Is Ben Glass's Great Legal Marketing System for Me?
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One of the clients at my law practice is a major source of irritation - phone calls in the middle of the night, unpaid bills, missed appointments, etc. I'd like to fire him, but he also brings in a significant amount of money. What can I do?
This is an issue virtually every lawyer faces at one time or another. What you're referring to, though you may not be aware of it, is the Pareto Principle—the general rule that 80 percent of a given outcome can be traced to 20 percent of possible causes. In the best case, you can identify the 20 percent of your practice's clients who give you the majority of your aggravation, and fire them—and retain the 20 percent that produce 80 percent of your profits!
The problem arises when these percentages overlap—that is, when one of your clients is difficult to work with, yet also contributes a fair amount to your bottom line. In this case, you have to sit down and really think about the consequences of cutting this client loose. Sure, you will lose some money in the near term, but if this person has made you so crazy that you can't even think straight, you may find that getting rid of him frees up the mental space you need to find and service new paying clients.
On the other hand, if firing this client would be an extreme financial hardship, you need to come up with a strategy by which you can retain his business and reduce your angst. A patient intermediary (a paralegal or administrative assistant) might be one solution, or you can come to an agreement with the client that you will only be available via phone or email during specific times, or address the other issues (late payments, missed appointments) that make him difficult to handle.
My law practice has been struggling lately, to the extent that I'm thinking of slashing my rates in order to attract new clients. Is this a good idea?
Well, the answer to this partly depends on what your definition of “slashing” is. If you're thinking of shaving 10 percent off your rates for a new client, that may not be a bad idea, especially if you're desperate.
But if you're considering cutting your rates in half—say, charging $150 an hour for a divorce instead of $300—the cure will literally be worse than the disease. Why? Well, for starters:
- People don't shop for lawyers the way they shop for furniture. If you offer your services at a steep discount, they'll wonder what's “wrong” with you.
- You need to pay your bills, just like everyone else. If you take a hit on your hourly fees, you'll just dig yourself deeper into a financial hole.
- If you do sign a new client at the reduced rate, he may defect to another lawyer as soon as you raise your rates back to your normal level.
- You may get into trouble with your state bar committee, which probably won't appreciate your aggressive (and undignified) marketing tactics.
- You'll also get in trouble with your fellow lawyers, who have an interest in maintaining a minimum hourly rate and won't appreciate your attempt to undercut them.
- You will attract the wrong kind of clients. Those clients looking for a bargin are generally the most difficult to work with.
- Reduced prices will hurt your bottom line. You may get one or two new clients, but if they are paying little, you won't help your profits.
If you can't lower your rates to attract new clients to your legal practice, what can you do? Well, that's a complicated question, and one that requires a complicated, many-pronged solution.
What if I don't have a unique selling proposition?
You’re asking the wrong question. If you don’t want to use a unique selling proposition in your marketing, that’s fine. You’ll blend in a lot more with your competition, making you seem like just another attorney—and while that may sound safe, it usually isn’t very profitable.
Instead of discarding the idea, you should really focus and try to discover what your law firm’s unique selling proposition really is. What sets you apart: as an attorney, as a parent, as a community member, and as a person? Your USP doesn’t have to relate to the law; if it relates to you, it will automatically relate to your firm.
Don’t know where to start? Here are just a few ideas:
- Start with your background. What was your first job? Where is your hometown? What kinds of law have you studied?
- Think of your lifestyle. Are you a sports fan? Are you active in politics? Do you take regular camping trips or participate in races?
- Consider your home life. Did a family member inspire you to go into a form of law you thought you wouldn’t like? Do you live in the city, or the country? Do you have firsthand knowledge of the perils of divorce law?
Once you have your USP, you can tie it into all facets of your marketing, giving your readers a way to remember you. For instance, you may have worked for insurance companies in the past, and know what lengths they will go to in order to deny a claim. Promote your “insider knowledge” (you earned it, after all!) on every page; anyone having trouble with a claim will want to hear your advice.
For more law firm advertising tips, click the link on this page to download a free sample chapter of Ben Glass’s Great Legal Marketing book. Then call 888-791-2150 toll-free when you’re ready to take the next step forward in innovative legal marketing.
A junior associate in my law firm came up with a marketing idea so innovative and so crazy that it just might work. Should we implement it?
Well, the answer partly depends on what that marketing strategy is. If you're going to pay your local tattoo parlor to ink the name of your firm on the forearms of prominent citizens, no, you're probably better off saving your money. But if you're tinkering with a new kind of print ad, or a scheme to legally plaster your names on the outside of your city's taxicabs, then there's no reason not to give it a try, if you have the financial resources at hand.
