Helping law firms to grow!
There is often a common problem with the marketing that solicitors carry out that can spread across every aspect of it and can severely restrict the opportunities for great results. This problem, if not corrected, will prevent many, many clients from coming in to your business and many referrers from sending work to you. It is so common and so prevalent that I can almost guarantee that everyone reading this article has this problem in their practice to a certain degree. If you do not take the time to understand the problem and correct it with yourself, your staff, and all of your marketing communications, it will constantly damage your business. This article is here to help you make the changes and to reap the rewards for doing so many times over.
WARNING: This article is written to help solicitors to improve their marketing. It is written to make you think hard about your current marketing activities from approaching companies that can refer work to you, to writing the content for your website. It may shock you, but that is part of its job. If I fail to shock you and make you take stock, you will keep on doing what you have always done. I need to explain to you why that is not working as well as you would like it to.
This quote is used to talk about somebody that loves to hear the sound of their own voice and stories about them and how well they are doing. We all know someone like this. However, it is also a serious problem for solicitors in relation to all of their marketing communications. It is often not an intentional thing with solicitors, ie I know you are not trying to simply talk about yourself, but from an outsider’s point of view, that is often what comes across.
Let me start by giving you an example of what I mean. I recently I received an email from a firm of solicitors looking to join the 1stClaims Personal Injury Panel. This is a claims website I set up to provide referrals to solicitors that asked me to help them find work. It has been successful, but perhaps more importantly for me, it has shown a big gap in the knowledge of the solicitors approaching 1stClaims for work. Fortunately, it is one that I can help you with and if you have landed here following an approach to 1stClaims, please bear this in mind..
So back to the email asking to join the 1stClaims panel. We first need to consider and understand the position that this firm of solicitors is coming from; ie. they want 1stClaims to send them more clients. Therefore, they are in effect the supplier “tendering” for referrals.
Therefore, you would assume that the approach would involve reviewing the 1stClaims website, assessing what type of solicitor we like to work with, taking the time to find my contact name which is all over the website, and then carefully crafting an email to open up a line of communication that would lead to future work. This is the email I received.
We have recently taken on a new fee earner with specialist knowledge in the area of asbestos claims. Therefore, we are looking for more work. Please can you tell me how we can receive some work from you.
Enough about me, what do you think of me?.
If we look at this email in more detail, it sums up very well the problem I am talking about.
Comment: My name is on the 1stClaims website. It is clearly visible on every page of the website. It is easy to find out who owns 1stClaims and who runs 1stClaims. This is a solicitor approaching 1stClaims for work and they do not even have the time or inclination and are not prepared to make the effort to find out the contact name. Research is vital if you want to build a long term relationship for two reasons. Firstly, they might find after reviewing the 1stClaims website that the company is not one they would like to deal with. Secondly, from the point of view of the claims company, if an approach with no contact name is made the chances of the email being deleted without action is very hight.
This was a poor start…. and unfortunately it did no get any better.
We have recently taken on a new Fee Earner
Comment: The start of their email should relate to 1stClaims and the needs of 1stClaims clients. It should not relate to the supplier’s needs. It should explain how they have reviewed the website, found it to be of interest and believe that they could be of benefit to 1stClaims’ clients. Instead, it is all about how they have taken on a new Fee Earner and they now have another mouth to feed to provide work to. Whereas that is of course the reality of their situation, it is totally, wholly, absolutely and completely irrelevant from a 1stClaims perspective.
You could say that it is relevant to the extent that they must be doing some good work for clients to be able to employ another fee earner, but this is still a benefit to the solicitor. The potential benefit to the claims company could be that “We have provided such an excellent service to our current claims company clients that we have had to employ another fee earner to take care of their needs. We would like to help your clients in the same way.”
