When we ask lawyers what they need their marketing to accomplish for them, the most common answer by far is “I need more clients.” But we’d like to challenge that mindset. Do you really need more clients… or do you need better clients?

Take a moment and think through the clients you’ve worked with over the past several months. How many of them:

1. Didn’t pay you on time, in full, or maybe didn’t pay at all
2. Consumed a ton of time and energy in the engagement/consultation process before hiring you (or worse, not hiring you despite the time you invested)
3. Were rude or disrespectful towards you, your time, and/or your team
4. Didn’t trust you
5. Needed help with matters outside of your area of focus
6. Drained you, rather than energized you

Here’s an analogy for you. Think retail.

On one end of the spectrum you’ve got Wal-Mart – cheap, always open, stores all over the country, and you can get almost anything there – although the quality may be questionable.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus. Expensive, restricted availability, and a very narrow selection of extremely high quality merchandise.

Wal-Mart makes money through volume. They have tiny profit margins, but they’re so efficient and they sell at such high volume that, as a company, they’re very profitable. Neiman Marcus and other high-end retailers make their money through higher margins. They sell to a much, much smaller number of customers than a Wal-Mart, but they’ve built a brand that allows them to create much higher margins than Wal-Mart. And so they don’t need a high volume of customers. They need the right customers.

For them, it’s not about quantity… it’s about quality.

Now, which end of the spectrum would you like your law practice to operate in? Would you rather be a (relatively) low-cost provider of a wide variety of legal services, making your money through high volume? Or would you prefer to build a focused, lower-volume, higher-margin practice?

I can’t answer that question for you. But I can tell you, generally speaking, that focusing on a niche, building a brand, and working with a smaller number of carefully selected clients will result in the following:

1. Less time working
2. Ability to charge higher rates
3. More referrals
4. More repeat business
5. More fulfillment with your work

I’d suggest you spend some time thinking about this. Figure out what you want your practice to look like. Is it quantity and high volume? Or is it quality and a more focused practice?

Once you’ve identified your direction, your marketing can help you get there. If you’d like to talk to the Spotlight Branding team about this, we’d be glad to have a conversation.


We are excited to welcome Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D to Legal Marketing Blog; he is the managing partner at Hinge Marketing.

Today we are going to explore how thought leadership marketing works.

Black: When did thought leadership take hold in the world of marketing?
Frederiksen:Although it may seem like it’s been around forever, the concept of “thought leadership” is relatively new. The term first appeared in the 1990’s and was initially used to describe individuals with a reputation for developing ideas that might be considered highly advanced and influential. Today, thought leadership has evolved to include anyone who is an intellectual leader. And as it pertains to business and professional services, has become a powerful marketing tool.

Black: What is thought leadership marketing?
Frederiksen: Thought leadership marketing is the process of promoting specialized expertise and accelerating market influence to accomplish marketing goals, such as building brand strength or generating new business. Thought leadership marketing is powered by valuable, insightful content that positions your firm and key individuals within it as experts in a particular topic or industry. That content is then distributed to your target markets via their preferred channels to make that thought leadership visible.

Thought leadership is often confused with content marketing; however, content marketing is a much broader discipline. It involves using content to attract, educate and close new business. Thought leadership is a specific strategy within the broader concept of content marketing.

For example, a firm might publish helpful content without offering any innovative or advanced thinking. Another firm may offer entertaining or humorous content. Both of these are content marketing strategies, but neither would be considered thought leadership.

Thought leaders are individuals or firms recognized for their specialized expertise and their influence on the development of their discipline. They are both subject matter experts and influencers, driving professional discussion and advances within their field of expertise.

Black: What are the benefits of thought leadership?
Frederiksen: Thought leadership benefits both the subject matter expert and their firm:

Faster growth Thought leaders’ single biggest impact is their ability to drive firm growth. Highly visible thought leadership attracts clients who want or need greater expertise. The leads are more qualified and easier to generate. Prospects close more quickly with less effort and greater success.

