Is Ben Glass's Great Legal Marketing System for Me?
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I know I need to differentiate my practice from my competitors in order to attract new clients—but, honestly, I'm having a hard time figuring out why a potential client would choose me rather than the guy down the block. What should I do?
With all due respect, if you really feel that way, you may want to reconsider whether the law is the right profession for you. We all know the stories of people who went to law school simply because their parents wanted them to, or because they couldn't think of anything else they wanted to do for a living. There's no dishonor in admitting that you made a mistake, and that your heart is not really in the legal profession—which is why you're down on yourself to the extent that you can't even figure out why a client would want to hire you!
Perhaps, though, the situation is less dramatic than that, and the reason you can't think of a way to differentiate yourself is because you're burned out and simply can't find the time to concentrate. It's easy for a struggling lawyer to accept every client who comes through the door, juggle a too-big caseload, and not take the time and sit back and decide where he really wants to take his practice. With your overly diverse caseload, even you can't figure out what kind of lawyer you “really” are: a personal injury lawyer? A misdemeanor assault lawyer? Someone who fixes parking tickets?
At Great Legal Marketing, we know that it sometimes takes a fresh perspective to figure out what sets you apart from other lawyers—and that you may be too buried under paperwork to poke your head out and obtain an eagle's-eye view of your practice, or too disillusioned by the law to much care about your putative specialty. If you need to come up with a “hook” to attract clients, our lawyer marketing experts can debrief you and help come up with the angle you need.
I just started my own firm, and I don’t want to blow my savings on advertising. Can I restrict my marketing materials to only people who are likely to hire me?
This is not a good idea, especially if you’re just branching out into a new practice. You never know who may be in need of your services, so you should market to everyone in your database—and add to that database daily for even more potential customers.
To keep your costs low, your marketing efforts should be cheap to produce and free to disseminate whenever possible. Facebook and other social media accounts are free to join and give your firm tons of exposure for only minutes of effort on your part per day. While it may take some time and editing to post informational videos to YouTube, it costs nothing to add as many videos as you wish to upload.
The most important thing to remember is that all of your materials must be directed to (and easily accessed by) everyone on your contact list. This list should include all the names and addresses of people who have given you permission to market to them in the past, including:
- People who requested information via your website
- Past clients
- Other local attorneys outside your practice area
- Your vendors
- Your local friends and relatives
- Other professionals or business owners in your area
As your personal injury attorney marketing plan develops, you will be able to “cherry-pick” the customers you want to work with, rather than flooding the market for potential leads. Once your database is providing a steady stream of new clients, you will be at liberty to decide whom you take on (not the other way around).
I'm a fairly low-key attorney, and I don't like to boast when I've won a case. Other lawyers in my area have accomplished a lot less, but puff themselves up with press releases, to the point where they're being quoted in newspaper stories and I'm not. What can I do?
Here, you have two choices. You can continue to hold onto your dignity, and refuse to issue a press release whenever you've scored a “win” on behalf of your clients. Or you can hold your nose, get in front of your computer, and start drafting releases that will make you—and not your competitors—the “go-to” expert when local reporters need a quote for a newspaper article.
The bottom line is that your competitors’ public relations strategy is working. Sure, they may be puffing themselves up, and overstating their accomplishments, and indulging in bouts of self-aggrandization, but they're also getting some very valuable coverage. Every time one of these lawyer's names appears in a news story, that amounts to free advertising—and also an implied endorsement by the newspaper, because the average reader will think, “Gee, they wouldn't quote that guy if he didn't know what he's talking about.” The result is that this lawyer will get more inquiries from prospective clients, and your phone will be silent.
Multiply this trend by a few years, and you may be out of business entirely!
A well-crafted press release doesn't have to be dishonest, unethical, or exaggerated—just state the facts (you won X amount in this lawsuit, using this specific strategy, etc.) and let the chips fall where they may. In the worst case, your press release will be ignored or buried underneath a pile of other documents—but in the best case, a reporter will email you or call your number and wind up quoting you in his story.
Does “who you know” really matter more than “what you know?”
You’re not going to be successful if you have a law degree and no clients, but if you don’t know how to handle a case, you’ll be useless to people who need you.
The truth is you need both of these things to make up the sum total of your experience. The people you know are not just connections, they can be valuable sources of information, including your…
- Peers. You will need to network with other lawyers. The good news is that networking is actually good for both of you: you may refer clients that are not a good fit for you to one of your peers. The attorney will be grateful and respond in kind down the road, and the client will remember your helpfulness even though you did not take his case.
