Law Firms Trying to Win the Marketing Lottery
If you look around you will undoubtedly see law firms marketing with an approach similar to a desperate man, in his fifties, playing the lottery as his retirement plan.
What does this mean?
These law firms are looking to make one big, wild, bet on something they hope will be successful.
The distorted lottery logic goes like this:
“Even though millions of people enter the lottery, someone always wins. Why can’t that someone be me?”
With law firm marketing lottery the logic goes like this:
“Joe Smith’s law firm has billboards all over town. He does well. If I take one billboard on this high traffic corner, I’ll a get at least a couple of clients.”
“The web directory sales guy tells me lots of people get lots of calls with his service. I see my neighbors in the directory. I’m bound to get a couple of clients.”
“The Daily Legal Journal guy came to the office and showed me all the successful law firms advertising in his paper. Just one client will pay for the ad every month. So many people read that paper, I have to be successful using it.”
This distorted thinking motivates good lawyers to make bad business decisions.
Are billboards or web directories or daily legal papers bad marketing decisions?
It depends upon your strategy.
If you want to receive the best return on investment from any law firm marketing campaign, there are three essential steps to take:
Step 1: Research
Look at the demographic and psychographic information for any advertising vehicle you are considering. Understand who reads, views or participates in it. Find out age, spending habits and lifestyle information about the target. What do they do? Why do they do it? When do they do it? How do they do it?
You must be able to think like your target audience things. This will help you determine if this form of media will work for your target market.
If you cannot get “inside the mind of the target audience,” don’t use this marketing vehicle.
Here’s an example:
A billboard on the side of the highway is a terrible marketing investment. Although a large number of people pass by, the people are too diverse to target with a specific message. There’s no way to communicate effectively with a crowd as diverse as mass traffic speeding past at 70 miles per hour.
A billboard at NASCAR track is terrific. You know what these folks all have in common. They love cars and they love racing. You can enter their thought process easily and tailor your marketing message to them.
Demographic and psychographic information from drivers on a highway is all over the place. But because a NASCAR race sells tickets and products and services, you can obtain exact information on the people who will be viewing your advertisement.
Step 2: Test
Never invest in advertising for a long time period without conducting a short term test.
People who sell advertising make mistakes and sometimes they lie.
Never make a long term commitment until you test the return on investment from any advertising media. If the representative tells you that a short term test is not possible – run as fast as you can.
Advertising that works will work in the short term or in the long term.
The only way to know is to test. Tell the representative you will run an advertisement for a short period of time and see if it works. If you receive a positive return on your investment, keep running it. If you do not, stop immediately.
Take the online law firm directory as an example.
The representative will tell you that the listing will work and he will quote you facts and figures. But the only way to know for sure is to test it out.
Offer to take a listing in the directory for a one month. If you receive calls and convert one of those calls into a client, then make a long term commitment.
If the advertising representative says “no” to this request, you should pass.
Step 3: Request One Action but only one Action in Any Ad
Image advertising is for large companies. If you have less than $100 million to spend on advertising, never, ever, invest in an ad for “branding purposes.”
Each ad must have a call to action and only one call to action.
Consider an advertisement in a Daily Court Journal paper with a message like:
“Refer Investor Fraud Cases to me because I went to Harvard.”
This will not work. Nobody cares where you went to school.
But this advertisement may:
“Call me for my free report: Five Factors in an Investor Fraud Case that Lead to Positive Outcomes. This report was developed during my 25 years working for the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
The small action of requesting a free report is something that most people will not hesitate to do. Referring a case to someone they do not know, like, or trust is something most people WILL NOT do.
If you are serious about law firm marketing, you will follow these guidelines each time you place an ad.
Advertising can be highly effective when it is done scientifically.
Law firms taking any other approach to marketing are simply playing the law firm marketing lottery.
A Surprise in Your Mailbox
The latest attorney marketing strategy is not new. In fact, it has been around since the beginning of time.
Before email, before fax, before telegrams, before telegraphs, there was postal mail. You know, snail mail.
You write a letter.
Put it in an envelope.
Put a stamp on it and drop it in a mailbox.
