Legal Marketing: Tactics Matter
I continue to be amazed by two legal marketing phenomena:
1.) The number of lawyers who only have one way to get a new client.
2.) The number of lawyers who have no idea where their next client will come from.
One of the things I harp on continuously with my clients is consistent execution of client acquisition tactics.
A great legal marketing plan includes several forms of media used in several different ways.
The fundamentals of any legal marketing plan include:
- Writing (in publications your clients read)
- Speaking (to audiences of potential clients)
- Earned Media (being quoted/profiled as an expert)
- Hosting Educational Events
- Developing a Referral/Follow-up System
- Direct Mail
- Advertising (print, web, television, radio, etc.)
- Internet Presence
- Community Involvement
These are the ten categories of media that are most effective in attracting clients to your law practice. You can’t afford to ignore any of them.
Because clients use different media to find lawyers. Some clients will search the Internet. Some clients will read trade publications. Some clients will call a friend or colleague. Some clients will only realize they need you after they hear you speak at an event. Some will only realize that you are an expert after they see a story about you in the paper.
Some clients will only choose to work with you after seeing your name and credentials four or five different times.
Research has proven that clients only respond to the first marketing communication about 1% of the time. Yet most legal marketing plans do not include multiple tactics delivered via many different forms of media to reach the target audience.
There are three reasons why attorneys don’t use multiple media in creating their legal marketing. All of them are ways of rationalizing their own inactivity. Let’s take a look at each of them and debunk their validity.
The complaint about cost is a matter of perception. If I told you that spending $10,000 on marketing would bring you in $100,000 in new client cases, would you do it? How about if that same $10,000 brought in $500,000 in new cases?
Great legal marketing delivers a return on investment. It is just like your retirement plan, your stock portfolio or the money you save for your kid’s college education. It will pay dividends if you invest it wisely. The key is learning how to invest those marketing dollars so they work hard for you.
Many lawyers worry that legal marketing will take up a significant amount of time – time they could spend doing legal work. There are two ways to look at the time you spend on client acquisition tactics:
First: You should view your time spent on attracting clients as an investment. If you bill $250 dollars an hour and you spend 10 hours on legal marketing, you have invested $2,500. You should receive a return on that investment of over $25,000. Once again, you need to know what you are doing so that you invest your time wisely.
Second: Great legal marketing will save you time. If you have the right target audience and you hit it with the right message via the correct media, you will attract clients who pay higher fees and refer business to you. This allows you to work smarter and make more money with less effort.
Most attorneys don’t know much about marketing. They don’t teach it in law school. This lack of knowledge is something that will initially hold you back from making decisions about strategy and tactics. In reality, this should work to your advantage as you have no preconceived notions about your own legal marketing capability. So for you, the sky really is the limit.
There are many places you can obtain business development knowledge. You can read books or attend courses. You can learn through the experience of others. Or you can learn by trial and error. I prefer the first two methods to the third but ultimately, you need to educate yourself on the principles of great legal marketing.
If you wait to start you are putting off your own success.
I realize you have a law practice to run. I know there is legal work to be done. I understand that just being a lawyer, doing legal work, is a full time job.
But if you do not dedicate time, significant time, to legal marketing, you will never, ever, control your own destiny.
Where will your next client come from?
If you had a legal marketing plan and invested time in growing your law practice, you would know.
If you are ready to take your law firm to the next level or if you just want to attract better clients so you can spend more time with your family, give me a call. 888.692.5531.
Late Night Debacle is a Lesson on Writing an Attorney Marketing Plan
We can learn a lot from the trouble on the late shift.
In case you have not been following entertainment news, here is a brief overview:
In September 2009 the NBC brain trust moved Jay Leno into a one hour show at 10PM. This move dislodged him from the Tonight Show (which he hosted since 1992). Conan O’Brien became the new Tonight Show host. The NBC Brass loved the move since they were able to profitably sell the new 10PM show to advertisers. (A talk show is much cheaper to produce and air than a scripted show with an ensemble cast).
As it turns out, nobody likes watching Jay Leno at 10PM and only a few people like watching Conan on the Tonight Show. The affiliates (television station owners) are really angry. NBC screwed up royally and they needed to fix it.
So what did they decide to do?
They tip toed around behind the scenes and opened negotiations with Jay to move him into a 30 minute show at 11:35PM (that is currently when the Tonight Show starts). This means the Tonight Show would need to be moved back a half hour. Once Conan got wind of this he was not happy. Although an agreement is imminent, the drama played out on TV, in the newspapers and on line. In the end, it will cost NBC tens of millions of dollars and much more than that value in talent (Conan will probably end up leaving).
