Find, Cultivate, and Keep Profitable Clients
Consistent, profitable growth is hard for law firms to attain and sustain. Revenues can go up and down leading to painful cash flow problems. Many law firms – big and small – are forced, at some point, to take a hard look at their business development efforts and ask, “Is our firm getting the best return on investment for what we’re spending on business development?”
There are a number of philosophies surrounding which law firm marketing techniques work best. My lawyer coaching experience has taught me that a marketing plan focusing on these top five strategies reaps the best results.
How do the services you provide stand out from other law firms? What is different about them? Are you simply inviting clients to hire you based on hourly rates, rather than differentiators?
When clients choose between competing law firms, they often differentiate on expertise rather than hourly rates. A firm packed with niche specialists will command higher fees than a firm of generalists. Price does influences client perception of quality. Many clients still believe they get what they pay for, and are suspicious of rates that are too low.
Keep in mind that, with specialization, comes sacrifice of potentially lucrative business outside your expertise. Be prepared to say no to work outside your firm’s specialty.
A traditional SWOT analysis, which examines the strengths and weaknesses of your practice, will provide insights that you can turn into a marketing advantage.
How well do you know your potential market? Unless you have a very narrowly-focused practice, your challenge is to decide whom you should target with your marketing efforts. Persona mapping can be extremely effective in identifying those lucrative clients you want to attract.
Persona Mapping is about learning the needs, interests, and habits of your prospects. It allows you to get to know your potential client base, enabling you to communicate with prospects in a language they understand. Click here to read the 4-steps to get you started with persona mapping.
Research shows that only 3% of initial business development discussions result in business. That means there is a 97% probability your first contact with a prospect will NOT turn that contact into a client. Another interesting fact: On average it takes 7-9 significant follow-up’s to land a client.
These factors alone demonstrate the need for consistency. You need to stay in touch with prospects regularly in order to remain on their radar screen. You want to be the lawyer who comes to mind when the need for your type of services arises.
Some good ways to follow-up include sending snail mail, thank-you notes; arranging a coffee or lunch, a phone call; forwarding links of interest and including prospects on the firm’s newsletter distribution list.
Former clients are not a lost cause. In fact, client win-back can be much more profitable than standard, new client acquisition. Research shows the chances of selling to a lost client are 1 in 3, compared to the 1 in 8 for a fresh prospect.
Harry Mills, author of The Rainmaker’s Toolkit, offers these strategies for a win-back campaign:
- Acknowledge the value of the lost client’s business.
- Demonstrate how you have solved the problems that caused the client to leave in the first place.
- Offer a fresh, compelling value proposition.
- Produce new testimonials, or proof from a reputable third-party, of your firm’s recent successes.
Client reacquisition takes time, but generally costs less time and money than to close a fresh prospect.
Referrals are the most profitable source of new business for most law firms. Research also shows that referrals are more likely to be loyal clients. Why? Because peer-to-peer recommendations are powerful. The recommendation is coming from a second party who is biased in your favor, someone within your network of contacts who knows you and your services and has faith in your abilities.
Sources of referrals include networking groups, community service clubs, professional associations, and existing clients.
Creating and maintaining marketing momentum often requires a little extra help. In fact, most people tend to honor commitments they make to other people more than they honor the ones they make to themselves. This is where a professional lawyer coach is helpful.
A coach can:
- keep you on track with your marketing,
- help you make the most of your time, and
- hold you accountable for moving forward.
Remember: Getting started is the hardest part. A lawyer coach will help you dive right in – and succeed!