A couple of days (or weeks) later, someone gets that letter. They open it. They read it. And they take action based upon the information inside that envelope.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking:
“Nobody does that anymore.”
And you are correct.
That’s why it’s so effective.
Direct mail works. It works well. Attorney marketing experts have been advocating this as a method of attracting clients and referral sources for years.
But lawyers are resistant.
They resist because of the time it takes. They resist because bulk direct mail has a low success rate. They resist because they don’t know how to target the mail to the right people.
This week in the Valtimax Podcast I help you overcome all of those issues. We make it easy – a no-brainier –to attract clients using direct mail.
Listen to today’s podcast, put a letter in the mail, and watch what happens.
Click Below to Download
Attorney Marketing Strategy: Teaching Sells
As an attorney marketing your services you need to demonstrate your capability to solve the client’s problems.
You challenge is to help the clients make a good decision when selecting a lawyer and make sure the client understands what he is facing.
Educational marketing is the perfect way to do this. Here are three ways to do educate your prospective clients and differentiate yourself from other attorneys.
Post Articles on Your Website
Your website should be an information repository. A prospective client can go to your website to understand the circumstances he faces and the potential solutions to his problem.
Since he is not a lawyer, he cannot apply the solution himself but he can gain an understanding for how to select a competent attorney. Marketing is not just about convincing the client to hire you. First you must convince him to seek help. Then you can position yourself as the right attorney to handle the matter.
When a client learns the depth and complexity of the situation, he will look to you to solve his problems. Preparing the client, in advance, can demonstrate this complexity.
When you conduct a seminar you have the credibility of being the person providing the knowledge. In addition, preparing for the seminar will help you deepen your mastery of the subject.
Developing and delivering a seminar forces you to become researcher, professor and attorney. Marketing in this way is not only effective it is professionally ethical and helpful to the client.
Publish a Newsletter
Delivering timely, relevant information to your prospective clients is a great way to attract interest from people who can use your services.
One of the best ways to keep your information in front of people is by publishing a newsletter. A newsletter provides you with an authoritative voice on your area of expertise. Clients will seek you out as an authority.
Attorney marketing can be done effectively using the tree methods described above. They are not the only methods of client attraction but they are a good start.
The Alternative to the Internet
Just about every day someone calls me with a question about Internet advertising.
Lawyers looking for a marketing panacea are flocking to Search Engine Optimization and Social Media. They chase good money with bad, trying to find one way to attract one hundred new clients. This leaves them disappointed and a little lighter in the wallet.
My role in the complex world of law firm marketing is to help you sift through all the hype and develop a cost effective strategy for attracting new clients. This strategy is based upon the belief that finding one way to attract one hundred clients is risky, expensive and unrealistic. Instead, we focus on developing a client acquisition strategy that is based in reality. Our goal: Find many ways to develop one deep client relationship instead of one way to attract several clients.
Remaining true to that mission, today I offer you a viable alternative to the Internet. It is education-based marketing and it will definitely help you attract more clients – if you have the guts to give it a try.
Here is an example of an effective education-based marketing strategy:
Step one: Prepare a seminar on a topic of interest to your target audience. Example:
- Personal Injury Attorneys – Topic: Insurance Coverage
- Criminal Attorneys – Topic: Keeping kids out of trouble in the age of the bully
- Trust and Estate Attorneys – Topic: Asset protection for doctors and entrepreneurs
Step two: Invite everyone you know to attend this seminar. This means you should invite all of your friends and have them invite all of their friends. The idea is to get as many people in the room as possible.
Step three: Deliver great content at the seminar.
Step four: Capture the attendee’s contact information.
Step five: Follow-up like crazy.
If you have 50 people in the audience at each seminar, and you follow the steps listed above, you can expect to acquire 5-10 new clients per year from this strategy (provided you host 4-6 of these seminars each year).
When I work with my private clients, this is one of the first strategies I recommend they implement. It is a low cost way to begin developing relationships with people who can refer you business, engage you, or both. This strategy works.
Yet most lawyers will never attempt it.
You tell me.
I just gave you a gift. A way to attract a few new clients each year. Will you follow these simple steps?
Is this strategy as sexy as the internet? No.
Is this strategy as easy as paying someone to get you on the first page of Google? No.
