“It had been so long since the phone rang, I thought they turned it off…”
That was the email I received from a lawyer yesterday. And rather than email my response directly to her, I thought this would be a good “teaching moment” to show the rest of you out there how to attract clients to your law firm both ethically and systematically.
What do you do when the phone isn’t ringing and cash isn’t coming in the door?
In my humble opinion, you have a couple of options:
- You find a job that does pay the bills (maybe as a lawyer, maybe doing something else) until you can figure out how to get some clients to call you;
- Take some court-appointed work that will help you during lean times; or,
- You get busy doing the things that 95% of lawyers won’t do so that your phone will start ringing again.
If it were up to me, I’d choose #3. And here are the three things I would do…
First, I would select a single target market and very specific niche to work with. Next, I would send the members of that target market an “irresistible offer”. Finally, to those that respond, I would send helpful and useful information that would establish me as the ONLY attorney they would want to call.
Let’s take these one at a time…
Select a single target market and niche yourself down
I checked out the website of the attorney that emailed me, and her motto is “Helping Your Family with All Your Legal Needs”. Then, on the practice area page of her website, here is what I saw:
I understand why lawyers are tempted to list a million different practice areas. They want to make sure they can help every conceivable client in every possible situation.
Unfortunately, your clients and prospects will not respond to that. There is a saying that goes something like this… “If you try to be all things to all people, you end up being unimportant to everyone.” In other words, if nobody really knows exactly what it is that you do – so nobody is going to call you for help.
William Hammond is an extremely successful elder law attorney in Kansas City. If you go to his website, you will see that he doesn’t offer wills. He doesn’t offer powers of attorney or advanced directives. His “target market” wouldn’t know what those things are.
Instead, he offers one thing – information and resources for individuals who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s. His website isn’t a business card touting his years of experience and past successes, it’s a source of information and value to his target market. Here is what I found, front and center, on the homepage of his website.
So that’s the first thing – I’d pick a practice area and decide who my target market is.
Make your single target market an irresistible offer
Remember that I am a big proponent of information and permission based marketing. At this stage in the game, your goal is not to convert everyone that comes to your website into a paying client. All you want right now is to get them onto your email/mailing list. You want their contact information.
So how do you get that? You make them an “offer they can’t refuse”.
The only offer on our subject attorney’s website is to “call for a free consultation”. That is a scary offer. You have a website with no information other than a laundry list of practice areas and a brief bio about YOU (the attorney). How can you expect people to call that?
Let’s compare this to dating. If you were hanging out in a bar and some guy walked up to you and asked you to sleep with him, would you say yes?
The proper way to date would be to have a nice conversation, exchange phone numbers, meet for dinner, get wined and dined a little bit. Then, maybe, somewhere along the line he might get lucky.
It takes time. And such it is with your legal marketing.
So let’s look at this example again. Instead of offering a “free consultation”, what if this lawyer offered a free recorded message that teaches [her target market] how to find and hire the right lawyer for their case? You could provide a list of practical steps that your prospect needs to take now to protect their legal rights, or a list of factors to consider whether or not your prospect even has a legal problem that warrants the use of an attorney?
That’s something that is non-threatening, and would work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. People could call anytime, listen to your recording, and leave their name and contact information so that you could send them the free information they requested.
Do you see the difference?
Alternatively, you would set all this up through a contact form on your website.
Educate and motivate your prospects to meet with you (on their own schedule)
This is where most lawyers get tripped up. They want to call these people back immediately and get them into the office. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Some people may contact you for information, but won’t actually need a lawyer at that exact moment in time.
So you “drip” on them. You continue to follow-up, educate, and send useful, helpful information these prospects. Doing this continually over time will help to establish you as an authority figure that your prospects will come to know, like and trust.
But it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. And before you know it, your phones will be ringing off the hook again.
If you start doing this now, the results will come. So stop making excuses and just do it.
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