Table of Contents of this Article:
Legal Marketing Efforts
By Jay Fleischman
Legal marketing efforts are important – we all know it. We need to keep the new business (and repeat business) flowing in the front door in order to keep the coffers full, the staff busy, and the lights on.
We learn everything we can, we soak up information, we read as much as possible. And in so doing, we think that our legal marketing efforts are going to take off.
It ain’t necessarily so, as they song goes.
Education doesn’t transform into results without action. That action needs to be yours, and opening your wallet for education or a legal marketing consultant doesn’t count.
But here’s something the legal marketing gurus won’t tell you – half the time, you’re going to be wrong when you do something.
In my own bankruptcy practice, my efforts as marketing my law firm have failed just as often as not. In 1997 I did a ton of direct mail and lost my shirt. Then in 1999 I paid a big-name web design company a bunch of money and thought a slick website would be the panacea I sought – it wasn’t. I blew a chunk on television only to see no ROI whatsoever.
But I learned from my mistakes, changed my tactics, and made each of these areas work for my law practice.
The point is that I tried. I took the risks, I failed. Then I learned. But I would never have learned had I not tried and failed the first time out.
Your website will suck. Your direct mail piece will bomb. Your news release won’t be optimized so it will disappear into a black hole. Your Twitter account will languish in obscurity.
And that sucks. Sucks your money down the train, sucks your time there as well.
But if you don’t try something, you can never succeed. You can never really learn what will and what will not work for you unless you give something a shot.
You can pay all the money in the world to a legal marketing consultant. You can pick up a bunch of courses. You can listen all you want, taking good notes all the way. But unless you take something and give it a shot, you’re out of the game.
Twitter? Facebook? Blogging? Podcasting? It’s all pretty much free, and it’s well known that you’re not going to be able to break the Internet. So why not give it a whirl?
Pick one thing. Dive in. Make mistakes. Fix them.
Rinse and repeat.
Do you get a ton of referrals from prior clients? Not a few, not some, but a ton?
Most lawyers don’t. Oh sure, they get some referrals and think they’re doing great. My consulting clients brag to me that they get 5 or 10 referrals every month. That’s great, if you’re only doing 20 cases a month.
Referrals are the best marketing, period. But there’s a secret to getting those referrals, a hidden gem of wisdom that most lawyers don’t exploit on a daily basis.
Simply ask for them.
Not a real big secret, huh? I didn’t think so either until I found out that there is only a handful of lawyers out there who are really asking – genuinely asking – for referrals.
I’m not talking about giving a card to your client and hoping they’ll give it to someone. Rather, the goal is to look a client in the eye (or put it at the bottom of a letter in a “P.S.”) and say, “I welcome the opportunity to help your friends and family members. If you know of anyone who may need my help, please pass along my name and phone number. I promise to treat your referrals with professionalism and respect.”
The client who refers one person to you can and will refer many more people – but only if they are motivated to do so.
Did you know that research indicates that the average person has an immediate circle of influence of fifty-two. Fifty-two other people. That means every one of your clients has the potential to bring you up to fifty-two other clients.
The American Management Association has done research to prove that the average satisfied customer only tells three other people about the satisfactory experience. An unsatisfied client tells ten people about their dissatisfaction.
So you need to move from three to fifty and avoid ten at all costs. That’s going to take some action on your part.
When a satisfied customer sends someone to you the sender should immediately receive some recognition and appreciation. Pick up the phone and let them know you appreciate the effort, and that’s the absolute minimum.
You’re not allowed to send them any money, but how about a nice bouquet of flowers? A gift for their child, assuming the client is a parent? For as little as $50 – which is less than the cost of advertising and marketing to get a new client in the first place – you could make a real impact on your client.
And that motivates them to refer even more people to you.
What happens if you don’t do something nice? I never gave much thought to it, personally. But then about five years ago I was on the phone with a prior client who had referred a number of people to me and she said, “You know, I sent all those people to you and I never even got a phone call to thank me.” Boy, that really hit home.
There’s a basic success principle often discussed in personal development context is also a marketing strategy. It’s called the, “Attitude of Gratitude.”
Marketing With The 80/20 Rule
It’s called the 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Principle. Named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, this concept maintains that for many phenomena, 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes. In business, this principle has been adapted to many efficiency efforts such as Six Sigma.
The message is simple enough – focus on activities that produce the best outcomes for you. This applies to both your business/working life and your “other” life. 20% of your efforts yield 80% of your results. 20% of your clients bring 80% of the profits, and 20% of your marketing efforts result in 80% of your business.
Don’t take it too literally. For example, I’ve found that about 32% of my marketing accounts for about 68% of my business. The bottom line is this – there is an inherent imbalance between cause and effect.
An article in Law Practice Today speaks to using 80/20 in your marketing efforts. It’s an interesting read, but it doesn’t get to the real shining point in 80/20 thinking. The key is not only to use 80/20, but to cut out the 80% that is bringing you only 20% of your profitability. To do otherwise is to squander the majority of your resources.
Take, for example, direct mail. “They” say that 1% response rate is very good. I, on the other hand, say that means 99% of your prospects toss your mail piece into the trash. So you’ve got two options, both of which are pretty good:
- stop doing direct mail, knowing you can save most of your money and give up only a small number of viable leads; or
- look at ways to make your direct mail more effective.
Easier said than done, right? Wrong. All you need to do is make sure you’re handling your direct marketing campaign properly. Review your results with an eye towards a common bond among the people who take you up on your offer. Do they all live in a certain area? Do they all belong to the same racial or ethnic group? Are their households similarly structured? By answering these questions you can use direct marketing in a more effective manner, thereby boosting your response rate with very little effort.
Of course, you should also concentrate on why you aren’t getting the other 99% of the population when you send out a mail piece. Look to your list, your mail piece design, the copy, and the offer. By split-testing over a period of time, you should be able to create a piece that will appeal to at least 20% of those non-buyers; refining the next 80% will lead to higher response rates still.
Fast? No. Easy? Not really. Inexpensive? Well, it’s certainly cheaper than wasting all those stamps and envelopes.