Is marketing legal services hard work?

It’s just work. Marketing, that is. And it’s not hard, really. Compared to the rest of what you do, how hard is it to make a few calls or write a few emails?

It’s not hard to write an article or outline a talk. It’s not hard to invite someone for coffee. It’s not hard to hand write a thank you note to your new clients.

It’s not hard to do these things. It’s just work. But you have to do it.

I heard from an attorney yesterday who has a friend who always seems to have plenty of new clients, yet he doesn’t “do” any marketing. Trust me, he does. If he has a big enough base of clients, which he does after twenty years of practice, marketing for him means little more than saying please and thank you and staying in touch with his former clients. He did the “hard work” years ago when he had no clients. Now, marketing is so easy for him it appears like he isn’t doing any.

The hard part for many attorneys isn’t the work, it’s the ego. If you believe you “shouldn’t have to do this,” you’re going to resent doing it and it will be unpleasant for you. If instead, you believe that marketing is part of the job, not beneath you and really not that difficult, you might actually enjoy it.

You’ve got to get your ego out of the way and just do the work. Schedule time on your calendar every day for marketing and keep the appointment with yourself. Even 15 minutes a day will help you make progress, if you do it every day.

It’s just work.

How to get a bigger return from your seminar or conference

I was reading some tips on planning a successful conference and thought there was one tip that was missing. Every event you run should be recorded.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a speech, an all day seminar, a webinar, teleseminar, or a multi-day conference, why settle for only what you can get from a one time event?

If you record it, you can

  • Make it available for those who couldn’t attend
  • Sell the video, or create products from portions of the content
  • Run the video periodically on your web site
  • Offer the video, or portions thereof, as a lead generation incentive
  • Transcribe the event and create reports, articles, blog posts, and audio content
  • Watch the event so you can make the next one better
  • License the event to other lawyers in other jurisdictions

In fact, with any content you create, whether it’s a live event or something you write on the weekends, always look for ways to get a bigger return on your time and investment. Evergreen content that you create once and use over and over again is a smart, leveraged use of your time.

Wouldn’t it be great to do the same thing with your services? No, it’s not possible with a service, but you can do the next best thing. Every time you create a form, a checklist, a template, or a script, something you can use over and over again, you are leveraging your time and increasing your return.

To earn more and work less, never settle for a one-to-one return on your time or investment.

The one thing attorneys need to know about getting more referrals

If you’re not getting as many referrals as you think you should, the primary reason is that you don’t deserve them.

Ouch.

“But I’m good at what I do. I work hard for my clients and I produce results.”

Sorry, that’s not enough. That’s the minimum standard for any professional. If you aren’t competent and you don’t consistently get results for your clients, you shouldn’t be practicing law.

I can’t give you a checklist of things to do or say that will qualify you to deserve referrals. It’s not that simple. And yet, it’s not complicated, either.

Mostly, it’s common sense and common courtesy. It’s answering your client’s questions before they ask them. It’s offering them coffee because you truly want them to be comfortable, not because it’s expected. It’s speaking to them and making eye contact and shaking their hand and letting them know you’re listening.

It’s not taking phone calls during the client meeting or talking about other clients or cases that are on your mind. It’s showing up early at court not because you need to but because you know your clients are probably nervous and you need to be there for them.

Look at what you do from your client’s perspective. What do they expect from you and what do they get? From the moment they first speak to you on the phone to the last time they meet with you, and everything in between, what do you say and what do you do? What do you not say and not do?

Everything is important. Everything counts. It’s hundreds of little things and you have to get most of them right.

Your clients want to feel like you understand them and care about them as people, not as names on a file. They want to know that although you’ve done this 1000 times before, they are in that moment your most important client. They want to know that you truly appreciate them and that you know they could have gone to 100 other attorneys but they chose you.

Even more than your legal services, they want your respect.

I know an attorney who doesn’t get it. He’s technically good at his work, he’s friendly and patient with his clients and he works hard for them. But there’s something missing. He doesn’t do the little things that make his clients feel like he really cares. He says a lot of the right things, but you can tell he’s just going through the motions. His mind is on other things. He does what is expected of him and delivers results, but he does not go the extra mile.

