How Do Successful Lawyers Marketing Their Law Firms Think?
Successful lawyers think, act, and speak differently when compared with other lawyers. You can recognize patterns in their behavior. Here are some of those patterns.
Opportunity vs. Problem
Every problem presented by a client is an opportunity for the successful lawyer. He knows that if the client feels uncomfortable and he can take away that discomfort, the client will trust him.
Progress vs. Perfection
Consistent perfection is an unattainable goal. Progress is what a successful lawyer strives to achieve. He knows his job is to help the client achieve his goals and that doesn’t always mean getting things buttoned up perfectly. It means getting the best result possible given the circumstances.
Passion vs. Money
Successful lawyers follow their passion. They do what they do because they love it. The money comes when people recognize that passion and invest in it.
Speed vs. Need
Successful lawyers respond quickly to clients and they do this because speed is a competitive advantage for them. If they address the client’s issues rapidly, the client does not spend time thinking about things and letting his imagination run wild.
In contrast, the successful lawyer does not enable needy clients. Neediness is often a form of intellectual immaturity that will destroy an attorney/client relationship. The best lawyers address this with a client the minute they see it. This helps keep the relationship on solid ground.
Systems vs. Controlling Behavior
Successful lawyers create systems that help them achieve their goals. They have no illusions of working on every project themselves. They gladly train, develop and delegate.
If you spend any time wondering what successful lawyers think about marketing, business strategy or practice management, you need only have a conversation with one of them. You will immediately recognize the difference in the way they think, act and speak from the patterns listed above.
Can You Find the Money in Your Law Firm?
Still wondering how to get clients as a lawyer?
There are clients and money hiding right in your office. In fact, the money is just sitting there, hanging out, waiting for you to find it.
It’s funny. No, that’s not the right word. It’s surprising. No. Not quite right. Worrisome. That’s it.
It is worrisome that you have not looked for this money.
I mean, come on.
You work so hard going to all those networking events, writing all that copy for your website and giving all those speeches, just to get a handful of leads with the hope that one of them will become a client. Yet right there, under your nose, was a pile of cash just waiting to be given a nice comfortable home in your wallet.
This money resides in just about every nook and cranny of your office.
The hiding place for all this cash is in your vendor relationships.
And I’m not talking about saving a few bucks on office supplies or copy paper.
I’m talking about your vendor account representative referring you business.
Let that sink in for a moment.
You probably use at least fifteen different vendors for everything from bottled water to toilet paper. Each of these companies sends someone to your office to get you to spend more money or upgrade your service.
What have those folks done for you?
Even if they provide a great product and outstanding service, that is a minimum requirement.
The companies who earn your business should really EARN your business.
Here’s how this works:
Send out a letter to all your current vendors stating that you are evaluating your relationship with them. In the letter invite the account representative into your office for a chat.
During that conversation explain that the price you pay for their service is not an issue. In fact, tell them you will even agree to an annual escalation of 5% moving forward. Then present the vendor with the new terms.
Each year they need to refer some clients to you. Explain to them that you pay the bills (theirs included) by working with clients. Let them know that referrals are key criteria in the decision-making process for your vendor relationships.
At that point, invite them to an “orientation” where they and your other vendors will receive a one hour course on the competitive advantages of your firm. Then inform them that they have 90 days to send you their first qualified referral.
If you take a few minutes, right now, I’m sure you will find several vendor relationships where you can be more proactive in extracting referrals.
Think about your relationships in the following areas:
- Bookkeeper or CPA
- Credit card processing
- Payroll processing
- Office supplies
- Telephone equipment
- Soft drinks
- Copier leasing
- Messenger service
- Court reporting, transcription and translation service
- shredding (and waste disposal)
- Graphic design
- Travel agencies
- Health and liability insurance
- And the dozens of other people who want and receive money from you
It’s time to hold those folks accountable for contributing, financially to your relationship.
Now some of your vendors may bristle at this. They may even say that referring business to you would be a conflict because they have other people on their client roster who do what you do. Or they may say that your account is just too small and they have to refer their business to someone who gives them more business.
If that happens, fire them.
No matter how small you are or how great the competition, the people who you give money to should always support your business.
If they don’t, get rid of them.
Vendor relationships should be great two-way partnerships. You should pay a fair fee for the services provided to you and your vendors should send you business.
Your vendors should help you when you are wondering how to get clients as a lawyer.
There is one caveat to this. Don’t beat up your vendors on price if they send you referrals.