Higher billing rates There is a direct relationship between the visibility of a subject matter expert’s thought leadership and their billing rate.

A stronger brand Combining thought leadership with greater visibility creates a significantly stronger brand that will increase value, growth, and profitability.

Better talent The best people want to work with industry leaders. Thought leadership helps demonstrate the quality of your firm and attracts top talent who also want to become thought leaders.

More opportunities Leading subject matter experts not only attract better clients and more talented employees, they also foster better strategic partners and business relationships.

Black: How do you develop thought leadership content?
Frederiksen: While there is no magic formula that can guarantee you will become recognized as an insightful, influential thinker, there are specific steps that will help strengthen your expertise. Deeper, more relevant insights make better thought leadership content.

Narrow your focus Our research on high-profile experts shows that narrowing your focus greatly increases the likelihood of deepening your expertise. The narrower your focus, the faster your ascent to leadership. You’re able to accumulate experience and insight faster, which will accelerate and improve content development.

Do original research Conducting original research on a topic gives you a huge advantage. It is one of the key paths to thought leadership. New research findings are the raw material of thought leadership content. High-quality research produces new insights that can be applied to clients’ challenges and shared with others.

Become a contrarian  A contrarian perspective doesn’t mean being quarrelsome or negative. It means looking at a problem from a novel angle. A fresh perspective is another hallmark of thought leader-level thinking. When everyone is looking at a topic one way, explore the opposite view.

Create a novel expertise niche Sometimes great insight comes from applying the methods and thinking of one discipline to another — putting expertise in two seemingly unrelated fields together. For example, combining a scientific theory approach to legal services.

Play well with other experts Having a good working relationship with other experts provides access to the most advanced and influential thinking. The thoughts and ideas of others will help you become smarter and develop more insightful content of your own. And don’t forget colleagues. They add credibility to you by association. As a member of an “influential experts club” you’ll have access to shared ideas and possible new business referrals.

Black: How do you share thought leadership?
Frederiksen: Unlike promoting a tangible product, promoting thought leadership can be challenging. Thought leadership is invisible so it must be demonstrated to be experienced. Generally, there are three traditional approaches:

Writing Writing the definitive best-selling book on a topic is the gold standard of thought leadership. However, there are other ways to convey expertise through writing. Articles in trade publications, blog posts, white papers and executive guides are excellent channels to communicate your insights and build your reputation.

Speaking For many experts, public speaking engagements are their single best source of new business leads. Live speaking events are also a great way to meet new people and get fresh input — audience questions can be a source of new insights and inspiration.

Direct Interaction and Networking This involves working with people directly, interacting with colleagues, clients, and prospects in meetings, educational settings, or at conferences. The interaction, however, must provide an opportunity for people to sample the thought leader’s expertise.

Thought leadership has become a powerful tool within the realm of professional services. Marketing your thought leadership through your valuable and insightful content positions both you and your firm as experts, ultimately helping you to generate new business.

Black: Generating new business! Isn’t that what we are all looking to accomplish? Thank you Lee Fredriksen for sharing your insight and giving us another tool to help us reach our goals in 2019.


Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D is managing partner at Hinge Marketing. He is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

 

Your marketing strategy is the key to growing your law firm. If your marketing strategy is stale (or non-existent) you’re not going to fuel the growth you’re hoping for. On the other hand, an effective marketing strategy will help you bring in new clients, generate more referrals, and even help you justify higher rates. In this report, I suggest some possible “new additions” to help you take your law firm marketing to the next level.

How can you attract the clients and the work that you legitimately enjoy – and free yourself from the economic pressure to take any matter that shows up at your door?

Here are ten ideas to get your wheels turning. Don’t try to implement all of these at once – I recommend focusing on just one or two initiatives at a time. Which ideas resonate with you and make sense for your firm?

