This book contains a formula to grow your law firm. It is tried and tested. It works. Or to put it correctly: it works if you work it. If you are absolutely committed to growing your law firm and are prepared to put in some time learning and applying this formula, you will be successful. I have used this system with my consultancy clients time and time again.
The Only time that it doesn’t work is when a solicitor doesn’t apply the formula consistently or follow the processes that they have put in place to make it work in the first place.
It is not that this formula is particularly convoluted or difficult, and the processes that you have to put in place are all relatively straightforward, but you do have to follow them and monitor the results consistently to ensure that you are continually growing your law firm. This is where many of the problems arise. A solicitor might start to follow the formula but then other ‘stuff’ gets in the way, or they decide to start a completely different marketing tactic that simply won’t work, but because it looks more fun, they stop before they achieve the results that would otherwise follow. If I had a penny for every time a solicitor has said to me, ‘But I really want to do some social media marketing because it looks so much fun, Nick’, I would be very wealthy.
If I do not manage to convince them that social media alone will never transform a law firm, they go off and waste countless hours and often thousands of pounds on social media training and even a company to help them, before finally realising that it simply doesn’t work (see Chapter 13 for the reasons why). However, following my formula does work.
You will no doubt have heard of the proverb that says if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
With this book, I aim to go one step further for you and for your law firm. I want to teach you how to fish and then, more importantly, teach you how to employ fishermen to fish for you while you simply monitor them and watch your catch grow continually.
My aim for you is that you should do as little as possible when it comes to growing your law firm. I want you to be in control of everything that is happening, but actually doing very little to make it happen. It is when I achieve this with my law firm clients that they really start to enjoy running their law firm and living their life. My heartfelt desire is that you achieve both of these outcomes. If you are prepared to put in some time understanding the marketing tactics that really do work for law firms, then some more time implementing them for your firm (usually by outsourcing the whole or most of the day-to-day work), and then consistently tracking the results so that you can improve on them, you will succeed. You cannot fail to.
The reason that this formula is so important is because it will replace the usual method by which law firms to attempt to grow, which I have seen so many times and which leads only to frustration, limited results and often also to burnout.
Let’s look at each stage of the The Law Firm Marketing Roller Coaster in turn.
STAGE 1: You have no clients. You start frantically looking for clients. You contact old clients, referrers and start advertising anywhere that you can think of to make your telephone ring. You work tirelessly to achieve some new client instructions.
STAGE 2: Eventually your endeavours pay off (although you are not sure what worked exactly). You have more work than you can handle, for now at least. You ease back on the marketing so that you can concentrate on the work.
STAGE 3: Your instructions start to dwindle; you are coming down the other side of the marketing roller coaster hill and it doesn’t feel good. You are sure it will pick up soon though, but it doesn’t, so you career towards stage 4.
STAGE 4: You are back where you started, so you do what you did at the beginning and start marketing frantically.
STAGE 5–7: Exactly the same thing happens again over the next few months. You become too busy again because of your frantic marketing activity, so you stop marketing and start heading downwards on the marketing roller coaster. When you reach the bottom, you start marketing again, then stop again when you reach the bottom of the roller coaster. You are tired, bored and frustrated at your lack of progress. You decide that there has to be a better way. There is: the law firm growth formula, and you commit to applying it to your law firm.
STAGE 8: With a strong commitment to break your current cycle of feast and famine, you implement the law firm growth formula one step at a time until you start to see a consistent rise to success. Your volume of instructions simply keeps increasing. You are not coming down the other side of this marketing roller coaster any longer because you are now following a proven formula.
Let’s take a look at the formula.
The Law Firm Growth Formula
The law firm growth formula entails:
- measuring your current performance accurately, so that you can then improve your results;
- implementing improvements to your current ‘client conversion process’, that is, the system that you follow to convert a prospect into a client (whether you have committed this system to paper or not);
- adding new marketing arteries from the New Client Flowcast, a.k.a. ‘with or without you’ (WOWY) marketing (post);
- continually monitoring your performance;
- adding new marketing arteries, or, when they are all in place, ensuring that you are optimising them before moving onto the marketing capillaries to help you reach your new, now expanded, goals; and
- changing your goals as your law firm grows.
I have used some terminology here that might need some further explanation, so read on.