He does get referrals from his clients. But he could get so many more.

How to network without leaving your office

No, I’m not talking about social media although you can use that as a starting point. I’m talking about the phone. Pick up the phone and call someone you might like to know.

It doesn’t have to be a prospective client. In fact, for most attorneys it probably shouldn’t be. Call someone who works in the market you are targeting, someone who sells to, advises, or is otherwise influential in that market. It could be another professional, someone who owns or manages a business, a blogger, or the head of an association. Anyone who (a) knows people who might (one day) need your services, or (b) knows people who might know those people.

What do you say? It almost doesn’t matter. Just call and reach out to them. Don’t ask for business or talk about yourself (other than introducing yourself), talk about them. After you introduce yourself, tell them you called to. . .

  • See if you could interview them for your blog or newsletter
  • Ask them to participate in a 90 second survey for an article you’re writing
  • Ask for their take on an article you read in one of their industry’s journals
  • Offer to send them a report, ebook, article reprint
  • Invite them to coffee
  • Invite them to your seminar/webinar/event
  • Invite them to be your guest at your networking group’s next meeting
  • Compliment their web site/ad/brochure
  • Tell them you have a mutual contact

Just get the conversation started. Then ask about them their business. Find out what they do and how they do it. What are they looking for? What can you do to help?

Of course you know they will ask you about your practice. Tell them briefly and change the subject back to them.

Afterwards, send them an email or better yet a hand written note and tell them you enjoyed the conversation. Follow up with the next logical step or if there isn’t one, just stay in touch. If you can, send them a referral. Send another article they might find helpful. Calendar a few weeks or a month or two and call again.

Networking is a courtship. You go on a date and if you like each other you go out again. If things go well, you get engaged. That’s when referrals, joint ventures, and other good things happen.

Most attorneys never do this. They let their egos get in the way or they don’t think it will do any good. That’s sad. There are people out there who would love to meet you but they aren’t going to call you. Go ahead, call someone today. Introduce yourself and see if they want to date.

The key to failure in marketing legal services

Bill Cosby was once asked if he would share the key to his success. He famously said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

And yet that’s exactly what most people do.

They take middle of the road positions on issues because they don’t want to offend anybody. They write articles or blog posts directed to everyone, instead of addressing the specifics of their niche market. Or they don’t target a niche market at all because they don’t want to exclude any potential business.

Because this is what most people do, most people get mediocre results. Successful people don’t try to please everyone. In fact, they may do their best to antagonize a large segment of the population.

Name a successful political pundit on the right. How about Rush Limbaugh? Now, how about on the left? Let’s go with Chris Matthews. What do they have in common, besides being financially successful?

Both have millions of fans and. . . both have millions who hate them.

Instead of being on the right and the left, suppose they were centrists. Do you think they would be as successful?

The savviest politicians and political commentators know, the better you are at turning OFF those who aren’t your audience, the better you’ll be at turning ON those who are.

And it’s the same in marketing.

It’s all about passion. If you have it, and if you can get people fired up about something, either for OR against, you’ll be more likely to stand out from the crowd. Yes, there will people who are turned off by what you say or do, but guess what? They probably weren’t going to hire you anyway.

I’d much rather have a list of 100 people who love what I do and tell everyone about me, than 10,000 people who might not remember subscribing to my list. Those 100 fans will bring others who will do the same.

Don’t try to please everyone. Dr. Huxtable says it’s a prescription for failure.

How to get a lot more clients without doing ANY additional marketing

Most people who visit your web site, hear you speak, or read your article, don’t call you. And if they don’t call, they aren’t going to hire you.

What’s worse, they’ll never return to your web site or re-read your article. At least you have to assume that because that’s almost always the way it is.

Unless you have a lead capture mechanism in place (and you should), this is a squandered opportunity, a loss for both you and the prospective client.

The good news is that for everyone who does call, there may be three or five or ten people who almost called. They liked what they saw but for one reason or another, they didn’t take the plunge. If they aren’t ready or they don’t have any money, there’s not much you can do. There is one reason prospective clients come close to calling but don’t you can do something about. And if you do, it could bring in a boatload of new clients.

