Are You Worth the Risk?
When a client comes to you with a problem he is anxious. He may never have faced this kind of situation before. He is worried about losing money, time and/or an opportunity. He knows that hiring the right lawyer is going to be the most important decision he will make toward achieving a favorable result.
In short, he is worried about the risk he is taking in selecting you as his lawyer.
Overcoming the client’s fear of making a mistake in lawyer selection is the single most important factor in law firm marketing. Most lawyers underestimate the depth of that fear.
There are six different elements of risk that come into play when a client is looking to hire a lawyer and you must overcome all of them.
Below are these elements of risk. I have also included some thoughts on how you can address this risk head on and make the client’s decision easier.
The risk of poor performance: The client hires a lawyer and the lawyer is not able to achieve the desired result.
To overcome this risk, show the client your past work. Help him feel comfortable with your skill level. Give the client the names and phone numbers of other people you have represented so he can check up on you.
The risk of financial investment: The client invests in you, you do not perform well and he is responsible for damages awarded to his adversary.
To overcome this risk, show the client the value he is receiving by hiring you. Help him see that NOT hiring you is the true financial risk because you are their best option.
The risk of loss of time: The client helps you become familiar with his situation. This takes time. If he needs to find another lawyer, he has lost the time he invested in working with you. In many matters, time is of the essence. If the client works with you and you cannot act quickly he may not achieve a favorable outcome.
Overcome this risk by demonstrating sensitivity to his time investment. Show up on time to meetings with him. Return his calls promptly and be attentive to his needs. If you are unavailable, make sure a member of your team responds to the needs of the client in timely fashion.
The risk of the loss of an opportunity: Your depth of knowledge is critical to the client’s success. If you miss an opportunity while working on his matter, you may cost him money or you may even jeopardize the entire engagement.
Start the relationship off by asking in-depth questions about the client’s situation. Show him that you are thinking about his matter beyond the superficial aspects of it. Asking good questions demonstrates the desire to completely understand a situation. This is critical to alleviating the client’s fear of loss of an opportunity.
Psychological risk: How does the client feel when he works with you? Does he feel like he is in good hands? There is a fine line between giving your client peace of mind and promising an outcome. You need to walk that line effectively and make the client feel good about your work. When you present your client with options and he makes a decision, reassure him.
Social risk: Clients talk to other people in their sphere of influence. Every interaction you have with a client or on behalf of a client either enhances or detracts from your reputation. Monitor what is being said about you in the community and realize that what you do is also a reflection on your clients.
Many times the client is making the decision to hire a lawyer during a brief conversation you have with him. You must, through your actions and your words, address each of these elements of risk to his satisfaction in order to be hired. Lawyers who are good at business development have made this a natural part of their initial client meeting.
If clients come to see you and leave without hiring you, you have a problem addressing these six elements of risk.
This is not unusual and it can be corrected. Call me today to find out how.
Here are three other articles you must read now:
This is a question I receive all the time. Lawyers want to know how much time they should be spending on marketing their law firms. The answer just may surprise you.
This article discusses the marketing plan one of my clients implemented that was worth $192,000. If you do the same things this guy did, you could possible get the same results…or better.
Your law firm should not be a risky proposition. You can limit the amount of risk you take. Thsi article tells you how.
Law Firm Marketing Plan Must Include Referral Source Targeting
A few days ago I was speaking with a Criminal Defense Attorney about his marketing strategy. He had employed a number of law firm marketing tactics designed to reach out directly to his end user. He was spending a significant amount of money on pay per click advertising on the Internet. He was in three different legal directory services. He was doing a local radio question and answer “show” a few times each week and he was all over the latest fads – Facebook and Twitter.
All of these marketing tactics are fine. In fact his activity was terrific. But he was missing the most important element of a law firm marketing plan for any lawyer who handles consumer issues…
This attorney was missing a huge opportunity. He had no plan to reach out directly to referral sources.
All law firm marketing plans should include a strategy designed to specifically target referral sources. Lawyers who focus on criminal defense law, family law, immigration law and trusts and estates law in particular should heavily weight their marketing toward referral sources.
Why target referral sources?
Because of their lifetime value.
Think of it this way: In each of these areas you will probably only be able to work with a client once or twice in their lifetime. If you try to market directly to the client, you will spend a significant amount of money focusing on them and, in many cases, the amount of matters you source will only cover your marketing expense.
If you target referral sources and you attract one and that one source sends you several clients each year for five years, the lifetime value of that referral source is much higher than the value of an individual client. This means you are able to spend more money attracting them and your return on investment is higher.
Who are good referral sources?
Most attorneys forget to target other attorneys with their marketing. This is a mistake. Some of the best referrals will come from attorneys in noncompeting practice areas. Develop specific marketing tactics designed to reach out to local attorneys who do not compete with you.
