How to get more (and better) reviews

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One of the most powerful tools you can use in your marketing is third-party validation of your work. You get more clients and better clients when other clients describe their positive experience with you. 

It is (marketing) law. 

But your clients are busy and don’t provide reviews or testimonials as often as they could, or as often you’d like. What can you do? 

One of the simplest things you can do is survey your clients, to find out what they like about you and your services (and also what they don’t like because you need to know that, too). 

Then, when a client fills out a survey and says nice things about you, thank them and ask if they would post their words on a review site you tell them about, or let you use their words as a testimonial. 

Tell them they can do that anonymously if they prefer, i.e., initials or first name/last initial only. Yes, full names are better, but a review with initials only is better than no review. 

Tell them how much you appreciate their providing a review, and how much other people will benefit by seeing it. 

 Get them to commit to doing it, help them if they need help, and thank them again. 

What do I mean by “if they need help”? I mean, if they struggle to put their story into words, or what they write isn’t as clear or specific or interesting as you’d like, rewrite their review for them.

Don’t change anything material. Clean it up, flesh it out, and make it easier to read. You’re saving them time and making them look good. You should find that most clients appreciate that help. 

You can do the same thing when a client thanks you or pays you a compliment over the phone or in person. Write down what they say, clean it up a bit, and send it to them, along with a request to post it or let you use it in your marketing materials.

Simple and effective. 

What else can you do? 

Every new client, in their “new client kit,” should get a list of review sites you recommend, along with a sampling of reviews you’ve received from other clients. Not only will this help them feel good about their decision to hire you, it will also make it easier and more likely to get reviews from them later.  

Finally, always send a thank you note. Tell the client (again) how much you appreciate their kind words and how it helps other clients find the help they need. If the client was referred to you, send a copy of their review, along with a thank you note, to the referring party. 

Showing them they made a good decision to refer their client or friend to you makes it more likely they will refer again. 

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Unforced errors

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We needed some work done on our house and got a couple of bids. Company number one made a compelling presentation and a reasonable bid (compared to what we expected based on our initial research). Company number two had an even better presentation, and we went with them even though they had a significantly higher bid. 

NB: It’s not just about price or fees; you can get more customers or clients by doing a better presentation. 

One thing that made the difference is the way the salesperson at company number two followed up with us after his presentation. He called and texted and emailed and showed us he was at the top of his game. 

They did the work, and we’re happy with it. The building inspector who came out afterwards told us (without prompting) that the company had done excellent work. 

So, we’re happy. But puzzled. We haven’t heard from the salesperson or anyone else at the company since we authorized the job. 

Leaves you feeling like a commodity instead of a client. Slam, bam, thank you sucker. 

Anyway, not following up with us was a mistake. And not just because there’s a cooling-off period and we could have canceled the job if we got cold feet. Following up after the sale gives the company the opportunity to keep the customer happy and take a step towards creating a “lifetime” customer or client instead of just another entry in the ledger. 

We didn’t hear from them after the work was done, either. No calls to see if we’re satisfied or had questions. 

And that’s another mistake. 

To this day, weeks later, they don’t know if we’re happy. Or have other work we want to talk to them about. Or have a neighbor who might like to talk to them. 

Nothing. Not even a note thanking us for our business.

Or a request to provide a review or referrals.

If they had asked for a review, we might have mentioned that the building inspector volunteered that they did a great job. Thorough and tidy. Very reassuring to a prospective customer who sees that review. 

But now, because the company didn’t ask, no review. 

If this is how they operate on every sale, they’re missing out on a lot of additional business. A cautionary tale for anyone in a service business or profession. 

It’s so simple. Call the client after the work is done (or have an assistant do it), see if they have additional questions or concerns, send them some brochures or a referral card they can pass out to people they know, and if they’re happy, ask them to leave a review. 

The only thing worse than not doing some simple after-sale follow-up is what company number one did after they emailed us their bid. 

They did nothing. 

They didn’t follow up to see if we want to go ahead with them, had any questions, or needed help with financing. They didn’t ask if we went with another company and, if so, why. 

And now, weeks later, they haven’t followed-up with us to ask if we’re still interested (and hadn’t hired anyone). Or if we went with another company, had problems, and needed to talk to them about fixing it. 

Follow-up during the presentation process, after the deal is signed, and after the work is done. Or after the prospect doesn’t sign up. 

Never stop following-up. Because tthe fortune is in the follow-up.

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Another reason to write your own reviews

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Yesterday, I talked about taking the nice things clients say about you, your services, and the way they were treated, putting their words into writing, and asking those clients to post a review at your favorite review site.

You get better reviews that way, and more of them.

