Attorney Marketing Through Niche Market Dominance
Everyone wants rapid results.
It’s as universal as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West.
Achieving market dominance – becoming the firm everyone thinks of when a topic comes up – is not easy but there is a formula to creating this situation.
In every industry and in every market there is an underserved need. If you can find that need and fill it, you will develop a great reputation. In fact, that reputation may be so powerful you may be able to dominate an entire industry. Need examples?
FedEx was originally created to deliver paychecks for the Federal Government. The company now dominates global package delivery and logistics planning.
Google was developed in a garage as a way to organize the internet in order to help people find information. This behemoth not only fulfills its originally intended purpose it also provides web-based software and email to 30% of the Fortune 500.
IBM was originally a company that built office hardware (including typewriters and clocks) but has transformed from that into the leading manufacturer of computers and printers (in the 1980’s) and then again (late 1990’s through today) into an information technology consulting powerhouse.
What do these three case studies (and hundreds of others like them) have in common?
The companies first dominated a narrow market niche and then transformed in order to dominate an entire industry.
You can do the same thing, even if you are currently one person in a law firm with a bare light bulb and a computer.
Today on The Valtimax Podcast I provide you with the blueprint for this kind of market dominance.
No, I can’t help you become FedEx or IBM. That part is up to you. But I can help you identify a market that needs your services and I can help you design an approach to gain a stranglehold on that market.
Listen to this radio show and take action. The world is yours. Let’s get started.
It Is Your Choice: Take Action or Face Extinction
Whether you realize it or not, you are at a crossroads.
We face stagnant economic growth, rising unemployment and inflation and an unprecedented crisis of political leadership. Your wasteful government has been on a drunken spending spree for 10 years and has awakened with a massive hangover rendering it useless to anyone looking to build a business.
During this period of economic upheaval the legal industry has changed right before our eyes. In most areas of practice, billing has been trending downward. The number of kids graduating from law school is up by 20%. Average income for an attorney in a small law firm is down 25% since 2006 (according to the American Bar Association). More lawyers, working for less money, means increased pressure on everyone just to get by.
To make matters worse, snake oil salesmen knock on your door everyday offering you’re the next elixir that will cure your ills. Charlatans promoting Search Engine Optimization, Facebook, Twitter and Legal Matching services pick your pocket while they shake your hand.
So the government cannot help you. Your industry is a shambles. The people who say they are experts are literally stealing your money.
Where do you go for help? Who can you count on to help you get through this mess?
Look in the mirror.
Believe it or not this is the time to make great money as a lawyer. Here are three things you can do, right now, to take control of your future.
Your clients and your referral sources trust you. Invest in them. Invest your time in helping them improve their lives and their businesses. Send them referrals. Talk them up everywhere. Help them become successful. You will be amazed at the return on this investment.
In the Far East this is called Karma. In the movies it is called paying it forward. In some business circles it is called “givers’ gain”. I call it good old fashion relationship development.
Help your clients and referral sources succeed and you will benefit in the long run.
Communicate Frequently with People Who Can Invest In Your Services
People forget us 10 minutes after they meet us. It’s human nature. Studies show that someone must interact with you a minimum of seven times before they will remember you. This means you need to communicate with people often. How often? That depends upon what you have to say.
If you have something interesting to share with me every day, I will listen to you. Most people feel the same way. There is no such thing as over communicating. Just don’t be boring.
Keep Your Promises
It is better to commit to nothing than to make a commitment you cannot fulfill. In this day and age, people are willing to commit to just about anything to land a new client. Don’t be that guy (or gal).
When you commit to something, you must live up to that commitment. Do what you say you are going to do. This includes showing up, on time, for meetings.
It’s sad, but this is actually a differentiating factor in today’s society.
Does this three step process sound overly simplistic?
Don’t confuse simplicity with ineffectiveness.
Try this three step plan for 90 days before you invest in the latest internet advertising scam or social media platform. You don’t need new technology, strong governmental leadership or a roaring economy to make a great living and live a great life as a lawyer. You just need to apply some commonsense and take action.
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.
How Much Time Should Lawyers Spend Marketing?
One of the questions lawyers ask me most often is:
How much time should I spend on law firm marketing?
The answer depends upon any number of factors including your financial resources and available time but I can give you a broad sense for the breakdown in your allocation of your time.
There are three areas where attorneys spend their working time:
Practicing Law: This is what you went to law school to learn to do. This is everything you have trained and prepared for during your entire career.
