By Trey Ryder
Lawyers who rely on traditional marketing methods are fast
discovering that many "time-proven methods" no longer work.
Lawyers could dramatically improve their marketing results by
avoiding the following mistakes and heeding this up-dated
advice. Lawyers who rely on traditional marketing methods are
fast discovering that many time-proven methods no longer work.
MISTAKE #1: Relying on referrals. When you depend on referrals
as your sole source of new business, you allow middlemen to
control your flow of new clients. You may discover that
you receive referrals has nothing to do with your knowledge,
skill or experience. Instead, it may be based on your ability
to return the referrals. ADVICE: In addition to referrals,
sure your marketing program attracts inquiries directly from
prospects. This allows you to manage your marketing program,
rather than relying on third parties over which you have
or no control.
MISTAKE #2: Depending on media exposure. Without question,
articles in the print media and interviews on radio and
television can help you attract new clients. But many lawyers
rely on publicity as their entire marketing program. True,
exposure can increase your credibility. But often exposure by
itself isn't enough. Lawyers routinely report, "We were very
happy with the number of articles about our firm, but we
get a single new client!" In addition to exposure, you need
something that causes you to interact with prospects.
ADVICE: Make sure your marketing program brings about
interactions between you and your prospects, such as over the
telephone or in person. Interaction is a critical step in the
marketing process -- and the step most attorney marketing
MISTAKE #3: Relying on networking groups as a primary source
new business. Networking is a time-consuming exercise in
prospects and cultivating referrals. And while networking may
bear fruit, lawyers often underestimate the time required.
ADVICE: Pursue opportunities to meet and talk with genuine
prospects, but don't put networking above other marketing
MISTAKE #4: Competing on low price. When you lower your fee to
attract new clients, (1) you undermine your credibility
clients conclude your services were not worth what they
previously paid, (2) you attract clients who will leave you
when competing lawyers offer fees lower than yours, (Note:
Clients who are loyal to the dollar are never loyal to you.)
and (3) you'll probably lose money because the cost of
attracting a volume of new clients is often greater than the
profit you can earn from those clients.
ADVICE: Instead of competing on price, compete on value.
better off being the most expensive lawyer in town and having
prospects appreciate your knowledge than being the cheapest
lawyer and having prospects question your skill.
MISTAKE #5: Delivering an incomplete marketing message. Many
lawyers believe common marketing methods don't work because
those lawyers didn't get the results they wanted. But usually
the problem isn't the marketing method, it's the message. If
your message lacks even one essential element, your efforts
An estate planning lawyer delivered a seminar to 84
clients, yet almost no one came into his office for a free
consultation. After I reviewed his presentation, we added less
than five minutes of information to his program. At his next
seminar, 10 of the 11 couples in attendance requested
ADVICE: Before you implement your marketing program, make sure
you create a competent marketing message. Without a powerful
message, your marketing program is doomed.
MISTAKE #6: Not effectively reaching your target audience. A
tax attorney who represents doctors before the IRS advertised
his services in a weekly "shopper" newspaper distributed free
to homes. Not surprisingly, he was disappointed with the
response. Before running the ad, the lawyer could have saved
his $2000 investment had he asked himself, "Will doctors look
for a tax attorney in a free weekly newspaper?" I don't know
about doctors, but that's certainly not the first place I
ADVICE: Choose different methods that you believe will reach
your prospects. Then test each method on a small scale before
you invest serious dollars. This way you'll know which method
is most effective at reaching your target audience and how
it attracts the clients you want.
MISTAKE #7: Making decisions by committee. The quality of a
marketing decision is based on how long it takes to make the
decision and how much the decision has been watered down by
compromise. One person working alone has the potential to make
good decisions. When two people work together things begin to
bog down. And if you're waiting for three people to agree --
well, don't hold your breath. Marketing is like football. Can
you imagine how long it would take if the entire team offered
their ideas and everyone had to agree before they could make
the next play?
ADVICE: Choose one quarterback to direct your program. If you
don't get the results you want, change strategies or change
quarterbacks. But don't compound your quarterback's problems
bringing in more people to help make decisions.
MISTAKE #8: Not taking the leadership position in your market.
When prospects perceive you as the leader in your field, you
have a substantial advantage over other lawyers. Yet, many
marketing programs aren't designed to attain this powerful,
ADVICE: Look at your position in the marketplace. From your
prospects' point of view, is any lawyer clearly the leader in
that category? If not, design your marketing program so you
take control of your niche. If that niche is already dominated
by other lawyers, create a new category for yourself. Then
promote the category so prospects see you as first in that new
area. One of my clients created a new category and
dominated his niche for five and one-half years. You gain an
extraordinary advantage when prospects perceive you as the
MISTAKE #9: Not delivering your marketing message until
prospects come into your office. Attorneys usually have no
problem persuading a prospect to hire their services once the
prospect is in their office. But getting prospects through the
door is another matter.
ADVICE: Develop materials you can send to prospective clients.