The Client Conversion Process
The ‘client conversion process’ is the system that you follow to move the client along the path from being someone in need of legal services to the point where they instruct your firm to represent them. In my experience, very few firms actually have any system for recording this process, and worse still, those that do rarely manage to follow it, which is a huge and costly mistake.
Implementing a ‘client conversion process ‘and then following it, alongside constantly trying to make small improvements, is certain to lead to increased income from people who have already found your law firm.
Increasing income through improving conversion rates
Looking at the table above, you can see what a difference it can make to your financial health if you can make even small improvements to your conversion percentage, which is calculated in the following way:
Number of people instructing you divided by number of people enquiring about your services multiplied by 100.
Therefore, if 50 people enquire about your services in any given month, but only 10 people instruct you, your conversion rate will be 10/50 × 100 = 20%.
I will show you in more detail how to measure this and then, far more importantly, how to improve on it, so that you can generate more income from the people who already find your law firm but are choosing not to instruct you. This is the fastest way to increase your income. It costs you very little aside from your time to implement the improvements, so it is an incredibly important part of my formula.
If you miss this part out, you will be throwing away instructions month by month. This is bad enough if you do not have many of the marketing arteries from the New Client Flowcast model (below) in place, but if you then add more of the arteries to your system without improving your client conversion process, you will waste more money every month as you fail to convert even more potential clients into new instructions.
The New Client Flowcast
Before I explain the New Client Flowcast and show you a diagram, let me explain something that might surprise, and even please, you. Most law firms can thrive by implementing just three or four marketing tactics. Whether you are a sole practitioner or a thriving mid-level law firm, there will usually only be three or four marketing tactics that regularly produce new client instructions of any magnitude.
Does that surprise you? I can tell you that it surprised me when I really started studying marketing many years ago. At the law firm I first worked for, all of our clients came in via three or four regular marketing tactics.
When I established my consultancy in 2003, I thought I might find that other firms needed many more, but that isn’t the case at all. When applied well, three or four marketing tactics are usually all that is needed.
I will explain in detail which three or four later in the book, but for now I simply want to explain the New Client Flowcast and how it works.
The New Client Flowcast
In the diagram above, look at the main river: it represents your profits, and it is filled by your flow of new client instructions. What makes these clients come to you? Your marketing arteries and capillaries.
There are four marketing arteries. These are the four most effective marketing methods for solicitors in my automated marketing strategy for growth; here they are:
- A website that is designed to make your telephone ring and grows consistently;
- An email marketing database and monthly email;
- Google AdWords; and
I also call my automated marketing strategy With Or Without You (WOWY) marketing, because just like one of the great Irish rock bands more famous songs, it keeps on bringing new clients to your door every month With Or Without You. WOWY marketing is crucial to the savvy law firm business owner, because it allows them to scale up their law firm without making themselves a slave to it.
My mission in life is to enable solicitors to have a thriving law firm at the same time as being able to live a good and a full life. So often over the years I have met law firm owners who come to me at the point of ‘burn out’, caused by trying to grow their law firm or even by just trying to keep it going. That is no absolutely no way to live. In my opinion, we get just one shot at this planet earth thing, so why make it a long, hard slog when it can be a blissful jog?
It doesn’t have to be like this. You can grow your firm and live a good and happy life if you spend some time implementing the right WOWY marketing for your law firm.
I will show you how to do this in the later chapters, but I wanted you to know right now that there is a better and easier way for you to grow your firm than you might have been experiencing up until this point.
What Gets Measured Gets Better
If you want to know which of your marketing methods are working and which are costing you money with absolutely no results, you must live by my saying that ‘What gets measured gets better’. Measure every marketing activity you undertake. If it is not bringing in more fees than it costs, change and improve it. If you still can’t make it work after changing and improving it several times, stop it and try something else.
This is such a simple point yet it is in nearly every case overlooked by law firms, either deliberately because it seems too much like ‘hard work’ or, usually, through blind ignorance. Sorry to be brutal, but my job here is to point out where you have been going wrong and to ensure you change your ways to build the practice of your dreams.
The great news is that it really isn’t hard to measure where all your new business is coming from, so the small amount of hard work to start doing this now will reward you many times over in the future with new clients and will also save you from wasting your hard-earned money on marketing that simply isn’t working.