The following is a guest post by Shaun Buck, CEO of The Newsletter Pro. Read on to learn more about how to create content for your firm and help build relationships to grow your practice.
I’ve worked with hundreds of law firms over the years, and in my experience, the vast majority of attorneys are incredibly good at what they do. When a client comes into the office, their case is handled expertly and the resolution is all the client could’ve hoped for.
But many attorneys tend to struggle with getting potential clients to walk through the door in the first place. Running a practice requires more than just legal expertise and involves lots of skills that no law school teaches. Once a law firm understands how to market themselves and harness the power of past clients for referrals, their business can really take off.
Like it or not, a law firm is a small business just as surely as a dental office or restaurant is. You can be the best attorney in the world, but if nobody knows about you, it won’t matter. With that in mind, I’d like to share with you some wisdom I’ve gained from years of experience helping lawyers grow their businesses.
What Really Drives Your Law Firm’s Growth?
Have you ever analyzed what really drives client acquisition at your firm? Most people tie their answer to marketing, advertising, or new cold leads. Those are valid channels for sure, but they’re not the main driver for small businesses — including law firms.
What causes one person to travel out of their way to get to you, while the guy across the street won’t step foot through your door? Typically, when I ask this question, I receive some explanation of a lack of need or ability to invest in services.
This response can be partially true, but that doesn’t make it correct.
I spent years studying these questions and searching for both the truth and the correct answer. Surprisingly, the right answer is far easier to understand than I thought it would be. So that you don’t have to become an expert on the subject, I’ll save you years and tell you what I discovered.
The Real Answer
If you want to drive growth and repeat business, it boils down to understanding and implementing one strategy:
Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals new clients.
Think about that statement for a minute. It is true in your personal and business life. Let’s break it down and talk about why.
Relationships are built on communication, and we communicate through content, both verbally and in writing. Today, content comes in countless forms: articles, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and many, many more.
Why go through all that work? Simply put, because content creates relationships, and if your client is looking to invest a significant amount in you, you will need a relationship to make that happen. Once you have a relationship, what happens?
Relationships create trust. Most people don’t fully trust someone they’ve just met, whether personally or in business. It’s human nature to give a little bit of trust to someone to see if it is worth entrusting them with something larger.
This is where good customer service — the person who answers the phone or sits at the front desk — can make or break this new relationship. As the relationship continues, if the experience is still positive, the amount of trust you get grows.
Trust equals sales. The more a person trusts you, the more likely they will be to use your services and refer others to you as well.
Years ago, I would’ve said that you should use a newsletter to build a fence around your clients. They will stay longer and spend more. Had I been more sophisticated in my understanding of how all of this works back then, I would have switched the word “newsletters” for “content.” That said, a printed newsletter is still one of the strongest forms of content you can produce, especially as a law firm with fierce competition.
I tell people all the time that a newsletter isn’t a magic tool. A newsletter is a vehicle to distribute content that builds relationships, nurturing them over time. You have to take the relationship and turn it into trust by delivering on your service.
How to Create Content for Your Firm
The challenge with any idea is implementation. With most ideas in business, you typically have four choices, and this idea is no different. You can choose one of the following:
- Do nothing. This is what most people do, which is good news for you because it is also what most of your competitors are doing. When your competition doesn’t produce content, it doesn’t take much to stand out.
- Do it yourself. Content has to be created, and maybe you’re the best person to do that right now in your firm.
- Hire an employee to do it for you. You could hire and train a content creation person and outsource editing, graphic design, etc.
- Find a company to help you implement this strategy from start to finish.
Look at these four options and make a choice. Regardless of your decision, if you want to truly grow, or if you want to beat the competitor down the street, or if you want to increase the value of your firm, you have to start with a content strategy. From there, you can start cultivating real relationships, building trust, and increasing your client base.
The Power of Print for Relationships and Referrals
At this point, I hope I’ve convinced you of the power of content and relationships to grow your firm and generate income. However, you may not be totally sold on the idea that print is an essential medium to achieve these goals. Technically, you could do everything I’ve suggested above online. However, you’d be making a huge mistake if you discounted the value of something people can hold.
Have you ever wondered why companies, including digital powerhouses like Amazon, spend billions of dollars annually on direct mail? If you could send an online newsletter, why would anyone send a print one?
I have proof that print is worthwhile. My company, The Newsletter Pro, sends out millions of print newsletters annually for businesses all over the country, including dozens of law firms. And despite the shift toward digital, we made Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest-growing companies list in 2015 and 2016 and the Inc. 5000 list in 2018.
Why Print Newsletters Work
The more time someone spends with your marketing content, the more likely they are to call you, request a consult, or refer business to you. When done correctly, a print newsletter gives you a non-threatening form of media that you own and control — media that allows both prospects and clients to spend an extended period of time with you, your legal brand, and the legal services you provide. In today’s world, getting someone’s attention is the most valuable commodity there is.
Another plus for print newsletters is that they allow you to reach clients and prospects one-on-one. Plus, with print, you have far fewer distractions compared to reading content online. When you have someone’s attention and can spend enough time with that person, you start to build a relationship with them. After all, everyone prefers to do business with people they know, like, and trust.
A newsletter also has specific benefits for the law industry because many of your clients are coming to you on an as-needed basis. Keeping your business top of mind, something a newsletter is great at, can be the difference between a referral and losing a client to a competitor.
Let’s say you handle personal injury claims, with a specific focus on auto accidents. When the relative of a former client gets in an accident, you want your client to recommend you. If that client has been reading your newsletter every month, you can bet they won’t forget your name. They might even pass along an issue for their loved one to read.
A Final Thought
The media likes to pit print and digital against each other. Which one is going to win in a fight to the death? If you want to know the truth — if you really want to see your firm grow — your marketing strategy should include a mix of both. Add a print newsletter, do some direct mail, and add a bit of Facebook advertising and AdWords ads. Drive online leads offline and offline leads online. Smart marketers play in both worlds to grow their business and their bottom line.
If your firm can benefit from customized, personal marketing that adds value to the lives of your clients and prospects (and whose can’t?), check out my company, The Newsletter Pro, and get a FREE copy of my book on referral marketing.
The Ultimate Guide to Newsletters goes deeper into the strategies I’ve outlined above and explains the true power behind delivered personal and consistent content to your audience. Visit NewsletterPro.com/avvo while complimentary copies are still available.