Marketing Tools for Solo and Small Firm Attorneys

At Great Legal Marketing, we teach direct response marketing. This requires that you monitor your marketing very closely. For some types of marketing, we recommend that you create the materials yourself instead of outsourcing the work.

The marketing that works requires work. The most successful attorneys realize their job is 1 part legal, 1 part marketer, and 1 part entrepreneur. Please read the information below to find answers to the most commonly asked questions from attorneys doing their own marketing.

You’re probably asking yourself: What the heck happens next? How do I get a steady stream of clients? Am I doing enough in my marketing? Is there anyone who’s made it to the top of the mountain who can point me in the right direction?

I know. I’ve been there. I know exactly what you’re going through as you start to think about marketing your law firm seriously, and I’ve learned the hard way which strategies will grow your business and which are financial black holes. And let me tell you, not only is there a path to the top of the mountain, but I have created a systematic approach to getting you there.

Download my 10-Step Program For Marketing Success and discover the steps I would take if I started my practice from scratch, right now!

By the end of this report, you’ll be shocked that I’m giving it away free. To put it simply, this report will answer the biggest question I get from lawyers around the country on a weekly basis. Click the button below and download today!

Click to Get Your Free Attorney Marketing Report

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  • I don’t have time to write a legal guide to offer to my clients. Won’t another marketing tool be just as good, and take less time?

    The problem here is that you’re thinking the wrong way around. To bring in clients, you need to make it easier for your customers to find you, not easier for you to find customers.

    Think about the most common “free” offers most attorneys provide for their clients. Free consultations are so prevalent it’s hard to find an attorney who doesn’t offer one. And yet, a consultation involves a customer—who is already reluctant to make contact—picking up the phone to call a stranger. For most customers, the risk is too high and the return is too unknown to make that leap. Newsletters are easy enough to produce and offer, but usually talk about the goings-on at the firm rather than how the firm can help the customer.

    Now imagine what a scared, tired customer will see when you are offering an entire book full of legal information on their specific case and circumstances. You’re giving them a chance to arm themselves with information, letting their feelings of fear and powerlessness melt away. At the same time, you’re letting them see exactly what you know and how you can help them—and they don’t have to leave their house or even pick up the phone. What other tool gives them exactly what they want with minimal effort on their part?

    Of course, if you don’t want to write the book, there are plenty of alternatives. Many ghostwriters are available to take on the task at minimal cost to you, with the advantage that you can read and edit it to make sure it is worthy of your name.

  • I have been asked to write a chapter for a book. Is it a good use of my time, and how will it benefit my legal marketing?

    Only you can answer whether it is worth it to contribute to a print-only source, because you must decide what that “worth” is. Is it clients coming in the door, the knowledge you will impart to future law students, or the validation that comes from being in print? If you enjoy the task, then by all means, take it on.

    That said, paper media will never give your marketing the boost that online marketing will. Consider the differences when writing content for:

    • Books. Book chapters will take up a great deal of your time, are not available freely to the public, reach only a handful of readers (most of whom will not be clients) and take a very long time from conception to print. Financially, you will earn what little dividends you can from the book’s sales, but not much else. However, your contribution to “old media” may establish some added credibility in your field.
       
    • Papers and presentations. These fall somewhere between old and new media, and have benefits of both: added professional standing, the respect of your peers, and a searchable and downloadable source of informative content.
       
    • Online publications. This is the perfect combination of advertising and professional authority. Most publications are trending toward online versions (many are only available online), making them the ideal media for your marketing. With links both to and from your website, your customers have multiple avenues in which to discover your content, improving both your credibility and your search engine rankings.

  • Why should I focus my advertising on my free legal guide? Won’t people just request the book and then not hire me?

    Sure, that’s always a possibility. But it is highly unlikely that the information contained in your legal guide will allow the customer to proceed on his own (after all, if your free e-book can take the place of years of law school, nobody would ever hire a lawyer again).

    Imagine that your ideal customer is searching the Internet, trying to find a reliable source of information that can answer her legal questions. At this point, she’s probably not ready to hire an attorney; she’s “researching” her legal problem or shopping around to narrow down the choices for legal representation in the area.

