Teach prospects how to hire a lawyer so you increase credibility and attract more new clients

friday, 7 july of 2017

By Trey Ryder

Every marketing message should contain a section about how to hire a lawyer in your area of law.

Prospects who don't often hire lawyers appreciate learning how an attorney would hire another lawyer. At the other end of the spectrum, you might assume that prospects who hire lawyers on a routine basis won't read this information. But that assumption is not always correct.

Prospects who regularly hire lawyers know the criteria they use to make their choice. When they see that you offer information about selecting a lawyer, often they will read what you write (1) to see if your criteria are as tough as their own, and (2) to see if you've suggested anything they can add to their list. Bottom line: Most genuine prospects read (or at least scan) what you write about hiring an attorney.

To gain the greatest marketing benefit, write your suggestions so they appear reasonable and objective, and build the criteria you recommend around your own competitive advantages.

BUILDS CREDIBILITY AND RESPECT

Teaching prospects how to hire a lawyer is important because it proves that you're not trying to pressure prospects in any way. In fact, it goes to the opposite extreme by saying that you will teach them how to interview lawyers so they can talk with several before they make their choice.

Here's an analogy: From birth, the mother bird feeds and shelters her babies in the nest. Then, at a certain age, she ejects her chicks from the nest so they learn how to fly. After all, they must know how to fend for themselves in the real world. They can no longer enjoy the safety that their mother has provided in the nest. But when the mother bird starts to expel the chicks, they struggle to hang on to their nest, which has been their only shelter.

Your prospects read your marketing message like baby birds. The more educational information they digest, the more they acknowledge you as the authority. Soon, they grow warm and comfortable as you spoon-feed more and more information. Near the end of your marketing message, you prepare to set your prospects free so they can go into the real world and hire a lawyer. The problem is: For their entire adult lives, they have heard stories about good lawyers and bad lawyers, honest lawyers and less-than-honest lawyers. Then you provide them with information about how to hire a lawyer -- and you wish them well.

How do they respond?

They grab for your coattails. They hang on to you. Your prospects appreciate that you're not trying to influence their choice of a lawyer, which causes prospects to trust and respect you even more. As a result, your efforts to send prospects into the marketplace to find a lawyer often strengthen their bonds to you.

Still, not all prospects will hire you. In fact, some will choose to interview other lawyers, as you suggest. Even so, the fact remains: You have educated them. You have taught them how to hire a lawyer. And you have told them what most lawyers will say. Then, when lawyers say those things you predict, they appear to be actors in the drama you described.

The result? You remain the ultimate authority because you accurately predicted and explained everything that would happen when those prospects interviewed other lawyers. And the fact that your predictions came true will sometimes cause prospects to return to you because now they trust you even more than before.

HOW TO PRESENT HIRING CRITERIA

Include at least three types of information in your section on how to hire a lawyer.

FIRST: Include "## Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a (type of) Lawyer."

Identify each mistake and then explain in a few sentences what your prospect can do to avoid making that mistake. The mistakes you identify should be the ways prospects often choose lawyers. These can include a referral from a friend, an office near the prospect's home, or a glitzy website.

After each mistake, explain why your prospect should not hire a lawyer based solely on that one criterion. Suggest instead that the prospect needs to get specific information about the lawyer's background, qualifications and experience -- information prospects almost never have, and often hesitate to request.

This helps your prospect realize that he knows almost nothing about the lawyers he is considering. Plus, he realizes that he knows a great deal about you, thanks to the information you provided, such as your biography, case histories and success stories. As a result, by providing this information, you find yourself far ahead of competing lawyers, about whom your prospect usually knows nothing.

SECOND: Include specific hiring criteria in a section called, "How to Choose a Qualified Lawyer."

In this segment, include an itemized list of things to look for. By offering these criteria, you can greatly increase your credibility because you're pointing out your strengths -- and identifying other lawyers' weaknesses. (Your prospect assumes that you meet or exceed all the criteria you list, concluding that if you didn't meet these criteria, you wouldn't list them.)

For example, one of your hiring criteria might be: "Choose a lawyer who provides excellent service." At this point, your prospect has no first-hand knowledge about whether you provide good service. Still, he assumes that your service is excellent because you have told him not to accept anything less. He suspects that you would not raise a criterion you yourself could not meet.

In addition, you can include in your hiring criteria your competitive advantages. For example, if you offer free seminars, you could recommend: "Choose a lawyer who offers free educational seminars." This reinforces that you provide this service and that most lawyers don't. Plus it adds a new element to the criteria that your prospect might not have considered. Now, when your prospect interviews other lawyers, if those lawyers don't provide educational seminars, they will not measure up to your standards.

THIRD: Include specific questions to ask lawyers in a section called, "## Tough Questions to Ask a Lawyer Before You Write a Check" (or before you sign a contract, depending on your area of law). Then list individual questions.

Start with questions that are fairly general, such as how long the lawyer has practiced and how much of his practice is devoted to this area of law.

Then, as you go down the list, ask questions that are specific. For example, let's say that you are a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. And let's assume some of your competitors are not. One question on your list would be:

Are you a member of the American Association for Justice (formerly ATLA)?

This question reinforces your membership as a competitive advantage. And if the other lawyer is not a member, this question raises a perceived weakness.

List as many questions as possible to which you can answer "yes" -- and to which competing lawyers will answer "no". Every time your prospect gets a "yes" from you, he sees another reason to hire you. Every time your prospect gets a "no" from a competitor, he has identified another reason not to hire the competing lawyer.

Summary: Since you are teaching your prospect how to hire a lawyer -- and since this marketing message is yours -- you enjoy the luxury of defining the playing field. For the greatest marketing benefit, design the playing field based on your competitive advantages. In this way your message identifies perceived weaknesses in competitors -- and shows you in the most positive, persuasive light.

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© Trey Ryder
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