How to Attract Better (and More Profitable) Law Firm Clients
There are many ways to simply attract more clients. You can find plenty of strategies out there designed to generate a lot of activity – and probably get you to spend a lot of money.
However, before you start running around trying to get a boatload of new clients, it’s worth asking, “What are those clients worth to my practice?”
There are actual two criteria I apply to that question:
1. What is the financial value of the client in terms of profit?
2. What is the emotional tax I am willing to pay?
The first question is pretty easy to assess. It’s worth noting, however, that I used the word “profit” instead of revenue. You need to examine what goes into getting that revenue. For example, if you attract a LOT of clients worth $5,000 (to use an even number for quick math), you need to break down what goes into making that money. How much of your time is used, and what is the value of that time? Did you use the assistance of an employee(s)? Their hourly rate needs to be factored in. What about other expenses such as filing fees, deposition costs, expert witnesses, etc.? You should even think about the general overhead of your law firm, such as rent. After all, you want to make a total profit, not just break even at the end of the year.
The second question is trickier, and many attorneys won’t address it. You shouldn’t deal with clients who only cause you trouble. Everyone starts the day with limited emotional energy. When you spend any part of your day struggling with a problem client, the emotional energy you would rather spend on your family and your hobbies or other interests is stolen. Ben Glass (the founder of GLM and BenGlassLaw) has fired problem clients in the past for this exact reason. Most attorneys can’t even imagine doing such a thing, but Ben’s marketing ensures the next client – one who is a better fit – is waiting to sign our fee agreement.
Creating Better “Bait” for Better Clients
If you get bad clients, the answer starts with your marketing.
Many DUI defense attorneys complain about the volume needed to sustain their practice and a low quality of clients. These are usually the same attorneys who market themselves as the cheapest option in town. When you market based on being the lowest cost provider, you end up dealing with those problems. You get stretched thin and the money barely adds up to the hassle at the end of the month.
The best way to attract the clients you really want is to speak exclusively to those people, which leads me to a big gripe I have about most law firm marketing: it’s designed to appeal to everyone – even people who don’t need your help right now.
If your marketing is focused on not offending people more than it is on attracting the right clients, then you’re headed in the wrong direction. The best marketing for high-value businesses is about appealing to one group of people: their buyers. Other people don’t matter. The same is true for your law firm.
DUI defense attorneys who want more affluent clients need to do two things: 1) target groups of people who can afford a better attorney and 2) raise their prices. (By the way, I can’t begin to tell how important it is to raise your prices when going after more affluent clients. People who can afford the better option want to pay for the better option. Low prices signal low value.)
Here are a few ways you can prime the pump to get more high-value clients…
1. Use language tailored to the needs of your ideal client. When you just toss up a tagline (e.g. Trusted. Respected. Results.), you aren’t speaking to the problems of your client. What is the legal issue? Why should it concern the potential client more than it already does? How will you solve the legal issue and make the client’s life easier now and in the long run? Answer those three questions with precision, and you’ll make a lot of headway.
2. Publish advertisements only where those people already go. I’m always surprised to see the weird places law firms put their ads when they want high-value clients. What high-end estate planning client is going to respond to your ad on the side of a bus? Will a DUI defense client really be wow-ed by an ad on the dividers at the supermarket checkout line? Don’t spend money on marketing just because it’s cheap. Often, a willingness to spend more money in the right places correlates with a great deal more clients responding to those ads.
3. Don’t play into the myth that “more professional” means that wealthier people will respond. I’m not advising you to go in the opposite direction and dress down or be sloppy in your ads. Higher-end clients look for a clean experience overall, not a nice suit. They want a positive greeting when they walk in the door and careful guidance during the consultation. Most of all, they gauge your affability and confidence. People buy from people they like, and hiring an attorney for any legal matter is a buying decision. (Here are some tips for attracting high-net worth individuals from an investment management blog. You can learn a lot from other professionals.)
While this is a great preview of what you can do to get better clients, the best thing you can do is get an insider’s view of the best attorney marketing. Members of Great Legal Marketing see strategies every month capable of adding double- or triple-digit percentage growth to your practice. Learn more about becoming a member and how it will transform your practice’s marketing!
Most attorneys start their firms assuming that being a really, really good attorney should, in and of itself, be a marketing advantage. Those attorneys believe that joining a whole bunch of committees and putting their name in lawyer directories is “marketing,” and they never bother to ask if there is a better way.
Attorneys are catching on, however, and those who succeed learn to leverage their current resources to create effective (and ethical) marketing. What they discover isn’t a magic pill or silver bullet but a different approach to marketing that your competitors haven’t considered.
by Ben Glass
Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.