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Legal Marketing Blog

A blog dedicated to lawyer marketing in any size law firm

What the Heck Does “Adding Value“ by Lawyers Really Mean?

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips

There’s a lot of talk these days about lawyers adding more value to their client representation. Particularly because of competition, client demands, and the state of the legal industry, adding value REALLY is important. Just providing a legal product is not enough.  But it begs the question what adding value really means.

Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program, had a good idea last week which helps in getting to an answer. He said “…the question is whether there is something extra you can provide the client that is related to the legal services and is useful to the client.” It can be done in many ways. One opportunity he mentions at the conclusion of his post states “… if you can surprise the client at the end of the representation with something useful that they didn’t expect, you increase the chances that they will use your firm again, refer others to you and pay their final bill.”

A couple of years ago I wrote a post that included 5 suggestions by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing for creating more value that are worth repeating:

  • Measure. Determine what value you are providing clients already (yeah, the client can help here of course, but that means talking to them about that). You might find that either clients aren’t getting enough value, or that you are not charging enough;
  • Lead. Be upfront and offer ways to help clients more effectively with their business or personal issues. Writing articles, making presentations, blogging, creating groups on social media sites are ways to show that leadership capability;
  • Teach. The best kind of selling his education-based. Demonstrate how clients can do things well or avoid problem situations via CLE seminars or otherwise;
  • Inspire. Here Jantsch is talking about how a great design (in marketing materials, websites, even invoices) can create value. One might think that this suggestion is a bit fuzzy, and I would not disagree. However, design could be a promise of value and that is where something; and
  • Listen. Clearly listening to clients adds value. That may seem pretty obvious, but “we rarely do it.” Yet, if you focus, avoid distractions (like your iPhone or blackberry), look them in the eye and really listen, you will add tremendous value.

Then there is the “51 Practical Ways for Law Firms to Add Value,” developed by the Law Firm Value Committee of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

So, if you are trying to come up with ways to add value to your legal services, there should be plenty to consider for implementation by you and your law firm.

Client Letter to New Outside Counsel – Part II

Posted in Client Communications, Legal Fees, Marketing Team, Marketing Tips

Last week I wrote about the fictitious client letter sent to the recently retained outside law firm, wherein the general counsel sets forth his expectations.  As noted in that post, the “letter” was brought to us by Bob Denney in one of his Legal Communiqués. ’s Legal Communique, wherein the law firm is admonished/warned about not meeting the client’s service expectations.

This week I will look at the general counsel’s fee and billing expectations, which include:

  • stick to the agreed-upon budget;
    • Ensure that the bills are “accurate, free of errors and inconsistencies and adhere to the agreed-upon formats and protocols”;
    • invoice regularly (thereby helping the client with its cash flow);
  • (If applicable) since our policy is to minimize hourly fees in favor of fixed fee or incentive fees, if you misjudge the time spent on our matter, that is your problem since we do not “pay for inefficiency by outside counsel”;
  • Besides these basic requirements/expectations, we expect your firm to build on our relationship by “delivering enhanced service.” Ways to do that include utilizing current technology, maintaining knowledge management systems (and presumably, if the letter were sent today, it would include legal project management), and keeping us up-to-date with law alerts, newsletters, CLE seminars, etc.; and
  • Periodically seek client feedback meetings regarding both the quality of the work product and the service provided.

Finally, our company has not retained your law firm simply because of its expertise. There are other firms and lawyers equally qualified to handle our legal needs. Your firm was retained because we believe that you will serve us well and meet and “perhaps you will even exceed our expectations.”

As noted previously this client letter was fictitious, but make no mistake, clients expect to be treated as outlined here, even if they do not expressly commit it to a letter. Without a doubt both Denney and I agree on that.

