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Legal Marketing Blog

A blog dedicated to lawyer marketing in any size law firm

Law Firms: Are You Listening to Clients? It’s More Critical Than Ever

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips

For over 10 years here I’ve been pleading with firms to talk with their clients about how they’re doing. Whether the process was seeking realistic client feedback, or simply conducting a general client survey, the important thing is whether firms were doing it at all.  Most were not. It is critical in this day and age that they be doing so.

Most will not. So, why don’t I give up beating that drum.

Well, I have to thank Patrick Lamb for his post of Monday. In it he posed the rhetorical question whether “law firms need to have their institutional hearing checked.” He drew his question from the “2016 Report On The State All of The Legal Market” by Georgetown Law Center and Peer Monitor. And from it he drew to strong messages:

“1. More work is going places other than law firms.

“2. Law Firms keep raising rates. Clients refuse to keep paying.”

He also pointed out using graphs that while legal services are increasing – and oh, so are billing rates – realization rates (the amount of billings collected) is falling “precipitously.”

He then asks the hard question: “what does it all mean?”  Many clients are not satisfied!  Law firms will make more money by improving client service than by raising rates.  Lamb’s wonder about institutional deafness should resonant with more firms.

Does your firm need hearing aids?

 

P.S. There’s more worth reading in the Georgetown/Peer Monitor report.

 

 

I Should Ask for Referrals and Testimonials? You’re Kidding, Right??

Posted in Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

I’m not. However, I realize that many lawyers are uncomfortable – actually many people are – asking for referrals.

It gets worse when one suggests that lawyers should ask for testimonials. Both are important for business development however. It’s instant credibility. If a client or former client or even just a contact suggests that someone hire you as their lawyer, it’s like gold in the bank. It means that the person is endorsing your legal abilities, and putting their reputation on the line.

Eric Dewey has written an article on soliciting testimonials. It’s lengthy compared to a post, but you might find it helpful if you have been thinking about asking for testimonials. (Don’t forget to check your bar rules regarding using testimonials.) He covers:

  • the reasons people don’t write testimonials;
  • make your request personal in nature;
  • remind them of the reasons they should;
  • remind them also that testimonials can help others in need;
  • include suggestions to make it easy; and
  • provide a sample of a testimonial (of course, keep it simple and not too verbose).

Back to referrals.  The majority of new business comes from referrals, whether they are from satisfied clients or other contacts.  In excess of 70% of lawyers business comes that way, if not more.  It’s simple really why would a stranger hire someone whom s/he neither knows, likes or trusts.  Whether corporate or personal clients, when all else is considered, will ASK someone who they should hire.

So, why not ask your clients, friends and other people who know you, to recommend you.  For some of my posts on referrals – check out this compilation for tips on when and how to ask for them.  Oh, and don’t forget to ask for testimonials too.

 

Does Social Media REALLY Bring You Business?

Posted in Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

A common comment and justification for certain activities in the early stages of legal marketing was “because other firms are doing it.” I believe some firms still cling to that reasoning. Last week Otto Sorts, the curmudgeon of Attorney at Work fame, raised several questions about his firm’s focus on social media as part of a business development plan.

Relating to BizDev, he questioned what the firm wants to do, what does it want to happen, what tool is best suited to accomplish that, and what resources are required. His point being that social media should help answer those questions, or not.

Longtime readers would know that I’m not a big fan of social media because I just haven’t seen where it has made significant contributions to marketing and business development efforts of the firm. Granted it could be one to in the overall mix, but I am just not convinced that it makes significant enough contribution to overcome the disadvantages in my mind as a potential lawyer time waster. I could stand corrected but have been up to this point. I see social media being used more for self- promotion, rather than a social networking tool that leads to more business.

Some posts of mine include (unfortunately, a couple of links are broken):

Marketing and Social Media Survey Results

Since we are in the personal services business, I remain skeptical of social media as an effective tool of legal marketing. Clients hire lawyers they know, like or trust (or are referred by someone they do). I think that social media is too impersonal, remote and time-consuming as a business development tool to cross that…Continue Reading

Social Media Doesn’t Replace Face-to-Face Networking

More and more employers are finding that social media is an effective way to network. However it is not an excuse to sit at your desk and think that that is all there is to it. Social media can be and is for many an effective way to make friends connections and raise one’s profile….Continue Reading

Has Social Media Gotten Lawyers Out of Focus?