Handling Administrative Tasks: These are the mundane yet necessary activities you get sucked into on a day-to-day basis. Activities like fixing the computer system, reviewing and verifying invoices, chasing down clients who don’t pay, fall into this category.
Business Owner Activities: Marketing and business strategy fit in here.
Most attorneys who own their law firms spend about 75% of their time practicing law, about 20% of their time handling administrative activities and about 5% of their time being a business owner. While this mix works for people who have an endless stream of business, I know of few attorneys who fall into that category.
A better mix for attorneys who are in a solo practice (or a small law firm) is: 60% practicing law, 10% administrative activity and 30% focus on the business ownership activities that require your attention.
Determining this mix is an imperfect process because each attorney has different goals for his/her law firm. For example: If you want to fully develop the value of your law firm as an asset that you can sell when you retire, the mix should be more like: 30% practicing law, 10% administrative activity and 60% business owner activities.
You action item from this article should be to determine what you want from your law firm. What do you want now? What do you want from it when you retire?
Those goals should dictate how you will spend your time as a law firm owner.
Attorney Marketing for the Solo: The Basics Are Still Missing
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorney’s third annual law firm practice management workshop. It was a terrific event organized by F.A.C.D. L. President Brian Tannebaum.
This event was a huge success because of the engagement level of the participants. Almost every attorney in attendance was hanging on the words of every speaker. Several successful attorneys disclosed their methods for everything from greeting a client to managing attorney client privilege with the parents of defendants.
My presentation covered the basics of attorney marketing and business strategy. I challenged the criminal attorneys to focus on developing relationships with referral sources rather than spending large sums of money on direct-to-consumer marketing initiatives. I challenged them to have enough confidence in their legal ability to always charge a consultation fee. I challenged them to spend more time on business strategy and marketing than they currently have allocated. And I gave them a couple of specific things they could implement on Monday back in their law firms.
Overall I think the presentation was well received. There were lots of questions afterward (which is always a good sign). But there was a noticeable disconnect. It was almost like 30% of the room was speaking a different language.
The most telling moment of the event for me was when one of the speakers asked the audience how many of them had a blog. About a dozen of the 150 lawyers in the room raised their hands. The rest of the group just seemed confused by the reference. Blogs have been around for the better part of 10 years but lawyers have yet to embrace them as a mainstream marketing tool.
But that is not my point. Forget about technology, I could not even find 10 lawyers who took a referral source to lunch once a week. Or sent a hand-written note to a colleague after he passed them a referral. Or thought about the return on investment before spending money on an advertising gimmick.
The point I am trying to make is that attorney marketing basics are not being taught anywhere.
Brian Tannebaum’s event was fantastic in that it gets attorneys interested in investing time on marketing and business strategy.
At lunch, in his keynote speech, the great Roy Black actually said that lawyers should stop reading trial guides and should start reading business books. He then went on to say that lawyers needed to become salespeople and he told them to “get over it” if they thought that selling was beneath them.
The criminal defense attorneys who were at the F.A.C.D.L. event now have an idea of what it takes to build a successful law firm. The question remains: Where will they go to find the foundational attorney marketing skills necessary to build the law firms they each deserve?
In Law Firm Marketing Be a Leader
When it comes to membership in groups or associations you really need to weigh your options carefully. You want to be certain you help fulfill the mission of the group but you also want to help your business in the process.
Making the most of your membership (from a law firm marketing perspective) means that you must take the lead. It means rising up from the rank and file members and helping to make the organization successful.
Assuming a high profile position does three things:
It elevates your status. Leadership in any group will automatically confer status upon you outside that group. People who view you as a leader will almost always view you as a leader in multiple settings.
It shows you are up to the challenge. Well not just THE challenge, any challenge. Leadership is difficult. Most people know this. Taking the lead in one group is a great example of how you can take the lead in almost any situation (in the eyes of others).
It develops trust. Once you are elevated to a leadership role in an organization people immediately feel as though they can trust you. Psychologically, people sense that you must have been elected or appointed because you are a trustworthy person.
There are many reasons (beyond law firm marketing) to give back to a group or organization by taking on a leadership role. You will benefit in many ways from volunteering your time and energy.
The $192,000 Law Firm Marketing Plan
If you have limited resources and limited time there are five things you can work on immediately that will make a big difference in your law firm marketing. These five things are relatively inexpensive and they have a significant impact. Think of them as a “Mini Marketing Plan”.
