16 ways to seize an unfair marketing advantage over other lawyers

friday, 27 july of 2012

16 ways to seize an unfair marketing advantage over other lawyers

by Trey Ryder

Way #1: Promote your knowledge, not your services. When you promote your services, you take on the role of a salesperson, which undermines your credibility. This is called selling-based marketing. Instead, promote your knowledge using Education-Based Marketing. This allows you to attract new clients, increase referrals, strengthen client loyalty and build your image as an authority without selling. Education-Based Marketing gives prospects what they want, information and advice -- and removes what they don't want, a sales pitch.

Way #2: Create a competent marketing message. Most lawyers lose the marketing battle before it begins by trying to market themselves with an ineffective message. If you don't start with a complete, competent message, your marketing efforts are doomed to failure. The marketing method you choose is only as good as the message it delivers. If your message lacks any needed components, you'll lose clients to lawyers who deliver a complete message. Your marketing message should --

(1) Identify and explain your prospect's problem. Prospects won't pay for a solution until they understand the depth of their problem

(2) Prove the problem exists. Skeptical prospects may think you are overstating the problem so you can charge a fee. You can overcome this suspicion by taking time to prove the problem exists and to prove the seriousness of the problem.

(3) Identify and explain one or more solutions. Prospects want a clear understanding of what you recommend to solve their problem.

(4) Prove the solution works. Prospects may not believe that your recommended solution will do what you claim. So take time -- through objective, third-party information -- to prove the solution works.

(5) Build yourself into the solution. You don't want prospects to agree they have a problem but then hire another lawyer to solve it. Make sure you design your marketing message so your prospects conclude you are the lawyer best equipped to provide the solution.

Way #3: Answer every question your prospects might ask. Many people think 'frequently asked questions' (FAQs) were first used on web sites. To the contrary, savvy marketers have been answering FAQs in their marketing materials for decades. Long marketing messages are effective not because they are long, but because they are complete. When you answer routine questions in your written materials, you save a great deal of time because you don't have to repeat the same answers over and over when prospects meet with you in your office. Also, the more information prospects have about you and your services, the more comfortable they feel and the more likely they are to request a meeting.

Way #4: Deliver your marketing message to prospects where they are. Don't wait for prospects to come into your office to deliver your marketing message. Instead, assemble a fact kit that contains your entire message. Then offer your fact kit through your advertising, publicity, newsletters, and on your web site. When prospects request your packet, send it to them by mail or email. This allows you to put your marketing message into prospect's hands before they call other lawyers. In this way, you attract inquiries, establish your credibility and build a relationship with prospects. And in many cases, competing lawyers never learn these prospects were looking for a lawyer.

Way #5: Attract only qualified inquiries from genuine prospects. Many lawyers and their employees waste valuable time trying to determine whether a caller is a serious prospect -- or just looking for a lawyer with low fees. But when you create a marketing message that teaches prospects how to solve a problem or achieve a goal, the prospects who respond want a solution. In this way, they identify themselves as genuine prospects. Plus they give you their name and mailing address so you can send your materials. Then you add their name to your database. This saves you a great deal of time separating the wheat from the chaff.

Way #6: Define a niche in which you can seize the number one position. As you plan your marketing strategy, you need to carefully carve out a niche in which you can be number one. If another lawyer already occupies the first position in the niche you want, consider whether you can unseat that lawyer from first position. If not, then create a new niche in which you can be first. In this way, you establish yourself as an authority -- and occupy the first position -- in a niche you can dominate and defend.

Way #7: Build your marketing program on principles of direct marketing. The decades-old tradition of institutional advertising "to keep your name out there" has almost no value in today's competitive marketplace. Every day advertisers bombard consumers with so many messages that it's nearly impossible for any message to get through. If you succeed at getting your message into your prospect's head, then you also want to get a response if your prospect is interested in what you offer. I've proved that marketing programs built on an educational message have the highest likelihood of generating a positive response from prospects -- while building for you a dignified, professional image.

