The Easy Way to Select a Niche Market For Your Law Firm
Much of my work focuses on helping lawyers position themselves. Our goal is to make them stand out from the crowd. This is no easy task as lawyers do everything possible to look, sound and act just like other lawyers.
I want lawyers to be perceived by their clients as experts in a specific, focused area of law. This is a powerful and highly effective strategy for those who choose to employ it.
Why is this so effective?
Well, for too many reasons to enumerate here but it starts with the fact that an expert can always command a fee premium and an expert is always in demand. Think about the Heart Surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic and your Family Doctor. Who makes more money? Who is in such demand that people from all over the world fly in to see him for his opinion?
Quite frankly, I do not want to sell you too hard on this strategy because it is a huge competitive advantage for the lawyers I work with. But I am willing to give you a step-by-step process you can use to develop your own specialized, niche market focused, law firm marketing plan.
These six factors are the keys to developing a law firm that will allow you to call the shots. If you get these things correct, you can effectively set your fees at will and select your clients as you see fit.
Factor 1: Who You Work With
Marketing to everyone is the kiss of death for a lawyer. Marketing to everyone in a specific, focused area of practice is slow but still certain death. Marketing to everyone in very specific, focused aspect of the law in a specific focused practice area is the key to success.
Criminal Defense Attorney – Not specific enough
Criminal Defense Attorney with Expertise in Handling DUI Cases – Better
Criminal Defense Attorney with Expertise in Handling DUI Cases and a History of Getting Great Results for Repeat Offenders – Best
Intellectual Property Attorney – Not specific enough
Intellectual Property Attorney Focused on Licensing of Business Methods – Better
Intellectual Property Attorney Focused on Licensing of Business Methods for Service Businesses – Best
Factor 2: What You Do
You must have an approach the client perceives as unique. The experience of working with you must be different than the experience of working with every other lawyer who does what you do. There is something that makes your law firm different and special. You need to highlight that in your marketing.
Factor 3: When Your Clients Need Help
Timing is a critical component of establishing a niche marketing plan for your law firm. You must be present in the mind of the prospective client when he needs help. If this factor does not exist, you will not be successful no matter what you try.
A divorce attorney focuses his practice exclusively on working with doctors and dentists. He partners with financial planning professionals and delivers seminars on the importance of having a prenuptial agreement before entering into a marriage. Each month he sources between 6 and 10 new prenups with this marketing strategy. Who do you think these people call when they need a divorce attorney? By focusing on prenuptial agreements this lawyer has his name in front of the doc when the marriage falls apart. His timing is perfect.
Factor 4: Where You Can Find Them
Your ideal clients have to be easy to find and they must be easy to communicate with. Targeting undercover CIA agents is not a good idea. You need to be able to source your target clientele in at least five different ways (with dozens of sub variations).
This requires research and it requires creativity.
Factor 5: Why They Should Work With You Now
This factor has two components to it. It involves selecting you, and making a call to you now. This means you must have a compelling message with a direct, powerful call to action. You must be tastefully forceful at convincing the client to get out of his comfortable chair, put down his remote and walk a mile through a snow storm to come work with you.
That is an exaggeration but it demonstrates the kind of effort it takes to get someone to make a move…now.
Factor 6: How To Reach Out To Them
This is about using a message delivery device (also known as media). If you want your prospective client to move, you need to reach them with the right message delivered in precisely the right way with the right media.
These six factors are literally the keys to the castle for lawyers. If you want to build a law firm that is truly special, a law firm that will allow you to take control of client attraction, this is how to do it.
If you want more details on how to structure your marketing to build this kind of law firm, call my office for an appointment today. 888.692.5531
Some Thoughts On The Giants of Law Firm Marketing
I speak with dozens of lawyers every day. During the course of a month I probably meet (either virtually or in person) over 100 new lawyers. At least 70% of them have had experience, as a consumer, with one of the big law firm marketing service providers.
Without fail, in all cases, this experience has been negative.
I am talking about one of the two big law firm marketing groups out there. One of them is the opposite of East and the other has a funny spelling of the combination of a car and a shampoo.
I’m not sure why most small firms and solos have negative experiences with these companies but I am willing to wager it is systemic. I’m also willing to bet that the leadership of these behemoths do not know how badly damaged their brands are at the grass roots level.
I’d like to tell them and see if they have an interest in changing.
That’s why I am launching a campaign to get in touch with Senior Executives of both companies. I will first speak with them off the record and see what their reaction is to some of the comments I’ve heard from their clients. But I would also like to interview them for my experts and authors interview series. I would like to understand what their vision is for their company and I’d like to hear their perception of the current state of the legal industry.
These folks may not be interested in speaking with me. They may not care about solo and small practice law firms. We’ll see.
I’ll keep you posted.
First Class vs. No Class – What Kind of Law Firm Are You Running?
This past week I had to fly from Miami to New York to attend a funeral. Things happened pretty quickly so I really didn’t have time to plan my travel. I left South Florida on a Thursday evening and returned the following day. I wanted the most convenient airline in terms of schedule and airport. That meant flying into White Plains, NY and flying out of JFK.
On my trip up to New York I was forced to fly on Jet Blue. That was the only airline that met my schedule and arrival location constraints. On the way home I flew American Airlines. I had a little more flexibility on the return and there were some distinct advantages to this choice. Money was not a consideration in this situation. I needed to be in New York at a certain time and I needed to maintain my schedule prior to leaving.