Here are three things we can learn from this mess:
When something works, stick with it until it stops working. Don’t tinker with it just because you can.
Conan O’Brien always wanted the Tonight Show and he has demonstrated that he would wait for it. His contract was not up yet and neither was Jay’s. The ratings for both shows were good. But NBC wanted to cut costs during the 10PM hour. So they made this ridiculous deal with these guys. They messed up a good thing.
We do this kind of thing all the time. We come up with a client acquisition tactic that works and then we tinker with it.
What do I mean?
You go to a networking event, you meet a few people, you follow up with them and you get new business. But then you don’t go to another event for six months.
You give a speech and it results in a couple of good new clients. Instead of looking for other venues to give that same speech again, you decide to give a different speech that doesn’t work as well.
When something works, stick with it until it stops working. If you give a speech to a group or trade organization and you receive a positive response, give that same speech to a different group (within the same industry). If networking brings you new clients, stick with it until you simply can’t shake another hand.
Don’t mess with things that are working just for the sake of making a change.
Put the client at the forefront of any new business strategy.
NBC thought they knew what was best for the viewers of late night television. Magically, this aligned with their desire to cut costs. It appears that NBC wanted to do what was best for NBC and the viewers’ desires were secondary.
Every day you face choices that affect the wellbeing of your law firm. It is easy to make those choices when they are black and white - either good or bad for your client. It is not easy to make those choices when they are grey.
Always be guided by giving the client the greatest value for their investment in you. This is the most powerful advertising strategy you will ever employ as it is the key driver of word of mouth.
Do what you love because you love to do it.
Both Jay and Conan are making lightof their situation. They realize that it provides them each with an opportunity to get some laughs. And that’s what they love to do, regardless of when they appear on television.
If you don’t enjoy being an attorney (at least 80% of the time) you need to make some changes. Your passion for your profession and your desire to help your clients will make all the difference in the results you get.
Ultimately, the current late night television situation will be a footnote on the careers of both of these gentlemen. It is media fodder now but it will all be forgotten with positive ratings results. But this debacle for NBC serves as a reminder that good planning is far more valuable than most of us realize.
Think things through from every possible angle. Most of the time big mistakes are just not this funny.
Get a Grip on Administrivia and Make More Money
Do you want to immediately give yourself a productivity boost?
The best way to do this is to remove the trivial administrative tasks that bog you down. I call these things ADMINISTRIVIA.
All of us tend to make things more difficult than they need to be. We use 200 words when 20 will do. We spend too much time analyzing minor issues. We work on mundane tasks that we can/should delegate to others. The administrivia in our firms is the biggest example of time wasted (or at least underutilized).
Here are three things you can do today to dramatically increase your productivity by eliminating administrivia:
One: Never Answer a Ringing Phone
This simple rule has quadrupled my personal productivity and it has (at least) doubled the productivity of my clients immediately upon implementation. In my firm we have a system for handling phone calls.
Here’s how it works:
My main phone number rings directly into voice mail. The voice mail is transcribed and automatically sent to my assistant. She reads the message and either handles it immediately or calls the party back for clarification. If she cannot resolve or dispose of the issue, she schedules a telephone appointment for the caller directly with me. The appointment has a start time and an end time (usually 15 minutes in length) and it has a mini-agenda. Once we resolve the issue, I’m off the phone.
Now you’re probably thinking that your clients have different expectations of you. That’s because you have conditioned them to think you are going to take their calls right away. You can change that perception by having a simple conversation.
It starts like this:
“Mr. Client, you are very important to me. In order to maximize our time together I want to make sure I prepare for every interaction I have with you. From now on, when you call me, I’m going to set aside some dedicated time for us to discuss your issue. Since we are both busy it may take a day or so to get this scheduled but we will both be more productive as a result.”
Second: Stop Checking Email
You really don’t need email. Business was conducted just fine for centuries without it. You especially don’t need to check email constantly. Your productivity will skyrocket when you begin ignoring that stupid inbox on your computer (or Blackberry, PDA, iPhone, etc.).