Many people don’t call lawyers simply because they’re intimidated. Let’s face it, attorneys are usually not known for being warm and fuzzy. But while a tough exterior may be a useful quality in an advocate, it can damage our ability to connect with prospective clients.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution.

Your web site or other marketing communication needs to reach out to the reader or visitor, invite them to connect, and make them feel comfortable about doing so.

One way to do that is to feature testimonials from your clients, who speak about how great it was to work with you, how you were kind and helpful and took a personal interest in their case. They can say how they felt scared before they called and thought they were going to get a sales pitch or be told they had to come into the office before they could get any information. Instead, you talked to them on the phone and answered a lot of their questions and there was no pressure at all.

Another way to make people feel comfortable about contacting you is to describe the process. Tell them what happens first, who they will speak to when they call, what will be discussed, what happens next, and so on, so that people can get a picture in their mind’s eye of what it will be like when they call.

Yet another way to reach out to people is to simply tell them directly that you will be happy to speak to them via phone or via email, that you will answer any questions they may have, with no cost or obligation.

No pressure. No intimidation. Call or email, the door is open.

There are other things you can do to make people feel comfortable about contacting you. Reduce or eliminate the “disclaimer” language so prevalent on lawyers’ web sites and emails. Photos of you and your staff are good. Use head shots and also some informal shots of you with clients or you outside the office. Personal information helps. Talk about your kids, sports you enjoy, or your volunteer work. On your web site, consider adding a video of you speaking and welcoming visitors, telling them what they will find on the site, and inviting them to contact you by phone or email.

Show people you are a regular person and you want to speak with them and more people will call.

Want more great marketing ideas? Check out The Quantum Leap Marketing System for Attorneys

Don’t read this unless you want to quickly bring in a bunch of new clients

If you have a few minutes today, there’s a very good chance you can use this time to bring in more business. I’ve been preaching the value of this “technique” for many years because it is an incredibly effective way to put people in your waiting room.

I put “technique” in quotes because it’s not a technique so much as common sense. You don’t have to study or practice. You don’t need any special tools. There’s nothing to prepare. You can do it as soon as you finish reading this post.

One lawyer who did this eventually wrote to me to tell me he was getting so much new business, his secretary made him stop!

So what is this brilliantly simple way to bring in more business? Simply this: Call your clients and say hello.

Call your current clients and your former clients and tell them you are calling to say hello and see how they are doing.

That’s it.

The first thing that will happen is that your clients will be amazed and delighted that you thought enough of them to reach out and say hello (without the meter running). They will appreciate you even more than they already do.

Ask them about their family or their work or business. They will be even more impressed that you remembered something personal about them. Let them talk.

Don’t ask for anything or offer anything. Remember, you’re just calling to say hello.

Now what?

Well, your presence on the telephone will prompt your clients to think about legal issues or concerns they’ve had recently and they will ask for advice. Or, they will think about a friend from work or someone in the family with a legal issue and ask you if you can help them.

Before you know it you will be talking to people who want to hire you.

Of course, you will also be talking to people with issues you don’t handle. You will refer them to lawyers in those practice areas and score points with the client and the lawyers you refer them to.

Not everyone will have business for you today. In fact, most won’t. But in reminding them that you still help people solve legal problems, when they do need your services, or know someone who does, guess who they are going to call?

If you get voice mail, leave a message and tell them you’ll call again. Call them again in a few days at a different time.

Your clients know, like, and trust you. They hired you once and they will hire you again. They know people who need your services or who will need your services in the future, and they will be only too happy to send that business to you.

And you don’t even have to ask.

If you want to grow your practice even quicker, go buy The Quantum Leap  Marketing System for Attorneys. It will show you how to build a large (or larger) practice quicker than you ever thought possible.

Three ways to get clients to hire you NOW

I just spoke to an attorney who sent his list an article about the importance of getting their Will prepared. He later spoke to some of them and they said they enjoyed the article and acknowledged that they needed to get their Will prepared or updated. When he asked them to book an appointment, they made excuses.

Sound familiar?

How do you get someone who acknowledges his or her need for your services to stop procrastinating and make the appointment?