    And what does she find? A ton of attorney websites trying to make a complete sale to the customer. They offer little information, except for where the attorney got his degree and his office location. They’re full of smarmy law firm taglines. They promise the reader that the attorney will win her case, even though they have never met and the lawyer doesn’t know anything at all about this potential client’s case.

    But now, she finds your site. It’s full of information that speaks directly to her problems and her current situation, and you’re offering her even more information at no cost. You don’t talk about winning her case or calling NOW for an appointment; you’re only trying to give away something for free. After all those other bogus sites, what a refreshing sight your offer will be!

    In instances where a customer who asked for your guide doesn’t hire you, you can still market to her (and by proxy, everyone she knows who is looking for an attorney) years into the future. If you had gone with the standard “free consultation” marketing, you still wouldn’t have gotten her business—but you also wouldn’t have added her to your marketing list.

  • I don’t have time to write a newsletter every month. Can someone else do it for me?

    Sure! Plenty of attorneys outsource their copywriting, and a newsletter is no exception. However, you will have to make a few decisions when deciding how to proceed, such as:

    Remember: the whole point of writing a legal newsletter for marketing is to get your customer to initiate contact with you. If your newsletter is sent electronically, always include links to relevant items on your website, making it easy for your customers to find exactly what they’re looking for on your site with just one click.

  • I can’t imagine turning down cases. Will it really help my legal business?

    It depends on the kind of business you want. If you don’t mind taking all the little cases—if you are truly happy working as much as you do for the money you earn—then there’s nothing wrong with that. However, most attorneys who come into the Great Legal Marketing fold are here for a reason: they want to improve their practice rather than just get by.

    When attorneys first start out on their own, they are told time and time again that they should sacrifice everything to maintain their practice. Their health, free time, family life and even sleep are considered non-essential when it comes to serving the public.

    After a few years of this, attorneys are reluctant to change the way they work—understandably, because it got them this far. But while building a great practice requires dedication, it shouldn’t require 100 percent of your life. That’s not practical, and it’s not fair. You got into this business for a reason, and YOU should dictate how your business is run.

    Streamlining your business can be as easy asking yourself:

    Now that you know the answers, your best law firm marketing strategy is to attract these kinds of cases—and reject all others. Focus only on your ideal client’s case, questions, and problems, making him feel as if your marketing was created just for him.

  • Every time there's a deadly traffic accident in my town, the local news media always picks the same personal-injury lawyer for a quote or a live interview. How can I get myself on the “go-to” list?

    Well, this is not something you an accomplish overnight. If your competitor is constantly appearing on TV and being quoted in news articles, it will be very difficult to dislodge him from his “celebrity” status, which was probably extremely hard-won. It's very likely that this lawyer labored in obscurity for years, slowly building his web presence, writing numerous blogs and articles, and sending out press releases whenever he had a successful outcome to a case (or even just to offer his perspective on breaking news stories). This lawyer also probably spent a fair amount of time cultivating the media, by shaking hands at local fundraisers or otherwise being active in the community.

    There are two ways to go about building your celebrity status. First, you need to emulate your competitor by building a solid 'brand” presence on the web, which will involve commenting frequently on breaking news stories in blogs and articles, and sending out press releases to trumpet your firm's accomplishments.

    Second, you may want to take a cue from this other lawyer by starting to cultivate the local media yourselfyour local TV news producer or newspaper editor may not even be aware that you exist, and that you can offer another perspective on local news developments. You don't want to come on too strong—”How come you always call the other guy and not me?”—but a more gentle, friendly approach can work wonders.

  • I have given my employees a script to use on the phone when talking to potential customers. It is working, or do the customers know it’s a sales pitch?

    Even though your customers are calling you to perform a service, they are still aware that they’re calling a business. That’s not a problem; they want to hire you, and you want to be hired. However, your initial contact with them can he handled in such a way that the customer feels better about his situation and reassured in choosing you to represent him.

