Formula helps you choose a benefit statement for your practice. Go here.

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The single most important question in legal marketing

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Knock Knock.

Who’s there?

New clients.

New clients who?

New clients aren’t going to hire you unless you give them a good answer to this question.

It’s the single most important question in legal marketing. Unfortunately, most attorneys don’t have a very good answer.

Here’s the question:

“Why should a prospective client hire you instead of any other attorney or firm?”

Inadequate (but typical) answers include:

“We’re good at what we do”

“We work hard for our clients”

“We provide excellent ‘customer service'”

“We’ve won millions of dollars for our clients”

“I’ve been endorsed by XYZ”

“I get top ratings from ABC”

These are bad answers because your competitors can (and do) say the same things.

Your answer to this question must show people how you are different, not the same. It must give people a reason or reasons to consciously choose you, because they can see how they will benefit if they do.

Let’s take the first one, “We’re good at what we do,” and see if we can improve on it. Why are you good at what you do? What do you do differently or better? In what ways do you do your work that other attorneys don’t?

Answer these questions and you might be on to something. If you do something other attorneys don’t do, this differentiates you. If you dramatize that difference with examples and details, prospective clients could well see why you are the better choice.

Yes, the gentleman in the back with the $4,000 suit. You have a question?

“People hire our firm because of me. I’m what makes us different. Why do I need anything else?”

Actually, that’s a great question. If you’ve worked hard to build a stellar reputation and strong relationships with important clients and referral sources, you may not need anything else.

For now.

One day, you may stumble. Your reputation may be sullied. Your relationships may go south. Or, someone else will come along and show your clients something better.

Have we not all seen high flying firms who have faded in popularity? Big name lawyers who have lost their big name clients and had to downsize, or fold?

You can’t rely on your good looks forever.

Yes, build your reputation and your relationships. But just to be on the safe side, think about how you might answer the question. Because some day, you may have to.

Find your uniqueness. Differentiate yourself. Get this.

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A simple way to get clients to choose you instead of other attorneys

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I know something about you. At least I think I do. I know that the services you offer are pretty much identical to what other attorneys in your market offer.

Am I right?

If I am, you have a problem. And an opportunity.

The problem is that when you offer essentially the same services other attorneys offer, it’s harder to stand out. “Why should I choose you?” clients want to know.

There are many ways to differentiate yourself from other lawyers. One of the simplest is to enhance the “value proposition” of your services by offering something different.

No, not radically different. A divorce is a divorce after all. A small change or addition to what you offer is enough to differentiate you.

What could you add to the services you offer that would make you “a little bit better”? Could you add a bonus service? A guarantee? Free updates or reviews?

Fill in the blanks: “When you hire me to handle your _____________ (legal matter), not only do you get _______________ (services), you ALSO get_____________ “.

A divorce lawyer might give clients a free “Will/Living Will package”. A bankruptcy attorney might provide information and advice on “Re-Building Credit after Bankruptcy”. A PI lawyer might provide an insurance policy review, showing clients how to save money and improve their coverage.

By the way, the “something extra” you offer can be provided by another professional. For example, our divorce lawyer might offer his clients a “financial makeover” provided by a financial planner or CPA.

Offering something extra, something other attorneys don’t offer (or don’t promote) could be just enough to get clients to choose you instead of other attorneys. But there’s something else it might do: allow you to charge more than other attorneys.

When you offer more value to your clients, you are worth more. Clients can fill in the blanks, too. If they say about you, “Yes, he charges a little more but with him, I also get _________”, not only will they choose you instead of other attorneys, they’ll pay more for the privilege.

Get The Attorney Marketing Formula and learn more ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. 

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