Does this strategy get as much publicity as Social Media? No.
But it works consistently. It just requires some thought and some effort from you.
I don’t know what your plans are for your law firm. I’m not certain what your income goals are. But I know what I hear from lawyers all over the world. They all want cost effective ways to attract new clients.
How fast can you integrate this into your marketing activity?
Productive Attorney Advertising vs. Expensive Attorney Advertising
There are a couple of myths that are particularly damaging to an attorney’s ability to attract clients.
The first myth is the idea that marketing and advertising are the same thing. They are not. Marketing is a series of systems and processes designed to develop business for your law firm. Advertising is the representation of your firm in print, electronic or display media. Advertising is a type of marketing Just like broccoli is a type of vegetable.
The second myth in law firm marketing is the idea that advertising is all about billboards, television commercials and announcements in trade journals.
There are two different forms of advertising. The most common type of advertising is called “image advertising” or “institutional advertising”. These ads make up most of what you see on television or hear on radio or see in the newspaper of magazine. The ads display a message and promote a brand.
The second type of advertising is called “direct response advertising”. This form of advertising carries a specific message aimed at a target market and it includes a “call to action”. A call to action is a means of responding specifically to that advertisement.
Image advertising is difficult to measure. If you advocate using this form of advertising you will need to run your ads over and over again to make certain your message is seen by as many people as possible as many times as possible. Image advertising is very expensive.
With direct response advertising, you can measure the success of every single advertisement. Each advertisement is required to produce a return on investment or it is not run again.
In working on law firm marketing projects, we almost always advocate using direct response advertising. We focus on this form of advertising because law firm marketing budgets are usually tight and they need to generate a substantial return on investment from each advertisement.
If you are approached by someone selling advertising you should ask two questions:
1). How will we measure the return on my investment in this ad?
2). Can you show me other ads like the one you are trying to sell me and let me talk to the firm that ran it to discuss their success?
The answers to these questions will help you understand what type of advertising you are being sold and how effective it will be for your law firm.
Attorney Marketing: Avoid the three “B’S”
Whenever an attorney comes to me with a question about where to spend his marketing dollars somehow three forms of media that I absolutely despise almost always enter into the discussion. These three forms of media are: Billboards, Buses and Benches.
Why do I hate these forms of media so much?
Reason one: Their effectiveness is questionable. Let’s say you are a criminal lawyer and you plaster your face on the side of a bus. What are the odds someone who is charged with a crime or is the subject of an investigation will have a pen and paper in his hand right at the time the bus with your face passes by? How about the odds of this person picking up his cell phone and calling you, from the street, to discuss his robbery charge?
This is true for all three of these forms of media. They are expensive and their effectiveness is questionable.
Reason two: You cannot track the results. With all three of these forms of media you could use a special phone number dedicated just for that advertisement. This would allow you to track how much business was coming from each bench, billboard or bus. The problem is that just the tracking alone is expensive. Forget about the fact that there is no way to measure how many people will actually look at, and read your ads.
Reason three: The ads make you look desperate. I do not care how you try to spin it. Plastering your face on the side of a bus or on a billboard looks desperate. It degrades the legal profession and it degrades you. There are plenty of alternatives to these three forms of media. I highly recommend you look into them.
Advertising on buses, benches and billboards is the worst of the worst when it comes to attorney marketing. Don’t do it.
Lindsay Lohan and Bad Law Firm Marketing
Everyone’s favorite spoiled brat Lindsay Lohan has been in the news for violating her parole and going back to jail. While her behavior is unacceptable and I certainly do not condone it, we can take it as instructive to some lawyers.
And no, I am not talking about lawyers who are addicted to drugs.
I am talking to lawyers who keep making the same mistakes over and over again with their law firm marketing. These lawyers use bad law firm marketing. By bad law firm marketing I mean placing ads on public benches, using huge billboards, running cheesy television commercials, plastering their face on the side of a bus and spending a fortune on double size Yellow Page ads.
These lawyers are addicted to bad law firm marketing.
Here are three things lawyers who are addicted to bad law firm marketing (and Lindsay Lohan) can learn from the events of the past few weeks:
Address the Problems Deep Down Inside
Lindsay Lohan uses drugs because of an issue deep within her. She needs to first admit she has a problem before she can get help.