Think about it. If you pay $3,600 per year to rent your phone system but your telephone vendor sends you $50,000 in referral business, don’t give him a hard time about a $150 annual increase in his fee.
This philosophy should be shared with anyone who receives money from you. It may be uncomfortable at first but it is a lot easier than generating leads and making sales calls.
Cash Is King
Attorneys are notoriously bad at managing cash flow.
Keep in mind there is nothing more important (from a business perspective) than making sure the money passes from your client’s hands to yours.
I am regularly astonished when attorneys complain to me about cash flow and collections issues. The reason for my astonishment: You control when the work begins.
Just in case you are completely out of ideas on this front, I am here to help bring things into focus.
Here are four ways lawyers can immediately improve cash flow:
Ask for Payment Up Front
Simple enough. Get paid before you start the work. Yeah. I know. Your competitors, your brother-in-law, your friends, all offer billing terms.
That’s fine for them.
You manage your law firm. Do not do any work at all without money in the bank. It’s as simple as that.
Refuse to accept any clients who cannot give you at least a portion of the money in advance.
Think about it. You don’t go to the movies and pay after the show if you like the film.
Raise Your Prices
You provide more value to your clients than you realize.
List the negative things that could happen to your client if you weren’t in the picture. List all the things you are going to do to prevent these things from happening. List the five best outcomes you have had, on behalf of your clients, in the past 18 months. Reflect on this list for at least an hour.
Throw the lists away and immediately begin asking for 25% more than you have been changing.
Now that you understand the value you provide to your clients, focus your time and energy on demonstrating the benefits of working with you.
Target Better Clients
Not all clients are created equal. Focus your time, energy and marketing dollars on the clients who provide you with the highest return on your time investment. A client who is responsive and engaged in working with you is not only a pleasure but he/she values and appreciates you.
Better clients can often pay higher fees and will pay your fee upfront without hesitation.
Think About Lifetime Value
Clients who (and referral sources that) provide you with repeat and reoccurring work are more valuable to you than those who come to you with ad-hoc engagements. Spend your time and money interacting with people who have high lifetime value. These people are more likely to deliver work to your doorstep when times are tough.
Don’t blame the economy. You create your own reality. Work with clients who pay and who will pay up front.
Remember: Cash is king. Without it your kingdom will starve. Think about that during the client selection process.
I have a new website dedicated to helping business leaders and professionals make a great living and live a great life®. Each week I’m going to share some resources from that website with you. You can still visit me at http://www.RainmakerLawyer.com but I am not also offering unique educational content for lawyers at http://www.Valtimax.com
Here are some other Resources You Will Find Useful:
What would you do with an Extra $100,000?
This video asks a question few business owners can answer. Your answer is not as important as the fact that you plan on making an extra $100K…Click below for more
The Business You Are Really In
Have you ever wondered why your marketing doesn’t work? It’s probably because you are focusing on the wrong things. Click below for a Podcast that covers the business you are really in.
Join Me in New York?
Are you in a New York state of mind?
July is the perfect time to make sure your cash flow heats up.
This summer I’m offering an opportunity to put your client attraction systems on overdrive.
I will be conducting two private business strategy sessions with attorneys from all over the world in New York City on July 24, 2012.
This is your only chance to work directly with me in New York this year.
Details are below and this event is “first come first serve”. Once all the slots are filled, we will not be accepting any more attendee applications.
Don’t miss out. Call now to reserve your place.
Contact Kary Cheda today at (305) 692-5531 or email@example.com to learn more.
Rainmaker LegalMax™ Summit
July 24, 2012
Morning Session on Business Strategy
During this session we will discuss:
Expert Status: How to select a powerful market niche for your law firm and eliminate your competition.
Thought Leadership: Clients will beg you to work with them once you learn this powerful strategy.
Powerful Pricing: How to maximize fees and deliver value to your clients well beyond their expectations.
Unlocking Hidden Value: There is gold right in your current client database. Once you realize how to harvest it, you’ll be amazed at the results.
Developing Systems: Not enough hours in the day? Create systems to leverage your most valuable asset… your time.
Attendee Case Analysis: Each attendee will have an opportunity to have a 30 minute case analysis call with me prior to the event.
Your Investment for the morning session is only $350
Afternoon Session on Law Firm Marketing
During this session we will discuss:
The Five Things Your Website Marketing Guy Hopes You Never Learn: Internet marketing scams are abundant. How do you find a web developer you trust?
