• 3 Keys to Marketing Professional Services

  • For many years, I thought marketing was about telling people how great my service was. I would explain how smart I was, show them the benefits of hiring me, and then try to close the deal. 

     

    After all, that’s what the marketing books told me to do.

     

    That was a mistake!

     

    Marketing professional services, particularly law services, is not about talking benefits and closing the deal. I learned the hard way, over time, that marketing professional services is about three things:

     

    1. Building Relationships
    2. Educating Your Prospects
    3. Differentiating Your Firm from the Others

     

    Here’s what I mean:

     

    1. Building Relationships

     

    This is the primary purpose of lawyer marketing: building relationships with your prospective clients and referral sources. Working with a lawyer is a personal decision. Before a prospect will work with you or refer you, they must know you, like you and trust you.

     

    You get people to like you by being yourself. That means you should use everyday language, and convey information in a natural way. If you blog, write the way you speak. If you are giving a talk to a group of executives, speak like a human being; don’t use legal jargon. When you are networking, talk about life, not about the law.

     

    Law firm marketing is not like being in court, and it is not like writing an opinion letter. It is about creating authentic relationships with people who may not use your services or refer you for years.

     

    People want to trust their lawyer but they also need to like them. Be yourself and be interested in your client’s life outside of the matter you are handling.

     

    In other words, develop a relationship, and the business will follow.

     

    2. Educating Your Prospects

    Educating your prospective clients and referral sources is a great law firm marketing strategy, but you need to be careful about how you do it. You need to teach your prospects about the law and your services, without coming off as condescending.

     

    Do this by presenting your information within a story or a case study. Nobody appreciates a lecture, but everyone loves a good story. Teach people how you can help them by telling them a story that illustrates your learning objective.

     

    They’ll probably learn something without even realizing they’ve been taught.

     

    3. Differentiation

    Differentiation is an important element of any marketing effort, but many law firms make the ironic mistake of trying to differentiate themselves on the same terms as their competitors: they use characteristics many lawyers have in common as points of differentiation.

     

    Look around the Internet and you will see phrases like “30 years of practice” or “former judge.” How many firms out there boast of having a “former prosecutor“ in their office? Even a claim like “graduate of the University of Queensland Law School” isn’t as uncommon in some practice areas. And while prospects want to know your qualifications, what they really want to know is what you can do for them, and whether you’re a good match for their needs. So while those claims are important, and should be included in your marketing, they’re not enough.

     

    Let’s talk about two ways to truly differentiate your firm by establishing how you do business:

     

    1. Differentiation Through Communication

     

    Set  up a clear process for communicating with your clients, and create a schedule for it. Give them regular updates on their case - weekly, biweekly or monthly, as necessary. Make these calls, and send these emails, even if there is nothing new to report. Do this because it is important to the client, but schedule it in advance. Then explain to future prospects that you have this process in place, and how it will help them stay up to date on the progress of their case (or the cases of the people they refer to you).

     

    The number one reason lawyers get fired is because of a failure of communication. Show prospects right from the beginning that you are different in this area: keeping clients informed is an essential business practice for your firm, and one you take seriously.

     

    1. Differentiation Through Your Fee Structure

     

    It’s one thing to differentiate on price; it’s another to compete on value. 

     

    Look at how your competitors charge their clients and do the opposite. If they charge by the hour, immediately move to a flat fee model. If they charge a flat fee, include more services in your flat fee agreement, or establish a longer term relationship.

     

    So it’s not a race toward becoming the cheapest lawyer in town. It is a race towards providing the best value. You can even charge more than everyone else, provided you create more value to justify your fee.

     

    So, those are two ways to separate your firm from the competition. By differentiating yourself on communication and value based fees you’re ahead of the game, but there are hundreds more ways to do it. Find them, and use them in your marketing.

     

    Your law firm is not a box of laundry detergent. You know that, so don’t make the mistake of marketing your firm that way. Law firm marketing is personal. It’s done over the span of years, to create relationships with the clients and referral sources who will keep you in business. Make sure you give it the time and attention it deserves.