Resources: Our Law Firm Marketing Newsletter

The Rainmaker Institute
Rainmaker Report
Practice Building Tips for Today's Attorneys
  April 2014   

3 Steps to Build a Better Law Firm in 2014

Dear Reader,

In the past decade, I have worked with more than 10,000 attorneys - both men and women - teaching law firm marketing strategies that can help build what I call a lifestyle law firm.

I define that as a law firm that supports the core values of who you are. It allows you to live the life you want and build meaningful relationships with others, versus the law firm that drives you, dictates your life, and ends up consuming your every waking moment.

I find that most attorneys who start their own law firm want to control their schedule and have the freedom to spend time with family and friends. In other words, their main motivation is to create a lifestyle law firm.

If you want to regain control of your destiny and create a lifestyle law firm in 2014, you can do this by (1) developing new strengths, (2) asking for what you need, and (3) knowing your worth.

Sincerely,

 

Stephen Fairley

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Develop New Strengths

Building a lifestyle law firm begins with the understanding that you are running a business. And the success of your business lies in how well you are able to play to your strengths in:

Marketing your legal skills. Your primary focus, after gaining competency as an attorney, is to understand the key principles of business development and law firm marketing and to apply them every single day. Not every attorney will be a top Rainmaker, but everyone can do something to grow and market his or her practice.

Creating extraordinary experiences for your clients. You need to "micromanage the client experience." From how the phone is answered, to greeting them by name as they walk in the door, to minimizing the amount of paperwork you ask them to complete, to returning client phone calls and emails consistently and promptly, everything should be focused on creating a positive experience for your clients.

Building deep and lasting relationships with your clients. Far too many attorneys only have a transactional relationship with their clients. You must develop long-term, meaningful and influential relationships with your clients because the most expensive thing you can have is a one-time client. One of the most basic marketing strategies for law firm is getting additional business from current clients - yet many fail at doing this effectively.

A recent research report from Hinge Marketing - Inside the Buyer's Brain - showed the two main reasons for this failure:
  1. Most providers underestimate the demand from current clients for additional services
  2. Most clients are unaware of all the services provided by their current provider
Even if you have done a good job educating your clients about all the services you offer, they are human, likely busy, and may forget. Hinge recommends deploying these 3 strategies to do a better job of erasing that disconnect:

1. Designate a dedicated client relationship manager. In a law firm, usually the person responsible for managing the relationship is the same one responsible for managing the daily work (either the attorney or a paralegal). But frequently the long-term relationship management gets lost in the demands of the current workload. Consider designating someone in the firm to be a dedicated "Client Relationship Manager," who is responsible for periodically checking in with the client to see how things are going and if their needs are being met.

2. Integrate a formal review of potential issues into your client management process.  Provide your clients with a monthly case status review to determine if there are any issues or opportunities they should be aware of. We recommend you have a paralegal, not an attorney, call every client every month to give them a status update...even if there is no change in the case.

The number one reason why attorneys are reported to the bar association is because of lack of client communication.

3. Look for opportunities where you can help. With the monthly case review, you are likely to identify a few issues. Some the client can handle on their own; others may need your attention, whether it is something you can offer to handle for them or give them a referral to another professional they may need on their team.

If you take the time to really know your clients and the problems they are facing, you greatly increase your chances for repeat business.

Ask for What You Need

We know that many attorneys build a good portion of their practices on referrals - yet, why is it so many feel embarrassed to ask for a referral? If you find it difficult to ask for referrals, you may not be looking at it in the right way. Instead of looking at asking for a referral as a favor to you, you should regard it as extending a favor. That's right! You are not asking to get a favor; you are asking to bestow one.

The secret to getting lots of referrals is to make it about them, not about you. Think about what benefits you offer your referral sources and what problems you may help them solve. When you help someone help a friend, family member or colleague, you have done them a favor. Think about how referring you can make your client's life better, and you will never be embarrassed to ask for a referral again.

Attorneys who rely on referrals for new clients also need to have a referral mindset. Always look for those moments in your relationships with others to create referrals - when you have won a case for a client, when you have helped someone avoid litigation, when you have provided a referral - all opportunities for you to generate referrals.

You also need to make it as easy as possible for people to refer you. Provide them with a written document that outlines the characteristics of your ideal client. Create free reports or give seminars that solve problems their clients may be experiencing and co-brand them, so your referral source also benefits.

Know Your Worth

Do you feel that you are continually forced to compete for clients based on price? If so, then you need to be aware of what is at the root of this problem: chasing the wrong prospects is the basis of all pricing problems.

Casting a wide net for clients without applying any targeting criteria is dangerous because sometimes it works. The clients you get by doing this are inevitably those that will pound you on price and beat up on your staff as well. If you choose to compete only on price, your fees have exactly one way to go - down.

So how can you target the right client that will allow you to charge what you're worth? Here are three quick steps:

1. Create an ideal client profile - Think in terms of age, profession, gender, education, interests, marital status, family size, hobbies, and lifestyle. If you've had clients you consider ideal, what did they share in common that made them an ideal client for you?

2. Communicate your target - Educate everyone in your firm as well as your referral sources about what an ideal client is for your practice.

3. Have a qualifying process - Before you sign on a new client, put them through a qualifying process that educates them about how you work, what they can expect, how you charge and what is expected of them. If they balk, they're not a good fit.

Once you start attracting your ideal client, you'll be able to charge what you are worth and stop worrying about competing on price.

If you're ready to take your firm to the next level this year and would like some assistance in achieving your goals in creating a lifestyle law firm, I invite you to sign up for a complimentary strategy session with one of our trained Rainmaker Law Marketing Consultants by calling 888-588-5891 or filling out this form.

We have helped over 10,000 attorneys across the nation discover the secrets in building a financially successful and personally satisfying legal practice and we would love to have your law firm be our next success story!
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