Here’s how you can conquer this seemingly impossible issue:
Keep your current email address but set up an out of office auto response that states you are no longer checking email. Tell everyone you work with that you are no longer accepting email. Tell them to email your assistant with important documents. Have your assistant schedule a call to review the document with the client/prospective client/opposing attorney. Have your assistant check your email once a day for anything important.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had a tough time with this initially. I used a step down method to get off email. I checked it three times a day at first. Then I moved to once a day, which was almost worse because stuff piled up. After that I went to once a week (at that point I just deleted everything because it was too much to keep up with). Now with my assistant keeping an eye out for important items, I never log into email unless she tells me there is something I need to handle.
Third: Have Someone Manage Your Calendar
There is nothing I do worse than schedule my own appointments. Honestly, I think I have a disability that prevents me from keeping an orderly calendar.
Having someone manage your schedule will make you more efficient and you will be much, much happier. This also helps alleviate the guilt you feel when you have to say NO to an unproductive meeting or event. Someone else says NO for you. It’s beautiful!
Time to Decide
There are about a million reasons not to implement these three changes. After all, no NORMAL person does this, right? Well what does NORMAL mean anyway? Doesn’t NORMAL mean ‘just like everyone else’?
And what do the law firms run by EVERYONE ELSE look like? Most of them are mediocre. If you want to be just like everyone else and have a mediocre firm, ignore this article.
But your productivity will suffer if you don’t take charge of your interpersonal interaction.
If you think you can’t do this because you can’t trust your assistant, you need to get a new one (or go into therapy for your trust issues). If you can’t afford an assistant I’m afraid I can’t help you. Virtual assistants are available for $10/hr. and they can handle these tasks in about 10 hours a week. That’s $100. Give me a break.
This article is your call to action. Take control of your productivity immediately.
Best of the Rainmaker Minute 2009
Each week I send a brief article on Business Strategy to my clients and a select group of VIPs in my database. Some of the articles get a bigger reaction than others. Below are the five articles that have generated the greatest response from my readers this year.
If you missed one of these articles, be sure to read it now and send me your feedback. Love it or hate it, there is a lesson in each one.
Number Five: Have You Had an Ethical Enema?
Hourly billing is going away. If you are billing your clients by the hour you are doing yourself a disservice and your clients hate it. If you don’t find an alternate billing methodology someone else will be working with your clients in the near future.
Number Four: The Foundation of Business Development
Want to know how to set up a law firm marketing plan? Read this article. It details the four groups you must engage. Suspects, Prospects, Clients and Evangelists.
Number Three: The Two Killer Qualities
There are two qualities that will help you CRUSH your competition when it comes to building a productive, profitable law practice that helps you live the life you have always wanted.
Number Two: What You Should Learn from Tiger Woods
Tiger is being accused of sleeping with everyone who ever watched golf on TV and we take advantage of his situation to learn a thing or two about business.
Number One: How I Got So Fat
You loved it when I told you how my waistline grew with my income. Will you watch as I take the weight off in the New Year?
All things considered, 2009 was a great year – mostly because I shared it with you. Thanks for joining me each Wednesday. I hope you check with me each week as I rant, rave and share my thoughts on Rainmaking with you in the New Year.
Law Firm Marketing Numbers You Need to Know
Law firms of all sizes need to look at three numbers to determine the overall health of the firm’s marketing efforts. Those numbers are:
1). The client lifetime value for each client that works with the firm.
2). The return on investment of the firm’s marketing dollars
3). The average cost of acquisition of a new client.
Here’s how you calculate those numbers:
Client Lifetime Value
Calculate the total amount of dollars you have billed to the client. Add in the referral business this client has brought to your firm over the years.
Divide the total dollar amount by the number of years they have worked with your law firm.
Return on Investment
Take the amount you have made as a result of a particular marketing tactic or campaign and divide it by the amount of money you invested in employing that marketing tactic.
Return on Investment (ROI) is calculated at the tactic/campaign level.
Client Acquisition Cost
Client Acquisition Cost is calculated at the enterprise level. In other words, you should track the overall client acquisition cost for your entire law firm. To calculate the client acquisition cost you take the amount you invest in marketing and divide it by the number of clients.
There is a dirty little secret to successful marketing that many law firms do not understand. That secret is: If you cannot measure it, you shouldn’t do it.
When it comes to marketing, if you cannot measure the results, you should not invest the dollars in the marketing campaign.
Can you measure the number of people who read a Yellow Pages ad?
Can you measure the number of people who see a sign on the side of a bus?
If you can’t measure it, don’t do it!
If you’d like additional details or if you need help with you marketing, please call our office at 888.692.5531