Random Legal Marketing Thoughts I Wrote on My Hand
Not that long ago a media-savvy politician taught us that notes on your hand were better than a speech on a teleprompter. As I travel around the world sharing my hopey, changy legal marketing stuff I use my hand as a notepad.
Here are some things I wrote down that I thought I would share with ya:
Referrals are still the best way to get clients as a lawyer. You still need a legal marketing plan but it should have a segment dedicated to keeping your name in front of your potential referral sources. Frequency of communication builds trust. Trust is important both from clients and from people who are sources of referrals. Legal marketing must include a referral strategy.
Clients still hate hourly billing. This one is not going away just like everyone’s favorite former beauty queen turned TV anchor turned politician turned pundit. If you bill hourly, you will lose clients. If you don’t figure out alternative billing strategies in the next few years, you will lose lots of clients.
The law is still a profession and a business. I know, I know, the “Just be a Good Lawyer” crowd hates when I say this. If you are not living the lifestyle you thought you would when you graduated from law school, you probably forgot about the business aspect of owning a law firm. Put together a legal marketing plan and start attracting clients. Be a good lawyer but find good clients too.
The Internet has changed everything...well, okay…I guess it has replaced the Yellow Pages. You need to have a web strategy as part of your legal marketing plan. You can’t go rogue and not be on the Internet. Get a website and a blog and start posting something each week. This will help us realize how smart you are.
My final random thought is that just because I can see Cuba from my house that doesn’t mean I’m a communist. So keep in mind that just because I help people with legal marketing, that doesn’t mean I like bus stop benches and 800 numbers that spell PAIN or HURT. I may go rogue once in a while but my legal marketing advice is still pretty sound – even though I wrote it down on my hand.
Hey, can I call ya Joe?
Attorneys Marketing Question: How do I get new clients?
One of the questions I am asked most frequently by attorneys marketing their services is: “How do I get new clients?” My consulting practice is dedicated to helping attorneys answer this question but unfortunately there is no one right answer. Each attorney is different and each practice area has different nuances. Applying a one-size-fits-all answer to this question would be to do a disservice to anyone genuinely interested in the answer.
There is a way to answer this question and have the answer broadly apply to just about any attorney in any practice area. That is answer can be summed up in two words: DO SOMETHING.
It’s not complicated.
Each and every day you should do something that helps you build your law firm client base. Today you write an article for a trade journal. Tomorrow you ask a colleague to make an introduction for you to an influential individual in a target company. The next day you reach out to the chamber of commerce to see if there is an opportunity to give a speech.
Start each day by doing one thing that will help you get closer to your client acquisition goals for your law firm.
Now I have a question for attorneys marketing their services: What have you done today to get new clients?
If you’re looking for more ways to get clients as a lawyer you need to check out these additional resources:
Do you want a CD that can help put everything in perspective? There are no stings attached. Simply follow the link above and enter your information and you will receive the CD in your mailbox. I even cover the cost of shipping.
This strategy will help you connect with your ideal clients as well as your ideal referral sources. Follow the link above and you’ll be on the road to making a great living and living a great life ™.
Building valuable relationships with clients requires courage. You need it to be yourself and risk having the client reject you. This article will help you determine if you have the guts to build powerful client relationships.
How Successful Attorneys Choose Their Clients
How do you choose your clients?
Finding clients is not difficult. Once you know where to look, finding clients is easy. The challenge comes in finding clients who are the perfect fit for you.
Let’s face it, you wouldn’t go to a store and buy a pair of pants unless you were certain they fit. You wouldn’t buy a car unless you test drove it and made sure it was safe. You wouldn’t buy a house unless you inspected it.
Yet most attorneys have little or no standards to apply when accepting a new client.
If you have ever had a bad experience with a client or if you have ever agreed to reduce (or waive) your fee just to make a client go away, you need to give some thought to this idea.
You get to choose who you work with.
Everyone should have their own specific criteria for selecting clients. Here are some universally applicable standards to consider each time someone new asks for representation:
Will this client and this situation afford you the opportunity to do your best work? Your clients should benefit from your talent, skills, knowledge and experience. You should learn and grow through the application of the same. If this client doesn’t allow you to do your best, you are doing a disservice to both parties.
Can you legally, morally and ethically work with this client without reservation? This is between you and the person you see when you look in the mirror. If you can’t stand your client, he shouldn’t be your client.
Can this client afford a lawyer of your caliber? You are not a charity. Your law firm is a business. Don’t negotiate fees. Give 100% effort and provide your client with 100% of your talent, skills, knowledge and experience. They should pay 100% of your fee. If your client can’t afford it, they should not be your client.
Can this client adequately help you do your job? All too often clients want you to just make the problem go away. Unfortunately they don’t want to (or are incapable of) participating in their own matter. (Note: If they are incapacitated that’s different than if they are stubborn). You must decide at the outset of your relationship whether or not your client can help you get the best possible result. If they can’t, you should let them go somewhere else.