There is a reason lawyers keep throwing good money after bad at horrible advertising. It is because they do not know any better. And that is because they have never asked for help. The first step is to admit they have a problem.
Trust me; if you have your face plastered on the side of a bus, you have a problem. Take the first step: Admit you have a problem and get some help. Bad advertising does not have to happen to good lawyers.
Take Your Lumps and Move On
Lindsay Lohan cries and whines and tries to worm her way out of the consequences of her actions. She should just accept the fact that bad behavior has consequences and move on. Help is available and she needs to avail herself of the best resources money can buy.
If you’ve got some bad advertising out there, you need to get it taken down and move on with more ethical and effective marketing methods. If you do not know how, or if you cannot do it alone, there are options available to you.
Once You are Rehabilitated, Stay Rehabilitated
Lindsay Lohan can still have a great career. She needs to manage her life carefully and maintain her support system so that her addiction does not get the best of her.
You can follow the same course with your law firm marketing. If you want to attract clients ethically and effectively you can follow a law firm marketing system and rely on the people around you to keep you on track. This is much easier to do than you think.
There is no reason to use unethical or ineffective marketing methods to attract clients. Help is available but you have to be ready to accept it. Make the call today. We can help you. 888.692.5531
Lawyers Marketing Can Be Professional
There are many lawyers who struggle with the balance between the law being a business and a profession. I am not quite sure why this issue is even up for debate. A business has a responsibility to its owners to deliver a profit. A professional must live up to the standards he has sworn to uphold. These two things are not mutually exclusive.
Strategy and marketing are business disciplines that many lawyers use effectively to attract and engage high quality clients. Marketing is a broad term that encompasses developing a message (highly strategic when done correctly) selecting a target market to receive the message (also a strategic endeavor) and selecting a form of media and executing message delivery (this is tactical).
Ethical decisions must be made in each marketing discipline. In helping lawyers with the strategic marketing decisions I focus my clients on educational marketing. We want the lawyers to help their clients make good decisions when selecting a lawyer. We want them to help their clients understand the issues they are facing or may face. We want our clients (the attorneys) to be truthful and transparent when they provide information to their prospective clients. This is not just ethical; it is a good business practice.
If you have good information to share you should use every possible vehicle you can afford to get that information to the public. Some forms of media are better for educational marketing than others. Selecting the message, the market and the media are business decisions. They are also ethical decisions.
The mission of the lawyer should be to improve the client’s condition. Lawyers marketing should keep in mind that any decision that is made in their marketing will also determine the quality of the client they attract. In other words, bad marketing (unethical marketing) usually attracts bad clients.
How to Create a Killer Law Firm Ad
Long ago there was much debate about whether or not lawyers should advertise at all.
It’s clear today, however, that legal advertisements are becoming part of the norm. Even the most respected and largest international law firms place advertisements in well known national publications.
The good thing is that a quality print advertisement does not have to push the limits of the legal ethics envelope. The goal is not to convince potential clients that your law firm will win their case no matter what. If you simply want to let potential clients know that you’re out there and that your law firm provides quality legal services, then this article is for you.
With that said, in today’s competitive market, advertising really is a necessary part of building a successful legal practice. There are a variety of ways to get your name out there and to let potential clients know about your law firm. One of the most common is the printed advertisement. In an ideal world, you would simply hire someone to design an advertisement for your small law firm or solo practice. In the real world, your law firm may not have the extra cash to do this.
If this is your firm’s situation, then you’ll need to design your own advertisements from scratch. The good news is that you don’t need a degree from design school to come up with a killer advertisement for your law firm. With Photoshop and even some of the more advanced features in Word, you can often create the general look of the ad yourself and then work with a freelance designer to get the layout in the formats required by the publishers you’re working with.
Even if your firm can afford to hire someone else to create your ad, you should still know what makes the perfect advertisement.
What Is the Goal?
Before you do anything, you must know what you want. If you want your law firm’s advertisement to simply get people in the door, that’s fine. However, spend some time to see if you can get a little more creative and specific with this goal. If there is stiff competition in your area, then you may want to highlight something your law firm offers that you know other firms don’t.
