Episode #13
Common Law Firm Marketing Mistakes

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Hello and welcome to the latest class here in marketing for attorneys; happy to see you this afternoon, its afternoon where I am now, not necessarily when you are when your watching this now.

I thought I’d talk today about common marketing mistakes; and its good to know the pitfalls so you can avoid them. These are the kind of things that I see all the time and have seen for years so I am not going to take them in order of importance, but I’m just going to go over some that I think are very valuable to you.

The first one I want to point out is making the marketing all about you; if I see really one thing that is wrong with lawyer advertising, lawyer websites, lawyer presentations, it’s always the same thing which is the lawyers are talking about the lawyers. If you go in the yellow pages ad and you look for an elder law attorney or personal injury attorney or whatever, and you look at the ads that are there what your likely to see is a bunch of ads that say ‘ call us we have eight attorney, six hundred years experience, we are experts in this practice area and that practice area, and so on, and we’ve been certified by this and rated by that which is fine, but its all about the lawyers, its all about the law firm and how good they are.

If you were shopping for an elder law attorney because your grandfather or father is no longer able to function on a day-to-day level, and you need an elder law attorney and you need to know about the Medicaid rules because the nursing home costs are really going to be crushing to you and your family. Which add are you going to respond to? Is it going to be one that says ‘We’re great elder law attorney’s we have tons of experience, we’re swell guys, call us with a picture of attorney’s standing in front of rows of law books in a bookcase and so on; or are you going to respond to an ad that has a picture of an lonely older man sitting on a park bench and the headline is ‘Dad couldn’t find his way home if your having a problem, with an elderly relative who may be facing the possibility of a nursing home, call us at this number. I would suggest that the second ad would do much better because the ad is about the clients needs and not about the lawyers. When I have a call with a prospective client for Smart Marketing, I ask that client a hundred questions about his or her law firm before I say a word about Smart Marketing. Usually I don’t say anything about Smart Marketing until I’m asked my company, until they get to the point they say ‘ok, what about your firm, what can you do for us?’ then I’ll answer that question. But initially I’m asking my prospective client what about your firm, how big is it, what were revenues last year, what would you like them to be, what is the average charge do you charge a client, what kind of revenue does an typical client produce for your firm, how have you historically tried to get new clients, what has worked for you want has not worked for you, do you have staff, are you willing to hire more staff’ those kinds of questions which is part of a process of bonding, part of a process of sell, part of a process of showing you know what your talking about when ask somebody those kinds of questions; as opposed to I get a call from a prospective client and I say oh well, great I’m glad you called, let me tell you about Smart Marketing and all the great people we have here and all the wonderful things we can do for you. That’s not a good sales approach; If I had to identify one, really big whopper of a mistake I think that’s it.

It’s making the marketing about them. It causes further problems as you go along, not just in the original sale. If you make the marketing all about you, then anytime your client has a problem or question who are they going to want to talk to? You.

Your not bonding people with your firm, you’re bonding them with you personally, your making it all about you; which has added consequences besides being a stupid sales technique.

Even when people do presentations, I don’t know how many I’ve sat through where the presenting attorney steps up to the podium and says ‘ let me tell you a little bit about myself, my story’ and I’m sitting there in the audience thinking ‘I don’t give a damn about you I’m not interested, tell me about me, what your going to do for me. What about my business? What is it that you do that’s going to be important to me’

So I urge you as you pursue your own marketing efforts whether its your website, a direct mail piece, your advertising, don’t make it about you; make it about your client and what you expect their concerns to be.

The other marketing mistake that I want to discuss today is the tendency toward inaction, the dithering that many attorneys do. Sometimes it just that they’re being indecisive often times it’s that they are over analytical. One thing we know about attorneys is that they are generally high on the fact-finders scale of the kolbe physiological test. They want to know all the facts; they want to analyze all the facts, and you end up with paralysis by analysis. What is rewarded in marketing is a tendency to action; when I go to conferences I get stopped in the elevator and people say to me ‘what is your number one piece of marketing advice? Just give me one piece of marketing advice that will help me’ and I say to them ‘do something’ because life rewards action and ruthlessly punishes inaction. Action conquers fear, action conquers poverty, action conquers everything.

You’ve got to get out there and do stuff; because all good consequences come from that. And then lets talk about bad consequences for a minute; there is a theory called ‘fail faster’ what that theory says is that if you are going to try ten things, before you find the thing that works which is often the case in marketing and in life, then what’s the best thing that you can do? The best thing that you can do is fail at the other nine things to get to the tenth thing.
If you try something and it doesn’t work, the worst thing that you can do is go home, lick your wounds sulk about it for half a year and try something else. The best thing that you can do is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go right to the next thing immediately and just keep doing things, keep trying things until you find the thing that works. This propensity for action I think is one of the hallmarks of successful businesses and of successful people in general.