1) Launch a podcast. Podcasting has exploded as a media source – iTunes reports over one billion subscriptions, and hundreds of millions of plays per month. Launching a podcast geared towards your target market is an effective strategy that you can use to educate potential clients, keep them engaged, and build your credibility at the same time. The key is to come up with a theme and a direction that provides genuinely valuable information to your market. As a business attorney, you could focus your podcast on legal pitfalls that entrepreneurs should be aware of. A family attorney could focus on preparing for and navigating the divorce process, including how to protect and care for the children involved. The possibilities are endless. What are the most common questions and misunderstandings that your clients have? Chances are, addressing those issues would make a great podcast.

2) Host events. Creating and hosting in-person events for potential clients and referral sources can generate momentum and enthusiasm for your practice. We’ve seen clients take this strategy in many different directions – from hosting monthly informational sessions for individuals contemplating divorce, to holding quarterly VIP parties for top referral sources, to organizing seminars featuring expert speakers on topics of interest to business owners. Get creative and find an angle to host in-person events and build a community around your law firm.

3) Sharpen your referral strategy. Referrals are a primary source of new business for most law firms, and clients who are referred to you are typically among the most pleasant and profitable to work with. Are you doing everything can to maximize these referrals? Start by identifying your top referral sources and invest time and energy into deepening those relationships. Identify other individuals who are strategically positioned to send a high volume of work your way and create relationships with them as well. The potential payoff makes it worth your personal investment in this relatively short list of individuals. But, don’t neglect your current clients, your past clients, and your larger network. Ensure that you’re creating top-of-mind awareness and continually educating them on what a good referral looks like. Consider creating referral incentives or even holding regular referral competitions to keep your entire network engaged.

4) Targeted sponsorships. Sponsorships can be a big waste of money if you take the wrong approach. Do NOT jump on every opportunity that comes your way. I’ve seen firms spend large sums of money sponsoring organizations, events, or publications that have little-to-no relevance to their target market. On the other hand, if you can identify groups, events, websites, or magazines that your clients are engaged with, sponsorship can make a great deal of sense. The best approach is generally to identify a small number of organizations or publications to sponsor, and to engage with them as deeply as possible. Sponsor their events and ask for speaking opportunities or other visibility. Sponsor newsletters and ask if you can also contribute content. Do your best to create repeated touch-points for members or subscribers – repetition and consistency is key.

5) Offer an audit or check-in to past and current clients. Oftentimes there is more work to be done for your past and even current clients. They just don’t know they need it yet, or they don’t know that you can provide the solution. Solve both problems by creating an “audit” or evaluation for your clients. This could be a worksheet they complete on their own, or it may be a sit-down with you or (even better) someone on your team. The goal is simple: ask them questions about their business, their estate plan, their family life, whatever it may be, and help them to see that they need your help in these areas. Be prepared to explain how you can help them address these challenges or take advantage of the opportunities that you have uncovered together. This simple strategy could result in a massive influx of new work.

6)  Publish a book. There’s arguably no greater tool to establish your credibility and your expertise in your area of practice than publishing a book. While it might sound overwhelming, chances are that you have a good amount of content that you have created over the years which could be re-purposed into a book. If you have a marketing person on your team, assign them to organize this content into an outline. Then, create new content as needed to fill holes and create cohesion. There are a variety of companies out there that can help you lay out and publish your book, and some of them can even help you with the content as well.

Once you’ve had your book printed, the marketing opportunities are endless. Give it away at consultations. Offer it as a gift to past clients. Use it as a door prize at events. It’s a powerful tool that will enhance your credibility and build your brand as an authority in your practice area in a very big way.

7) Network smarter. Networking is a valuable strategy for drumming up referrals and new business, particularly when you’re in the “more-time-than-money” phase of your firm. But it’s important to manage your investment well. Don’t simply attend every event in your area. Instead, identify a small handful of targeted organizations that have great potential and get heavily involved. Don’t just attend, get involved in leadership. Speak at events. You’ll get a much better return from deep involvement in a few carefully selected organizations than you will from surface-level involvement in a large number of groups.

