Lawyers sometimes come to my office to pick my brain about marketing. Typically, I’ll bring them in and show them all of the things I do to get a client. I’ll take out a blank sheet of paper and draw the flow chart of what occurs to get a client to raise their hand and say “I’m interested” and then all of the things that happen to them once they do. I’ll show them the steps I force clients to take before they can meet with me.
Most of my visitors leave disappointed. They were looking for the magic bullet–the ONE thing they could do to get more clients. The easy thing. The tweak in their yellow page ad that would make the phone ring or the quick tips for Internet marketing that would help them dominate Google in their market area. They cannot believe that I do not meet with all client who wants a free consultation and that my marketing material dissuades certain clients from even calling for an appointment.
Getting clients is a complex problem. There’s a ton of competition in your market niche; consumers do not know how to tell a good lawyer from a bad one; ethical rules appear designed to make all lawyer marketing look the same; and your marketing messages compete with 3,000-5,000 other daily marketing messages.
Most lawyers look for the easy solution to this complex problem. They add color to their yellow page ad, buy “double truck” right next to the six other lawyers who use that “solution” and they let web designers create the prettiest web sites that brag about the law firm and its years of “combined experience” but end up looking like everyone else’s web site.
There are no easy solutions for complex problems. There are only complex solutions for complex problems.
A multi-step, multi-media marketing system that is complex can serve to:
(1) differentiate you from the lawyers who rely on the old two-step marketing approach which consists of buying an ad and offering a free consultation;
(2) establish you as the wise man/woman at the top of the mountain without you having to say so;
(3) ward off those “C” and “D” clients who you hate by forcing them to qualify for your representation;
(4) increase the transaction value to you of each client, thus reducing your case load in order allow more time for family and other things you really like doing while you make more money.
Still interested? Think this is too “outside the box” or that lawyers should not think about things like “transaction value” or “representing only those clients with whom you want to work?”
You do have a choice. If you are perfectly satisfied with your life and your practice, then no need to read further. But if you believe there is a better way to go about the business of practicing law in order to lead the life you (and your family) want you to lead, keep reading.
I suggest that lawyers start thinking about marketing in an entirely different way. Shed the belief system that says that you must market to “all-comers,” meet with everyone and accept all case that walks in the door. Get over the fear that if you start rejecting clients through complex marketing that you won’t have any more clients. This has not been my experience nor the experience of hundreds of lawyers across the United States and Canada who have said “no” to traditional two-step lawyer marketing.
Here’s how you do it:
(1) Start with a different message. Begin by studying the marketing messages of your competition. If you are a personal injury lawyer, you will likely find that most personal injury advertising tries to lure in the client with a not-very-unique offer of a free consultation with ads that have non-interesting headlines like “Injured?” “We Care for You” or “25 Years Combined Experience.” Consider, instead, a message such as “Injured? Before Talking to the Adjuster, Hiring a Lawyer or Signing Any Forms, read the new free book about [name your state] personal injury claims written by attorney Jim Smith.”
(2) Become an author. That’s right, write a book. It takes some time, typically as long as 90 days, to go from book idea to finished product but it is well worth it. A book is the greatest business card ever invented. Have you ever noticed how book authors are respected as experts? Do you think people like Robert Kiyosaki (“Rich Dad, Poor Dad”) or Jack Canfield (“Chicken Soup For the Soul” series) waited around for someone to ask them or appoint them to write a book? What do you think happens when a client asks you for your business card and you tell them you do not have one but you can give them an autographed copy of the book you’ve written in your practice niche?
(3) Make an audio CD and/or a DVD of information about your practice niche. Answer questions that you know are running through your prospect’s head. It is easy to create these products. You can either “go solo” or have someone interview you. Some people learn by reading, others by watching and still others by listening. (Make sure to post clips of your DVD and audio CD on your web site!)
(4) Teach the prospect how to shop for a lawyer. They are shopping. They are researching, yet 99% of them do not know what they are looking for. Write a book or free report that explains what the various things lawyers say about themselves really mean (i.e. “I’m a member of XYZ Trial Lawyer Association” or “I’m a former prosecutor”) because consumers really do not know. If you fail to educate a consumer as to how to find the right lawyer for their case, they may well choose the lawyer with the most TV ads or the most yellow page ads.
(5) Prepare a brag book. Yes, go ahead. Do it. If you’ve verdicts and settlements, testimonials, newspaper articles about you or articles you’ve written that have appeared in publications, use them. If you think your state does not allow the use of testimonials in advertising, read the rules again. In just about all state any such prohibition is limited to public advertising, i.e. the stuff you run in the yellow pages or put on your web site. I’m talking about having a nice thick brag book available that you are prepared to mail or hand to people who request more information about your law firm (because you showed them that an effective way to shop for a lawyer is to ask for the book of testimonials, verdicts, newspaper articles and publications.) The brag book works because it’s not you talking but others talking for you.
(6) Prepare as many other special reports or booklets as you can think to do. You already know the topics because you’ve been meeting with clients all day. You know the questions they have. For example, reports for personal injury clients might include: How to Deal with Your Doctor, Why a Referral from a Lawyer to a Doctor May be the Kiss of Death to Your Case, Why Your Health Insurance Company May Want ALL of Your Recovery, How to Settle Your Property Damage Case On Your Own, Why a Local Judge Called a Chiropractor a Scam Artist, How to Buy Car Insurance in [your state.]
(7) Design a multi-step, multi-media response to anyone who, following your directions, reads your public advertising and begins the process of requesting free information from your law firm. In my case there are 11 steps that go into action when someone contacts my law firm and the steps DO NOT BEGIN WITH “Come on in for a free consultation.” The steps include several mailings (real mail, delivered by the mailman) of large packages packed with information, CDs and DVDs, and emails which include electronic versions of some of the free reports and books that are being mailed to them. Then an outbound call to the client is made to verify they’ve been in an accident, to check to see that the mailings are being delivered and to see if there are any questions. Then, AND ONLY THEN, is the offer of a free consultation made.
Copyright (c) 2009 Benjamin Glass