Here are three techniques you can use:

  1. Tell stories. Facts tell but stories sell. In your writing and on the phone, make sure you illustrate your points with stories of people who followed your advice (e.g., to get their Will prepared) and especially with stories about those who didn’t. Let people know the consequences of inaction or procrastination by hearing about people who waited.
  2. Use a deadline. If you are offering some kind of special offer–a bonus, freebie, or discount, for example–put a deadline on it: “To get this bonus, you must book your appointment by. . .”. Fear of loss is a powerful motivator. You’ll find people hiring you who might otherwise procrastinate because they don’t want to lose the special offer.
  3. Push ’em. If the benefits of the service being offered are truly in their best interests to have, you’re not doing them any favors by letting them wait. In fact, as a compassionate advisor, it is your responsibility to urge them to act. So use your authority, credibility, and persuasiveness to get them to “take care of this right now”.

These three techniques will get more people to book an appointment. One additional technique, “alternative choice,” will get even more. Give them two options to choose from, either of which moves them forward. “So, can you come in this week or would next week be better?” Tuesday or Wednesday? 10 or 4?

Change the decision from “yes or no” to “today or tomorrow”.

Attorneys: An alternative to free consultations that might work even better

Yesterday, I posted about the problem with free consultations and what to do about it. Even though people like to get things free, if prospective clients don’t see the value in your offer they either won’t call for an appointment or if they do, they won’t keep it.

There’s another way to get prospects to see the value of your offer and that’s what I want to talk about today.

Instead of offering a free consultation, consider offering a “introductory great deal”.

The popularity of Groupon, Living Social, and other “bargain” apps prove what everyone already knows, people love getting a bargain. A $450 weekend spa package for just $77, a $40 dinner for two for $20, brings in a lot of new customers to the businesses that offer them.

Why can’t you offer something similar?

Bundle up your free consultation package as attractively as you can, put a “regular” price on it, and offer it at a special “introductory” (bargain) price.

If your “free consultation” is normally a “$250 value,” for example, and you offer it for a nominal $39, you might get a lot of takers.

You still have to show prospects the benefits of everything they get. You still have to “sell” your offer, just as you do when it’s free, and probably more so.

Give your package a name, something that implies enhanced value. For example, “Comprehensive asset protection planning session” or “Corporate risk evaluation” or “Pre-Divorce diagnostic and strategy plan.”

And make sure to include the dollar amount your package is worth. When a prospect sees that they can get $250 in value for just $39, their shopping instincts often kick in and they want to buy. Add a “deadline date” when your offer expires and fear of loss will get more prospects off the fence and into your office.

Charging a fee will usually depress response. But not always. The right offer, in the right market, could actually increase response. Charging a fee, however nominal, will almost certainly increase qualified response, which means you will have fewer “shoppers” and more “buyers”. And your no-show rate will plummet, especially if you collect the initial fee at the time the appointment is booked.

As with everything in marketing, you won’t know whether this will work for your practice and your market until you test it. Put it out there, see what happens, track your numbers.

Attorney marketing video challenge

attorney marketing videosAbout a year ago, I wrote and “produced” a simple video about a new lawyer attending his first ABA Convention. This was around the time the ABA was considering new rules to regulate attorneys behavior online and the video played off that theme and an ad hoc write-in campaign to tell the ABA to back off.

The ABA didn’t go nuclear on us, but I don’t think my video was the reason. What my video did do was get a lot of attorneys watching it and sharing the link with others. I got a lot of traffic from it.

No, it wasn’t a big hit on youtube, but in my niche market, it did okay.

My challenge to you is to create your own video and put it on youtube and on your blog.

You can use the free service I used, Xtranormal, which allows you to give voice to animated characters. Or, you can act out a skit with other live “actors”. You can narrate slides on your desktop, or simply talk into the camera.

Your best bets for going viral are to use humor or to take a controversial stand, but I would stay away from politics. How about a funny commercial by one of your “competitors”? Or something about one of the new laws that take effect in January?

Anything goes, but remember, your clients are watching (and so is the ABA!)

Keep it under five minutes. Watching my video today, I realized I could have achieved the same effect with a much shorter spot.

You may not see a ton of results from your video but you will learn some things that might allow you to create another video that does. And you’ll have a lot of fun.

Send me the link to your video. I’ll choose a winner and feature it in a future post.