8) Speak. Speaking positions you as an expert and an authority. It’s a great way to attract new clients. Look for opportunities to speak in front of your target market – whether that’s a networking group, a trade association, a seminar or conference, or whatever the case may be. Look for opportunities to educate your audience while building your expertise at the same time. This can include presentations on changing laws and regulations that impact your industry, tips and strategies for your market, best practices for avoiding legal disputes, and more. Just be sure that you’re targeting speaking opportunities that make strategic sense for you – opportunities to reach potential clients in a way that enhances your expertise and your position in the marketplace.

9) Launch a joint venture. Who can you partner with and what can you create to reach a new audience? I know a business lawyer that partnered with a banker and a graphic designer to create a “one stop start-up shop” for entrepreneurs – helping them to address the legal, financial, and marketing needs of their new business all in one place. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box here – who can you join forces with to provide a uniquely valuable product or service for your clients? The advantages to this approach are significant – it represents an opportunity to earn additional income from your existing clients, but more importantly it also gives you access to the clients and customers of your partners in this venture. If you’re creative, you may also tap into a whole “new market” by creating a product or service that didn’t exist previously. Many of these people will expand the relationship over time, engaging you beyond the scope of the initial joint venture.

10) Train your staff to recognize and capitalize on opportunities for new business. Finally, get the team involved. Your staff likely knows people that could use your services or will encounter them in their daily life – and they’ve seen firsthand how your firm creates value for your clients. Teach them how to recognize potential clients, how to engage them, and how to connect them with you (or whoever handles the intake process for your firm.) This doesn’t have to be a complicated process and it frankly shouldn’t be hard for your team to execute. They just need to understand who’s a good fit and be able to briefly articulate the value that your firm provides to those clients. You never know who your team knows, so tap into their network as well as your own. You can consider offering some sort of incentive for your team members, if appropriate. Make it a team effort!

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, and hopefully you’ve gleaned a few ideas that could work for your firm. But it’s important to be realistic about this – don’t bite off more than you can chew. I suggest that you identify one (or two at most) new initiatives to start with. Invest the time to get them up and running and carefully track your results. When you find something that works well, make it a part of your ongoing marketing system and then move on to the next new idea.

 

It isn’t always enough to set your goals and the strategy you are going to use to get there. Sometime we need a little inspiration or maybe a lot of inspiration! One of my favorite contributors to Inc. Magazine is Jeff Haden and last year he came up with a truly amazing compilation of 50 Quotes to Inspire You to Achieve Your Goals, and I’m sure it will be just what you need to guide you along your 2019 journey to success. Pick out a few quotes that speak to you to focus on when the going gets rough.

Jeff writes “… sometimes all you need is a little push, a little nudge. A little burst of motivation and inspiration. Here are fifty of those nudges.

Pick the one that makes your skin tingle, your heart race, your motor rev, and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day: your monitor, your screen saver, your background and let it help take you to the place you’ve always wanted to go.

1. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” —Walt Disney

2. “Fear is the disease. Hustle is the antidote.” —Travis Kalanick

3. “The question I ask myself almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?'”—Mark Zuckerberg

4. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” —Chinese proverb

5. “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” —Florence Nightingale

6. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart

7. “Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda

8. “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” —Mark Twain

9. “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” —Lao Tzu

10. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” —Alice Walker

11. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” —John Lennon

12. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” —Woody Allen

13. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” —Farrah Gray

14. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” —George Eliot

15. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” —Henry Ford

16. “You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.”— Unknown

17. “Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” —Joshua Marine

18. “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” —Booker T. Washington