The Most Cost Effective Marketing Strategy for a Small Law Firm: Don’t have thousands to spend on TV? No problem. We’ll show you how to compete with the big boys.
The One Thing They Forgot to Teach You in Law School: This one thing is costing you thousands of dollars each year. You can fix it in five minutes.
Ethics and Law Firm Marketing: The truth is the best marketing strategy. How your story can be your competitive advantage.
The Ultimate Law Firm Marketing Plan: You will leave this session with a twelve step actionable plan for developing new business.
Your investment for the afternoon session is only: $350
Sign up for both sessions and save:
Sign up for both sessions at the discounted rate of $550 for the entire day plus I will provide you with my Rainmaker’s 30 Day Fast Start Marketing System - a $1,000 value - absolutely F-R-E-E.
Save $150 on the session plus you get a bonus gift worth $1,000 but only when you sign up for both sessions.
Contact Kary Cheda TODAY and register at (305) 692-5531or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Go One-On-One with The Rainmaker
Private Sessions Available
July 23, 2012 and July 25, 2012
While in New York I’ll make myself available to work with you and/or a group of attorneys from your firm.
These power sessions will be customized to meet your needs and they include two months of follow-up coaching.
During our time together we will analyze your specific firm’s current state, future goals and create a customized action plan specific for your law firm.
A strategic review will be sent to you prior to our meeting in order for me to learn about your firm. The time we spend together will be solid working time you will come away with a step-by-step action plan in order to help you achieve your desired goals.
Not everyone is eligible, you and I must speak to determine if a private session is right for you.
Contact Kary Cheda TODAY and register at (305) 692-5531or by email at email@example.com
Don’t Boil the Ocean
That line is a common expression used in consulting.
When we say “Don’t boil the ocean” we mean: “Only gather enough information necessary to solve the problem”.
This could also be translated into a simple concept: “Work as efficiently as possible.”
Unfortunately this is a phrase that most lawyers abhor.
In fact, for most lawyers, the compensation is rigged to make sure they boil the ocean. Hourly billing rewards time spent and not productivity. Hourly billing erodes trust. It puts the attorney’s goals at odds with the client’s goals. It devalues talent, skill and knowledge in favor of punching a time clock.
If you cannot think of an alternative to hourly billing you are not intelligent enough to be a licensed lawyer.
If you can think of an alternative to hourly billing and you choose not to offer it to your clients, you are unethical.
There are no other options.
Without Law Firm Marketing You Are Unemployed
I don’t convince lawyers of the need for law firm marketing anymore. A lawyer does not get a meeting with me unless he knows how important marketing is to his future. I make sure of that. My time is too valuable and my fees are too high to waste time with people who are “thinking about doing some marketing”.
A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a law firm practice management event hosted by Brian Tannebaum, President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. I consider Tannebaum a friend but he is also the Captain of the “Just be a good lawyer and business will come” crowd. He regularly eats phony marketing experts for lunch. He and his band of merry men on Twitter regularly crucify disbarred lawyers, part time lawyers and washed up lawyers who turn to offering marketing guidance as a way to pay their bills.
The fact that Tannebaum invited me, a law firm marketing expert, to speak to a group of professionals that he leads, respects, and values, is an indication of the competitive environment lawyers face.
The keynote speaker at this event was the legendary Roy Black. You could have heard a pin drop when he took to the podium to give his talk. All of the criminal lawyers in the room waited with bated breath for his wisdom. They were not disappointed but they were surprised. Black could have spent an hour discussing trial skills. Instead he urged the group of lawyers to discard their trial advocacy books and study marketing. He scolded the lawyers who hate selling, telling them they need to embrace it or they will go hungry. He spoke of focusing on the needs of the client and speaking to those needs as a way to grow a law practice.
The reaction was enthusiastic. The lawyers embraced Black’s call to action. In the two weeks that followed since that presentation, a little over one third of the audience has asked to receive my weekly law firm marketing briefing. Some of them will take action. Some of them will embrace law firm marketing as a way to make more money, attract higher quality clients, and live a better life as a result.
With a legend like Roy Black touting law firm marketing as a necessity and a respected, old school style lawyer like Brian Tannebaum introducing law firm marketing to his peers, you know the time has come to get on board.
You do not need to hire a consultant or coach to get law firm marketing right. You need to apply some commonsense and put a premium on relationships. Relationships with clients and referral sources are the key. Focusing on them is focusing on law firm marketing. Without that focus you will have no business. Without that focus you will be another unemployed lawyer in a profession that already has too many.