    The best marketing for lawyers always includes a little trial and error. The surest way to know if something is (or isn’t) working is to test it, and this applies to your law firm’s phone etiquette as well. You can set up “mystery” callers to ensure that your staff have a firm grasp on your message before you release it into the public.

    Here is an easy step-by-step “mystery” caller strategy:

    • Develop a few specific, pre-scripted scenarios. Callers are real people with real concerns, so invent a few typical clients. Make sure they each have a specific question to see how your staff handles it.
    • Inform your staff that you will be doing mystery call training.
    • Evaluate the staff member’s performance, including the time it takes to greet the caller, how they answer questions and attitude problems, and how they end the call.
    • Adjust your team training based on your results. Involve your staff in the process, asking them what they thought could have gone better before giving them your feedback.

    You’re not going to be able to oversee every phone call that comes into your office, so it is important to have staff members who are well-trained in your company message, but can also think on their feet.

  • I know my legal ad campaign is flawed, but I don’t know what the problem is. What can I do?

    If you’re like most attorneys, you’ll know if your legal ads are working only because you’ve seen an increase in business since your ad campaign started. However, this isn’t a good metric for success, since there are many different facets to your marketing.

    To find out what the problem is, you need to identify where the problem is. The next time you have a marketing meeting, you should focus on these three objectives:

    • Confirm what is working. Always start with the positives. This will give you something to measure the other elements of your marketing against.
       
    • Discover what isn’t working. This doesn’t mean “cutting” aspects of your campaign that aren’t doing well. In some cases, it could mean changing the way you do them. For instance, if you don’t have many Facebook followers, don’t delete the account; post a poll to encourage interaction, and set goals for updating every day.
       
    • Find out what’s next. There should always be something “in the works” for your campaign. It could be a TV spot, a YouTube video with a celebrity guest star, or a tech-savvy tip that you try to improve your exposure. Implement one at a time; at the next meeting, it should be evaluated and placed on one of the other two lists.

    The most important thing is to do something every day that influences your advertising campaign. Collect emails, online articles, and news items in a folder to discuss at your next meeting. You never know what will be the next big thing in marketing, so it pays (literally) to keep your ear to the ground.

  • I recently installed a phone surveillance system to monitor how my staff is handling incoming calls. I've noticed that one of my favorite paralegals has a very casual manner on the phone, which I fear may be repelling potential clients, but I'm afraid how she'll react if I criticize her. What should I do?

    Look at it this way—would you rather spare your employee's feelings, or send potential clients to that law firm down the block? Proper telephone demeanor is a key component in promoting your law firm.

    If your paralegal winds up losing her job because your firm goes out of business, that won't do much for her feelings, either, and you may be joining her on the unemployment line.

    Part of the baggage that goes with being the managing partner of a law firm is having to nip inappropriate behavior in the bud, which usually entails having some mildly uncomfortable conversations.

    Yes, you need to inform your paralegal that she has to present a more professional image on the phone, and you have no choice but to sit down with her, describe what you've seen on the surveillance tapes, and suggest ways she can improve the client experience.

    You may be tempted to skip the face-to-face meeting and simply send your staffer an email, but this is a very bad idea!

    If you present your critique the right way—not as a head-on assault, but as a series of gentle suggestions—your paralegal will be more likely to absorb what you have to say and change her behavior going forward.

    For all you know, she already senses that she isn't handling phone calls as well as she could be, and will welcome this opportunity to improve her performance—and if she doesn't, you'll know that you don't have a “team player” and that this person needs to be reassigned to a place far, far away from the phone banks.

  • I prefer to sign up clients the old-fashioned way, by treating them to a nice lunch or dinner. Now I'm finding that this doesn't work as well as it used to. What can I do?

    It's true that, back in the '70s and '80s, successful lawyers had much more time to devote to the art of schmoozing, taking current and prospective clients out for fancy meals and cultivating their business. Except for some white-collar law firms, that way of life has disappeared in our modern economy.

