Why do marketing, management and other consultants seem to think that the route to working with law firms is to tell them they aren’t very good at running a business? That it’s not in their nature, they don’t understanding marketing, they don’t see things commercially.
In my experience, having being employed by four law firms, this is nonsense. It might be fair to say that some solicitors would prefer to concentrate on fee earning more than management, but that’s true in all businesses. We have finders, minders and grinders everywhere.
Long established law firms have survived for years with little or no formal marketing, relying on repeat client work and referrals. They are still the two leading sources of work for most firms I speak to. That should actually be applauded not ridiculed.
As I read this blog back I’m struck by the notion that I’m telling people why they don’t need my services….. but actually the point is we should be looking at these sources of work and asking how can we get more from them?
How are you keeping in touch with existing clients? Seminars, e-marketing, social media, telephone and face to face meetings (for key clients) should all be part of your plan. Did you know for example that you can now use Facebook advertising to target only people who have used your services in the past? The rule of thumb is that existing clients are 3-8 times more likely to use your services again than a new prospect, so communicating with them consistently when they don’t need legal advice should be at the core of your marketing plan.
Do you have a referral strategy in place? Referrals come not only from existing clients and other professionals, but also other people who have never used your service but have heard of you. That means being visible in as many ways as possible. Website, social media, email, printed press, radio, sponsorship, seminars, corporate events…..The marketing world calls it brand building, but for law firms reputation building seems more fitting.
For professional referrals a good starting point is to measure what you’re receiving and what you are sending out. It sounds obvious, but some firms seem happy to rely on gut feeling here, when solid information would be more useful and should be a key performance measure at department and Partner level meetings.
If you want to get more referrals then the best way is to give more referrals! That doesn’t mean waiting to be asked, but actively looking for opportunities to refer your clients to trusted local professionals. It’s useful to think of these opportunities in terms of the legal service and the stage of the matter. For example in a conveyancing transaction early in the process you have the opportunity to refer them to a surveyor for a home buyers report and to a mortgage broker to check they have the best product for their circumstances. Later in the process you could refer them to a removal company and IFA if they are receiving a substantial sum from the proceeds of a sale.
You can increase your referrals by including information (or separate leaflets) in your standard letters throughout the process, but don’t be afraid to ask the question. No client will be offended when the service is relevant and if they say no you’ve lost nothing.
Don’t get me wrong great marketing doesn’t cover up poor work, but when some (many-most-all) clients find it hard to distinguish firms on legal talent alone, being the most visible local firm and an active referrer gives you a significant advantage over the competition.
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