friday, 8 september of 2006

Migalhas International

Law Firm Marketing

Five things you must accomplish for marketing success

1. You must establish your CREDIBILITY by providing information and advice -- and avoiding any effort to promote your services. Credibility is key. We don't do business with people or companies we don't trust.

You increase your credibility when you explain things in plain English -- focus on your prospect's problem -- offer solutions your prospect understands -- relate past experiences with other clients in similar situations -- offer testimonials from former clients -- offer letters of recommendation from colleagues and referral sources -- discuss your background and qualifications -- answer questions -- provide copies of newspaper articles in which you were featured or quoted -- and avoid doing anything that makes you look like a salesperson.

Look at credibility from your own point of view. When you are thinking about hiring a professional, what do you look for? What can this professional do, say or give you that will greatly increase your level of trust? When you identify the key factors that you find persuasive, adapt those elements to your presentation so you receive the same benefit.

2. You must spell out important DIFFERENCES between you and competing lawyers. Prospects will hire you only if they believe you are different from other lawyers. The difference may be in your: Knowledge. Skill. Judgment. Experience. Accessibility. Responsiveness. Reputation. Results. Self confidence. Office location. Or any number of other criteria.

First, identify the advantages you offer that your prospect thinks are important. Then emphasize those advantages and tell your prospect the many ways he benefits when he hires your services. Even if your prospect focuses on something as seemingly superficial as the location of your office, if that's important to him, emphasize how much time he will save every time he meets with you.

Ideally, you want prospects to hire you because of your unique combination of knowledge, skill, judgment and experience -- because no one on Earth has had exactly the same experiences as you. Still, if the choice comes down to a convenient office location, that is a competitive difference you should emphasize.

3. You must bring about an INTERACTION with your prospective client so you can begin a meaning­ful dialogue. Prospects may attribute to you the highest level of trust. They may fully understand the important ways you differ from other lawyers. BUT... until your prospect and you interact, you'll never do business.

The interaction can be a phone call, e-mail, casual conversation at a party, discussion after a seminar, office consultation, breakfast networking meeting -- whatever. The fact remains, a new client cannot hire your services until the two of you interact. This is the key marketing step most lawyers overlook. And it's critical to the process!

Create opportunities for prospects to interact with you. Then invite their interaction in all of your marketing documents and on your web site. Every way you communicate with prospects should include the invitation to contact you.

4. You must gain your prospect's COMMITMENT to begin work, when your prospect hires your services. Invite prospects to make small commitments of their time and energy, such as requesting your educational materials, attending your seminar, reading your monthly newsletter and visiting your web site. The more time and energy your prospect invests in you and your knowledge, the higher your level of trust. As you near the time when your prospect might hire you, help your prospect view hiring you not as a big deal, but simply as the next logical step in the process.

5. You must maintain your client's LOYALTY by continuing to offer information and advice so he grows to depend more and more on your knowledge. You want to be your client's lawyer of first resort. If you are the first lawyer he calls -- whether for all legal matters or just those in your practice area -- you have the first opportunity to provide services, refer him to another lawyer in your firm, or refer him to an outside attorney.

Client loyalty is the result of value delivered over time. Value is what your client receives from you that he believes is important.

When delivering legal services, your client measures your value in many ways, including the competency you bring to the table, the speed with which you respond, the result you achieve, and the fee you charge.

When between projects, your client measures your value in the newsletter he receives, the web site you sponsor, the seminars you present, the access he has to you when needed, your willingness to respond quickly to his calls, and so forth.

The more often you provide value, such as your newsletter, the higher your client's loyalty. I used to recommend that you send your newsletter quarterly. Now, I suggest at least monthly.

If you educate everyone on your mailing list and remain their primary source of information and advice, client loyalty will soar, resulting in more new clients and referrals.

© Trey Ryder