    Lawyers don't have time to court new clients in person, and potential clients aren't interested in spending a lot of time with their lawyer before signing. They are researching several, sometimes dozens, of lawyers at a time. Typically, they make their choice before they come into your office.

    If you prefer the old approach to signing clients, you may find clients are resistant. Most of them don't expect to be "wined and dined," when they interview lawyers. Few other industries use this method of retaining new clients, and you may be setting yourself up for an awkward interaction.

    The prospect of a free meal may not be enough to get a potential client to spare two or three hours out of his day, especially if he's about to face some steep legal bills. Also, in today's Internet-saturated world, an increasing number of people prefer to keep their face-to-face interactions to a bare minimum, and would much rather conduct business via email or instant message.

    Plus, if you give your potential clients so much attention before signing them, they will expect that level of attention after you sign them. Imagine taking your client to dinner each time you have to update them about your case! Ideally, with good marketing your list of potential clients will rise to levels where this kind of networking is unsustainable.

    So what can you do? There's nothing wrong with splurging occasionally and treating a willing client to lunch. But, given the circumstances obtaining in the modern economy, you should also invest in an automated client-retention system that can follow up on prospective leads and spare you the time, money and effort needed to schedule a meal.

  • I already have a webmaster who handles our online business. Why do I need a marketing expert as well?

    You must understand is that web design and web marketing are not the same thing. Just because your website looks good doesn’t mean it will bring in business. To do that, you have to convert your online readers into customers. Nobody’s going to hire you because they liked the “look” of your website. It may have grabbed their attention, but you’re going to have to keep it there if you want them to become a client.

    Firstly, there is no guarantee that your web designer knows anything about search engine optimization (SEO). If your designer only knows about eye-catching colors and ways to arrange your front page, you’re going to need to hire an additional web expert who knows how to use keywords and key phrases to raise your Google ranking. Otherwise, nobody’s going to be able to find your website—no matter how pretty it is.

    Also, you have to realize that your online business is your business. Everyone who walks in your door has seen your website; it’s the first thing any consumer will do in order to “check out” a business. Your website is the number one point of contact for potential customers—and therefore, your biggest marketing opportunity. Doesn’t that seem like something worth spending time and resources on?

    Lastly, you must remember that it doesn’t matter how much of your web management you outsource, you should have a basic understanding of how it all works. Your job as CEO of your firm includes continually finding new ways to improve legal marketing—and if you know nothing about technology or the running of your own website, you’re not going to see the best strategy when it comes along.

  • I’ve Sent a Customer an Informational Packet. When Should I Contact Him to Follow Up?

    In a world of instant communication and immediate gratification, you will definitely lose clients if you’re not responding to them fast enough.

    From the moment you receive an inquiry, whether a phone call, email, or online request, you should have an automated response sent out instantly. If your free materials are downloadable, they can be sent instantly, saving you time, labor, and money in postage. If not, your snail mail packet should be stuffed to the gills with your free guide, brochures, DVDs, and any other materials not available online.

    You should wait no longer than a week to follow up on the packet, calling the customer to ask if he has any questions. If your contact stops there, you’re probably going to lose that customer to a competitor.

    Here’s why: clients do not begin searching for an attorney until several months after an accident occurs. When they do start the search, they will likely contact more than one firm. After the first contact, clients will typically take anywhere from three months to a year to sign a fee agreement with the attorney they have chosen.

    This means that you must stay in constant contact with all of your leads in order to bring in new legal clients. Just because they do not respond does not mean they have hired another attorney or given up on their case; it means they are not ready to respond. Many customers are lost simply because the firm gave up too easily, allowing a more tenacious attorney to get that client’s business.

  • I'd like to take a novel approach with our law firm's newspaper ads by incorporating some humor. My senior partner is putting up stiff resistance. What can I say to put his mind at ease?

    Lawyers take themselves very seriously, sometimes to our detriment. When you insert some humor into your advertisement, newsletter, or other marketing tools you set yourself apart and make you seem more approachable. There is nothing wrong with being a little silly, as long as you are tasteful. Knowing this, many attorneys are hesitant to create a "funny" ad.

