One thing is eminently clear in the middle of the COVID-19 Shutdown. For law firms that don’t have massive reserves to just “sit tight” for 6 months or more, something is going to have to change in the way they market their services if their firms are going to survive.
That means taking a holistic view of how the firm generates clients from soup to nuts, from the services offered all the way down to consultations and referrals.
Rather than the traditional “marketing funnels” and “sales pipeline” models (which are stupid analogies, in my opinion, but that’s another article…), I prefer to think about “cultivating clients” and use a farm analogy. I can wax philosophic for hours on this… but here’s a condensed overview.
Plan the Harvest
Let’s assume you already have a solid grasp on why your firm exists and the value you bring to the market. Like the farmer that has to plan what she’s going to plant and where she’s going to plant it, you have to decide what you’re going to sell and to who. In a time of shift like this, some key questions:
– Can You Create New Services based on your Assets and Capabilities?
– Can You Adapt your Existing Product and Services to serve new markets?
Prepare the Soil
On the farm, the soil provides plants with two key things – foundation and fertility. We would prepare the soil to create a more fertile environment to plant the seeds. This helped more seeds germinate, helped them grow faster, and ultimately increased the harvest.
In your firm, this is your brand. It provides trust (the subjective emotional affinity) and credibility (the rational justification), which ultimately help your opportunities to grow. However, it’s yours to establish them in that order. Credibility without trust is shaky ground.
Two questions to think about once you’ve decided on the plan of what service you’re selling and who you’re selling it to:
– How can you build trust with your new target market?
– How can you show credibility after you establish trust?
We could till soil all season, but without planting a seed, obviously, nothing would grow. However, I see a lot of people that focus on branding, believing the opportunities will just come. And yes, something worthwhile may spring up, but you’ll also have to deal with a lot of weeds.
Instead, we need to have an effective, low-risk initial offer (go back to free consultations or offer a free phone consultation, perhaps), and we need to be able to intentionally communicate it through the right channels (online videos vs print mailers, LinkedIn vs another networking group). This has become even more important in the current environment. Two questions to consider:
– How can we shift our offer to have an easier, low-risk 1st step?
– Do we need to use new channels to reach the new markets we’re targeting?
Most of us, at the very least, remember growing a bean in a cup back in grade school. And even the blackest-thumbed individuals among us understand that plants need nurturing. And there is actually a fair amount of knowledge in the marketing community about “nurturing opportunities,” which is good. This is the follow-up that continually adds value to bring a cold or tepid prospect back to being a paying client.
The other side of cultivation, however, is protection from those things that keep your opportunities from coming to fruition and steal your harvest. There’s protection from weeds (distractions) and disease (bad reputation), but the ones we most commonly think about are the pests – your competition. And the key thing that will protect you there? Differentiation. So… two questions to consider:
– How can we continue to nurture relationships and opportunities with leads that come in that
don’t take immediate action?
– How can we differentiate ourselves from the competition so we’re the better choice?
All the effort on a farm goes to waste if the crop is left to rot in the field. Unfortunately, this is also what happens with law firm marketing budgets all too often. Tons of time, energy, and money are put into generating leads and cultivating opportunities, only to do a poor job of converting potential new clients when they show up.
To be blunt, this often has to do with the attorney’s ego. They think they have to make the consultation all about how great they are when really, PNCs often have 10 key questions running in the back of their mind that, if not answered, will leave them unlikely to sign a retainer. For brevity’s sake, I’ll summarize them with these 2 questions:
– Do I fully understand this person’s problem, why it’s uniquely a problem for them, and the resolution they want?
– Am I offering a solution that they can understand, believe I can do work for them, and that is worth the cost in their time, energy, and money?
In many places, saving the seed from one crop to propagate into the next is a lost art. However, that doesn’t mean it must be the case in your law firm. Consider all that you’ve gone through in planning and executing this campaign. Who better to bring you more of those target clients than one of those target clients?
Rules around gathering reviews and testimonials are certainly more strict in the practice of law, but that still doesn’t mean you can have them tell the very factual story of what their situation was, the incident that caused a problem, how they met you, what solution you provided, the results it generated and the value it created specifically for them. That’s the testimonial story arc.
Those kinds of stories are what lead to amazing reviews and in a lot of cases, referrals to other people that are looking for the same kind of value.
Is this a lot of work? Absolutely. Is there a risk of failure? Most certainly. And as I alluded to, there is a lot more to creating a strategic sales and marketing campaign than this. But if you start to take this holistic approach, in the end, the fruits of your labor will be substantially greater.
This blog is from our writer guest Will Dukes, Sales Strategist at SalesPartners Florida.