This is one of the most important marketing tools and yet it is the one that lawyers give me the most resistance to implementing. A weekly email newsletter and/or a monthly print newsletter are both great ways for you to enter the conversations taking place in the lives and the minds of your prospective clients.
In many cases, prospective clients do not know when they will need a lawyer. If you are entering their lives frequently, you will be a resource for them and they will call you with many of their issues. Some of them you will handle. Others you can refer out. In either case your relationship with these people will grow and you will have an opportunity to help them learn how to bring you a good case.
Most law firm websites are online brochures. This is the wrong approach. Your website should be an education center that will help your clients learn how to deal with the issues they are facing. This does not mean it becomes a do-it-yourself-guide. It means you educate them on topics in your field of expertise and you help them understand their options. Once they know what they are facing, they will know how to hire a good lawyer.
You simply cannot spend time with all of your clients and referral sources during the course of a year. Yet personal interaction is critical to developing a bond with them and keeping your law firm on the top of their mind. An annual client/referral source/community appreciation event accomplishes this goal and it allows you to take an opportunity and announce a new initiative or create some buzz in the community.
Host your appreciation event during a time of the year when people are in town but not otherwise preoccupied. November and December are the worst months for this as this tends to be a time of year when people are preoccupied with holiday plans.
Structured Networking Group
Referrals are the lifeblood of any law firm. Eighty percent of your referrals will come from twenty percent of your colleagues. It is in your interest to develop a group of people you can trust consistently with your referral business. Once you begin sending referral business to the same people over and over, you will be amazed at how quickly good matters come back to you.
Every month you should hold a meeting of your referral partners. You should exchange ideas and discuss issues that concern everyone in the community. Some of our clients even have their referral groups share advertising and marketing expenses or host joint events. The key is getting this idea off the ground. Once you host the first meeting, you will notice that good ideas immediately begin to surface.
What you know is not as important as people knowing what you know. You must be perceived as an expert. This expertise starts with being quoted in the media. Many lawyers do not like to take a high profile in the media as they feel it makes them look less humble. Other lawyers choose to avoid the media because they feel it is often “not friendly” to their type of practice of their type of clientele.
As an alternative to being quoted in the media (and to be used in conjunction with being quoted in the media) you can write articles and submit them regularly to publications your clients read. These should be articles showcasing your opinion, your expertise or both. A good place for consumer lawyers (criminal law, family law, immigration law) to start is with some of the small local publications. Your neighborhood newspaper always needs content and editors are often happy to have well written stories submitted from expert columnists.
No matter how much you may hate taking a high profile, remember: Famous lawyers don’t starve.
Implementing these five things as your mini marketing plan will not help you attract clients en mass. What it will do is help you consistently attract 4 or 5 new clients each month (conservatively). That is a minimum of 48 new clients each year. While those numbers do not seem overwhelming, if your average client matter is worth $5,000, this mini marketing plan just made you $192,000.
I am not sure why you would not implement these five initiatives immediately, unless of course you don’t need an additional $192,000…
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?
Attorney Marketing: You Can Do It Yourself
This may sound strange coming from someone who makes his living, in part, by helping attorneys with marketing, but you can do it yourself.
If you want to capture one or two new clients each month, work on their matters, and live happily ever after, you do not need to work with me (or any other attorney marketing expert). In fact, I will give you the formula.
Here is what you need to do to get a couple of clients each month:
Join a structured networking group. This will help you put some discipline into your marketing. It will take you about six months but the leads will come. As you get to know the people in your group, they will trust you and the leads will get better.
You need both weekly follow up and monthly follow up. And you should follow up with everyone you meet, referral sources and prospective clients. The monthly follow up should be in the form of a print newsletter. The weekly follow up should be in an email.
Here is a link to a video on newsletter follow up.
Here is a link to a video on email communication and follow up.
Conduct an educational event at least once each month. Identify a good target audience and conduct an event each month that helps them understand the value of working with you. You do this by raising the issues they struggle with and offering your services as the solution.
This video on conducting and educational event will show you how to do it.
You may be asking yourself why I am giving away all of this information. The answer is because I practice what I preach. I know that this information will be helpful for many attorneys who struggle with marketing. But I also know some attorneys will implement this and want more. My firm specializes in working with attorneys who want more from their marketing.
Please take the ideas I listed above and run with them. They work for many attorneys. Implement them today and down the road you will reap the benefits of better clients engaging you more frequently.
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.