The experience on each airline could not have been more different. The crew and the equipment were great on both legs of the trip. This is not about them. Both companies did a fine job. Unfortunately, it was the bigger picture – the airlines’ strategy that caused my experience to be significantly different.
On my trip up to New York I was on a small plane in the middle of the cabin. There is only one class of service on Jet Blue (you can pay $15 more for a bigger seat but those were all gone). I sat next to a lady who snapped her gum for two hours and twenty five minutes. There was a dog under the seat behind me which kept barking. The guy across the aisle was wearing a jogging suit and smelled like he had not bathed in a week. An elderly gentleman in front of me fought with the flight attendant over his second carry-on bag not fitting in the overhead bin, which resulted in a delay as they checked it. His first bag was placed four rows behind me. This created a problem when it was time to deplane as he insisted on pushing his way past me and six other people to get his bag before we got off. There was no power port for my laptop and no room to fit it between the seatback in front of me and my legs. I could not work and I could not sleep (barking dog).
Prior to leaving, I stood in front of the gate for 45 minutes. All of the seats in the gate area were taken and Jet Blue doesn’t have an airline lounge. Even the bar area in the terminal (which resembled the Cantina in Star Wars) was full. I did my best to make phone calls while dodging screaming kids and tourists on their way home.
Generally, this leg of the trip was an uncomfortable experience I have no desire to repeat.
On my flight back to Miami I flew in First Class on a 767. I got to the airport early but the terminal was crowded. I breezed by everyone on line and went right to the first class check in counter. After three minutes, I was on my way to security. A special line for first class passengers had nobody on it and I was through the screening process in less than five minutes.
During the 90 minutes prior to boarding, I worked on my laptop at a desk in the Admiral’s Club while I sipped an adult beverage.
On board the plane, I powered up my laptop with the power port at my seat and worked during the two hours of the three hour flight. During the other hour I ate a decent meal and had a great conversation with the attorney sitting next to me.
The second experience was clearly different than the first.
My question to you is:
What kind of law firm do you want? Do you want to build the bargain basement of law firms – offering competent service to low class clients? Or do you want to offer luxury service to clients who will pay more for a better experience? I assure you there are more than enough of both kinds of clients out there.
Your law firm marketing will determine which clients you attract. You have a choice. Are you first class or no class?
In Legal Marketing You Can’t Fake Class
This past weekend I was driving along a major highway in Miami and I saw a billboard with the big fat face of a local attorney holding a traffic ticket in his hand. This was definitely a candidate for the legal marketing hall of shame. The headline on the billboard read:
“Don’t Pay That Ticket!”
This is the same guy who sends out ridiculous flyers in the mail to people who get traffic tickets. He looks like a total goofball.
I am wondering if this is what this guy had in mind when he went to law school. Did he say to himself:
“When I graduate with all of this knowledge I want to go out and make myself look like an ass to get some people in to my law firm?”
This is the kind of legal marketing that makes lawyers look bad and makes people think I am the Dean of Clown College.
When it comes to legal marketing you need to ask yourself one question:
“If my mother sees this ad/article/direct mail piece/speech would she be proud to admit I was her son (daughter)?”
If you hesitate at all when you answer, you should not use that legal marketing vehicle.
Attorney Marketing Creed: Do No Harm
If attracting the ideal client means you have to become some kind of circus sideshow, you should probably rethink your career choice.
The lawyers we see on bus stop benches or billboard with cute phone numbers (you know what I’m talking about, they spell CASH or PAIN) are a joke. They harm the legal profession and they harm those of us who make our living trying to help LEGITIMATE attorneys build a law firm.
Your law firm is a business but it is also a profession. Attorney marketing should be designed to build relationships with clients. The sleazy, cheesy, pursuit of fast cash from people who are often in a difficult situation is deplorable.
In the medical community, the creed of DO NO HARM governs at all times. As a combative measure to the onslaught of bad attorney marketing that exists, I tell friends who need a lawyer to follow the same practice as if they were selecting a medical specialist.
- First: They should ask their family physician for a referral. In the case of a lawyer, they should ask a lawyer they trust for a referral. The lawyer who handled their real estate closing knows a criminal attorney. The attorney they use for their business transactions knows a divorce lawyer. The lawyer who prepared their will knows someone who can help with a tax matter…and so on…
- Next: The client should check licensing body for disciplinary action. Every state has a governing body that regulates the conduct of lawyers. In Florida we have The Florida Bar. The Bar’s website has a member search area which allows clients to check the disciplinary history of any lawyer in the state. It also allows the attorney to complete a profile. As an attorney, you should fill in complete profile information and encourage prospective clients to check your credentials at the site.
- Third: Interview them. I tell friends to ask the tough questions of their prospective attorney (not about the matter at hand but about the attorney’s experience and background). Would you let a surgeon cut into you without meeting them first? Only in an emergency. The same should hold true for a lawyer.
- Finally: The attorney should provide references and contact information from past clients. All attorneys should have at least three references they can provide to prospective clients. Even attorneys in highly secretive and confidential practices should be able to point to three people, somewhere on the planet, who will vouch for them.
Smart clients will not hire an attorney base upon a billboard or a bus stop bench. An attorney who is good at marketing would never allow his firm to place that kind of advertising. DO NO HARM also holds true to when it refers to your profession.