 

Client Letter to New Outside Counsel – Part I

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Team, Marketing Tips

Ran across a fictitious letter written by a fictitious general counsel to a fictitious law firm he just retained. The letter sets forth his expectations for the new firm; and was crafted by Bob Denney of Robert Denney Associates as one of his famous Legal Communiqués. Although it is nearly a year old, it is so right on in terms of what law firms must be tuned into for servicing clients I wanted, in the interests of brevity, to cover it in two posts.

The letter starts off by setting forth what this in-house attorney expects from the firm:

  • He doesn’t want the responsible attorney to be a “Lone Ranger”, but expects to be served by a competent team at the level and experience needed; and the attorney needs to ensure that he is providing “quality control” and has a qualified partner to be his backup when he is not available;
  • He wants the advice to be objective, and aimed at solving problems not creating additional ones, while anticipating and preparing to overcome any future problems;
  • He doesn’t want to be kept in the dark (like a bat or mushroom), and consulted on matters of strategy, timing and expense. Oh yeah, and NO surprises;
  • He expects everyone on the team to be responsive, courteous and show respect to everyone in the company they come in contact with. And “If we think something is important then” IT IS; and
  • He expects not only that all legal deadlines will be met, but “we also expect you to meet – or even beat – our business deadlines.”

Actually the letter could be turned around and used as an affirmative assertion by law firms to new clients as to how they will handle their matter. It would be impressive if firms did so.

Next post will address the fee and billing expectations and a final caveat, if his expectations are not met.

Visit Clients, Period!

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips

Whenever I get writers block, I like to look at my old standby source of inspiration, 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons For Marketing & Communications Professionals authored by my friend Larry Smith and Richard Levick at Levick Strategic Communications.

As I have preached, preached, and yes preached some more over the past 10 years, the quickest, fastest, swiftest (okay, okay I know ENOUGH already) way to get new business is to visit your clients off the clock. And fortuitously this week, the marketing meditations for Monday through today deal with that very point. They are:

  • April 20: “Visit all clients. Visit clients across the street. Visit clients around the world.”
  • April 21: “Visit clients without an agenda.”
  • April 22: “She who visits clients comes back with work.”

That really says it all! If you would like to read more of my posts over the years on this topic, look here for several of them.

So, start planning your visits to KEY clients, at least.

 

Everything You Need to Guarantee Referrals

Posted in Marketing Plans, Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

Well, that might be an overstatement; but a three-part series by Mary Lokensgard on Attorney at Work presents a good outline of an effective referral system to follow.  If you do so there is a good chance that you will be guaranteed referrals. They are not automatic and they require work, but if you’re serious about getting new business remember that one of the best sources his referrals (either from clients or other friends and contacts).

In a nutshell the suggestions by Lokensgard cover three aspects:

1. Who is likely to refer to and how to ask.

  • Make a list of lawyers who do not do what you do, as well as a list of those who do and are likely to refer to you (and you to them) when there is a conflict or other reason;
  • List other non-lawyer professionals likely to have clients that could use your services (and vice versa);
  • Let your clients know that you welcome referrals to serve “other great clients like them”; and
  • Inform all appropriate contacts of your willingness to refer clients to them.

2. Rules when getting and giving referrals.

  • Suggest to referral source that the potential client, for ethical reasons, make the first contact. Subtly remind referrer if you don’t hear from the person;
  • With the new client’s permission, let the referral source know the referral succeeded;
  • Thank the referral source for the business repeatedly – by email AND handwritten note, and consider a token gift as a thank you; and
  • Let the referral source know how things are going with the matter ONLY with the client’s knowledge and consent.

3. Care and maintenance of your referral network.

  • Continue to broaden referral network by raising profile by educational and nonprofit activities;
  • Stay in constant contact with existing referral sources;
  • Look for opportunities to make referrals;
  • Show appreciation by entertaining referral sources.

Building a referral network takes work, but can pay big dividends if done efficiently and effectively. Check out Lokensgard’s three-part series for more details.

