If Not Now…When?
“The timing is not right.”
This is one of the excuses I hear most often from lawyers. This excuse is used to justify a lack of action. Sometimes the lack of action is related to making a staffing change within their firm. Sometimes the lack of action is related to firing a problem client. Most often the lack of action is related to developing systems and processes related to client acquisition.
If you have ever felt this way, I have good news for you…
This is the perfect time to take control of your future.
The beginning of a new year is always a great opportunity to evaluate your progress and make some changes.
Take a few moments and write down your goals for your personal income for the next 12 months.
Next think about how many clients you will need to work with and how much (on average) they will need to pay you, to help achieve that goal.
Finally make a list of things you must do each day to find, engage and develop relationships with these clients.
If you do nothing else, for the rest of the year, review this information daily.
I have shared this exercise with hundreds of people over the years and the results have been nothing short of amazing. This works because, at a subconscious level, your mind begins to find ways to help you achieve your goals.
Over time you will find the things you do each day to bring you closer to your income goal will change. This happens because your subconscious mind guides you to test new client acquisition strategies over and over. You may not even realize you are doing it. That is the power of setting a goal and linking it to daily activity.
Of course there are other things you can do to help yourself. Things like following a system that has been successful for other lawyers. Things like modeling the behavior of some of the most successful people in your profession. Things like having someone hold you accountable for taking action.
All of those things (and a few others) would be helpful as you strive to grow your law firm.
But none of those things will make a difference if you do not take the first step.
That first step is to decide that the timing is right; actually the timing is perfect, for you to take action.
Do not wait another second. Take that first step right now and reply to this email with the three things you are going to do immediately to build the law firm you have always wanted.
The Basics of a Law Firm Marketing Plan
Who, what and how.
That’s what a good law firm marketing plan is all about. In its early stages, your marketing should answer three questions:
Who will you target?
What can you do for them?
How will they best receive your message?
These three questions become an actual marketing plan when you do the following:
Decide Who You Want to Target
Attorneys will often believe that EVERYONE in the community can be a client for their law firm. While this may be true – everyone could be a client – it is a terrible marketing strategy. Narrowing your ideal client down to a specific target market is the best way to be perceived as an expert. Focusing on a specific niche will help you effectively communicate on a direct and personal level with your target client.
Communicate Your Competitive Advantage
What makes you different? Why should someone choose to work with you? This is a critical question that you must answer with your law firm marketing Plan. If you look like everyone else and you say the same things everyone else is saying, you give people no other choice but to make a decision based upon price.
Deliver Your Message In the Most Effective Way Possible
Does your ideal client read the newspaper? Does he/she read trade magazines? Do they attend educational events? Are they computer savvy?
You must understand how your ideal client likes to disseminate information. Learn where they get their news. This will help you understand how to get your message through to them.
At the start, a law firm marketing plan consists of nothing more than addressing these three strategic elements. Getting them correct is critical. Think them through thoroughly.
What You Don’t Know About Marketing for Law Firms Can Kill You
This past week I met the leader of a law firm that is on life support. His firm is literally hanging on by the thinnest of threads. This guy is hoping that they will land a big client “within the next few weeks” to help him make payroll.
He called me to “pick my brain” on law firm marketing. He wanted me to show him the magic beans he could plant that would help him grow his revenue overnight. He asked about pay per click advertising, newspaper ads, handing out flyers at flea markets, etc.
Unfortunately for this guy (and the 40 employees of his law firm) it is too late.
He can do all that stuff and some stuff he didn’t mention but even if he gets 20 new clients he will be in the same predicament within the next six months. Why?
Because there is nothing that makes his law firm different from any other law firm in his area. Clients have no compelling reason to work with him. He is the same as everyone else. There is no law firm marketing trick that can fix that overnight. It takes time and it takes some careful planning.
The one question I ask every new client before I decide if I work with them is the question this guy can’t answer:
Why would someone choose your law firm over everyone else who does what you do?
Ultimately your clients decide if your answer is correct…and they vote with their wallets.
Florida Lawyers Need Marketing Consulting for Law Firms
Just about every day someone asks me why I focus specifically on Marketing for Law Firms. (They also ask if I only work on marketing for law firms in Florida. The answer to that is “NO” I work with attorneys all over the United States. ) Here are some numbers from the Avery Index that will help you understand why Florida lawyers need marketing help.
Florida has 11.7 lawyers per 10,000 residents. This means that for every lawyer there are about 855 people living in the state. About 70% of those lawyers are in private practice – which is to say they don’t work for the government, aren’t teaching full time and they are not in a corporate role as counsel. So there are about 1,300 people for every lawyer in private practice in Florida. (These are rough numbers but I am trying to illustrate a point).
Then you break that population of 1,300 potential clients down by specialty and you realize that not everyone needs a lawyer or can afford a lawyer. Real Estate Attorneys, Probate Attorneys and Divorce Attorneys for example may never be necessary for a significant portion of the population. Corporate attorneys are only necessary for business issues. Criminal Defense Attorneys only work with a small segment of the population.
If we assume that 50% of the population in Florida will need your services in any given year, the pool of eligible clients narrows to about 750 per lawyer. If we assume that only half of those people can afford you, the pool narrows to 375 people per lawyer. So in any given year, only 375 people will be ready, willing and able to hire each Florida attorney.
Finding those 375 people every year and convincing them to give you their matter and their money is the reason Florida lawyers need a marketing consultant for their law firms.
You Need a Law Firm Marketing Plan
Who needs a law firm marketing plan?
Actually, every law firm needs to have a marketing plan. This is especially true for sole practitioners or small law firms. Law firm marketing plans are important because they keep you focused on developing and deepening client relationships. This is something that often goes overlooked during the day-to-day practice of law.
Here are four reasons why a law firm marketing plan is important:
Having a law firm marketing plan forces you to think about attracting new clients. In most firms, marketing is not a discipline that is given a great deal of thought. Many times, attendance at networking events are the only marketing-related activities that take place. Developing an actual marketing plan forces you to think about who you want as a client and how you will attract them.
A law firm marketing plan will keep you on track. If you want to know how to get somewhere you need to follow a road map. A good law firm marketing plan will serve as a road map that will lead you toward achieving your business development goals. It will also bring you back on to the right path when you head down the wrong road.
Writing down your marketing plan will commit you to working on client acquisition. Everything we write down seems to magically happen. This is the power of a psychological commitment. Committing your law firm marketing plan to paper will help cement this commitment in your mind. Since action follows commitment, your plan stands a better chance of becoming reality if it is in writing.
A law firm marketing plan helps you keep a record of things that work…and things that don’t. Most of us operate under the trial and error philosophy. We try something and if it doesn’t work, we don’t do it again. This only makes sense if you give something a FAIR trial. Doing something half-hearted and claiming it didn’t work is not really giving it a fair shot. Creating a law firm marketing plan, executing it and comparing the results of your actions to the desired results (outlined in the plan) will be valuable in determining which marketing tactics you should implement in the future.
Every lawyer needs a law firm marketing plan regardless of the size of his/her firm. Sit down today and sketch out some ideas. If you dedicate 15 minutes each day to writing down your marketing ideas, within two weeks you will have the foundation of a solid law firm marketing plan.