Use the print advertisement to drive traffic to your website. The space in a print ad is often very limited. If you have more to say than the print space allows, then try to find a way to get readers to come to your website. There, you can go into more detail about your firm, its attorneys and their achievement.
Think about your target demographic. What types of messages will be the most effective at getting through to them. Consider their average education level. Think about what is important to your potential clients. Are you advertising to people who may be in legal trouble or to people who need an attorney to handle estate related documents for them? Write as if you’re talking to potential clients one on one.
Where to Advertise
One of the most important decisions you’ll make is where to place your law firm’s advertisement. This decision will be based on a variety of factors like cost and the demographics of your target audience. If you decide to advertise in the newspaper, here is what you’ll need to consider. If you live in a large city, there are probably several newspapers for you to choose from. There may be a large paper that covers the entire metropolitan area, and regional papers that cover the smaller cities, and then even newspapers that cover certain neighborhoods. Consider each paper individually. Look at cost, the demographics of their readership, and more.
If you advertise in your metropolitan area’s large Sunday paper, your ad could get lost in all the coupon clutter. However, more people read their Sunday paper than the ones they receive during the week. You’ll also have to decide if you want a large ad that you can only afford to run a few times, or do you want a small ad that you can run for several weeks. Keep in mind that you may want to make changes to the ad based on the responses you get.
Advertising in magazines is another excellent opportunity for law firms to gain exposure. Your firm may not be able to place an expensive ad in one of the large, national magazines, but there are countless local and trade magazines that may be just the fit for your firm. Look online to see what magazines and newspapers publish in your area and contact them for their rates. Not only will they be able to tell you about the demographics of their readership, but they will also be able to advise you on when and where to advertise within their publication.
One of the most important things to keep in mind whenever you set out to create anything for your firm, whether it’s a print ad, a website, firm letterhead, or business cards is that the look needs to be cohesive. You shouldn’t have professional, serious letterhead, and then have a lighthearted, goofy print advertisement. Inconsistency sends two messages. First, that you don’t know who you are and second, that you’re so desperate for business that you’ll compromise your own brand. As a law firm, you need to know who you are and then you have to stick with it.
Advertising in print publications is not out of reach for your law firm.
Don’t Interrupt: Ask Before You Advertise
Law firm marketing as we know it has changed radically. While the landscape may look the same, certain forms of advertising and marketing your firm are simply no longer as cost effective as they used to be.
Traditional law firm marketing relied on interruption based marketing models to get the word out. Times have changed. Permission based marketing is now one of the most effective ways to market a small law firm or a solo practice. Understanding these two marketing models can truly make all the difference in how successful you are at marketing your law firm and its attorneys.
There was a time, long ago, when potential clients had no choice but to listen to a law firm’s advertisement. However, with massive technological advances, the world of law firm marketing has changed and it has changed dramatically. It used to be that a powerful, far reaching ad campaign had to include television, radio, and print. Today, however, the Internet has provided law firms with a myriad of marketing options that include ways to speak to potential clients without annoying them. This is good news for solo practice law firms and small firms, because many of the new marketing models can be fairly inexpensive to utilize.
All forms of marketing, including law firm marketing, used to rely heavily on interrupting the consumer. To really understand the value of permission based marketing it’s important to understand how traditional marketing models worked and why.
As the name implies, interruption based marketing is a way of communicating with customers at times when they may or may not want to hear from you. For example, television ads are interruption based marketing because most people watch television for the shows not the ads. Commercials interrupt what the potential client is trying to do. When television advertising first became popular, people were more likely to watch a commercial in its entirety. This was due in part to the fact that there were so few channels to choose from, and also because people were not bombarded all day with advertisements.
Today, most people have several hundred channels to choose from. DVR’s like TIVO have also made it tough for television advertisers to get their commercials seen. Most people zip right past the commercials, only stopping if they recognize the face of a favorite actor or see a product that they want additional information about. With television ads getting more and more expensive every day, you may not get the most bang for your law firm’s buck in today’s market because people are less likely to let your ad play through to the end.