 

 

7 Tips That Will Guarantee You Referrals

Posted in Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

The vast majority of new legal work for lawyers comes from referrals, whether they be from clients, former clients, or other people who, know like and trust you. Often called word-of-mouth marketing, primarily new work comes because of what other people say about you. (One exception obviously is plaintiff’s work, which is basically garnered through advertising).

I have written many posts over this blog’s 10 years on the subject of referrals. And I have included links to 10 below, and invite you to breeze through them for tidbits you might find helpful.

But today I will list, with no further explanation needed IMHO, seven tips I am convinced will guarantee you referrals. So here goes:

  1. Do excellent legal work
  2. Dress professionally
  3. Beat deadlines
  4. Respect clients
  5. Never (unfavorably) surprise a client about anything
  6. Charge reasonable fees
  7. Be a nice person

That’s all folks.

….

Except for other of my posts on referrals (I apologize in advance for broken links, as some no longer are available):

 

Maxims for Legal Marketing Success

Posted in Marketing Plans, Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

There is a lot of advice out there on how to succeed at legal marketing. Success does not depend on your efforts being complicated or difficult.  It just needs to be realistic and sensible. Consultant Bob Denney does that by offering his 20 legal marketing maxims on Attorney at Work that brings us back to basics.

The following is my list of 10 favorites from his list (with some thoughts in parentheses), although I commend to your reading his complete post of all twenty:

  1. Be the best lawyer you can be. Otherwise you really ought to find something else to do. If you’re not trying your best, clients will realize it and your practice will suffer in time);
  2. Don’t sell. Educate. Listen to clients’ problems and concerns. Then educate them on their legal options and how you might help them;
  3. Focus. Specialize. (You really can’t be all things to all people, but how narrow your focus should be will depend on your location. You can be more of a general practitioner in a smaller, rural area than you can be in a large metropolitan area. In the latter, you will need to be more highly specialized to be found among the competition);
  4. Have a marketing plan and follow it. (In my experience lawyers can be pretty darn good at planning, but I have seen too many fall down when it comes to implementing the plan. When they get busy it is easy to overlook the need to feed the pipeline for more work.)
  5. Market like you were a sole practitioner. If you don’t you may soon be one. (It continues to amaze me to see mid-level and even more senior partners who are just not contributing to the business development efforts of their firms. I have seen such lawyers cut loose in more than one of my in-house marketing positions);
  6. Current clients are your best sales agents. (Well, that assumes that they are happy campers and that you done a good job at No. 1 above);
  7. Relationship building and word-of-mouth still best at gaining clients. (Social media can contribute to both, but in the end I completely agree with Denney);
  8. Know your client’s business. (In surveying clients for law firms, I am no longer surprised to hear their frustration about lawyers not knowing and understanding their business. That includes law firms they have used more than once);
  9. Treat every client as if he or she were your only client. (Excellent advice and furtherance of No.1 above); and
  10. Under-promise. Over-deliver. (The reverse is a death knell. Don’t just meet your deadline, but exceed it by a day or more).

Enough said!

 

Marketing Plans: At Least Do a Simple One

Posted in Marketing Plans, Marketing Tips

Okay, we’re two months into the new year. Do you think it’s too late to do a marketing plan for 2015?  Wrong answer.  It is never too late to plan. To paraphrase the Cheshire cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you’re going (i.e. no plan), any road will take you there. Unfortunately, it may “take you” to a failed law practice.

Your plan doesn’t have to be lengthy (a page or two is a good start), complicated or difficult to implement. It can be a simple plan. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be specific, challenging, have deadlines, and provide for accountability, as Paula Black suggests in an article on her website. Her straight forward suggestions are:

  • Set specific goals. They must be measurable.  Wanting ‘’more clients” is too vague. Specify X number of new clients to gain or revenue dollars you want to obtain;
  • Leave your comfort zone (at least a little). There should be enough of a challenge to improve your business development activities.  Same ole, same ole won’t do it;
  • Set deadlines. Otherwise it will only lead to procrastination.  For instance, plan to have lunch with two clients and three referral sources (by name) by March 31; and
  • Be accountable to someone. Empower a colleague to ask you about your activities and whether you are following your plan.  It could be a close friend, another lawyer, or a coach (internal or external).