Then create a marketing program that uses the print and
broadcast media to attract inquiries from prospects who ask to
receive your information. When prospects call your office, you
respond by mailing your packet and adding their names to your
mailing list. This allows you to put your marketing message
into their hands regardless of their location, rather than
waiting for them to come to your office. If your materials are
powerful and persuasive, you'll find that prospects call you
and request appointments.
One of my lawyer clients received 426 calls from prospects
after offering his materials on a radio talk show, over 500
calls after a television news interview, and another 400 calls
after an article in a local newspaper.
MISTAKE #10: Not marketing to your practice mailing list. Your
mailing list is your own personal area of influence. It should
contain the names of all your past clients, current clients,
prospective clients and referral sources.
ADVICE: Make sure you mail your newsletter at least quarterly.
And don't think that you must make your newsletter an 8- or
16-page treatise. A simple educational letter of even one or
two pages works just fine. Your newsletter's size is not
as important as how often you mail it and the value of the
information you present.
MISTAKE #11: Taking marketing shortcuts. Lawyers who achieve
success often trim back their marketing programs hoping to
money by eliminating the bells and whistles. What they often
don't realize is that many of the so-called "bells and
whistles" are not bells and whistles at all. They are the
essential components that make their programs work.
An attorney hired me to refresh his seminars. When we kicked
off his program, he attracted 247 prospects to five seminars,
an average of 49 people at each program. His calendar filled
almost overnight. After six months, he took his marketing in
house and began cutting corners. Within 90 days, his results
were as dismal as they had been before he called me.
ADVICE: When you shortcut your marketing on the front end, you
shortcut the number of new clients on the back end. If you
to streamline your marketing and determine if any steps might
not be needed, start slowly and track your results. Be careful
not to cut away the steps that are responsible for your
MISTAKE #12: Not making marketing a priority. For most
practicing law is their highest priority. When they get busy,
they often reduce their marketing efforts because they need
that time to work on their clients' behalf. They operate under
the false hope that their momentum will attract new business
long into the future. But when they cut their marketing
efforts, they actually shift their marketing into neutral. As
result, inertia takes over and things slowly coast to a
ADVICE: Make marketing a priority for you or someone in your
office. Or hire an outside consultant so you make sure the
gets done. Don't turn your marketing on and off like a light
switch. Keep your program in gear so you always attract an
ongoing flow of new clients.
MISTAKE #13: Writing an intricate marketing plan that becomes
impossible to carry out. Many marketing plans look like jigsaw
puzzles with dozens -- even hundreds -- of pieces. And while
the plans might work, most lawyers and their staffs don't have
the hours needed to administer the plans.
ADVICE: Make sure your marketing plan is built on simple steps
that have proved to be effective and efficient. In my 30 years
in marketing, the most profitable, efficient and effective
method I've found is education-based marketing.
MISTAKE #14: Never completing -- and therefore never
implementing -- your marketing plan. Many lawyers get so
up in gathering facts that they never stop designing their
They collect data, add more steps, collect more data, revise
their plan, collect more data....
ADVICE: Implement your plan at the earliest possible moment. A
poor marketing plan that is up and running is infinitely more
profitable than the "perfect plan" that never gets off your
MISTAKE #15: Delaying your marketing program until your cash
flow improves. More often than not, lawyers who use this
never start marketing because they aren't aware that their
is backwards: Their cash flow won't improve until they start
their marketing program.
ADVICE: Maintaining an effective marketing program is the most
important investment you can make. Why pay for an office and
staff if you don't have enough business to justify the
overhead? Start your marketing program now so you have an
ongoing flow of new clients.
MISTAKE #16: Carrying out a marketing program that does not
achieve the four essential steps for success. Your marketing
program must (1) establish your credibility, (2) generate
interactions between you and your prospects, (3) gain your
prospect's commitment, and (4) maintain your client's loyalty.
Programs that don't achieve all four steps will fail.
ADVICE: Any time you evaluate a marketing opportunity,
how well that method will accomplish these steps.
MISTAKE #17: Promoting your services. When you promote your
services, you take on the role of a salesperson hawking his
wares. This method, called selling-based marketing, undermines
your credibility and causes prospects to question whether they
can trust you.
ADVICE: Instead of promoting your services, promote your
knowledge by educating prospects. Education-based marketing
gives prospects what they want, information and advice, and
removes what they don't want, a sales pitch. It attracts
prospects who come to you because of your knowledge, skill,
judgment and experience.
To win at marketing, you don't have to be the biggest player
have the biggest budget. All you need is a simple, proven
marketing method that gives prospective clients what they
information and advice -- and removes what they don't want, a
sales pitch. That's precisely what my method of
Marketing does because I designed it that way. That's why the
American Marketing Association featured my method on the front
page of its national publication, MARKETING NEWS.
About The Author: TREY RYDER LLC Education-Based Marketing for
Lawyers. Lawyer Marketing Advisor www.TreyRyder.com
Ryder is the Lawyer Marketing Department Sponsor For Jersey