19. “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” —Jim Rohn

20.”Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy.” —Jimmy Spithill

21. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” —Steve Jobs

22. “The best revenge is massive success.” —Frank Sinatra

23. “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new.” —Richard Branson

24. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou

25. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain

26. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

27. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anais Nin

28. “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” —Aristotle

29. “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” —Teddy Roosevelt

30. “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” —George Addair

31. “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” —Japanese proverb

32. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”—Robert Frost

33. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” —Stephen Covey

34. “It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.” —Paul Graham

35. “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do.” —Bob Dylan

36. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” —Albert Einstein

37. “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” —Chinese proverb

38. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” —Maya Angelou

39. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” —Wayne Gretzky

40. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” —Nelson Mandela

41. “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” —Confucius

42. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” —Tony Robbins

43. “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”—Winston Churchill

44. “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” —Beverly Sills

45. “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” —Booker T. Washington

46. “Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” —Vaibhav Shah

47. “Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

48. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” —Ayn Rand

49. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” —Steve Jobs

50. “Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” —Biz Stone

First—was 2018 what you imagined it would be? Oh, you didn’t really think about what you wanted to accomplish in 2018? You just went where the crisis-of-the-day lead you? From one overwhelmed day to another. Then when it was all over and you looked around, there was nothing in the pipeline? Panic set in and you got out there to get the work to start flowing again. Month after month it gave you a sinking feeling and you took it out on your family? Things started to pickup, after a while. Then the cycle happened all over again… From one overwhelmed day to another… over and over again.

In 2019, let’s stop the cycle. Think about what you want. Here are twelve questions to answer:

1. Is it time to make a real change? Change what you do and where you do it?
2. Is it time to find more harmony between work and family?
3. Is it time to grow your practice with intention?
4. How much revenue do you want?
5. How much time do you want to work?
6. How much time do you want to spend with your family and friends?
7. How much time do you want to take off?
8. Are you happy with the type of work you do?
9. If not what kind of work do you want to do?
10. Do you like the clients you work for?
11. If not, what kind of clients do you want to work for?
12. Is there enough happiness in your life?

Answer these questions as honestly as you can. The answers with help you identify what your big over aching goals for 2019 should be. Commit to 2 or 3 of them, and then you can start to add strategy to each of your goals in order to achieve them.  Goals without strategy are just dreams. If you have always said you would like to write a book and have never done anything to move in that direction; never put your thoughts down on paper, never attended a seminar on publishing, never researched the books in the same genre—for you to write a book is just a pipedream. On the other hand if you have done these things, you are on your way to accomplishing your goal.

Here are 3 rules to keep in mind when adding strategy and measurable benchmarks:

1. Set a timeframe: time of day, days of the week or time of month you will do something or expect something to occur. For example: Every Friday I will leave the office at 4:00 and plan activities with your family or friends. With the rigor it would take if I were catching a weekly business flight out of town.

2. Make a measurable commitment. For example: At every networking event I commit to having 3 meaningful conversations and end the conversions with a plan; get together for coffee or I will send the person something or introduce them to someone.

3. Keep a log or journal. It’s important to see the results of your commitment to your goals. When you can look back on your progress a couple of stumbles won’t be so significant.

When you create goals and strategy for your business and personal development it is important in 3 ways—it helps you to set your course, articulate your commitments and fosters a sense of accomplishment. Now tell me—who doesn’t want all that!

Relationships are critical when it comes to business development. That’s why so many lawyers spend time networking and building relationships.

But there’s something that a lot of lawyers don’t seem to pick up on… which is that creating a great first impression isn’t enough! 

We’ve all been there – a great conversation with a potential referral source at a networking event. There’s great synergy, you really hit it off, and you leave excited by the connection that you just created.

But then… nothing happens.

Why? Because your first impression, no matter how good it is, is still just a first impression. It takes more than a first impression to create a relationship. It takes repeated interactions to reinforce that first impression and lay the foundation for a mutually-beneficial relationship.

The good news is that many of those touch-points can be systematized and scaled so that you don’t have to spend every waking hour staying in touch with your network.