Is there opportunity for work beyond the initial engagement with this client? Does the person in front of you have other matters he could refer to your firm? Is he influential within the community and can he send other people to you? Each client offers two possibilities within this area: They can send you business that they personally control or they can influence others to work with you when the need arises. At some point during your intake process, you should probe about the prospective client’s ability to do one or the other.
Your time is incredibly valuable. You cannot waste it on people who are not your ideal client. These are the main criteria my clients use when they interview potential clients for their law practice. Add your own criteria to the list.
Of course, implied in this entire lesson is the idea that you get to choose your clients. If you don’t have that luxury, you have a marketing issue and you definitely need to call me. 888.692.5531
Time For an Ethical Enema
Most of my work is done with sole practitioners and small law firms. I enjoy working with them because they are generally highly receptive to the things I teach. Big law firms on the other hand often have stupid requirements that get in the way of old fashioned commonsense.
Recently I met with a BIG LAW firm attorney (let’s call him Mr. Big) as part of an interview series I am doing with successful lawyers. This guy came highly recommended by his Managing Partner. My interview with him was short.
I ended it after the first question.
My first question to Mr. Big was: “What makes you so successful?” I thought he would say something about client service or a dedication to quality research or diligence in pursuing justice for his clients. I thought he would share a secret with me that I could, in turn, pass along to my clients.
Here was his answer: “I’m successful because I bill the crap out of my clients.”
I was stunned. Mr. Big went on the regale me with stories of how he has billed over 300 hours each month for the past 3 months. For those of you who are not great with math that means he is billing 12.5 hours per day, six days a week or billing 10 hours a day for an entire month straight (for three consecutive months).
So Mr. Big bills all of this time and he NEVER takes a day off right? Absolutely not. He works a half day one day on the weekend and takes the other day completely off. He says he usually makes up for that half day by “cutting out early to play golf one day during the week.”
I can’t say I was shocked by this. I know it happens quite a bit. The problem comes when these people submit their bills. If they submit an hourly bill and it is not true they are perpetrating a fraud.
The argument people make to counter this point is that they are billing for “the time it would take if someone else did the work.” In other words, because the attorney is highly experienced in this area of the law, he can get something complicated done quicker than others with less experience.
That’s great. If you have that experience you should receive a premium for your services just don’t extract it by padding the number of hours worked. Charge a flat fee, a value-based fee, and explain to your client that they are receiving the benefit of your experience.
There are no less than 30 different ways to structure fees in an attorney/client relationship. I cover these ways with my clients each and every day. Hourly billing is BY FAR the worst billing method. Not just because the client will get screwed (early and often) but because the lawyer will often get screwed as well (if you don’t think clients report overbilling to the state bar, think again).
If you need some help crafting an alternative billing methodology, give me a call 888.692.5531. Don’t put yourself and your client in an uncomfortable position – the position of a person who has received an ethical enema.
Your Law Firm is Leaking
Each and every month you lose influence over your clients. Each month some of the people who have paid you the highest fees or done the most work with you become less and less interested in you. Each month your stellar reputation fades a little more in the minds of the folks who refer you new clients And most people are probably not doing anything about it.
Because most people are lazy.
You lose 10% of your influence with your clients, prospects and referral sources for every 30 days you do not have contact with them.
This means ten months from now, the great client you had lunch with today will have forgotten all about you. It means the doctor who sent you that great referral last week will have a hard time remembering what you do for a living. It means the business owner you met at the networking event yesterday will not recognize you if you hit him with your car next spring.
So what is the solution?
The answer is to start communicating with these people. Each month you should have some kind of communication with your clients, prospective clients and referral sources. This communication can be a newsletter, it can be a card or it can be a phone call or an email. It really doesn’t matter how you interact with them. You simply want to remind them that you are here and ready to help them and the people they know.
Some people will say: “I don’t have the money!”
Do you have a real business or are you just playing around? You need to invest money in your client acquisition efforts in order to develop a real business (a law firm is a business by the way).
It costs less than a dollar to purchase and mail a greeting card each month. It costs about $2 to send out a printed newsletter (in small quantity). Email is practically free – just type and hit send.
But some people will need to be convinced. Here’s how the math works:
You mail 1000 newsletters at $2 each (the cost for printing and mailing). You mail 1000 greeting cards at $1 each. You type and send 1000 emails to the people within your database (only to those from whom you have received permission). You do these three things every month. That is a total monthly expense of $3000.
Let’s say it takes you three months to see any business from these efforts. So you have spent $9,000 in keeping up with the most valuable 1000 people in your database.
On the first day of the fourth month you get a client as a direct result of these efforts. This client is your average client. And your average client pays you $10,000 in fees.
Was your investment worth it?
Will you get more than one client from these efforts?
Most likely. There is a cumulative effect to this kind of system. After about six months you will start to see more and more interest in your services. It takes some people a little longer to absorb the information and react.
Will you get more clients by doing this compared to doing nothing?
What are you waiting for?
If you need a kick in the rear end and want some help in setting up this type of system, give me a call. 1.888.692.5531