Gone are the days when a newsletter generated enough buzz about your practice to bring new clients in the door. Today, there is significantly more competition for the same slice of the pie, lawyers like you should give thought to how you define your best clients and referral sources, then develop laser-focused targeting to get in front of these groups. Successful communications today involve presenting extremely relevant messages to highly focused audiences.
It Starts With your Lists
I’m using the term lists, because I am still amazed at how many lawyers do not have their contacts organized in a basic contact relationship management (CRM) tool. But it’s true. Most firms still manage contacts in a very manual way on Word tables or in Excel spreadsheets. The first order of business is to move your lists to a technology platform that will allow you to sort and categorize your contacts. We are extremely impressed with a CRM called Zoho. Why? Because it not only allows you to categorize your contacts, add new contacts, and define your sales process, but, if you add the campaign tool, you can send contacts targeted communications you can develop using the program. The best part? Zoho is only about $35 per month!
If you aren’t up for a full-blown CRM, you can use a service like Constant Contact or MailChimp. Both allow you to categorize your contacts. I suggest creating tags, fields, categories, lists – each tool uses a different term. Then, take the time to review each person and place them in the proper categories. I am offering up many categories, so you will get the idea of how focused you will need to be:
Focus First, Then What?
You get the idea. The goal is to be able to identify a group where you have many contacts, so you can create targeted communications, focus your blog posts, add a section for “Our Clients” on your website, join an association, write articles for industry publications, deliver presentations, host webinars and more. Then, you will have created targeted messages and content that will be delivered to exactly the category of contacts and referral sources you do business with. The goal is to communicate more often but to do so to a very specific audience. This is how lawyers turn contacts into clients.
Targeted Communications in Action: An Example
One firm that does an excellent job of presenting its services by client focus is the plaintiff’s employment law firm of Schaefer Halleen. Look at the “Client Focus” tab on their website at www.schaeferhalleen.com. The firm generates significant business by focusing on the client groups it delivers services to, versus just the services they deliver. It shows visitors the firm has “been there, done that,” by targeting very specific messages to focused audiences. Clients want to see you have done what they need – at a very micro-specific level.
If a victim of sexual harassment visits the website, they will see pages of content dedicated to their unique and sensitive issues including specific blog posts, articles, details on the services, testimonials, and representative experience JUST for victims of sexual harassment. It will be very clear to a prospective client that this firm has the skills and experience to help them.
Don’t Forget Your Past Clients
The very first category example I provided above is past clients. Every lawyer knows that referrals and word-of-mouth delivers many clients each year. Many firms receive well over 70 percent of their revenue through referrals from satisfied clients and other groups. Often, when you finish a case or transaction, you (and your client) are happy it’s over. But don’t stop there. Following are ideas on how you can leverage follow-on work or referrals from your past clients.
- Attorneys and staff the client worked with.
- How the client found the firm (great intel for what really works in your marketing efforts).
- Services performed.
- How responsive the legal team was.
- Overall how satisfied the client was (reminds them of what a superstar you and your firm are!).
- How well the firm communicated throughout the case.
- Perception of how well the firm performed on behalf of the client.
- Perception of expertise.
- What the client valued most about working with the firm.
- Knowing what you know, would you refer us to others? (99.9% of your satisfied clients will say yes. We need to stay in front of these important fans!).
- Then, ask your clients to give you a positive review of the firm on Google, Facebook, Avvo, or any other site where clients can rave about you. In terms of priority, we encourage Google Reviews because they also help your SEO.
Communicating with Past Clients
Here are a few suggestions on how you can stay top-of-mind with your past clients.
- Database. Make sure you add them to your database as a former client, and any other category that fits.
- Communications. Send a follow-up email on a regular basis after your representation ends for at least a year (Zoho CRM with Campaign will help you automate these messages).
- Blogs. Write blog posts with your past clients in mind.
- Webinars. Host a webinar for specific past clients on topics like “Your Divorce is Final: What you Need to Know about Post-Decree Motions.”
- Call Them. They will be impressed if you follow up with them a few months post-representation just to check in and see how you are doing.
- Ask for Referrals. Whether in writing or on your call, let them know how much you enjoyed working with them as a client and remind them you are here to help any of their friends or family.
Lawyers today who are successful in private practice know they must deliver exceptional service yet maintain their status as a subject matter expert in the practice areas in which they have greatest name recognition. Targeted marketing is a lot easier than throwing messages out into the marketplace and hoping someone calls you. Targeting your audiences and your messages will ensure you reach the right people with compelling and relevant messages. Terrie S. Wheeler, MBC