The best way to make this happen is through an email newsletter that goes out once per month at minimum. It’s easy and inexpensive to get your newsletter set up. And then, it takes a few hours per month to create content, build the newsletter, and send it out. (Or you can hire a professional firm to handle this for you.) With the push of a button, you reach your entire network with a powerful reminder of who you are and what you do.

Social media is another great tool to accomplish this. Connect with everyone in your network on LinkedIn. I highly recommend a Twitter profile and a Facebook Business Page as well. Create and publish content on a daily basis, or at least a few times per week. This is another powerful and scalable channel that you can use to create repeated touch-points and create top-of-mind awareness.

Finally, it’s important that you have a website that positions you as a credible expert and thought leader within your niche. Many times, the first thing that someone does after they’ve met you is look you up online. If you don’t have a website, or if it’s not impressive, that good first impression you made loses some of its power. On the other hand, if your website makes you look good, it further reinforces their perception of you. Think of your website as your “wingman” when you’re out networking. It’s got your back, day or night, and it’s always making you look good!

A great first impression isn’t enough. It’s important to create a marketing system that keeps you top-of-mind with your network and positions you as a credible expert. That’s how you build a steady flow of referrals and repeat business for your law practice!

Want to learn more? Click here for instant access to our Special Report which offers practical tips you can apply immediately.

Smart marketing starts by focusing on your existing assets and resources. What do you already have in place that you can do a better job of leveraging?

For most lawyers, the first item on that list is their network – their relationships. Your network of current clients, past clients, colleagues, supportive family and friends, and others is a valuable asset that holds the potential for significant growth.

But when you talk to most marketing companies – especially internet marketers – you won’t hear a word about leveraging relationships. Instead the focus is on “cold” lead generation – often through SEO or Pay-Per-Click advertising.

And don’t get me wrong, there can be a time and place for that type of advertising. But it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars on a new, speculative campaign when you have existing resources at your disposal that aren’t being leveraged to the fullest.

Start with the low-hanging fruit. Start by maximizing your existing network to drive referrals and repeat business. 

Referred clients are almost always superior to new clients from other sources for several reasons. So it just makes sense to focus your marketing on referrals first. Here are five reasons why this is the case:

1 – Low Cost of Acquisition. Referrals are far less expensive to generate than any other type of client. There’s often no direct cost, and even when you factor in referral-generating tools such as an email newsletter and social media marketing, the cost-per-client for referrals is typically much less than a client generated through other forms of advertising. This is true in my business, at Spotlight Branding, and if you’d like me to share some of our internal marketing data illustrating this, just shoot me an email. Daniel@SpotlightBranding.com.

2 – Instant Trust. One of the hardest tasks for every business is persuading the client or customer to take the leap of faith – pull out their wallet, sign on the dotted line, and move forward. It’s particularly difficult in the legal field because the stakes are higher and the dollar amounts are significant. Building your practice through referrals helps you to circumvent this – because when a trusted friend or colleague makes a referral to you, their trust and credibility is transferred to you. You don’t have to start from scratch because someone has already vouched for you! This shows up in higher conversion rates. I was talking to a lawyer here in Charlotte last month and he told me that his conversion rate for referrals is approximately 70% – compared to about 25% for all other sources of business.

3 – Avoid “Sticker Shock.” There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great conversation with a prospective client, feeling like you’re aligned and that there’s great chemistry, only to have them freak out when they find out how much your services are going to cost. Referred clients generally know what to expect with regard to your rates, and they typically won’t reach out to you if they can’t afford you.

4 – Mutual Respect. We’ve all dealt with nightmare clients. Clients who abuse our time and abuse our staff. Or who simply have unrealistic expectations and become frustrated when the engagement doesn’t play out the way they expected it to. A client who is referred to you is less likely to go in this direction. There’s a preexisting relationship because of the mutual relationship you have with the individual who made the referral. If you look back at it, I bet you’ll find that most of the time, referred clients are easier to work with than clients who came to you through other sources.