Another great source of referrals is competing attorneys who are not located in your city or state. I often find that great referrals are passed among attorneys who meet in my coaching programs and, although they are in competing practice areas, they only practice in a narrowly defined geography. Sometimes these folks will source a case in your area and they need to find someone to whom they can refer that matter. You want to be that attorney. Target attorneys in your practice area in other states.
Accountants have built up a significant amount of trust and good will with their clients. People share their most confidential information with them. As an attorney, you should spend some time targeting accountants as potential referral sources. A good accountant, particularly those with high net worth individuals as clients can be worth his weight in gold to your referral program.
It goes without saying that leaders of religious organizations have a tremendous amount of influence over their congregation. These are important people to target with your referral campaign. One of the best ways to build up goodwill with religious leaders is by volunteering to give regular talks to youth groups or senior citizens on topics of interest.
Civic or Community Leaders
Leaders of the local chamber of commerce or of a community or condominium association can also be valuable referral targets. People will often approach these folks when they have a problem or question. You can target these people in the same way you reach out to religious leaders. Offer to give a talk or presentation to their group a few times each year. Help them understand the issues of the day and you will be happily surprised at the results.
Legal work can come from just about anywhere but your time is limited. Make sure your law firm marketing plan includes some form of outreach to referral sources. They will reward you handsomely for your efforts.
The Most Misunderstood Aspect of Law Firm Marketing
There is one aspect of law firm marketing that is totally misunderstood. In fact, most people disregard it completely. They think it is a waste of time. They forget to do it, or the just flat out discount its effectiveness.
This critical component is FOLLOW-UP.
Yes. You read that correctly.
The simple basic process of following up with a prospective client, colleague or referral source will make you more money than any other marketing technique you will ever employ.
Need some proof?
Follow-up Success Story Number 1
An intellectual property attorney gives between 6 and 10 talks each year to business owners in the publishing and Internet marketing industries. He collects business cards at these talks in exchange for a free report he distributes via email. He then proceeds to email these SENIOR EXECUTIVES a weekly email newsletter. About 3 percent unsubscribe over the course of a year. About 26 percent of his recipients open his email each week. On average, he has retained two new clients per month from this follow-up process during the past two years. His client lifetime value exceeds $20,000. So each month, on average, he is acquiring $40,000 in assets from sending four emails.
Key points in this story:
Frequency: This guy sends an email every week. Most attorneys tell me that is too often. Most attorneys tell me their clients will get annoyed. Yes. About 2-3 percent will get annoyed and unsubscribe. So what?
Recipient Sophistication: This guy sends email to senior executives (some of them are in Fortune 500 companies). Most attorneys tell me their clients are too sophisticated to read and respond to an email newsletter. That is not true. We have had success using this at every level with people in every industry.
Follow-up Success Story Number 2
A divorce attorney in Illinois meets about 20 new lawyers each month. She religiously adds them to her database in a list marked “colleagues”. Each week she sends them an email giving them an update on some of the happenings around the local courthouse. (Apparently this attorney has a knack for getting all the latest news and gossip directly from the source). Her emails have an astonishing 44 percent open rate and even though her list is relatively small, she receives an average of 10 new referral cases per year in direct response to her emails.
Key Points in this story:
Content: People will read things they find interesting. Although most people will turn up their nose at gossip, they will not hesitate to listen to a good story about someone else. If you add a “human factor” to your email, people will read it.
List Composition: Most lawyers tell me they do not want to put other lawyers on their email newsletter lists. This is a mistake. Your colleagues are some of the best sources of referrals. Make sure every lawyer you know gets your email.
Follow-up Success Story Number 3
A personal injury attorney in Virginia sends a weekly email newsletter to past clients, friends and family. In the newsletter he only discusses things that have happened to him. He then transitions this experience into a “life lesson”. He closes his email with the line: “Remember, you have a lawyer in the family. Please do not hesitate to call me for any of your legal needs.” This attorney has a list of about 1,300 people. He consistently receives 3-5 calls to his office after the email goes out each week. He makes at least 2 referrals to other attorneys from those calls.
Key points in this story:
Trust: People want to feel connected to you even after their case is resolved. They placed their trust in you. That does not happen easily. Allow them to remain a part of your life afterward and they will call you when they have a legal need.
Give Referrals: Passing a good, qualified referral to another attorney is like handing him some money. He will want to return the favor. Do not turn away your former clients when they bring you a need outside your area of expertise. In fact, you should use your weekly email to solicit those issues and refer them to others.
Here is the bottom line when it comes to follow-up: IT WORKS.
You should immediately begin to send out a weekly email newsletter. Even if you only have a small list of people to send it to, it will pay dividends. I have at least 25 more stories like the ones I listed above. There is no reason; I repeat no reason, (other than your own stubborn refusal to take good advice) for you not to implement this strategy immediately.