There is a very interesting article by Anthony Green in Law Practice Today which talks about Web 2.0, Web 1.0 and social media in general. Not being one completing sold on all the hype surrounding social media, I agree with several points Green raises about the need to get back to basics. He (and I)…Continue Reading

Is “Social Media” Networking’s Nirvana? Possibly Not!

According to a guest post on Duct Tape Marketing by Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com (as in Small Business TV), she prefers to network “the old fashion way.” Her post probes the issue whether anyone really knows what networking means anymore. Before I turn off my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter friends, let…Continue Reading

Should You Pay Attention To The Social Networking Craze?

Most everyone who has heard about the Internet, or has a child capable of educating them, has heard about social networks like MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, etc. etc. etc. The “etc’s” are part of my point. There are new ones springing up almost every day. There is some question as to which one or two will be the…Continue Reading

Most importantly, what do you readers say?  Has social media produced significant legal business for you?

 

Procrastinate No More, It’s Not Too Late

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips

I know, I know.  You’ve been too darn busy.  But I have a newsflash for ya.  Christmas is next week!

Don’t forget your clients and referrals sources, or other key contacts.  I won’t even mention your spouse.  In that department you are on your own.

But for the rest there is still hope.  But it’s time to ACT.  If you haven’t  seen Reid Trautz’s “2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers” take a look.  It isn’t just for lawyers BTW.  It is his 11th year of doing the guide, and there are some nifty items listed.

I know you’ve heard of the USPS Express Mail, Fedex and UPS, so no excuses.  His great lists are reasons I haven’t done my holiday list in a few years. Nevertheless, here a post linking to a few of mine (dated to some extent, but not in all cases, and I apologize for broken links):

Holiday Gift Procrastinators Unite!
It’s not too late to select and ship gifts to clients, referral sources, friends and family. In past years, i.e., in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, I posted suggestions on gifts for the holidays. Okay, so I procrastinated the last couple of years. Bad me, but I’ve decided to mend my ways for 2011. Many suggestions…Continue Reading

There is time, so stop postponing.

 

Send a Thanksgiving Day Card!

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips

It isn’t too late to send a Thanksgiving Day card, at least to key clients.  Why?  As I have commented before, it has several benefits:

  • Avoids religious connotations for those sensitive about such things;
  • You beat the holiday crowd;
  • Don’t get lost in said crowd; and
  • Most importantly, you can, in a truly meaningful way, thank your clients and referral sources for their business and loyalty.

Simple, huh!  The cards can be the everyday drug store variety.  They REALLY don’t have to be pre-ordered with the firm’s name on them.  Actually, they’ll come across as more personal, if they don’t.  Just include your business card.

I have been advocating T-Day cards since 2005 and had clients buy into the idea.  Here a few earlier posts on the topic (unfortunately some links are broken):

Be Especially Thankful to Those Who Help Your Business

Since this is officially “Thankful” week in the United States, let’s not forget all those great clients and contacts who help sustain our law firms and businesses. I got to thinking about how people forget to thank others based on a personal experience last week. It happened early one day when I was contacted by…Continue Reading

Business Development for Solos (and Everyone Else)

Been meaning to comment on some marketing advice I saw on Law Practice Today back in August.  The article entitled “A Business Development Checklist for Young Lawyers” by Kelly O’Malley at Fox Rothschild struck me for two reasons:  her checklist should get the attention of more than young lawyers, and, at least in part, should…Continue Reading

Drats! Time to Think About Holiday Cards – Or Not

One of the most dreaded tasks that lawyers and law firms encounter each year is the annual holiday card marathon. The only exception I can think of that might be more painful is the yearly collection fiasco that goes on in the last month of a firm’s fiscal year.  At least there is obvious value…Continue Reading

BTW Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

 

Not Listed in the “Fantabulous Lawyer Directory”?

Posted in Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

Oh my goodness!  How unfortunate.

You obviously must not be a very good lawyer.  Or just maybe you were smart enough to fend off the snake-oil-directory salesperson.  Sure, some unsophisticated clients may be impressed with your being in the “Best”, “Top”, “Prominent”, “Super”, etc. lawyer directory.  Most clients, particularly corporate clients, don’t care, period.  They want to know what you can do for them.