- Business owners. Even though they do not share your educational background—or even the same profession—there is probably plenty of business owners in your community making money hand over fist. Make friends with them. Shoot the breeze about their products, watch their local advertising tactics, and see how they respond to their customers. No matter where you work, good customer service will always bring people back.
- Friends and family. Freshly graduated attorneys often forget that they’ve already got a flourishing network: their friends and relatives. In some cases, these people can be more of a resource than the things they learned in law school; if you set up a practice in your hometown, your first case will likely be someone you have met before, giving you a chance to establish yourself as a community-driven lawyer.
Of course, if you want to begin advertising for a successful law firm, you’re going to need to know one more person: an attorney marketing specialist.
At the end of a long workday, I'm so tired that I can barely drag myself home, watch some TV, and go to bed. I sense that more successful lawyers are using their leisure time more constructively than I am. What can I do to change?
Well, it's certainly true that some attorneys have more natural energy, and need less sleep, than others. If you really are working 12-hour days, six or seven days a week, then no one can fault you for wanting to relax when you finally get home. The last thing you want to hear is, “Do more work so you can grow your practice!”
However, the fact that you're working those 80-hour weeks in the first place is a sure sign that something is amiss. What you need to do, if at all possible, is to scale back your work day—either by disposing of some of your less lucrative clients, or delegating more of your work to one of your subordinates. Then, when you're working more normal hours, you will have the energy to do more than watch some TV and go to sleep when you get home in the evenings!
What should you be doing instead? Well, the most successful entrepreneurs—and that's a category that includes lawyers—read the latest business bestsellers and eagerly devour news publications like The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. When more of your energy comes back, you can also take it upon yourself to attend local lectures in your community, or even visit a library or museum, in order to stimulate the parts of your brain involved in creative thought. That's the portion of your gray matter that you tap into when you want to think of creative law practice promotion ideas, and it can't hurt to keep it in good working order!
At Great Legal Marketing, we know how important it is for lawyers to spend their leisure time constructively, so they can more easily come up with that Next Big Idea. Questions? Call our legal marketing consultants at 888-791-2150 to find out what we can do for you!
It's been 10 years since I graduated from law school, and I'm still working 80- and 90-hour weeks to make ends meet. Am I doing something wrong?
That all depends on how you define the word “wrong.” In the opinion of many so-called experts, including—one suspects—more than a few Supreme Court justices, you're doing exactly the right thing: you have made the law your “mistress” to which you have devoted all your waking hours. Of course you're spending 16 hours a day at the office; that's what lawyers are supposed to do!
However, it's one thing to spend your life in the office and rake in tons of money (though that's not all it's cracked up to be, given the sacrifices you're making). It's quite another thing to put in those brutal hours and make what you consider a “subsistence” living. If you genuinely can't shave a few hours from your work week for fear of not making the rent, yes, you are doing something wrong.
The fact is that lawyers—at all stages of their careers—need to learn how to work smarter, not harder.
It's very easy to yield to the received wisdom and resign yourself to toiling non-stop until the day you die, and to accepting every client that walks through your door. It takes a lot more courage to step back for a moment, weigh the situation, and question whether that “the law is a jealous mistress” mantra really makes sense given the economic realities that prevail today. Other lawyers—including your own partners—may accuse you of slacking off if you pare back your hours; you have to realize that this is their problem, and not yours.
At Great Legal Marketing, we know that successful lawyers spend their time, money, and resources intelligently, and make room for other things in life (like having a family). Questions? Call our innovative legal marketing experts today at 888-791-2150 to find out what we can do for you!
I’ve left my old firm, and now I am starting my own practice. Should I use a “tried and true” legal marketing campaign for a few years so I’m not risking my new business?
It’s easy to be tempted by the siren call of web developers who will promise to make your site the best thing the Internet has ever seen. However, it’s unlikely that such a promise it going to be true.
Of course, many web developers have experience building a great legal webpage. But in many cases, the reason they can keep churning out website after website is that they are built using templates. There are a set number of designs; you pick one, and they slap your name on it. It will get you up and running pretty quickly, but you’ll be running next to a million other attorneys in an enormous crowd, with no way to tell you apart.
This is a pretty great deal for website companies. They have a low-risk and high-return business, to the effect that all of their clients are doing the exact same advertising. If you’re the new guy in this crowd, you’ve already got some catching up to do. Why would you want to start at the back of the pack?