Way #8: Communicate with your prospects often. Frequency is far more important than weight. So, rather than assembling a 24-page newsletter that takes forever to write and costs a fortune to mail, try a one-page alert printed front and back that you send every month. Or, convert to an e-mail alert that you send every week. Nothing has helped my business more than my weekly Lawyer Marketing Alert. The more often you communicate with your prospects, clients and referral sources, the more credibility you build and the more business you develop.

Way #9: Maintain an ongoing publicity program. When carried out correctly, a publicity program can help you attract new clients, increase referrals, and build your image as the authority in your field. You can communicate with editors using news releases, query letters, by-lined articles, and more. Editors won't agree to print your news release or article until they see it. So send at least one communication to editors at your target publications every month. Also, since editors won't run two stories on similar topics back to back, if the editor prints your article, you have effectively pre-empted competing lawyers from getting similar publicity in the coming weeks.

Way #10: Invite prospects to seminars and roundtables. Educational seminars are powerful marketing tools because you get to interact freely with prospects. Prospects like to attend seminars because they are far less threatening than meeting one on one with you in your office. Prospects get to size you up and see whether they like how you behave at the seminar before they decide whether to meet with you. In addition, seminars give you the opportunity to deliver your marketing message to many prospects at once, rather than repeating the same information over and over in your office.

Way #11: Emphasize how you differ from every lawyer on the planet. Prospects don't hire you because you're the same as other lawyers; they hire you because you're different. You may be more friendly, more accessible, more experienced, more skilled -- or more (of whatever else is important to your prospects). Identify your competitive strengths and emphasize them in your marketing materials, during seminars, and every time you talk with prospects. Make sure prospects have a clear understanding of how you're different from other lawyers. Otherwise, they'll have no reason to choose you.

Way #12: Provide ongoing opportunities for prospects to interact with you. The biggest marketing mistake lawyers make is not designing into their marketing programs opportunities to interact with prospects. Your prospect may trust you, respect you and even like you, but if the two of you don't interact, your prospect will never hire your services. Interaction doesn't happen by chance; it happens by design. You must design the interaction piece into your marketing mosaic if you expect to interact with your prospect.

Way #13: Increase your credibility; then increase it even more. Nothing is more important than your credibility. None of us does business with people we don't trust. You increase your credibility when you speak in everyday English -- when you offer specifics, rather than generalities -- when you listen carefully -- when you respond thoughtfully. Lawyers who choose selling-based marketing undermine their credibility because consumers are tired and suspicious of sales pitches. But when you choose Education-Based Marketing, you enhance your credibility because you are always helping prospects understand their problems and the solutions you can provide.

Way #14: Win new clients by adding value, not lowering price. The worst thing you can do in your marketing program is reduce your fee in hopes of attracting new clients. Cutting your fee will draw clients, in the same way that spilling strawberry jam will draw ants. You'll get a response -- but it won't be the response you want. Clients who are loyal to the dollar are never loyal to you. As soon as another lawyer offers a lower fee, they're gone -- and all the loyalty you hoped to build goes with them. But, when you add value to your services, you can charge more -- clients will gladly pay more -- and you'll attract the clients who appreciate the many things you do for them. Add value and your life becomes happier. Cut your fee and you make matters worse.

Way #15: Set up a web site. Web sites used to be a luxury. Today, they're a necessity. In fact, today, if you don't have a web site, people think there's something wrong with you. Your web site is one place you can display your entire marketing message around the clock. Personally, the first place I look for a service provider is on the internet. And I'm not alone. I know, because my web site is often the first place lawyers look for marketing advice. Then they ask to join my e-mail list. And then, in many cases, they become clients. If you don't have a web site, step up to the plate and get one. Otherwise, you'll spend the entire game on the bench.

Way #16: Hire a law marketing specialist so you can spend your time lawyering. True, some lawyers carry out their own marketing programs. And many do a good job. But with a limited number of hours in the day, it's hard to be a good marketer and a good lawyer. Lawyers hire marketing people for many reasons. One is so they can spend more time with their law practice, and less time worrying about attracting new clients. Don't try to squeeze even more into your day. Delegate your marketing effort to a competent law marketing specialist. Then both you and he can spend time doing what each of you does best and enjoys most.

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© Trey Ryder

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