But this is based on clients spontaneously thanking you or otherwise saying nice things to you or about you. What if they don’t? Or don’t do it enough?

You can send your clients surveys and ask for their feedback, and you should. You’ll find out what they like but may not say, and what they don’t like (so you can fix it).

But there’s something else you can do.

Sit down, sharpen your pencil, and write the review you would love your clients to write.

Yes, out of thin air.

And make it good.

Even if the things you write in that review aren’t true. Actually, especially if they aren’t true. Because this review isn’t really a review, it’s a wish list. A summary of the things you would like clients to say about you in the future.

Now for the good part. After you write this review, ask yourself, what would I have to do to get my clients to say things like this about me?

And do them.

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Why you should write your own reviews

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Most clients don’t leave reviews, even when they love you. That’s why you should write your own. 

Hold on, I’m not suggesting anything unethical. Here’s what I mean. 

The issue isn’t that clients don’t appreciate your work or the way you take care of them. They do. They tell you that all the time. 

They say thank you. And mean it. They tell you how relieved they are that you got them out of a jam. They say you did a great job, you’re a great lawyer, and they are glad they found you. 

Nice things. The kinds of things you would love for them to say in a review. 

They usually don’t post a review, however, because they’re busy. Or don’t think about it. Or don’t know know how important it is.   

But if you make it easy for them, they will.  

Which is why you should take the words they say to you, or send you in an email, and write the review for them. 

Send them an email, thank them for their kind words, and quote back to them what you heard. And then ask if they would post those words in a review and give them the link to the review site you prefer.

Tell them they can add to or edit what you wrote any way they want to, and can submit it without showing their full name. You can also offer some additional language they could use if they agree with it. Things you know they think or feel but didn’t actually say. 

Make sure they know how important reviews are to a lawyer, and to the people who are looking for a lawyer. And thank them again. 

Not everyone will say yes, but you will get more reviews. And every single one will be good.

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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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Some bad reviews are good

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A client didn’t like your work or didn’t like you. It hurts to hear their words and realize you were the cause of their dissatisfaction, or at least they thought you were. Worse is the idea that their words might influence others to stay away.

But bad reviews are sometimes good for you.

How’s that?

When a client leaves a negative review and points out things they didn’t like, as long as they aren’t lying or fueled by misdirected anger, they’re providing you with valuable feedback you can use to improve what you do.

They’re telling you things they might never say to you directly—things they want you to do or stop doing, for example, or ways you can make the client experience better.

You might disagree with them, but if that’s how they feel, there’s a good chance other clients feel the same way.

And you need to know that so you can do something about it.

Don’t dwell on their harsh words, but don’t ignore them completely. Mine the value in what they say. Their review might cost you some future business, but it also might lead to a wave of glowing reviews and new business once you make some changes you didn’t realize you needed to make.

There’s another way negative reviews can help you. They can deter other clients who aren’t a good fit for you.

If you work from home and don’t have a full-time staff, for example, some clients might not want to hire you. Better they should know this before they hire you and find things to complain about.

If you’re the type who doesn’t sugarcoat your advice or baby your clients and someone complains about your bluntness or lack of empathy, it might lead to fewer clients who need handholding and more clients who appreciate the cut of your jib.

Bottom line, you might get more of the clients you want to work with and fewer of the kind who make you wish you’d gone to med school.

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Know thy client

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I read an article in the Wisconsin Lawyer that provided “tips for writing in ways that attract the attention of search engines, readers, and new clients.”

It’s good information. And a good reminder about the importance and value of writing in building a law practice.

But that’s not why I’m telling you about it.

At the end of the article, in her “bio,” the author tells a story about one of her consulting clients who was unhappy with her advice:

A few years ago, an attorney I was working with called me to complain because one of their former clients gave them a bad online review. I had encouraged them to follow up with clients to thank them for their business and ask for reviews, so the bad review they received was, in their mind, my fault. It didn’t occur to me that I needed to tell attorneys that they should only ask for reviews from clients they suspected had a positive opinion of them. I now emphasize that you should never ask for a review you don’t want. It’s the legal marketing equivalent of the age-old advice that you should never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to!

It seems so simple. Ask for reviews; don’t ask for reviews from clients who might not love ya.

You want reviews. You need reviews. Good reviews can bring in a boatload of clients.

Seriously.

So you should ask for reviews.

But how do you avoid bad reviews?

Simple.

Ask for reviews, but do it in stages:

  1. Routinely send every client a form to fill out to provide feedback about you, your services, your office, etc. Include a question asking if they would recommend you to others, and why or why not.
  2. When the client provides positive feedback and says they would recommend/refer you, ask them to post this in a review (and give them a link to the site you prefer).