5 –  More Likely to Refer in the Future. Finally, clients who have been referred to you are statistically more likely to make referrals in the future, creating the possibility for an endless chain of referrals. There have been a variety of studies on this topic, but the best breakdown I’ve seen comes from this book. I highly recommend that you check it out.

I could keep going, but hopefully you see the point. Referrals are the low-hanging fruit when it comes to your law firm marketing. Focus on maximizing your referrals before you spend money on speculative marketing and advertising to the outside world.

If you want some practical ideas, click here for free access to our infographic entitled “Four Ways to Generate More Referrals.

Over the past seven years at Spotlight Branding, we’ve worked with hundreds of lawyers across the country. In that time we’ve had literally thousands of conversations with attorneys. And one of the things that jumps out at me, looking back on those conversations, is how often marketing decisions are driven by tools instead of strategy.

Quite frankly, I don’t blame lawyers for getting this backward – it’s our fault, collectively, in the marketing world. So often, marketers talk exclusively about tools with no regard whatsoever to building a cohesive marketing strategy. 

Here are some examples of a tools-oriented conversation:

  • How can I show up higher on Google?
  • How can I reach more people on Facebook?
  • How can I generate more leads from my website?
  • How can I use Instagram in my marketing?

These aren’t bad questions. But they are secondary questions, and too often lawyers and marketers treat them as the primary questions. And as a result, they end up with a disjointed and ineffective marketing strategy.

There are an endless amount of tools that you can leverage in your marketing, and they’re changing every day. Google, Facebook, email marketing, video, direct mail, billboards, radio, TV, third-party apps, PPC ads, and the list goes on. But if you don’t have a defined strategy to serve as a filter and a guide, to create context for these tools, they end up driving you rather than the other way around. 

If you asked me “how can I show up higher on Google?,” I’d ask you WHY you want to show up on Google.

To get more clients? OK – well what if I told you that there are easier, cheaper, and more predictable ways to get more clients? For example, the average lawyer is only capturing about one-third of the referrals that they could be getting from their existing network. Figuring out how to maximize your referrals is a whole lot cheaper and more predictable than fighting for top position on Google! That’s the low-hanging fruit, and that’s where every lawyer should start.

Rather than worrying about Facebook or Instagram reach, first have the conversation about how you want to use social media in general. Are you using it to build your brand, to generate new “cold” leads, to stay in touch with your referral network? There’s no “right” answer, but what matters is that you’ve defined your objectives.

So rather than focusing on the tools that are available to you, or more accurately, the tools that are being sold to you… here are the types of questions you should be considering:

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • Where does your ideal client spend time? What media sources do they consume? What types of events do they go to?
  • What’s your brand – what do you stand for?
  • What makes you different than the competitors in your market?
  • Who are your best referral sources and how can you stay top-of-mind with them?
  • How many new clients/cases/matters do you need to win each month to meet your financial goals?
  • What is your maximum acceptable Cost of Acquisition – aka how much can you afford to spend to win a new client?
  • How are you going to generate leads?
  • How are you going to build your brand?
  • How are you going to stay in touch with prospective clients who haven’t hired you yet?
  • How can you maximize referrals and repeat business?

Do you see the difference?

Once you’ve answered the big-picture strategic questions, you can talk about the tools in a much more strategic and cohesive way.

Strategy drives tools… the tools exist to serve and execute the strategy. Don’t get it backward! 

Want more tips & inspiration for your law firm marketing? Click here for instant access to our Special Report entitled “How Your Internet Foundation Will Make or Break Your Marketing”!

 

 

Are you having marketing meetings? Talk is cheap. Buy-in and action is key. Thinking and planning is the easy part for lawyers. Implementation is not. Too often it is where the plan falls apart. Remember that discussions, meetings, and planning are only the start. The key is taking ACTION. The big question… What actions should be taken? Here are our Top Six Marketing Tips:

No. 6 – Be Active in Organization(s)

Over the years we have heard lawyers say that they belong to several organizations, but that it’s a waste of time and doesn’t lead to additional business. However, when examined further, one finds that although they are “joiners,” they are not “doers.” Being active in organizations requires just that – activity.