I wrote a piece once about marketing for attorneys, it was called, I don’t even remember what it was called, something about marketing lessons from fishing. My lessons there where one, go fishing, and two, keep fishing. If you want to catch fish what’s the first thing you have to do – go fishing.

You can’t sit there in your house as I said to lawyers expect the fish to be referred to you, or delivered to your door, you have to go out to seek the fish. Are you going to make mistakes? Yes you are; sometimes your going to go to the ocean, sometimes you’re going to go to the pond and sometimes your going to go to the river; and sometimes your going to catch a whopper, and come home all happy with yourself, and sometimes your going to catch little fish and be not so happy, and sometimes have stood out there all day wet and miserable and not caught a damn thing and your going to come home and say ‘I hate fishing’ and so on but the key is if you want to catch fish you have to go fishing, you have to keep fishing.

What else can we say about fishing? Is it helps sometimes if you don’t know what the heck your doing is talk to other fishermen, find out what their doing that’s successful, you might even want to hire a professional fishing guide to bring you to the right spots, to show you the right techniques or that kind of thing. Which brings me to another point; another common marketing mistake is not getting any help. Lets face it, lawyers are trained in law school, and they’re trained in their work in the legal field, they’re not professional marketers, they’re not certainly not professional entrepreneurs by any classic definition, and they don’t really know what the heck they’re doing there. So if you try to do it yourself, then your kind of in the same position as those potential clients of yours, the consumers out there that say, oh heck, I don’t need the advice of a good attorney I’ll just go on legal zoom and buy these documents for $25 or $50 or whatever they are and fill them in myself. Well maybe that works for some limited amount people, and I would say to you that if you’re a do it yourselfer and you really have no funds, then get yourself a marketing coach, there’s some good ones out there who can get you into a program, a coaching program with them, and they’ll tell you what you should do, give you good advice on what you should do and you can go out there and do it yourself. Obviously, although it may seem self interested because I own a marketing firm, an ideal or better solution would be to hire a full service marketing firm with not only somebody who can guide you, but with a crew of people who work there that can carry out the things you want to do. Because in my experience, lawyers don’t have the time, or the staff or the interest or whatever to do the follow through that is required. The key is really in the implementation. One of the little speeches I give around here in my firm is to say to my employees is that our practice is based on the theory that the lawyer will do nothing and most of the time that’s exactly what happens. So consider getting some professional help at any stage.

If you can’t afford the coach or a full service marketing firm, then read a lot of books that you can read, you want to take the kind of lessons that your taking here at SPU and try to implement them yourself, however if I get back again to that one piece of advice that I have to give you its do something everyday, and I don’t mean do something and wait; do something every week, keep throwing spitballs against the wall and see what’s going to stick; keep trying different things, you want to speak everyplace you can speak, you want to write everyplace you can write, you want to write notes, and thank you notes and you want to go to networking events, you want to do all of those things because marketing has to be a normal, ordinary, accepted part of your business just like bookkeeping is.

And that leads to you my final point for today; this is going to be a pretty short class and that is that once you start doing it, you have to keep doing it. So that brings us to our final big marketing mistake for today and that is lack of consistency.

The Internet for example, as you know is littered with abandoned websites and blogs that were begun in a burst of enthusiasm and dropped after awhile. I meet clients all the time and ask them

Did you ever do seminars?’
‘Oh yeah, we used to seminars’
‘How did it work for you?’
‘ It worked pretty good, it was great’
‘Why’d stop doing them’
‘I don’t know, I got busy and I stopped doing them.’

Consistency counts; whether its blogging, its doing seminars, or its speaking or whatever, consistency counts. This is a marathon, not a sprint; it’s not something that you do for a couple of months to try and stop doing, either way, because you failed or because you succeeded, I’ve had client in the past that stopped because they succeeded; they started all these marketing initiatives and their marketing initiatives worked. Their pipeline got to be full and because their pipeline was full that meant they were really busy with legal work and they had plenty of work, and they had plenty of billing, and they had plenty of money so they stopped marketing and what happened is business goes in one end of the pipeline and it moves through the pipeline and comes out at the other end as clients and cash and what happened by stopping marketing they were creating gaps in the pipeline; not now but three months from now, six months from now, so they’re real busy, they make all that money, and eventually they get through all the cases that were in the pipeline and they get to the end and they look around and say ‘looks like I need more clients again, I’m out of clients, I think I’ll start marketing again’ ok, so they start marketing again, but now it takes three months to generate new clients and have them move through the pipeline and so on. Whereas had they been consistent, they would have a steady flow of clients coming in and they wouldn’t go through that.

That’s why tend I break down my advice when trapped in the elevator to people who say give me your marketing advice. I say one do some, two keep doing it or do something different if what your doing isn’t working anymore. But do some and keep doing some.

And that’s my lesson for today about the marketing activities the marketing mistakes that I hope you will avoid and of course I welcome your comments and questions on the SPU site and I will see you again the next class Thank You.