It's important to keep one thing in mind, though: to quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” It may well be that the idea your junior associate cooked up has never been conceived before by any lawyer in the entire world, much less the United States. But it's much more likely that somebody, somewhere, has already come up with and implemented this scheme, and the results were mediocre at best.
How can we say this? Well, like military technology, new, wildly successful marketing techniques are virtually impossible to keep secret. If an idea works out of the gate, beyond all expectations, it will quickly be imitated by competing firms, first in that town, and then in that state, and then in the entire country. You would already have known about it well before your junior associate waylaid you in the corridor!
This isn't to say that you should be averse to new and untested marketing ideas; you should just implement them with a sizable grain of salt, and be equally prepared for failure as for success. Questions? Call the law practice marketing experts at Great Legal Marketing (888-791-2150) to find out more today!
For years now, the law firm down the street has been advertising that it's a “Top 100” practice, based on an annual supplement in our regional magazine, and I'm getting tired of it. Should I bite the bullet and buy a display ad so I can be listed too?
That depends on how seriously the people in your town take that “Top 100” designation—and you may be surprised to learn that most potential clients aren't fooled by this transparent marketing tactic.
A generation ago, to be sure, a “Top 100” ranking carried more weight—but a generation ago, magazine editors were more likely to fill out this list on the basis of merit alone, not the willingness of those listed to cough up money for display ads.
If being listed as a “Top 100” lawyer is really a do-or-die proposition, you may have no choice but to participate. But if it's not, consider the alternative: the next time a client balks at signing up with your firm, saying he'd rather go with a “Top 100” practice, you can patiently explain to him that those “top” lists are purely a marketing exercise and have absolutely nothing to do with your qualifications or the results you achieve for clients.
There's another fact to consider: the vast majority of magazine readers never even look at those “Top 100” supplements, and if they do notice them, it's only because they're annoyed that they take up so much space. The fact is that very few people hire a lawyer by scouring the back issues of their regional magazines and deciding to call the #5 attorney because he's “five times better” than the guy listed in the #25 slot.
At Great Legal Marketing, we can tell you that there are better ways of advertising your law practice than buying space in magazine supplements. Questions? Call our lawyer marketing mavens at 888-791-2150 to learn what we can do for you!
What is the point of advertising my law practice if most people ignore the advertisements they see?
Well, let's analyze your question logically. Why should any law firm—or any company in the world, for that matter—advertise its services, since the vast majority of TV commercials and internet pop-up ads and billboards fail to engage their intended audience? If you took this proposition to its logical extreme, the entire advertising industry would collapse overnight—and there would be no way (except word of mouth) to inform people about the “product” you're offering. (There would also be tens of thousands of unemployed advertising executives, but let's not worry about that now.)
The fact is that law firm advertising was, is, and always will be a scattershot endeavor: most of your ads will miss their target, no matter how highly targeted your campaign is and no matter how much money you spend. Your aim should be to utilize only the most efficient media to advertise your practice (whether that's your website or your local Yellow Pages), and not to throw your money away on media that have a low rate of return (which can include everything from daytime TV commercials to blimps flying over sports stadiums).
There's a hundred-year-old quote to this effect that still applies today: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don't know which half.”
At Great Legal Marketing, we can teach you about how to target your advertising and promotional campaign to get the highest possible rate of return on your budget and bring new, paying clients through your front door. Interested? Call our legal marketing mavens at 888-791-2150 to talk to us today!
Why do I need to know how to add content to my website? Can’t one of my employees do it for me?
Sure they can. In fact, there should be many people who have access to the “backstage” area of your website. You can’t be everywhere at once, and your team should definitely be doing the heavy lifting in the content department.
However, even if you have others handling this part of the process for you, it is vital that you know how to use the web content management system yourself. Here are just a few things you may need to address quickly, without running to find a web maven who can do it for you:
- Mistakes. Your readers may alert you to errors, typos, or other information that needs to be corrected, and it must be done immediately to maintain your credibility.
- Comments. A customer may leave a comment or contact you, and if they are not answered quickly they will lose interest in your response—or worse, ask another attorney before you have had a chance to respond.
- Breaking news. When news related to your firm is happening in your area, you need to bring readers to your site quickly. Customers will begin searching wildly for information, and getting in front of them—before your competition—will give you a huge boost in your online rankings.
