Being Stuck in a Snow Storm Leads an Attorney to a Great Marketing Plan

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Victor Lombardo owes much of the success of his thriving legal practice to a crippling snowstorm that literally shut down the city of Chicago in January of 1979. Victor was returning to Saint Louis from New York on behalf of his firm when his flight was re-routed for landing into Chicago due to severe storms. He spent the following 36 hours camped out in an employee lounge at O’Hare airport with more than 3,000 other stranded travelers.

Victor spent a week in his firm’s New York office orienting with a senior partner who specialized in corporate law. He was tired and like everyone else stuck at O’Hare wanted nothing more than to be able to be on his way home. The room had turned into a makeshift shelter. Babies were being fed and changed. People were playing cards and other travel games. There were children running around unattended. At times tensions were high as virtually everyone was frazzled. Victor sat on the floor against a wall and reached into his briefcase for some work and pulled out a blank will form. There was a man sitting by his side who commented on the will saying that he wished he was rich enough to leave everyone in his family a yacht, mansion, and millions.

Victor was slap happy by now so he played along and began to fill in some of the spaces in the will as the man dictated. Another of the airport-campers noticed what they were doing and joined in leaving his kids each a savings and loan. Before long there was a small gathering around Victor with each of the people adding their fantasies to the will. The little group was drawing the attention of the larger crowd. Victor saw an opportunity to offer a bit of relief to the weary assembly. He stood and explained to the entire room that he was an attorney and he’d been creating a fantasy will for some of the others. The people picked right up on the game and began shouting out offerings for their surviving loved ones.

Within a few minutes an airport employee offered to make multiple copies of the blank will and distribute them to the entire group. This way everyone could fill in the blanks on their own pretend wills as Victor offered legal tips along with some lighthearted kidding around. The session was a hit with the stranded travelers and Victor held several of them with people recycled through the room from other parts of the airport. He was actually performing a valuable service in providing an interesting distraction for the weary and airport officials were glad to utilize his generous ad hoc class to relieve some of the tension of the travelers. But there was much more going on than simply relief for the weary.

Victor came up with a strategy for using a learning environment to attract new clients. It has worked for his law firm for almost 30 years.

Victor was amazed how eager people were to learn. As he went along he fielded many intelligent questions and was able to offer some good suggestions for the people in attendance. The experience made a profound impression on Victor. Several years later he decided to open his own firm and used his airport experience to create interest in his legal services. His plan was simple. Each month he’d offer a free class that anyone could attend where they’d learn how to fill out common legal forms. Not only that, for attending the class they’d actually receive a couple of blank forms along with instructions on how to use the form. He decided he’d offer one class every month for an entire year and evaluate the strategy after the year was up.

Since it had been such a success in the past, the first class he held was on wills. Seventeen people showed up and Victor loosely stuck to the casual teaching style he’d used at the airport. The class was a great success. Every one of his sessions had more people than the one before and Victor was building a nice client base from the people who needed actual legal work. Here are the classes he offered in the first year:

1. Make Out Your Will
2. Simple Contract
3. Promissory Note
4. Rental Agreement
5. Simple I.O.U.
6. Credit Application
7. Employment Agreement
8. Financial Statement
9. Bill of Sale
10. General Affidavit
11. Pre-Nuptial Agreement
12. Divorce Filing

Surprisingly, the class on pre-nuptial agreements was the most popular but Victor received absolutely no business writing pre-nups following the session. Still, the classes were a huge success bringing in 50 and more people for each one – he was converting between five and ten percent of them into clients so the classes were definitely paying off. Victor provides a valuable service for people with his classes and is more than happy to help folks further by offering honest and fair legal services to those who need more. Sounds like a winning formula.