    If you want to create a humorous ad, but you are getting kickback from other attorneys at your firm, the first thing you might mention is that most people completely ignore the ads when they're reading the newspaper. So, it's not as if you're putting your firm's reputation on the line by taking a lighthearted approach—and you may even attract the notice of readers who ordinarily wouldn't give a legal advertisement a second thought.

    But the argument that will get you the most traction is that, by hewing to commonly accepted practices for legal ads in newspapers, your firm will get completely lost in the mix. If the headline, body, and small print of your advertisement look exactly the same as everyone else's, why should an interested reader call your number (except because he chose your firm completely at random?)

    The fact is that the most commonly accepted practices in lawyer advertising and marketing don't exist because they're particularly effective—or, rather, they may have been effective when only a few lawyers were following them, but now are almost completely ineffective because literally everyone is doing the same thing. The key to a successful advertising and marketing campaign is differentiation: you have to show that your law firm is different from, and better than, the competition, and a touch of originality doesn't hurt, either.

    Are you at a loss about how to effectively market your law practice, given that everyone else in your vicinity is doing the same thing? Read through our article library to find more tips about lawyer marketing.

  • Should My Law Firm Newsletter Be Color or Black and White?

    What quality of paper should I print my law firm newsletter on?The answer is that it doesn’t really matter so long as you publish a newsletter, according to a schedule you’ve set, and print it on real paper (as opposed to distributing it electronically.) Some law firms enjoy using color, pictures, and glossy paper to make a professional looking newsletter that is an integral part of their law firm marketing strategy. Other law firms prefer to stick to text only and print on regular paper, because they do not find the extra cost associated with color ink and glossy paper to be worthwhile.

    Neither type of printing is wrong. Typically, recipients care less about what your newsletter looks like than about what is in your newsletter. Many people get used to getting their newsletter at the same time every month. They appreciate the useful tips you provide for them and hearing the news about your law firm. Accordingly, it is important not to disappoint them and instead to consistently deliver an interesting, well-written and aesthetically pleasing newsletter, whether that newsletter is in color or black and white, on glossy paper or plain.

  • What Is the Best Way to Distribute a Legal Newsletter?

    What is the best way to send a legal newsletter.A legal newsletter is a valuable means for attorneys to reach out and maintain continuous, regular contact with clients and contacts. The newsletter can be distributed on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. It can also be sent using email, posted on the law firm's website, or printed and sent through traditional mail. 

    An important key to successful legal marketing is regular follow-up. However, a properly drafted newsletter with interesting and relevant content takes time and energy to create. Therefore, in order to maximize effectiveness, the newsletter should reach clients frequently enough to keep the firm fresh in the mind of its contacts without compromising the ability of the lawyers or their staff to provide quality legal services, and without sacrificing the quality of the content. Typically, this will ideally translate to a monthly distribution to all law firm contacts.

    The manner of distribution for the legal newsletter should also maximize the number of potential clients that it reaches. While email is the least expensive medium and is transmitted quickly and easily, research has shown that more people are visiting websites such as Facebook and YouTube than checking their email on a regular basis. Similarly, merely posting the newsletter on the law firm website is too passive a method to reach clients. Taking the extra step to print actual newsletters is a physical reminder of the firm to the individuals who receive it.

  • What Makes a Good Mastermind Group or Think Tank for Your Legal Marketing Efforts?

    How to build a mastermind group for your legal marketing.A strong legal marketing campaign will require you to think outside the box to attract clients ethically and innovatively. It can be challenging to do this alone. Typically, small law firms who are looking to create complex and dynamic law firm marketing campaigns benefit from getting together with like-minded small businesses in what we call a mastermind group or think tank.

    The other members of your mastermind group may, or may not, be other law firms. The idea is that a group of small businesses, who are each committed to developing their business through ethical marketing campaigns, get together regularly to share ideas. Some groups find it beneficial to meet biweekly, monthly, or bimonthly.

    There are no hard and fast rules about what should happen at a mastermind meeting. However, you should leave the meeting feeling excited about some creative lawyer marketing ideas that you can explore further.