- Spamming. There are robots on the Internet called “spambots” that will fill your comments section with erroneous ads and links to other sites. These are a sign of a derelict business, and need to be deleted or blocked as soon as they are discovered.
Remember: in order to maintain a presence on Google, you have to have both the technology and the ability to use it effectively. If you can’t be bothered to learn how your technology works, you have deliberately defined the perimeter of your own competence. You have become the boss who cannot make an outgoing phone call from his office without the help of his receptionist.
To find out how to use web content tools to build a successful law firm, call 888-791-2150 to get our insider emails or download your FREE chapter of the Great Legal Marketing book today.
My marketing advisor says it doesn’t matter how people find my website, I should just be happy they got there. Is that true?
Of course not! Think about it: how many times have you filled out a business survey that asked you the question, “How did you hear about us?” Those businesses aren’t just curious; they want to know where their marketing is working and where it isn’t, so they can focus their efforts (and money) on advertising media that are bringing in the most customers.
The Internet is no different, since most people will find you via an online search. But you have to know a little about search engines and keywords to narrow down your marketing efforts.
In order for your firm to appear on the first page of Google, you will need software that tracks the actual search terms that people are using to come to your site. Google offers a free tool called Google Analytics that will do this for you—and if you haven’t been shown how to use it, your web “expert” should be fired immediately.
Here’s why search terms are important: Attorneys may spend thousands of dollars to acquire key search phrases (such as "Texas work injury attorney"). However, over 70 percent of all searches do not use vanity keywords. People searching for help online are more likely to use phrases like “insurance help for a car accident in Louisville.” By knowing which phrases are pointing people to your site, you can market directly to them without wasting money on a marketing tactic that isn’t working.
To learn more insider tips on legal web design, call 888-791-2150 to get our emails delivered to your inbox, or click the link above to download your FREE chapter of the Great Legal Marketing book.
I'm tired of always arguing with friends about why the world needs lawyers. Why not just let them think what they want and go on practicing my trade?
It's true that it can seem like a losing battle to constantly explain to everyone in your circle (friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances) why lawyers are a force for good in our society, rather than a drain on our resources. After all, you're only one person, and there's only so much you can do to promote the legal profession—especially when a single national TV commercial portraying lawyers in a bad light can completely undo your efforts.
It's a tough battle, to be sure, but it's one that's worth waging. By emphasizing to your friends the good things about lawyers, you're accomplishing three things:
- You're differentiating yourself from other lawyers, and setting yourself up as someone to be trusted (and hired, if the opportunity arises)
- You're doing your best to counter the negative public perception of lawyers. It may seem useless, but every little bit helps!
- You're producing (potentially) a much more fair-minded jury member, if that person is ever summoned for jury duty and serves on a case
Look at it this way: yes, there's only so much that you, personally, can do to combat the negative public perception of lawyers. But if you and every other ethical and responsible lawyer in your community put the legal profession in a positive light, you will do a lot to shore up the reputation of lawyers in general—and that can only help your practice in the long run.
Questions? Call the law firm marketing professionals at Great Legal Marketing (888-791-2150) to learn more today!
The other lawyers in my town say I'm “showing them up” with my marketing efforts, and they've hinted that they'll stop sending me referrals unless I let up. What should I do?
Well, that depends on how many referrals they send your way, and how many of these referrals wind up being long-term, loyal, paying clients. In the end, though, your improved and innovative marketing efforts will probably wind up bringing in more clients than could ever be referred to you by your fellow practitioners, and you should stay the course and not concern yourself with what the competition thinks!
The fact is that raising the bar of your marketing efforts is bound to ruffle the feathers of the other lawyers in your community. They have spent years sleepily doing the things all lawyers do: advertising in the Yellow pages, building cookie-cutter websites, producing generic 30-second spots that air on daytime TV. By doing something innovative—and being successful at it—you are forcing them to reconsider their own marketing efforts, and they resent you for calling attention to their own complacency.
This is manifestly not your problem; it's their problem, and they're the ones who have to deal with it.
And what if these other lawyers wind up adopting some of your successful law firm marketing techniques? That's not necessarily a bad thing; after all, the supply of potential clients in any given area is much bigger than you'd think, and as the saying goes, a “rising tide lifts all boats.” Look at it this way: you can consider yourself a cutting-edge thinker, and you'll still be more likely than your associates to come up with new marketing ideas.
Questions? Call the lawyer marketing professionals at Great Legal Marketing (888-791-2150) to learn what we can do for you!