“The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” Seth Godin
We are in the middle of a dramatic shift that is moving legal services into the online marketing world. This is driven by a combination of technology that enables it, changes in expectations and demographics.
Also, where a provider is located is much less of a factor than it was even a few years ago. As a result, a growing number of law firms are finding a lot of success with online marketing. This is driving a strong shift in that direction. Lawyers refusing to notice this change are going to find themselves at a distinct competitive disadvantage.
You know you should start marketing and you know you need to start marketing but where on earth do you start your law firm marketing?
Start with your own clients before anyone else does!
Oops too late!! You know this has already started, someone else is probably already communicating with your clients and you know that unless you do something about it, it will continue. So you have a choice, you can ignore it and convince yourself that the ‘true believers’, your loyal clients, will resist the temptation to use a competitor or you can do some marketing yourself and protect your business.
It is a case of stating the obvious to say that keeping your clients is crucial to your business success. If you are going to succeed and continue to grow, you must understand that one of the most valuable assets in your business is your existing customer list, your database.
The marketing work should always commence and continue with those who know and trust you- your clients. Now hear this: It’s cheaper to keep a customer than to go out and get a new one. It’s a widely held belief that in many industries it costs five-to-ten times more to acquire a new customer, than it does to keep an existing customer.
In Pricing for Profitability: Activity Based Pricing for Competitive Advantage John L Daly says (p85)
“Conventional business wisdom contends that it costs 10 times as much to obtain a new customer as it does to retain an existing customer.”
So let’s firstly define who is a client. Some lawyers think of clients in a very narrow way, as just that group of people they are currently doing work for, that is, the current matters. I disagree. I think clients are certainly the current clients but also include:
- Former or existing clients. That is, people who you have done work for in the past. It may be that you have not seen them for 5 years or more but so what, they are a client. You should market to them.
- Referrers. Technically they have never got you to do their legal work but they refer others to you. You need to keep these people close to you. They can be golden.
- Targets. That is people or businesses who you want to do work for and want them to know you and that you are keen.
Naturally, these people read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch TV, are on Facebook or LinkedIn and have other trusted advisors such as Accountants and of course have friends they interact with socially. All of these touch points could interfere or sever your delicate relationship with them, or at least divert them to one of your competitors on the next occasion they need legal advice.
In order to keep clients and maximize customer value, you must communicate with them on a consistent basis. Email marketing, sending newsletters or firm updates is one of the best ways to keep your name in front of your customers, prospects and strategic targets.
If you are not doing this, you should assume that when your clients are in need of legal assistance and at home on the internet, or at work or discussing their circumstances with friends, they will source the answers they seek or someone will recommend a law firm, not yours incidentally, that could help them. Therefore to combat that, you need to regularly communicate with them, to be the law firm they can recommend to their friends, as well as to remind them what your firm does, who the lawyers are and how you can help them.
Email marketing is also a cost-effective way to build brand loyalty and communicate your latest products and services to your customer list. Lawyers are very busy and frankly are better off to outsource that task. Lift Legal has created Law News+ for this very reason. Click here to find out more.
About the author
Peter Heazlewood is a management and marketing consultant, he specialises in helping law firms develop their practices using business planning marketing and performance reporting techniques refined in his own successful law firm. Peter lives in Sydney with his wife and is the father of five adult children.