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Legal Marketing Blog

A blog dedicated to lawyer marketing in any size law firm

The Best Advertising Is Free

Posted in Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

It’s called publicity. When you or your firm gets mentioned in the media, and better if you are quoted, it’s instant credibility. And it’s FREE (unless you hire a PR agency to help)

Regular advertising is less effective IMHO because you are writing the copy and, of course, it is self-serving. Further it costs you money. When someone else says things about you and hopefully quotes you, it is more likely to be believed.

We all believe what we read in the newspaper or magazine, right?  “If I read it, it must be true” is what Larry Smith and Richard Levick opined (somewhat facetiously I’m sure) in a meditation contained in 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons for Marketing and Communications Professionals. For more on that meditation look at my post “Publicity vs. Advertising” for the full quote, and for more about the difference between the two.

Actually, we all know better, but there certainly is more credibility given to what someone else says about you than what you say about yourself. You may ask, how do I get this here free “advertising”? Well, you need to befriend a reporter or editor, as I suggest in my “Top 10 Marketing Tips: No. 8 – Take a Reporter to Lunch.” It’s a start and my post gives some suggestions and cautions on how to go about building a relationship with a reporter.

So, it is better if you spend your time talking to reporters and editors rather than those in the business who sell advertising. Accordingly it’s a good idea to get to know and develop relationships with reporters and editors. Your time and (lunch) money will be better spent.

Plan for the Worst

Posted in Client Communications, Marketing Tips, Prospecting for Clients

When it comes to marketing and business development, plan to lose. HUH, you may say.

Stay with me.

Hope to win, but don’t assume that you will get the next engagement – either from an existing client or from a prospect. With the competitive nature of our industry (yes, law services is an industry, despite those who say NO, it’s a PROFESSION – Yeah right), things are changing rapidly. Clients are dissatisfied, angry with the cost of legal services and the value of those services. So, just because your client appears to be happy with your firm today, doesn’t mean they will be satisfied tomorrow.

Today’s meditation from 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons for Marketing & Communications Professionals by Larry Smith and Richard Levick points out the dangers of not anticipating the possibility of change:

“The captain of the Titanic had such a great safety record that when the great ship struck an iceberg, precious hours were lost because the possibility of sinking was so far beyond his experience. Yesterday’s success is always a trap when conditions change. And they always change.”

Don’t let precious time pass before you and your firm wake up to today’s realities. Awake every day with the thought of making your clients’ experience even better. It is not a foregone conclusion you will succeed, but you sure as heck better give it your all. Because things change and clients are becoming more demanding. Overconfidence and the lack of client-centric thinking could eventually sink your 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.