Now, granted: there are only so many different ways your website can look, so you’re going to have to depend on your content to sell you. Forget about all the old tropes such as touting your “X years of experience” and your “team of attorneys” and the fact that you’ve been “in business since XXXX.” None of these claims will help you anyway. Zero in on why you are different. Customers are going to see that you’re new on the block, so celebrate the fact that you are starting your own firm instead of hiding it.
To find out how to get your law firm’s marketing campaign off on the right foot, download your FREE chapter of the Great Legal Marketing book or call 888-791-2150 to get our insider tips delivered right to your inbox.
My state bar association is supposed to act in the interests of all of its members, that is, the lawyers in my state. Can't I trust it not to issue regulations that damage rather than help my practice?
In an ideal world, yes, you can. In the real world, though, your state bar association isn't only beholden to its members: it also has to answer to the state government and get along with (or at least not get in the way of) other bureaucratic entities. The results are better in some states and worse in others, but often you wind up with a body that acts against the interests of a significant proportion of its membership whenever it issues a ruling—or simply doesn't grasp that many of its regulations no longer apply to the “real world” of lawyer marketing.
Another reason your state bar won't necessarily have your interests in mind is that it represents all kinds of lawyers, ranging from sole practitioners to small firms of three to five partners to large firms with dozens of partners and even more associates. The larger firms in your state will have a disproportionate amount of pull; so will the small practitioners, who make up a lot of the grass-roots membership (which the bar association may be eager to cater to). If you belong to a small firm, you're stuck in the middle, and the rules issued by your state bar may be a pesky hindrance rather than an active help.
What can you do? Well, first, you can lobby your state bar not to issue foolish or counterproductive regulations. And second, you can sign on with Great Legal Marketing, which will keep you abreast of what your state bar is up to weeks or months before it issues new regulations that interfere with your ability to make a living.
Questions? Call our legal marketing experts at 888-791-2150 to find out what we can do for you!
Is it even worth it to buy a Yellow Pages ad anymore?
Legal marketing in the Yellow Pages is a complex problem. On one hand, the Internet provides such an instant connection to all people and businesses that attorneys don’t want to waste money on print ads anymore (and if magazine ad revenue is dwindling, imagine how little an ad in a phone book is going to be read).
However, there are still some areas of the country where lawyer advertising in the Yellow Pages is still very much alive. If you’re considering a phonebook ad for your law firm, consider these three factors:
- Your customer base. If you are marketing to a demographic that is unlikely to be online, a print ad may be worth the extra effort and expense.
- Where you live. In some rural or isolated areas, many homes are still without an Internet connection, or have a slow enough dial-up connection that flipping through the phonebook is a faster reference tool.
- How many local attorneys are doing it. The trend of lawyers bailing on advertising in the Yellow Pages can actually work in your favor. Count how many attorneys are still listed in your phone book. If it’s not many, there’s a greater chance your ad will stand out.
In the end, you will only know whether your print ad is worth it is by creating a response-driven ad that can be tracked and evaluated as part of your marketing research. If enough of your clients say that they found you by using your ad in the phone book to offset the cost of the ad, it may be just the marketing niche that keeps you ahead of your competition.
Got more legal marketing questions? Call 888-791-2150 to get insider emails delivered to your inbox, or click the link above to download your FREE chapter of the Great Legal Marketing book by attorney marketing expert Ben Glass.
How can I write good headlines for my legal website articles?
When it comes to appealing to their audience, many attorneys make the mistake of setting their sights too low. For instance, you’ve probably seen headlines such as “personal injury attorney,” or “fighting for your rights,” or “Injured? We can help.”
Not only are these uninteresting and uninformative, they are a waste of valuable real estate on your page. Why, after crafting a useful and well-written article, would you neglect to make a headline that will draw your readers’ attention to it?
Before publishing your articles, ask yourself these three questions about each headline:
- Do you want to know more? Your reader will decide what to read the same way you do: by reading the title and summary of the article. If the headline bores you, it’s certainly going to bore them.
- What is the article about? Read the first paragraph of text. The headline should summarize the article in a provocative way. Consider the difference between “Common mistakes doctors make in surgery” and “Five mistakes that surgeons make every day.”
- Have you seen it before? Remember, you want to be different. If your headline sounds too generic or “lawyer-centric,” rather than focused on the customer, rewrite it.
Our legal marketing gurus know that the whole point of your law firm’s online advertising is to stand out from the competition and get your readers to want to contact you. To find out how our tips can get customers calling, call 888-791-2150 today or click the link on this page to download your FREE chapter of the Great Legal Marketing book.