If you want this form of marketing to help you develop business you must:

• Be more than a joiner –make a meaningful contribution

• Seek leadership position – volunteer often

• Join business or trade groups that your clients and prospects belong to

• Believe in the organization’s mission so you will remain interested and active

There are other marketing activities that may produce quicker results, but being active and involved in organizations that your clients and prospective clients belong to can produce meaningful results in getting new clients.

No. 5 – Write Articles of Interest

While authoring articles isn’t a new technique, writing to demonstrate your expertise is still an effective marketing tool, if it is:

• Topical and interesting (to your target audience)

• Easy to read (not legalese, unless you’re marketing to other lawyers)

• Not too lengthy (short, succinct articles are better)

• Published in a publication that your audience reads (whether general public or business/trade specific)

Obviously, the purpose is to show that you know your topic and, accordingly, are perceived as having the expertise to assist the reader with those legal issues.

No.4 –Talk it Up

Speaking engagements are some of the best marketing activities. Like writing articles, speaking adds the additional advantage of putting you in the same room with potential clients where you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise AND develop an emotional bond with your audience. These opportunities have led to immediate work when a potential client in the audience has an immediate problem relating to the same issues raised in the speech. Moreover, if the seminar or speech is sponsored by a respected organization, you receive instant credibility.

No. 3 – Communicate Often

James C. Turner, executive director of HALT, a national legal reform advocacy group in Washington, DC points out: One of the most frequent complaints his organization gets is that…

the basic communication between lawyers and clients is terrible.”

He cites one case where a client tried 13 times in a two-week period to contact the attorney. That’s the type of situation that leads to mistrust and, ultimately, to a consumer fraud complaint.

Poor communication between attorney and client is also the most common reason clients file complaints with state bars. A failure of communication is not only unwise, it’s just dumb marketing. Even if the client may not need your services again, the client is likely to tell a number of people, who could be potential clients, about their unhappiness.

There are scores of opportunities (in addition to keeping the client informed about their matter) to contact clients, referral sources, and even prospects; and the more contacts made the better. The best way to communicate would be with phone calls, handwritten notes, next letters, emails, and lastly texts. Obviously, they are in reverse order of ease of accomplishing, but think about what impresses you the most. The important thing, however, is constant communication.

No. 2 – Entertain Your Client

Okay, we can hear all the “duhs” from here. If it is so obvious, why don’t more lawyers do it? Clients are people too. In fact, entertainment is still one of the most effective one-on-one marketing techniques. It not only allows quality time with a client, prospect, or referral source, but also allows one to enhance a relationship on a highly personal level.

Clients want to be loved and appreciated. So, building on the emotional bond between lawyer and client is very important for long-term relationships, and for what is even more effective from a business development viewpoint – a lasting friendship.

No. 1 – Visit Your Client

The single most effective marketing technique, which leads to immediate business in the vast majority of cases, is to visit your client at their place of business.

This visit is not for the purpose of discussing a current matter you may be working on (unless client wants to, of course). The client should know that they are not being billed for the visit.

Your purpose is multifaceted: relationship building, listening, learning, meeting others, and uncovering issues of concern. The main point is to get into the client’s workspace where their day-to-day problems are found, and for which you may be able to assist them.

Such visits will not only enhance your relationship, but it will almost certainly lead to IMMEDIATE work. This has been validated many times over the years. Many of the lawyers we have worked with confirm that such visits result in immediate new business. So, starting today schedule a client visit or two. You will fast become a believer.

In 2018 get into action! These six tips are not complicated or overly time consuming. Start with two, then add one or two a month. We promise you that you will be pleased with the results. We have seen it over and over again… they work!