Keep your enemies close. Keep your friends (and clients) closer, because you never know what they might say about you.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System

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Help your clients help you

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You want your clients to provide you with testimonials, reviews, and referrals. Many are willing to do it but don’t do it because they don’t know what to write or how to do.

Help them. Teach them what to do and show them how to do it.

You can put instructions on a web page or in an email that goes out towards the end of the case or engagement.

You can provide them with checklists, sample language, and examples of what other clients have said or done.

You can teach them what a good referral looks like, what to say to their friend about you, and what to do to comfortably make the referral.

You can also create a review/testimonial template–something like this:

Testimonial/Review Template

  • I contacted [lawyer/firm] because. . .
  • I needed/wanted [desired outcome]
  • The result was. . .
  • One thing I liked best was his/her/their. . .
  • I will hire [them] again if I need [more legal work/updates/other]
  • I would recommend [lawyer/firm] to people who need. . .

You could also provide clients with a handful of good reviews (or testimonials) you’ve received. Not only will this give them ideas about what to say about you, it will also empower them to do it by providing social proof that this is what satisfied clients do.

Make it easier for your clients to provide reviews, testimonials, and referrals, and you’ll get more of them.

Get more referrals by teaching your clients how to make referrals

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How to get great testimonials from your clients

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There’s nothing better than getting a letter or email from a satisfied client, telling you how happy they are with what you’ve done for them, praising you and thanking you for your help.

It really makes your day, doesn’t it?

Testimonials also make your marketing much more effective.

The trouble is, you don’t get them very often.

Your clients may be happy, and willing to provide a testimonial or a positive review. They just don’t take the time to do it.

One solution is to send all of your clients a survey at the end of each case. The feedback you get can be turned into testimonials.

How? Provide a check box at the end of the survey where the client authorizes you to use their words (with or without their full name) on your website or elsewhere in your marketing.

When you receive the completed survey, contact the client, thank them, and send them an edited version you’d like to use. Don’t change their thoughts, just the presentation, and tell them to feel free to add or change anything.

Another option, when you speak to a client at the end of the matter, ask them if they’re happy with the way things worked out. If they are, write down what they tell you and ask them if you can use what they’ve said in your marketing.

Simple, huh?

The best testimonials address 3 subjects:

1) Before they hired you.

What was going on in their life that prompted them to seek you out. Problems, frustrations, results they wanted but weren’t getting.

2) During the case.

What was it like working with you? Did you explain everything? Keep them informed? Make them feel appreciated? Protected? Did you bill fairly and promptly?

3) After the case.

What changed about their situation? Was the problem resolved? Did they get the results they sought? Would they hire you again and/or refer others to you?

Your survey should prompt them to talk about these things, and ask them to be as specific as possible. You can also delve deeper when you speak to them.

But, if they only address one of these areas–if they’re thrilled with the way you kept them informed, for example–take the win. And then go get some more.

When a client is happy, they want you (and others) to know it. They’re willing to provide you with a testimonial. They just need a little nudge.

Ready to take a Quantum Leap in your marketing?

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I’m good, but don’t take my word for it

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You love getting positive reviews, don’t you? They’re worth their weight in Gold-Pressed Latinum. Same goes for testimonials.

Reviews and testimonials from clients, and endorsements (from other professionals, industry experts, and so on), are some of the most valuable tools you can use for marketing your practice.

If you get them, use them. Let your clients tell prospects how wonderful you are.

The easy way to get more reviews and testimonials is to ask clients to fill out a survey or evaluation form at end of the case. Allow room to “talk” about how they were treated, what they like about the results you got for them, and so on.

You’ll get something you can use.

What’s that? Your state or country or firm won’t let you use testimonials in your marketing?

Sounds like you better move.

No? Okay, don’t fret. You can use something that’s almost as good: success stories.

Write a story about a case or matter. Describe the problem, issues, and obstacles that were presented to you, what you did for the client and the outcome. 

“Recently, a client called me about [problem]. [Add details–costs, pain, obstacles–legal and factual–and, describe the client’s pain and/or frustration.]”

Describe what you did for the client and how happy they were as a result.

Simple.

Okay, sure, if you have to add “results not typical” or other crap you’re required to add, do it.

And then use the hell out of that story.

Prospective clients want to know what you do. They want to hear what it will be like to work with you. They want to know that you know what you’re doing and a success story is much better than you “telling” them that you do.

Success stories should be a staple in your marketing. Write one today and start using it tomorrow.

Next week, you can write a client horror story. You know, about that client who didn’t follow your advice and made things worse.

Good marketing starts with good ideas

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