IMHO  these directories, particularly the “pay-to-play” ones, are worthless.  They are a waste of valuable marketing dollars. I could go on and on about why, but I won’t.

Reason: I couldn’t begin to put it as well as one of the brightest legal marketing consultants out there has put it.  Ross Fishman of Fishman Marketing has a post today on Attorney at Work entitled “Those Stupid Superlative Directories.”  Not only is it an entertaining piece, but spot on. It is a MUST read.

I simply can’t improve on it.

 

P.S. I got an email from a reporter today asking me to comment on what should be left out of RFPs. Take a WILD guess what one of my suggestions will be.

 

Simple Marketing Wisdom

Posted in Marketing Team, Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

I’ve always loved the expression KISS because it is just that simple and telling at the same time. In reviewing  the book this week on marketing meditations by Larry Smith and Richard Levick I often quote, I ran across one that I posted about 3 years ago this month.  It reminded me of how “keeping it simple, stupid”, really is a wonderful phrase.

That meditation: “Marketing is a lifestyle” really brings home this simple but compelling statement. My post on October 26, 2012 is set forth below:

Marketing Success in 4 Words

Make it your lifestyle.

That’s it.  Simple, huh?

It is according to Larry Smith and Richard Levick of Levick Strategic Communications in their 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons For Marketing & Communications Professionals.  Their meditation for Wednesday of this week consists of just four words:

“Marketing is a lifestyle”.

For many lawyers that would mean a change in their behavior.  At least their thinking.  Marketing is not to be hated, nor, at a lawyers peril, ignored.  It must become part of the lawyer’s very being.

When I was the head of marketing at one of my firms, I had the privilege of having one of the most brilliant lawyers I have ever known as my mentor and marketing partner.  I remember his advice to a new crop of associates as we were introducing them to the concept of marketing as part of their orientation:

“Marketing is everything you do as a lawyer.”

He meant EVERYTHING.  How a lawyer dresses, acts in public, treats other lawyers and clients, respects the “little” people they come in contact with everywhere, staff, etc. etc. Basically there isn’t any part of a lawyer’s life that doesn’t reflect on who they are as a person and professional.

In my 27 years of legal marketing, I don’t think I have heard anything simpler or more profound, and will never forget his words.  So, if marketing is all about the whole person and their experience interacting with others, it truly is about lifestyle.

Enough said.  And in just four words.

Why Highly Profitable Law Firms Are Marketing Savvy

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips

Well run and successful law firms in my experience always seemed to have a good marketing sense. Even in the days before the “M” word came into vogue, these firms had a rainmaker (usually a founding partner) or two good at bringing in business. As the legal industry became more competitive, more firms have recognized how critical marketing is to their success; and a lot more partners must get involved

So it wasn’t a big surprise when I ran across an article by Michael Rynowecer, president and founder of The BTI Consulting Group, identifying 8 key habits of highly profitable law firms, which appeared in John Remsen’s Managing Partner Forum weekly newsletter. The habits were identified as the result of a survey of over 330 law firms.  Although not mentioning marketing specifically, I realized the habits are all excellent marketing tools

They include:

  1. Smaller number of mega clients. According to Rynowecer, this can lead to deeper client understanding, more cross-selling opportunities, economies of scale and opportunities to mentor team members. (It can also ensure the firm remains profitable, if a mega client were to fire the firm);
  2. Ongoing client dialogue. Even when you are not working on a matter, keep up a dialogue about the client’s business. It’s a good way to show that you’re not just interested in them because of fees, but are genuinely interested in them and their organization;
  3. Focus on more niche practices. Niche law firms have a deeper understanding of a practice, and can focus on an in-depth capability and expertise. As Rynowecer states these “firms go narrow and deep.” And, of course, in this day and age most firms cannot be all things to all clients;
  4. Educate clients to avoid problems. Offer ideas and solutions to clients before they become a problem. It’s just another way to add value to client relationships;
  5. Greater firm socializing among partners. One of the biggest reasons that cross-selling doesn’t work in many firms is because there isn’t enough knowledge, familiarity and trust among the partners. There should be a lot more internal socializing beyond the annual retreat. If a firm wants cross-selling to occur, there needs to be a great deal more relationship building within the firm;
  6. Firm uniformity across offices and practices. Without a solid management structure that ensures consistency and uniformity across office boundaries and practice areas, it will be more difficult to reduce client anxiety if they decide to use an unfamiliar practice area;
  7. Inform clients early regarding changes. Clients do not like surprises about anything. Accordingly, it’s best to keep clients informed about any potential changes and problem areas in the representation; and
  8. Focus on clients with ongoing work. It’s of a no-brainer that if you like the client and the work you do for them, then it’s a good idea to work at obtaining more of it. It’s just an obvious and less expensive marketing strategy.

