A clear offer is key to attracting new clients soon

friday, 3 april of 2009

Clear offer key to attracting new clients soon

by Trey Ryder

Lawyers are usually concerned with how soon they will see cash flow from their marketing efforts.  The good news is, when carried out correctly, your marketing program can generate income very soon.

Your marketing effort reaches prospects in all different stages of readiness.  Some prospects know they need your help right now and meet with you for a consultation.  Other prospects will hire your services in the weeks ahead.  Some in coming months.  And a few will hire another lawyer or not do anything at all.

One important factor that determines whether prospects hire you now, later or never is how they perceive your offer.  The offer is the marketing term that includes the services you offer, how you offer them, and the terms and conditions under which you offer them.

If you want to attract new clients, your offer must be clear and specific.  Prospects want to know specifically what you offer, what you'll do, what you'll charge, and what they'll receive.  If any of this is fuzzy, then your credibility suffers and you increase your prospect's discomfort.  Prospects need a clear picture of you and the process.  If anything appears unclear or the least bit muddy, your prospect will probably not hire you.

If you deliver your marketing message through written materials, you are in a stronger position when you include an explanation of your services and fees.  When prospects see what you offer and what you charge, they conclude that you are being up front with them.  But when you hesitate or beat around the bush, prospects assume that either you're trying to avoid the discussion or you have something to hide.

If you deliver your marketing message through a seminar, explain your services and fees near the end of your presentation.  After prospects hear your discussion of the legal issues and the solutions you recommend, they will better appreciate the importance of solving their problem and their need to hire you.  If you omit your explanation of services and fees, you skip over what your prospect perceives as a key part of your marketing message.

In general, the sooner you explain fees, the sooner prospects know whether they are candidates for your services.  If they still want to meet with you after they know your fees, you can reasonably conclude that your fee is not an obstacle.  But if they ask to meet with you before they know your fees, you can't be sure how they will react once you give them the magic numbers.

Here are a few tips that will help you make your marketing more efficient and increase your prospect's comfort level:

TIP #1:  Define precisely the services you will provide so prospects will know exactly what they are buying.  If your services include several steps, outline the steps you will take so prospects understand the process.  The more prospects understand, the more comfortable they feel.

TIP #2:  Clearly state your fees for those services.  If you can't put an exact fee on a service, then explain why and tell your prospect the typical range of fees you charge clients in similar situations.  Also include factors that cause the fee to increase and decrease.  A fee range and key criteria help your prospect grasp the size of his pending investment.

TIP #3:  Think twice before you charge a percentage fee.  Contingency fees are generally accepted in cases involving collections, injuries and business litigation.  Clients know this is how these cases are usually handled.  But if you offer contingent fees in other areas of law, make sure your prospect understands and agrees that a percentage fee is appropriate and fair under the circumstances.  

If you think a contingent fee might arouse your prospect's suspicion, offer alternative approaches, such as a flat fee, hourly fee, or reduced contingency plus reduced hourly rate.  In the end, your prospect will likely choose the contingency fee.  But because you offered him options, your prospect concludes that he controls the choice of fee structure, which makes him happier with his decision.

TIP #4:  Explain fees relatively early in the process.  I'm not suggesting that you disclose them first because prospects need to establish a perceived value for your services.  This is why you should present a detailed discussion of the problem and the effort needed to solve it before you discuss your charges.  If you delay the subject of fees until prospects come to your office, you won't know whether they are genuine and qualified -- or simply shopping for low price.  As a result, any reluctance on your part to disclose fees can result in a great deal of wasted time.

TIP #5:  Keep a close eye on how prospects respond when you discuss services and fees.  If prospects ask a lot of questions, then you need to improve your presentation so you cover these points.  When prospects recognize they need to ask questions about fees, they could easily infer that you would not have disclosed this information had they not asked.  You are in a much stronger position when you answer commonly asked questions about fees and services as part of your presentation.

TIP #6:  Keep a close eye on how many desirable prospects actually hire your services.  They might decide not to hire you for any number of reasons, but one big stumbling block that always needs close attention is your offer.

You strengthen your offer when prospects know what they are buying and at what price.  If prospects don't understand your explanation, they grow uncomfortable and hire another lawyer.  You're more likely to win a new client when your offer is clear and specific.

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© Trey Ryder

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