It’s very difficult to stay on the plateau in business. Your revenues are either increasing or declining and you can guarantee your expenses will increase every year. As you review last year’s revenues did you meet your financial goals? Did you exceed them? If you aren’t pleased with how much you made last year or want to improve this year what will you do differently? Will you change up your marketing? Reduce your overhead? Improve your conversion rate? Get more and better referrals? What’s your plan to make this the most profitable year yet?
The difference between a goal and a dream is a plan. If you want to double your revenues in the next 12-24 months, but don’t have a plan that outlines how you will get there then you don’t have a goal – you have a dream!
At our legal marketing workshop, we cover three critical areas every law firm needs to focus on:
- Lead Generation: more people in the pipeline, more prospects, more leads.
- Lead Conversion: turning more browsers into buyers, converting prospects into paying clients, and moving contacts to contracts.
- Client Retention: creating a longtime and meaningful relationship with your clients so you get repeat referrals and repeat clients.
Which one is the most important? I get that question a lot. The answer, they are all important. Attorneys tend to hyperfocus on lead generation, which is the most expensive area of the three. I constantly hear from attorneys, “I need more leads.”
In some cases, this is 100 percent true. But, far too often, a law firm really has a lead conversion issue or a retention issue that is preventing growth or success. So growing and strengthening all three of these areas is critical to your firm’s long-term success.
While most law firm marketers are focused on lead generation, overlooking conversion, retention and referrals are costly mistakes. Lead generation is the most expensive of the three, so it makes sense that if you can convert a higher percentage of your prospects, you can increase revenues without having to pay to get more leads. If you can improve client referrals, additional revenue will come in through repeat business from happy clients or a steady stream of referrals from former clients who were satisfied with the work you performed.
Key Steps Generating leads is a vital part of any law firm marketing strategy, but knowing where those leads come from, how they become clients, and the cost per conversion is just as important. The conversion of leads to paying clients is what takes you from spending money to making money – which is really the reason you are in the business of law.
Spending money on getting more leads without a tracking system leads to wasted money. I recently spoke with a personal injury attorney in Florida. He’s spending close to a million dollars per year on marketing. When I asked him how many leads he gets from each source, he couldn’t say. Rather than using a tracked phone number or a unique domain landing page, he was using the branded phone number for his firm. By using a tracking system, he could likely save 30-50 percent of his marketing dollars, maintain his revenue and increase his profit margins.
How will you ever know what part of your marketing is working if you aren’t committed to tracking where your leads are coming from and which of those leads convert into cases? You need to create a real system. Asking people on the phone how they heard about you does not work. It is a waste of your time. People will tell your intake staff what they think they want to hear or the first thing that comes to their mind. To make this your best year ever, make a commitment to track where every single lead is coming from.
4 Keys to Winning at Lead Generation
1. Diversify your marketing efforts. The best firms never rely on just one or two ways to get leads. Tap into the power of content marketing, blogging, newsletters and social media to generate leads.
2. Commit to tracking every single lead. Develop reports for tracking effectiveness of marketing efforts and create metrics for quantifying ROI of all major marketing initiatives.
3. Appoint an internal person who is responsible for intake, including tracking, measuring and reporting.
4. Stop relying only on word-of-mouth. Far too many attorneys place their entire financial future in the hands of a few referral sources. Make a commitment this year to diversifying the number and quality of your referral sources.
Educate Referral Sources
One of the biggest mistakes that any professional who relies on referrals as a source of new clients tends to make is not educating their referral sources. It does you no good to ask someone to refer you if they have no idea what you are looking for in a new client. Here are the top 5 things your referral sources need to know:
What your ideal client looks like. You need to answer this question very specifically – i.e., my ideal client is a high net worth individual ($1 million or more in assets) in their 40s who owns their own business. A great referral for me is a construction worker who was hurt at work and had to be driven to the hospital in an ambulance because of their injuries.
Why someone should hire you. Be sure your referral source understands the precise reasons why you are better than your competitors. For example, “Here are three reasons why you should refer your business to me versus anyone else….”
What legal problems you solve. By helping your referral source understand the types of legal issues you solve for your clients, they will know what to listen for in daily conversations and be able to recommend you to someone who mentions having a problem you solve.How you follow up. Your referral source needs to feel comfortable that you will follow up promptly and professionally with the people they send your way.
What’s in it for them. In some states you can give a referral fee to other attorneys, in other states you cannot. But there are things you can do everywhere every time you get a referral – send a thank you note (handwritten is better than email), send a small thank you gift(a bottle of wine or a giftbasket to the office), take the person out to a nice dinner once in a while to show your appreciation, listen to your clients and colleagues and send them a referral back.
Improve Your Intake and Fix Your Follow Up
One of the fastest ways to generate more revenue is by increasing your conversion rates at each stage. Conversion starts the moment an interested prospect contacts your law firm. How many of those people turn into appointments? That’s part of conversion. Start there by finding ways to increase the percentage of leads turned into appointments. By increasing that number by just 10 percent you can radically improve your revenues.
We are currently working with a five-attorney firm in the Midwest. They are grossing about $2 million per year and looking to grow. They hired us to help them fix their intake and lead conversion. Last month they had the following results:
- 92 Leads: 100%
- 65 Appointments Set: 71%
- 55 Showed Up: 85%
- 7 Hired at the Initial Consult: 13%
- 6 Hired after the IC: 11%
Like many consumer law firms they conduct in-person and phone consults, often leaving the preference to the client.
That month 14 percent of their consults were done by phone. Eighty-nine percent of those appointments showed up, which is pretty good. However, none of them hired at the initial consultation and none of them hired after the initial consultation. Our recommendation was obvious – stop offering phone consults and increase your hire rate. Your results may be better than theirs, but you will never know unless you are dedicated to tracking it.
Most attorneys believe they are good, very good or excellent at lead conversion. Most of them are wrong, primarily because they aren’t tracking their numbers and they are making big mistakes. You need a system and software to track your incoming leads and your conversion rate at every stage of conversion.
Client Retention: The Art of Getting More Referrals
Yes, I know client retention is a mantra in the legal industry, but most law firms do not have any specific plan in place for doing so. On average, acquiring a new client will cost your law firm five to 10 times as much as obtaining a referral or repeat business from a former client.
One of the most effective ways to do this is with a monthly e-newsletter. Recently I asked a room of over 40 attorneys from small firms how many of them received newsletters – either electronic or print – from other professionals. Almost all of them raised their hands. Then I asked them, how many of them send out a newsletter every month. Only three of them raised their hands.
Our clients have found monthly newsletters are one of the most cost-effective forms of building long-term, meaningful and influential relationships with clients and generating referrals from them. Newsletters allow you to keep in touch with clients, update them on changes and educate them at a very low cost. One of the laws of marketing is out of sight, out of mind. If you don’t keep in touch, someone else will. The number one reason why you aren’t receiving more repeat business from your former clients is lack of connection — you haven’t kept in touch with them. Make a commitment to change that this year.
If you would like to learn how to improve your marketing ROI and increase your lead conversion rate, I highly recommend you attend one of our Rainmaker Retreats.