Radio is another form of interruption based marketing that is starting to lose its value. If someone is listening to a radio station, they usually don’t want to have their programming interrupted by advertisements. That is one of the main reasons why more and more people are deciding to spend a few extra dollars for satellite radio. With well over 100 channels to choose from, more and more consumers are making the switch to satellite, which happens to be commercial free.
Even print ads are interruption based. When you turn the page of your magazine or newspaper, you are looking for a story, not an advertisement. Online articles are also interrupted by advertisements that cut into the text to get their message across.
The more that companies and law firms relied on interruption based marketing, the more that consumers and potential clients found ways to avoid the noise of too many commercials and advertisements. One of the main problems with interruption marketing is that it’s everywhere. If you drive in your car you see advertisements on billboards, benches, and buses. If you’re on the Internet there are pop up ads banner ads, and more. People have learned to simply tune them out.
What is the solution?
Law firms have many more marketing options today than they did even just 10 years ago. Traditional law firm marketing relied on interrupting potential clients in order to get their attention. The new trend in law firm marketing is permission based marketing. The basic idea behind permission based marketing is that potential clients make the choice to hear from you and your law firm. Building a strong permission based law firm marketing campaign is not difficult.
When you use permission based marketing to grow your law firm you will still need to rely on some traditional forms of marketing to get consumers to know that your law firm and its website even exist.
For example, banner ads on the Internet are a form of interruption based marketing that can be effective when done well. If you include a giveaway or a contest of some sort, potential clients are more likely to click the ad and supply you with their email address.
Law firms can give away anything from a free hour of legal consultation to a $100 shopping spree at the local grocery store. It can be anything at all. Your goal is to give potential clients a reason to give your firm their contact information. Potential clients will only give you permission to contact them if there is something in it for them. They give you their attention, if you give them the chance to get something for free. Once you have their contact information, you can maintain contact and build an online relationship with prospects and potential referral sources by providing valuable web content.
Once you have someone’s information, use it to get them to your website. Every time anyone visits your website, whether it is a client, a referral source, a potential client, or a journalist, they are having a marketing experience. Permission based marketing for lawyers has everything to do with developing a strong, user friendly, interactive website.
Time spent building a strong website is time spent building your practice.
You can spend an hour and a half reaching out to a referral source over lunch, or you can spend that hour and a half crafting web content that will be accessed by hundreds or even thousands of people. You do the math.
When people visit your website to get information, they’re giving you the opportunity to market yourself to them. Not to market someone else by having ads all over your site, but to market your law firm. Take them up on it by giving them quality content and proving that you are a step above the competition.
When you build a website that seeks to utilize permission based marketing, it is important to remember that people want to be educated. As an attorney, you are in a unique position to offer people information that is not so easy to find on the web. Your firm’s website should be a great place to get information related to your legal specialty. It should include a database of cases in your field of law that interested readers can access. These can be your cases or those that are considered to be benchmarks in your niche. People facing legal battles often want to read up on other cases that may be similar to theirs. Make your website the place to go for information on cases in your field of law.
Use your website to keep people informed. Changes in the economy, political representatives, and more can often make people wonder how those changes will affect your area of law. Your firm’s website can be the place where people go to get the answers. A great way to use permission based marketing is to have a blog that is useful and interesting. Ask other lawyers to write guest posts on your blog. Use your blog to inform potential clients and current clients about what you’re doing, what you value and why you chose to go into this field of law.
Clients love to feel that their attorney has been bitten by the public service bug. Let clients know what drives you and what your passions are. If you’re involved in any charities, talk about it. Include photos and video on your website of events you have attended or sponsored. These types of things will make people want to do business with your firm.
Another great way to provide value on your website is to have a discussion board. Allow anyone from past clients to prospects to friends and family the chance to log in and discuss or debate anything related to your field of law. If there has been a controversial legal decision, write a short introduction about it and invite people to discuss it. You can send out a weekly email with that week’s discussion topic to encourage people to post. After a few months, you can stop sending the emails because people will be coming to your site on their own to get into interesting legal discussions.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, a website is no longer an option, it is a must. In today’s fast paced, over stimulating environment, a strong website, coupled with an interesting permission based marketing campaign, can be the difference between having potential clients pass over your ads and having them go to your website on a weekly basis to check your blog, get tips, and more.