If you choose not to believe facts, then believe the most respected people in the business. Law firm marketing is more important than ever. Make it part of your future.
Return On Your Law Firm Marketing Investment
How do you evaluate law firm marketing investments?
How do you decide if you should sponsor an event, place an ad in a trade magazine or join a referral service?
The best way to make this decision is to look at the potential Return on Investment from each initiative.
There are three things to take into account when looking at Law Firm Marketing ROI. They are:
- Target Client and Referral Source Profile
- Lifetime Value of the Relationship
- Cost of Acquisition of a New Client
These are all complex ideas which must be covered in detail but here is a brief summary:
Target Client and Referral Source Profile
If you are targeting consumers (family law, criminal law, immigration) your approach to marketing will be different than a lawyer who is targeting companies as a client. Once you know who your ideal client is, it becomes easier to attract them with your marketing.
Referral sources are important to all lawyers and you must market to them as heavily as you would market to a prospective client. This marketing should be measured in exactly the same way as you measure direct-to-client marketing initiatives.
Lifetime Value of the Relationship
Once you have attracted and engaged a client or referral source, how much is that relationship worth to your law firm?
A client (or referral source) who brings you 10 matters each year for a value of $100,000 per year is worth far more than 100 clients who bring you one matter valued at $1,000 during your lifetime relationship with them. You can spend more to attract the client with 10 matters per year because you will receive a better return on your investment.
Knowing this lifetime value number is critical to determining how much to invest in marketing. High value targets can withstand significant investments.
Cost of Acquisition
What is it going to take to attract this client?
As stated above, you can spend more to attract better clients. But knowing what it is going to cost to do so is important. If you are targeting corporate clients, there is a good chance they already have a lawyer. It is much more difficult to unseat the incumbent in the relationship than it is to establish a business relationship with someone who has no lawyer.
Understanding client acquisition cost is important to determining your marketing budget.
We just touched on these important metrics. Give them some thought.
How will they impact your law firm marketing decisions?
Legal Marketing Expert Criteria From Dave Lorenzo
The other day I was introduced to someone as Dave Lorenzo Legal Marketing Expert. While I like the sound of the term Legal Marketing Expert associated with my name I am also aware that people are fast and loose when they throw around titles.
Since there is no regulating or governing body to create criteria for the status of legal marketing expert, I am going to do it.
Below are the official criteria for being an Approved Dave Lorenzo Legal Marketing Expert:
A legal marketing expert must focus full time on legal marketing. He/she cannot have another part time job (like selling Amway, Mary Kay Products or practicing law). The legal marketing expert must be totally focused and dedicated to legal marketing.
A legal marketing expert must be a student of marketing and must be able to demonstrate his/her willingness to learn and keep current in this field. This means the legal marketing expert should be enrolled in some form of on-going education program that keeps them up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in legal marketing.
A legal marketing expert must have focused on marketing exclusively for a minimum of five years. This five year rule stems from the theory that it requires 10,000 hours of practice to develop expertise in any particular field or discipline. If you work 40 hours per week exclusively on legal marketing and you work 50 weeks per year, you reach 10, 000 hours in five years.
A legal marketing expert must demonstrate knowledge of marketing outside the legal profession. This is important because there are many things that are transferable from business to legal marketing. All ethical, professional and legal guidelines must always be followed, of course. But having a broad base of knowledge is required of a legal marketing expert. This may be demonstrated by experience: Ten years of marketing experience in various industries is a good objective criterion. This should also be demonstrated by education. A masters degree in marketing, strategic communications, business administration or integrated marketing communications is also a good criterion.
The final requirement for a legal marketing expert is a demonstration of good moral character. This means that information proclaimed by the individual to be true should, in fact be true, and verifiable.
These are the five basic criteria for becoming an Approved Dave Lorenzo Legal Marketing Expert. I will accept applications and begin interviews immediately.
Four Things I Do Not Understand About Law Firm Marketing
Even though I make my living giving law firm marketing advice, there are some things about my clients I do not understand. And I am a big enough person to admit it. Here are four of these law firm marketing mysteries:
Why do some lawyers view marketing as evil?
Marketing cannot be evil. Marketing is a business process. It is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.
A business processed can be misused. It can be used unethically. It can be used unprofessionally. But ultimately, there are many, many lawyers who are great at effective, professional, ethical marketing.
To brand marketing itself as wrong, evil or improper is simply ignorant, narrow minded and foolish.
