Who Has Access to You?
Someone who is not a client comes up to you and says:
“Let’s go to lunch. “
“Let me pick your brain.”
“I need your advice.”
Do you jump at the chance to demonstrate your intelligence and expertise?
Do you allow someone to intrude on your train of thought, your workday, or your personal time?
Do you immediately react out of fear that failing to respond will cost you a case?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you have a marketing problem.
You are an expert. You should be respected and your guidance should be valued. Your prospective client should hang on your every word as if $100 bills were pouring from your mouth.
People place a value on things they invest in.
Your advice is your work product.
If you give away your advice, you tell your client it has no value.
What about advice on a website or at a seminar or in a book? Isn’t that giving away your work product?
Providing educational information is, in a sense, giving away a portion of your work product but it is not giving away the most important portion of your work product. That is the experience people have in working with you.
You see, reading an article on a blog or attending a seminar can never substitute for the actual experience of working with a professional.
Just like reading about flying an airplane cannot substitute for taking flying lessons and training for hundreds of hours.
Reading a book about removing an appendix or watching a movie titled “How to perform an appendectomy” will never replace four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school and one year of surgical residency.
So what is the answer? What should you say when someone asks you, a lawyer, for free advice?
You politely ask them to make an appointment and pay a consultation fee.
And in case you are wondering how I answer that question…
My answer is:
“Yes. I’d love to give you my opinion. That’s what I do for a living.”
And I explain to people how my consultation process works.
I charge $250 for a 20 minute conversation and I rarely have a conversation longer than 20 minutes with non-clients.
Because my advice is valuable.
The advice I give you, if implemented, will change your law firm for the better and improve the quality of your life. Isn’t that worth $250?
If you’d like to learn more about how to position yourself and your law firm, visit the page titled:
This is the page on my website where I explain why I charge a consultation fee and what you can expect for your investment in a consultation with me. This may seem harsh but 90% of the people who pay for a consultation retain me. That’s a pretty good track record.
Easy Path To Higher Fees: Be A Star From Afar
One of the fastest ways to make more money as a lawyer is to raise your fees. This allows you to serve the same number of clients and earn a significantly higher income.
But lawyers have difficulty with this concept because they have no way of differentiating themselves from everyone else who does what they do. Differentiation through legal marketing is the key to premium pricing.
There is an easy-to-implement strategy to differentiate your law firm from all the others. I call it the Star From Afar strategy. Here’s how it works:
Distance and Legal Fees
Most lawyers work in a geographic area that spans a maximum of 100 miles. Typically, if you drew a circle around their office that stretched 100 miles in any direction, you’d find 90% of their clients originate from within those boundaries. This is the lawyer’s comfort zone. All his referral sources lie within this area, he knows the other lawyers in this area, he knows the judges and the court clerks and the process servers etc.
Making substantial changes to a law practice within these geographic boundaries is difficult because the lawyer fears he will harm his reputation or his “brand.” This issue is non-existent when a lawyer suddenly attracts a client from “out of town” or outside that imaginary 100 mile circle. Then the lawyer feels comfortable charging whatever he wants because he has no fear of “pricing himself out of the market.”
Additionally, the lawyer will easily command a higher fee because he is less accessible to the client from out of town. Think about it: If you can ask your lawyer a question when you see him at the PTA meeting or at church or at your kid’s soccer game, why would you pay him significantly more than any other attorney? Or if you see the attorney at all those places around town and have become friendly with him, your friendship may become strained if he charged you a big fee for handling your issue (this is perception not necessarily reality).
The Geographic Solution to Higher Fees
The way to implement the Star From Afar strategy is simply to market your practice outside that geographic 100 mile circle. Just employ all the marketing initiatives we discuss in a geographic area outside of your typical client circle.
I have worked with Miami lawyers do this in Orlando, Los Angeles lawyers who market in San Diego, New York City lawyers attracting clients from Long Island, and many other lawyers from other jurisdictions. It works like a magnet.
This phenomenon of attractiveness and distance (lack of accessibility) is powerful. I recommend you set up an office in the local jurisdiction for receiving mail and handling client appointments. This can be done by using an executive suites service or by sharing office space with a lawyer in that jurisdiction.
Absence does indeed make the heart (and the wallet) grow fonder. If you want to raise your fees and you’re afraid doing so will alienate your local clients and referral sources, try the Star From Afar strategy. Charge the high fees in the new city. Your income will increase and we can then go to work on the mental block you have about raising fees in your home town.
Take a few minutes now and review these other valuable resources:
There are only three ways to grow your income. This article highlights those three ways and it brings them into stark focus. If you want to make more money, this article is a must read.
Want to work in a resistance-free environment? Neutralize your competition with these focused marketing strategies. You will make yourself more valuable and your competitors will hate you.
The way you price your services can be a competitive advantage if it differentiates you from everyone else who does what you do. Here are some powerful strategies to set yourself apart from your competitors.
The Three Ways To Grow Your Income With Legal Marketing
No matter how great your legal marketing is, there are only three ways to grow your income. We call these three profit opportunities.
The three profit opportunities are:
- Attract More Clients
- Do More Work For Existing Clients
- Raise Your Fees
That’s all there is to it. If you want to grow your income as a lawyer your legal marketing must focus on these three aspects of your practice.
