This article was published by our friend Ben Glass over at GLM.
Marketing can inspire a lot of emotions. The worst one is your frustration – specifically, frustration that you aren’t getting what you want out of the marketing you’re doing. The good news? You’re not alone. The bad news? You don’t want to spend too much time in that group. Find a way, as quickly as possible, to get excited about your advertising.
In over a decade of working with other solo and small firm attorneys, in addition to almost 25 years of owning my own law firm, I’ve discovered three common frustrations attorneys have with the big world of Marketing.
1. Following a Bad Prescription
You and I have heard the same refrain for a long time: “Just do good work and the cases will come.”
It’s a wonderful ideal, and I do believe that no marketing strategy or campaign can compensate long-term for shoddy work. However, it ignores the reality of how to get ahead and build a profitable practice.
Often, when the conversation about marketing gets started, the word “awareness” is thrown around. The advertising agency wants to help you increase awareness – whatever that means. However, the results you want are not centered around awareness. You want clients. Why spend time marketing to anyone except for your ideal client? Even worse, you can end up looking like a commodity among all the other attorneys saying the same things. Don’t fall into this trap!
If you’re hearing a lot of statistics that have nothing to do with getting more qualified leads to your practice, you’re probably following a bad marketing prescription. The first thing you need to do is assert your desire to track your marketing. Tracking phone numbers and URLs are readily available and easy to use.
Make sure any marketing plan you’re using has numbers to back it up.
This can be surprisingly tough. When numbers get involved, you can be presented with proof of failure. That’s okay! It just means you learned something. Move on to the next campaign and keep watching the data. It will guide you to better decisions and the right prescription for marketing to your ideal clients.
2. Not Making the Most of Every Lead
Most law firms put a lot of thought into the image they present to get someone to call the practice.
What gets left out, however, is everything that happens after the point of first contact. If you spend $300 just to make the phone ring once, you want to make sure the people answering the phone are well-trained to create a stellar impression. (The cost per lead is drawn from the money you spend on marketing plus however much you’re paying the intake people. It’s usually more expensive than you think. Don’t let that money go to waste.)
Additionally, never assume that potential clients are “one touch and gone.” There’s a mistaken belief that if someone calls and doesn’t set an appointment, it’s a dead lead. No use calling back. This is a huge wasted opportunity! I am regularly shocked by the money left on the table by law firms who don’t follow up with their leads. Everyone who contacts my law firm, whether by phone, contact form, or book request, is put into a follow-up sequence. Almost immediately, an email and direct mail package go out the door. The sequence builds a relationship with the lead by showcasing the values and purpose of the law firm, including what I call our “mini-documentary” featuring my family (produced, shot, and edited by Crisp Video).
After a lead either becomes a client or otherwise goes through our system, we stay in touch to make sure we are top of mind for referrals. My law firm sends a mailed, monthly newsletter. Yes, an old-fashioned, print newsletter. It builds a very high wall around our tribe of fans who stay locked in with “who Ben is and what BenGlassLaw is up to.” The content is focused more on personality than legal news. This is one of those things other law firms often look down at, but our tribe loves the recipes and motivational stories, so we’ll keep on focusing on building our connection outside of the legal services!
3. You Stopped Playing Your Own Game
I once talked with an attorney who told me, “Ben, I’ve been running a direct mail campaign for traffic violations and DWIs. I thought it was working pretty well, but I keep hearing from other attorneys in my market who say the type of mailer I do isn’t worth it. It’s a plain letter style, like you teach, and drives people to request my book. I’d like your advice on what I can do to improve it.”
I responded, “Well, what are spending on it, and how many clients do you get from it? And what is the average value of a client?”
“I spend about $500 per week getting the mailers out between the list service and the actual mailing but I get just five clients from it each week, give or take. They’re worth about $1,500 each,” he said.
You’ve probably already done the math, but here’s the basic breakdown: He was spending $500 to make $7,500 each week. He was doing this as a true small shop with one assistant and an of counsel relationship for overflow work. He often landed 1-2 more clients each week through referrals and his online marketing. The “problem” he had was other attorneys’ opinions of the mailer. He soon divulged what else these attorneys said, including that he needed to update the letterhead, get rid of the clunky-looking headline, and otherwise make it “more professional.” They insisted it would help improve response. His peers were well-meaning, but their advice was off base.
It turned out this guy’s letter was getting about twice the response level as competitors in the area – and he was charging more per case than many other attorneys. Even better, he was legitimately happy with his practice. This isn’t a technical problem; it’s all about your mindset.
You’re not marketing to appease anyone except your ideal clients. Block out the people whose opinions have more to do with their opinions than evidence-based results. Stick to what works and to strategies that produce real numbers.
I’ve heard similar stories from much larger firms, by the way, including a $5-million per year personal injury and workers compensation practice that heard the same issues about their referral letter. They were worried it wasn’t getting responses based on what other attorneys said about it. The funny little fact was, at the end of the year, the letter was worth a brand new $335,000 in revenue from new referral partners.
The Best Solution is to Focus on What You Can Control
If your marketing results are bad, find out what you can control. Can you change the advertisement in the middle of your publication run?
Your phone answering should be scripted – yes, that is under your control, not your staff’s control.
Direct mail piece not working? Read a book about direct mail like Million Dollar Mailings and update it.
Not converting enough of your leads to actual clients? Tell your staff to send a follow-up email after every meeting along with a letter in the mail.
Set frustration aside. It’s not a winning strategy. Just take a deep breath, ask yourself what can be done, and then do it. (Or hire someone to do it for you.)
Want to discover more about how high-value law firms generate more of their ideal clients? Request my free Discovery Kit for more information.