Many lawyers, similar to a huge number of professional services firms, resort to a haphazard approach to lead generation when they get squeezed by the loss of clients, increased competition and longer sales cycles.
When there aren’t enough prospects or leads to follow up, too many service professionals suddenly feel the heat and decide they need to do something. In order to feel they are doing something, they search around for what would appear to be a good idea to latch on. If some of their competitors seem to be doing the same thing, some find it easier to justify this as it appears to show that other firms have already done the necessary analysis for success.
This could be one of a number of things, including printing out new brochures (grrrrr!), commissioning new adverts, setting up a new social media handle or spending more money on Google AdWords.
Lawyers that are time-pressed will want something that gives instant results. quite often forgetting what activity they did before or, even worse, not caring if they didn’t get the desired results.
What makes success difficult to achieve, and makes the role of businesses development almost impossible in many law firms, is the ad-hoc implementation of marketing and lead generation tactics that have no relationship with each other. In the worst case scenario, they don’t really address some of the key problems lawyers actually face and gloss over fundamental problems that still need to be addressed.
This often happens because there is no systemised process for sales and marketing to support a well-designed sales funnel, and very poor measurement of activity to minimise resource wastage.
Lawyers should look outside their industry at the success various companies have got using systems that can be replicated all over the world. A typical example would be McDonald’s with its systems for fast food production that franchisees the world over stick to. Once the system works, use it again and again to get more sales.
Law firm lead generation should be treated in exactly the same way. Getting yourself noticed by prospects, converting them into clients and up-selling more services to them can be systematized and measured.
So here are some of the fundamental steps that should be considered in an effective lead generation and marketing system:
- Identify the right niche or group of prospects. Who would benefit most from your services, how do they make purchase decisions, do they have the money and how can you effectively engage with them?
- Position yourself as a leader. You need to be visible and have a personal connection before prospects can trust you and believe you can help them achieve their desired outcome. The information you provide should therefore answer questions your prospects have got and you should use relevant channels, including social media, to allow two-way dialogue.
- Automate communications. There are various tools lawyers can use to automate some of their lead generation and marketing communications. These should point prospects to information they are actively looking for, and allow you to get their permission to continue to communicate to them.
- Develop effective follow up steps. On average, it takes 7 touchpoints before prospects make a decision to buy. Make sure each of your follow up steps actually provide value to prospects and gives them more information they need to want to pick the phone up and call you.
- Provide free or low cost engagement opportunities. Reports, blogs, articles, webinars and seminars should be used to demonstrate the value lawyers can deliver to clients, and help them get noticed given all the options available.
- Make it easy for clients to do business with you. Have you made it clear what service level agreements you have with clients? Have you considered alternative payment methods that are based on mutual trust? Is it impossible for clients to get updates from you? Think about the typical complaints people have of lawyers – and then eliminate them!
- Measure, measure, measure. What key marketing metrics will you measure? How often do you review your marketing and lead generation?
- Get everyone on board. All members of staff should think about the experiences prospects and clients have. Lead generation is not just the domain of rainmakers within law firms, but is everyone’s responsibility. This ranges from the “hello” prospects get when they first call to every meeting you have with clients as you help them achieve their desired outcome.
With the current recession, it is tempting to latch on to the odd marketing initiative and hope to get some sort of result. However, the lawyers that generate new leads more effectively will be those that build and use systems to gerenate leads, convert leads into sales and build relationships with clients.