I make this statement very boldly to prove a point. Luckily I work with solicitors a lot and see lots of this type of email and therefore am not surprised by it (and if it was not such a common problem I would not have such a good business in Samson Consulting). However, imagine if the same approach was received by a company that is used to working with businesses that are genuinely interested in working together. It would immediately switch of all lights and leave the reader to click the delete button. I tell you this because I do not want you making the same mistakes when you approach businesses for referrals or a mutually beneficial relationship.
The rest of the email has little to be said for it. However, the next major flaw with the email is that it was the only form of communication that I received. If you have any knowledge of direct marketing then you will know that you need to send more than one communication and you need to use different methods of communication to have the best prospects of success. The email could and should have been followed up with a telephone call (although, as they did not have a name to speak to they would not have got very far) and in addition, a letter. They should carry on until they finally manage to speak with the claims company or receive some form of communication and then their future efforts should be based around the response they receive. Even if they had been told there were no opportunities at that time, they should make a diary note to make contact again in three months. Persistence is the key and one communication does not a referral receive. I cannot stress this point enough. If you are approaching a business for referrals you should make contact at least seven to ten times to stand a chance. If you only send one email or one letter, you will rarely succeed.
The next place that this problem is commonly seen is on websites. The home page of the website and each page within the website frequently starts with information about the law firm, their experience and how long they have been in business. Where it should start is from the position of their prospective clients.
If a client lands on a Family Law page, how are they feeling? What concerns do they have running through their head? Are they looking for a divorce solicitor or a solicitor to provide them with contact for children?
If a prospective client lands on a Will page, are they concerned that their family will receive everything they are entitled to?
If a client lands on a Personal Injury page, are they in hospital or immobile? Have they been prevented from returning to work due to injuries and are therefore worrying about being able to pay the next bills?
This is the position you must start with on your website; how has your client arrived there and what are your client’s concerns? When you start thinking in these terms you can then start to create compelling website copy that draws your prospects closer to instructing you to help them.
Remember that if a client lands on your website, at that point in time they are not interested initially in hearing about you, what they want to know is how you are going to help them!
Once you have thought about your prospective clients’ position, and answered their initial concerns, you can then move on to explain how the experience in your firm puts you in the best position to help your prospect move from where they are now to where they want to be, but if you don’t take the time first of all to explain that you understand where they are now, why would they think that you can help help?
Applying this test to your website could increase your new enquiries by at least ten fold. I have done it with many firms and it makes an amazing difference. Apply the test to your website now through fresh eyes and see if you are talking about your clients position or your firm’s needs.
Another huge problem here. Many solicitors fail to consider what their client needs. 99% of solicitors’ advertisements start with the practice name at the top followed by a list of service and contact details. Whereas this is the perfect and only advertisement you should place in the Yellow Pages (where 62% of people visit just to obtain your phone number when they already know your business name – figures confirmed by Yell.com), in a newspaper advertisement you should only be placing a direct response advertisement. These are advertisements that give people a reason to read and contact you.
What your prospective clients do not want to see is your firm name and a list of your services, that is all about you and what you are trying to achieve. They want to hear how you can help them. Examples of headlines that you are welcome to use (but will need to adapt to fit your needs).
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Will your family get what’s coming to them?
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In all of these advertisement headlines, not once have I mentioned the firm or the firm’s needs. You must be thinking about your client and where they are starting from and not about your firm. By taking this action in all of your advertisements you will dramatically increase the response rate and the amount of business you obtain from it.
Always ask the question “What does the referrer or potential client care about”? If you find yourself starting an email, advertisement, website page with your firm’s name or information about your firm, you can be confident you are starting in the wrong position. As the famous quote goes when asking for directions, “Well, if that’s where you want to get to I wouldn’t start from here”.
If you are a personal injury solicitor looking for more leads, you must read this:
Please call 0117 290 8555 to arrange a mutually convenient time for a telephone discussion, Email me or complete a Free Online Enquiry. There is no cost or obligation. We will have a chat about where you are and where you would like to be and I will suggest some things you can do to get there quickly.