4 Law Practice Marketing Myths and How To Avoid Them
It’s no secret that competition for clients out there can be absolutely brutal and overwhelming. When you’re trying to focus on the clients you have, marketing can become an afterthought. Not to mention many attorneys I speak with often express concern about their peers providing services at a rate which would seem to lose money.
“How can they make money by only charging such a small amount?”
Fair question and if you’ve ever wondered this let me give you the answer; they can’t! They are not operating on some plane of existence where the laws of making more than you spend don’t apply.
In this post I’ll review the 4 biggest marketing myths and how to avoid them. And so we’re on the same page, let me be clear that marketing is the same across channels and media. You have to identify a problem. Agitate the problem for the client and then provide a solution.
You also have to give them a reason to hire you instead of ‘the other guy’.
Let’s get started –
Myth 1 – This is a biggie. Many larger law practices try to make up charging less and sometimes even going negative by making it up in volume. Kind of like Wal-Mart or Costco.
They’re willing to cut down their fees in the hopes they can bring in more clients. They lose money up front at least in the marketing material so they can drive a call to their office.
This marketing tactic has been around since marketing first started. There are going to be some firms who can pull it off because they have a huge budget and even though the return on investment is small they’ll point to it and say it works. More often than not though, for the vast majority, this strategy will not work because you can’t make it up in volume forever. It’s not a one for one loss when you cut fees.
Devaluing your service by bringing everything down to price is not a great way to build a thriving practice. You’re better off being highest than the lowest because it takes less work and fewer clients to make the same amount of money.
Don’t fall into this trap just because other attorneys are doing it and you figure if they are you can too. The margins are too small and typically unsustainable.
Myth 2 – Thinking past clients will refer people to you automatically. It is true that previous attorney clients do tend to refer more often than other professions but this doesn’t last indefinitely.
Over time the service you provided and even your name will degrade in their memory if you’re not in the forefront of their mind when one of their friends or family is talking about hiring an attorney.
You must create a follow up system and stay in touch with past clients often. Now this can vary some with the specific type of law you practice.
Let’s say you practice elder law. If you don’t have them on a minimum of a monthly newsletter follow-up sequence, you’re literally throwing away huge amounts of money because they might have loved your service but you are no longer on their mind consistently.
You can be they often hear their friends talk about the need for different legal services as they are getting older and now you are not a part of the equation.
It’s as true for attorneys as it is for doctors, real estate agents, appraisers, engineers, sales people and on and on. The absolute best way to get a client is to keep the one you have and let them market for you by referring you to their family and friends.
You Must Keep Following Up With Past Clients – OFTEN!
There are a ton of done-for-you newsletter services and while these aren’t always ideal at least they keep your name in front of the client.
Take the time or hire someone to setup a marketing sequence for ‘after’ your relationship is over. Stay in touch with previous clients on a monthly if not weekly basis. Whatever you choose be consistent.
When you show you care about them they’ll care about you and refer you more. You don’t want it to get to the point where they’re struggling to remember your name because it’s been so long since you’ve contacted them.
Myth 3 – Me too marketing / I am the best – smartest – most experienced – been in business the longest – yada, yada – Every attorney says those things.
This is a classic mistake among most all businesses. Thinking the client is more concerned about you being the best / smartest / most experienced over the fact they want their problem solved and they really don’t care who solves it whether you’ve been in business for 24 years or 24 hours. As long as they believe you can solve their problem.
There is a place for all the great things you bring to the table but ultimately it’s about the client and what they want.
If you have been in business for 20 years, which is great, remember this is a feature not a benefit to the client. Features should be the last part of your marketing and is just filler at the end of your ad.
Me too – Does not differentiate you from the competition so stay away from it.
Myth 4 – SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Thinking SEO is where you should spend a large part of your budget might be something you want to review again. If you’re already spending to get ranked in the search engines or if you are thinking about it, let’s review a few things.
There is no dispute that being on the first page of a Google is almost like winning the lottery. The holy grail of internet marketing. Maybe I’m being a little melodramatic but many attorneys I have spoken to have indicated this is their goal.
There is definitely a huge upside. SEO should not be ignored but at the same time throwing money at it just because a marketing firm or SEO “expert” tells you they can get you ranked in 30 days is pie in the sky.
There are a ton of ins and outs regarding SEO and it changes often because Google alters its algorithm often enough that what worked yesterday may not work today.
This is not to say you shouldn’t be doing the basics to have your site rank as high as possible but throwing huge amounts of money without any guarantee it will work may not be the best way to spend your marketing dollars.
Here are a couple of things to avoid with SEO:
Be cautious of people and companies who tell you they can get you ranked on page 1 within 30, 60, 90, 180 days etc, as they may be leaving out some key points. For instance…
1. You’re getting ranked for a keyword (phrase) nobody is really searching for.
Example: You want to be on page one when somebody searches for ‘DUI Lawyer’ but what you’re actually being ranked for are when people type in the phrase ‘Left handed lawyers without side burns and also happen to handle drunk drivers’
I can get you ranked #1 in Google for obscure keywords and phrases that nobody is searching for. No problem.
2. They are using ‘black hat’ techniques. Meaning they might be using a strategy which may work in the short term but once Google figures it out they can ban your site from their search engine. The SEO guy who did it won’t suffer, you will.
3. It can take months if not years to start showing on the first page of search results because you are competing with others in the market who have been there already for a long period of time. Google likes content, relevance and tenure.
Those sites which have been ranking for a long time will stay there if they keep producing at least some relevant content. The only solution is time and effort. In the meantime do you really want to keep shelling out money month after month with a marginal affect.
4. You can’t track it. Even if you do get ranked there’s no real way to determine your return on investment for the ranking itself. You don’t know what keywords were searched to find you and whether or not they are calling you because of a keyword search or direct typing in your website. If it’s not something you can track, how will you ever know if you’re making money on your SEO.
I realize I sound kind of down on SEO and really I’m not. There is a right way and wrong way. It’s better to ultimately do it the right way and that takes time. There is no quick fix when Google is controlling the outcome.
Every time I do a search for an attorney and I do it often since I work with many on their marketing, I cringe when I think about the marketing dollars wasted. Especially by those that have a relative small budget and need to make every dollar count.
The good news is, if you try to avoid the pitfalls this will really go a long way to keeping a negative outflow of cash on marketing that doesn’t work.
If you have any direct questions about these pitfalls or would like more information on arguably the best way to market your law practice please contact me directly by going to my Ask Ben page or you can download my Free Cheat Sheet – ’26 Questions to Identify, Understand and Reach High Converting Leads”