The important point is to prepare a plan.  It is NOT too late for 2015. It doesn’t have to be a big undertaking.  A simple one will be a good start.

P.S.  CALL FOR SUGGESTIONS. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Legal Marketing Blog, I have decided to ask my readers for suggestions on marketing and business development tips that they would like me to cover. So, SUGGEST AWAY!

 

Insights for Attending Conferences

Posted in Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

What should you consider before deciding whether to attend a conference? The weather? Exotic location? Nah! Although one should not discard those entirely. But seriously, there are things you should consider before deciding whether to attend a conference.

Roy Ginsberg has a helpful post on Attorney at Work today that may help you decide whether to attend a particular conference or not. Here are few:

  • Who will attend? If it is a conference that your desirable clients will attend, then without a doubt you should plan on it. This will offer the opportunity to enhance your relationships with existing clients, and possibly provide the opportunity for them to introduce you to new ones. If you are not sure what conferences your clients attend, ask them and/or do research on past conferences;
  • Will there be networking opportunities? With most conferences that’s a given. But be selective in those activities where there will be greater opportunities for one-on-one discussions, such as sightseeing tours and other casual events. At meals, plan to identify and sit, when possible, with potential clients;
  • Be selective on breakout sessions. Not only consider the educational benefits, but again where potential targets will be. These sessions may offer smaller, more intimate opportunities to network; and
  • Most importantly, follow-up. The single most common reason that lawyers fail to gain work from attending conferences is the lack of follow-up. Have a game plan to contact by letter, email, telephone call etc. people of interest you meet at a conference.

Now, back to the point about where the conference is located. As Ginsberg notes “All things being equal, San Diego during January sure sounds a helluva lot better to me than Washington, D.C. in the summer.” Or Boston in the winter. As it turns out, San Diego is the site for the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in April, which is also a great time of year in that beautiful city.

Much of the advice given above is applicable to LMA’s conference depending on your goals. If you still haven’t decided whether you are attending and you’re a legal marketer take a look at my earlier posts (here and here) about the upcoming conference. What I have gained most from these conferences over the years are the contacts made, and the marketing and business development ideas acquired.

Marketing and Social Media Survey Results

Posted in Marketing Tips

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 bridge.  I know, I know there are those who would strongly disagree with me, but I believe the jury is still out on whether social media provides a reasonable ROI for time spent.

One could argue that a recent survey would bear that out. Attorney at Work reported today on its Social Media Survey conducted with its readers, of whom 450 responded (includes 340 lawyers). The results were interesting to say the least and informative. They are:

  • 91% use social media, but only 60% said it was a part of their marketing strategy;
  • LinkedIn was the top choice at 91% use, 73% use Facebook and 45% are also using twitter (Google+ only garnered 21% use);
  • 39% claim LinkedIn “is the most effective client-getter.” HOWEVER, as to ROI, only 4% said that “social media is ‘very responsible’ for getting them new clients.” In fact, “31% said no social media platform is effective at bringing in new clients;” and
  • 56% of lawyers in the survey think that “using social media for marketing is ‘more hype than reality.’”

Personally, I am not saying that social media cannot help bring in clients. It can be one instrument in the toolbox, but not a significant one in my opinion for all the noise and traffic it garners. Sorry, but I believe face-to-face meetings are far more effective. So, my suggestion is that lawyers spend less time playing with social media, get off their duffs, and get out and about meeting with clients, referral sources, and networking for prospects.

P.S.  CALL FOR SUGGESTIONS. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Legal Marketing Blog, I have decided to ask my readers for suggestions on marketing and business development tips that they would like me to cover. So, SUGGEST AWAY!