Let’s examine each of these opportunities.
Attract More Clients
This profit opportunity should come as no surprise to anyone. Attracting new clients is essential to the success of a law firm and it is the focal point of any legal marketing plan. The most important elements of new client attraction are:
- Selecting the proper target audience
- Creating a compelling message that resonates with that audience
- Delivering the message at the right time
To the uninitiated, this can be complicated. But if you do your homework and you really understand your target audience, this process can be easier than you think.
Since most attorneys are constantly under time pressure, systems must be created to automate much of the new client attraction. These systems must be step-by-step guides that can be executed with proficiency by every member of your team.
Do More Work For Existing Clients
This profit opportunity is about deepening the relationship you have with your clients. If you build up the amount of trust your clients have in you, they will call you when they need additional assistance. Just remember to stay in touch with them and remind them how much you care.
Raise Your Fees
This is the most basic profit opportunity. Charge more for doing the same work. You can raise your fees only with new clients as you on-board them or, for an instant profit boost, you can implement an annual fee review (and increase) with existing clients.
The biggest barrier to ceasing upon this opportunity is psychological. That’s right. This barrier is directly between your ears.
Conduct A Profit Review
Take a few minutes during the next couple of weeks and look through your client roster. Identify any immediate opportunity to source new work (from within the client base) and identify any immediate opportunity to raise fees.
The take some time and formulate a legal marketing plan that will help you capture new clients with low personal labor intensity.
Once you understand the dynamics of law firm income and profit, you can implement a great legal marketing plan to help you reach your goals.
The Best Competition is No Competition
If you are wondering how to make money as a lawyer you may often be looking at your competition with envy. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Easy but not productive.
It happens to all of us. You read a press release or do a quick on line search and you see the name of one of your competitors associated with something positive – and you wonder. You wonder if they’re getting clients you should be getting. You wonder why they are attracting clients you feel you should be attracting. You reassess the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s you’ve had in your mind during the last few weeks.
Then you get angry. You’re angry because they’re stealing your clients. You’re angry because they are cutting into your market share and ultimately your income. You’re angry because they copy your marketing, your strategy and even your tagline.
It happens all the time.
As an example: Right now, as you read this, there are no less than two dozen former lawyers, using some variation of my principles, and claiming to be legal marketing gurus. I send out a couple of cease and desist letters each week to these folks.
But that’s not the solution.
The solution is to innovate faster than they can copy. The solution is to go where they won’t go and to do the things they won’t do.
Here you go (readers and copycats break out your notebooks):
Charge higher fees: If you charge the highest fee in your profession you can spend the most to acquire a new client. This automatically puts you in rarefied classification. Everybody wants to attract clients on the cheap. Hell, you might have even stumbled upon this article trying to figure out how to make money as a lawyer without spending any money. Well, that lumps you in with everybody else. Charge more so you can out-gun the others.
Provide a better experience: My competitors are personal injury attorneys moonlighting as marketing wizards, bankrupt granola crunching trust attorneys and assorted failed lawyers from all practice areas. They have no idea how to create a great experience for their clients, referral sources and prospective clients. They simply take their cash and sprinkle some regurgitated knowledge on them.
You can do better. You can make the experience exceptional for your clients and referral sources.
Be persistent and consistent. Most of your competitors will not be able to keep up with the discipline necessary to hold a market leadership position for the long term. Stay the course. If you continually execute the fundamentals, more often than not, you will be successful and you will crush your competitors.
There’s more to it than just these three tips but mastering these will be enough to crush most of your competitors.
Side note: If you are in the business of helping clients solve the mystery of how to make money as a lawyer (my competitors) and you are going to use this post as a road map, I’m glad to have you along for the ride. There’s a pretty good chance you will wind up circling the drain like the others who have preceded you. I wish you well.
Billing As A Competitive Advantage
When you bill by the hour you put your interests in direct conflict with the interests of your clients.
If you are a lawyer billing your clients by the hour it is in your financial interest to take as long as possible to resolve your client’s matter. In most cases, your clients want their matter resolved as quickly as possible.
So how can this be a competitive advantage in marketing for lawyers?
If you sit down with your client and understand the value he receives from working with you, you can offer him a fee based upon that value for resolving his matter.
This is not a contingency fee. It is a fee for improving his situation.
Here is an example:
Joe Smith is being sued because his dog bit a neighbor and injured him. Joe has no insurance for this matter.
Joe hires Larry Lawyer. The fee Larry charges Joe is $3,500 if the matter is resolved before going to trial and $10,000 if the matter goes to trial.
(These are not real fees. They are easy numbers to work with.)
Joe wants to put this matter behind him as quickly as possible. If Larry billed by the hour, he might have an incentive to drag the case out, or do work that is unnecessary.
This type of arrangement is not common in the practice of law today.
That’s why it can be a competitive advantage.
The key to employing this strategy effectively is in interviewing the client at the outset of the case and determining his objectives. All clients want a favorable result, but most understand the often the most favorable result will be in mitigating their damages. Your fees should be based upon your ability to mitigate his exposure.
In marketing for lawyers this idea – billing based upon the value you provide – can not only be a competitive advantage, it can disrupt the entire industry.
You have an opportunity. Create your own advantage by developing a billing methodology your clients love.