If all of the above are done consistently, it reflects good marketing and business development savvy that will make your firm highly profitable.

Recap II: Client Feedback is Vital to Success

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips

If it wasn’t so darn important, I wouldn’t harp on the topic so much.  As I mentioned in my last post, I got to wondering how many posts I have made on this blog over the past 10 years that touched on the subject. As said there, I went to my trusty search box above and entered “client feedback.” Having preached over and over on the topic, I can’t really say whether I was surprised there were over 90 posts that referred to it.

Many of my readers may not have seen or been following my blog in those days, I thought it might be beneficial to revisit some of them. Seeking feedback has always been No. 3 on my list of Top 10 Marketing Tips from the beginning. So, here are three more posts on seeking feedback:

In-House Counsel Want Their Law Firms To Seek Feedback

More and more it seems that in-house counsel are expecting their law firms to ask for their feedback. Even though “most general counsel and consultants say those law firms (seeking client feedback) are still in the minority and there isn’t nearly enough of this type of dialogue going on” according to an article on Law.com’s…Continue Reading

Now, More Than Ever, Talk With Your Clients

Two recent surveys really point out how important it is for law firms to stay very close to their existing clients. Not only by communicating constantly, but seeking feedback on how the firm is doing. Why? Because clients, especially in-house counsel, continue to be concerned about the costs of outside legal services. As a result, both…Continue Reading

Why Some Client Feedback Programs Don’t Work

The good news is that some firms are doing client feedback programs; the bad news is that they aren’t really getting the feedback they need. That is, the feedback questions are superficial, and don’t really offer the kinds of return that will actually benefit the firm in retaining the client over the long haul. An…Continue Reading

Hopefully, these revisited posts will encourage you and your firm to seek feedback from your clients.

 

P.S. My apologies for some broken links in some of these posts.  I wasn’t able to repair them, but still believe they are worth sharing.

Recap: Client Feedback is Vital to Success

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips

After seeing a couple of post in the last few days about client satisfaction, I got to wondering how many posts I have made on this blog over the past 10 years that touched on the subject. So I went to my trusty search box above and entered “client feedback.” Having preached over and over on the topic, I can’t really say whether I was surprised there were over 90 posts that referred to it.

Many of my readers may not have seen or been following my blog in those days, I thought it might be beneficial to revisit some of them. Seeking feedback has always been number three on my list of Top 10 Marketing Tips from the beginning. Here are a few:

Seeking Client Feedback: More Critical Than Ever

It’s been awhile since I harped on how important client satisfaction with their legal service provider is. Since starting this blog in January 2005, I have preached many, many times on how important feedback is for firms to retain existing clients or obtain referrals from them (See a few posts below on the subject).  It…Continue Reading

How to Seek Client Feedback

Well, 2015 is almost here. Time to plan your business development strategies for the coming year. One simple one (albeit a feared one by some lawyers), involves seeking feedback from clients to ensure (or improve) the quality of legal services provided. No one needs to be reminded of how tough and competitive the legal marketplace…Continue Reading

Client Feedback Pointer

Seeking client feedback is not only important for every law firm, but it needs to be done right. Following a recent post of mine on the topic, my friend Stacy West Clark raised some issues that got me to thinking about the Who, What, When, Why’s and How’s of getting client feedback: Who should conduct…Continue Reading

Seek Client Feedback For The Right Reasons

Although I believe that law firms will gain more work from clients because they seek feedback on how they are doing, that cannot be the reason for undertaking such a program. The honest reason for seeking client feedback must be based on caring for the client and the relationship. All else will take care of itself….Continue Reading