If you like attracting more clients, no matter what your practice area, this will work for you.
Your Law Firm is Leaking
Each and every month you lose influence over your clients. Each month some of the people who have paid you the highest fees or done the most work with you become less and less interested in you. Each month your stellar reputation fades a little more in the minds of the folks who refer you new clients And most people are probably not doing anything about it.
Because most people are lazy.
You lose 10% of your influence with your clients, prospects and referral sources for every 30 days you do not have contact with them.
This means ten months from now, the great client you had lunch with today will have forgotten all about you. It means the doctor who sent you that great referral last week will have a hard time remembering what you do for a living. It means the business owner you met at the networking event yesterday will not recognize you if you hit him with your car next spring.
So what is the solution?
The answer is to start communicating with these people. Each month you should have some kind of communication with your clients, prospective clients and referral sources. This communication can be a newsletter, it can be a card or it can be a phone call or an email. It really doesn’t matter how you interact with them. You simply want to remind them that you are here and ready to help them and the people they know.
Some people will say: “I don’t have the money!”
Do you have a real business or are you just playing around? You need to invest money in your client acquisition efforts in order to develop a real business (a law firm is a business by the way).
It costs less than a dollar to purchase and mail a greeting card each month. It costs about $2 to send out a printed newsletter (in small quantity). Email is practically free – just type and hit send.
But some people will need to be convinced. Here’s how the math works:
You mail 1000 newsletters at $2 each (the cost for printing and mailing). You mail 1000 greeting cards at $1 each. You type and send 1000 emails to the people within your database (only to those from whom you have received permission). You do these three things every month. That is a total monthly expense of $3000.
Let’s say it takes you three months to see any business from these efforts. So you have spent $9,000 in keeping up with the most valuable 1000 people in your database.
On the first day of the fourth month you get a client as a direct result of these efforts. This client is your average client. And your average client pays you $10,000 in fees.
Was your investment worth it?
Will you get more than one client from these efforts?
Most likely. There is a cumulative effect to this kind of system. After about six months you will start to see more and more interest in your services. It takes some people a little longer to absorb the information and react.
Will you get more clients by doing this compared to doing nothing?
What are you waiting for?
If you need a kick in the rear end and want some help in setting up this type of system, give me a call. 1.888.692.5531
Three Ways to Attract New Small Business Clients to Your Law Firm
Many solo and small practice attorneys look to court small business owners as their clients. Marketing for lawyers in a corporate transactional law firm must include this target market.
This segment of the population offers enormous opportunity for your law firm. Small businesses enter into contracts and service agreements regularly. They have copyright, trademark and patent issues. They deliver products and services and need to be protected from liability. And they often have complicated tax issues that need to be sorted out. All of these factors make them good potential clients for your firm. Yet one persistent question always arises about this group.
How does a solo attorney attract a small business owner to his law practice?
Since small business owners are usually busy, and they prefer to work with people they know, like and trust. The way you approach a small businesses owner is critical. You must take a long term view toward building this relationship. Start by getting to know them and helping them get to know you.
Below are three ways to jump start a professional relationship with a small business owner:
Ask a CPA for an introduction
CPAs are a critical partner to small business owners. In most cases, they are trusted advisors and their recommendations are accepted and enacted quickly.
If your solo practice works with small businesses, you need to immediately begin to introduce yourself to as many CPAs as possible. Develop relationships with them first and then follow up in a nonthreatening way. Make them aware of the different matters you can handle.
A relationship with a CPA will pay big dividends down the road.
Go to lunch with a new small business owner everyday
This may seem like an overwhelming task at first but it is one of the easiest ways to build your small business client base. There are twenty work days in a month. You need to eat every single day. The business owners must eat daily as well. There is no reason for either of you to eat alone. Every lunch you eat alone costs you money. Marketing for lawyers should include mealtime marketing.
Start by immediately offering to take a small business owner to lunch tomorrow. Then begin to fill out your calendar for the remainder of the week. As you fill up dates for the month, remember that breakfast is also a great way to meet and establish a relationship with a prospective client.
Meals are great opportunities for these get-to-know-you sessions because of the common purpose—everyone has to eat. Use this time to get to know the prospective client and follow up over time to keep your name in front of them.
Leverage memberships in groups to build relationships
Chamber of commerce groups and networking groups are excellent sources of leads for small business attorneys. Small businesses make up the bulk of the membership in these groups. The key to leveraging a chamber of commerce or a networking club membership to build a successful law firm is to go into the meetings with a specific purpose in mind.
You must have an idea of who you want to meet and what you want to do when you meet them. When you are introduced to these folks, do not immediately pitch them on your services. Instead, take some time and win over their trust. This is a key component of marketing for lawyers.
These three tips may seem basic but if you work on them on a regular basis, you will be surprised at how effective they are in helping you to build a successful law firm.