Major Marketing Mistakes Most Attorneys Make

Eleven Mega Marketing Mistakes that Lawyers Make with Their Advertising

Attorneys all over the country are frustrated. Jurors are more conservative than ever before. Competition is up. State bar ethics rules are increasing, not decreasing, restrictions on lawyer advertising. To top it off, lawyers have never been taught how to market their services. Here are eleven major mistakes that lawyers make with their advertising.

1. Failing to Decide What Your Perfect Practice and Perfect Client Look Like

You can’t develop a marketing plan (or purchase advertising media) without understanding where you are going. What does your perfect client look like? What do you want your practice to look like? The correct answer to the question “why do you want to spend any money on marketing?” should not be, “more cases.” Not drawing at least a mental picture of what it is you are after with your practice is like getting on an airplane and saying “take me anywhere.”

2. Failing to Accept that Marketing and Practice Building is the Most Important Thing You can do in Your Practice

Are only the best lawyers in your town who get the best cases? Just being a good attorney doesn’t cut it anymore. Isn’t it frustrating to see lawyers who have never tried a case get better cases than you do and then brag about it later? By understanding marketing better you put yourself into a position to see more cases from which you can choose the ones that match your “perfect client” profile.

3. The major mistakes most lawyers make in their marketing.Thinking That Copying What Other Lawyers Are Doing Will Get You Better Results.

Earl Nightingale, one of the world’s foremost experts on what makes people successful, had some good advice for lawyers who want to market their practices. He said, (and yes, I am paraphrasing) that if you wanted to learn a new skill in business, and you had no mentor or guide you could trust, that the best thing you could do was figure out what everyone else was doing and then do the opposite. The majority is, at best, average. So it is with lawyer marketing.

4. Ignoring the Gold in Your Files Right Now

It costs at least ten times a much to obtain new client as to keep in contact with old clients and indeed, everyone who contacts you. Your files are filled with names of folks who know you. Those people generally have at least 50 other friends in their “circle of influence.” (Read How to Close Every Sale, by Joe Girard.) Lawyers are happy to spend thousands on Yellow Page and TV marketing while ignoring completely those who they already have some relationship with.

5. Failing to Capture the Name of Every New Person Is Interested in Your Materials

Lawyers again spend thousands on generating new leads (potential client inquiries) yet never market back to the cases they don’t accept. In most offices that’s MOST of the new inquiries. This is a gold mine of people that you can directly market to in the future. You can’t rely on the fact that if they or someone they know gets hurt that they will remember you tomorrow because they called you once in the past.

6. Failing to Get Ahead of The Marketing Curve.

How many lawyers spend any time trying to start a relationship with a consumer BEFORE that consumer has a problem? Most personal injury lawyers view marketing as reactionary. That is, the relationship starts once a person is injured and they start trying to find a lawyer. How about if you offered some good consumer information that prompted people to call you BEFORE they get hurt (good quality information on how to buy car insurance comes to immediate mind.) Once they raise their hand they are inviting a relationship and giving you permission to directly market to them as frequently as you can afford to. If you can develop a “herd” of people that listen to you before they have an accident, they won’t be looking in the Yellow Pages after they have an accident.

7. Being an Advertising “Victim”

Most lawyers think about their advertising and marketing plan the 30 minutes or so before the Yellow Page rep comes walking through the door. They don’t do any independent research or study. They follow the crowd because “it must be working or else everyone else wouldn’t be doing it.” If it doesn’t work they then take the Yellow Page rep’s advice to “buy more, and use color.” A real sign that you are an “advertising victim” is that you allow the Yellow Page rep to design your ad.

8. Failure to Accurately Measure Results

Do this test. Ask anyone who spends a lot money on advertising exactly how much revenue is returned (ROI-return on investment) they get from a particular TV spot. Better yet, ask the folks running double truck (huge, 2 page) ads inside the Yellow Pages how much revenue those pages generate vs. the outside back cover they are also buying. They won’t be able to answer that question. Would you buy mutual fund without demanding a specific accounting of actual results?

9. Failure to Develop a Referral System

The best clients come to you with good cases and they are pre-sold on you. Strange as it may seem, clients don’t always know how to refer. The attorneys who really understand marketing have figured out ways to have current friends and clients refer new consumers to them BEFORE they need an attorney. Developing good consumer information products and backing it up with an interesting firm newsletter that it consistently mailed is a terrific way to greatly expand your referral base without using high priced TV marketing.

10. Failure to Diversify Your Marketing

"One” is a very dangerous number. There are lots of media out there, including media not traditionally used by lawyers. While most lawyers think in terms of Yellow Pages, TV and websites, sophisticated lawyer marketers understand and also use low-cost coupon media, postcards, and free-standing inserts. The key is to choose media that is relatively easy to test and then to measure results.

11. Trying to Win the Advertising Game by “Shouting Louder”

Most lawyers try to differentiate themselves in print and TV media by simply spending more money to “shout louder.” This accomplished by buying more color, more space, or more TV as spots. The two-fold problem of this approach is that (1) it’s an expensive way to run a business and (2) there will always be someone who can spend more than you can. Lawyers need to learn to “make a different kind of noise” with their marketing.

Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.