Unless of course you are doing so as part of your own marketing strategy….
Besides laziness and lack of imagination, why else do attorneys bill hourly?
There is no good answer to this question. Hourly billing is unethical in most cases. It ensures that the lawyer’s financial interest and the best interest of the client are divergent.
If a client wants a matter dragged on for a long time and they retain a lawyer for that purpose, then hourly billing may be an ethical option. Very few clients have that objective in mind when they retain a lawyer.
Just because something is an accepted practice does not make it right (Slavery was an accepted practice for a while in the United States. Honor killing is still an accepted practice in some parts of the world).
Your failure to at least present an alternative to hourly billing to a client is evidence of either a lack of creativity or laziness.
Why don’t litigators form partnerships with transactional attorneys more often?
There are only three ways to make money as an attorney. They are:
1). Get more clients
2). Get more matters from existing clients
3). Raise your fees
The best way to take advantage of all three of these is by developing a relationship with a client where you can work with them over the long term. Litigation is an ad hoc process. Once the matter at hand is disposed of, it is gone and in most cases, so is the relationship.
In a perfect world, every litigation practice would have a transactional component to it and vice versa. This would allow the firm to benefit from the depth of the relationship with both the client and any referral sources.
This is commonsense and not marketing genius. Litigators: go find a transactional lawyer you like and ask them to share office space with you.
Why would a lawyer hire an unsuccessful former lawyer or a part time lawyer to help with marketing?
Would you hire a butcher to cut your hair? Would you hire a hairdresser to do your root canal? Would you hire a dentist to perform open heart surgery on your grandmother? Would you hire a heart surgeon from the Cleveland Clinic to neuter your Golden Retriever?
The answers to these questions are an obvious and emphatic “NO”. Yet when I ask attorneys why they hire other attorneys to help them with their marketing, I get dumb looks and even dumber answers.
Let’s face it, 99% of the time when an attorney decides to become a “marketing guru” they are a failure (or an underachiever) in their own profession. After all, if they were great attorneys, why would they abandon that profession (or make it a part time job).
Honestly, if you need marketing help you don’t have to work with me. In fact, most of the time you cannot work directly with me.
But please, please, do not give your hard-earned money to a former lawyer who learned about marketing in a three day seminar. Or even worse, to someone who practices law part time and is a marketing guru part time.
If you need help with law firm marketing, hire a law firm marketing expert.
Target the Center of Influence with Law Firm Marketing
There is one law firm marketing strategy that is so simple and so powerful yet almost no attorney is using it.
I call it the center of influence strategy and it can make the difference between having a good law firm and having a great law firm.
This is how it works:
For Lawyers who Target Consumers (Criminal Law, Family Law, Trust and Estates Law, etc.):
Every community has people who are well respected and influence the decisions of a great many people. Individuals in roles such as members of the clergy, individuals who run community centers, people who occupy positions of authority, media personalities, etc. These are the people we are targeting with this strategy.
For Lawyers Who Target Businesses:
We are targeting decision-makers. Most often I recommend we target the top person in the company (the CEO or owner).
There are three elements to this strategy:
Element One: The Introduction
Every two weeks you write this person a letter. In that letter you highlight the issues that the community/industry is facing and you discuss how you can help prevent bad things from happening to good people. Your call to action in the letter is to ask the reader to contact you for an educational briefing on the particular problem you are good at solving. It is important to note that you are not soliciting business. You are asking for an opportunity to present information that will help them understand and prevent the problem themselves.
A good example comes from criminal law. Criminal defense attorneys conduct this presentation with members of the clergy. The topic is: ‘How to Keep the Children in Our Community Safe’. The presentation is about preventing kids from joining gangs and committing crime by enrolling them in after school activities.
Element Two: The Presentation
This portion of the strategy can be an in-person talk or a webinar that is delivered to the influential individual. It contains statistics and data that highlight the problem. It also appeals to the individual to help solve the problem.
Element Three: The Offer
This is the call to action. You now ask the influencer to invite you in to speak to his/her group. You can offer to speak frequently (monthly, quarterly, annually). You give a talk on how to prevent the bad things you see in your law practice.
After these talks you continue to stay in touch with the influencer and you remain available to speak as often as he would like you to do so.
You will be amazed at how many referrals you can source with this strategy. If you do it right, this strategy will position you as a person who cares about the community/industry and is willing to do something to give back.
In reality, it is always in giving that we receive the most.