One must always remember that lawyer marketing can ideally get a phone to ring at a law office. However, in the final analysis, the profitability of a given legal practice is ultimately up to the practitioner.
I say this within the context of a nice dialogue I had recently with a new lawyer. This individual had been in private practice for just a few years and was doing her due diligence as to the viability of direct mail advertising to jump start her practice.
She knew that she needed help, which is always the most important first step toward correcting an ailing law practice. Further, she described herself as a “research fanatic,” who enjoyed attempting to become an expert on each undertaking she felt worth pursuing.
In light of this self description, I felt somewhat honored when she communicated to me that after careful thought, deliberation and most importantly, research, I was the one to teach her how to, “make money.”
Recognizing her statement was not meant to be taken literally, I proceeded to discuss my marketing services and how the prospect of the right direct mail material can get potential clients to call who she had not had access to previously.
She listened respectfully. However, in time I deduced that in point of fact, her prime objective within our discussion was not necessarily to learn how to make direct mail work best for her within her given practice and community. Rather, whether I could guarantee that my direct mail materials would make her law practice financially successful.
Such a question instantly indicates why such well intentioned and often academically brilliant lawyers have such a hard time running their own legal practices in a way that lends itself to long term financial success.
Anyone with business experience recognizes that marketing is one of, if not the most important initial investment toward the financial viability of any business venture. Without potential prospects who are aware of your goods and services a well intentioned pursuit of business success will become destined for quick failure. Once you have made the consuming public aware of your existence, an effective marketing appeal must prompt your targeted consumer to take action to either purchase a given product you are offering or call you as the one to aid them in their search for a legal professional.
This intelligent lawyer I refer to falls into the category of many young lawyers who seem unable to grasp the fundamental principal that law is a business. Yes, law is a profession. However, the marketing of oneself and in turn a legal practice is but a first, albeit a critical first step toward the long term financial health of a legal practice.
At the end of the day, good marketing brings potential customers (clients) to your doorstep, or in most cases, your phone line. The potential client does not give a hoot as to your academic credentials or professional standing unless your interpersonal skills are those that are able to capitalize on your powerful marketing materials; direct mail information that brings a lawyer that all important initial contact from a prospective client.
From that point forward, the ability to close on that potential legal client rest within the lawyer’s capable hands. Lawyers must prepare in a way that is able to communicate with potential clients in a manner they can understand. Lawyers must make potential clients seeking assistance feel comfortable with you. That you are both a lawyer that cares about them and not just their retainer fee and that you will be responsive in answering their questions and concerns.
If your direct mail materials spur the objective of getting scores of potential clients to contact you immediately, one must not wonder why a lawyer is not accumulating needed revenue when choosing not to return the calls of such potential clients in a prompt fashion.
Further, if when a direct mail responder calls for legal assistance a lawyer seems in a hurry to get off the phone or within seconds prioritizes communicating to the prospective caller the lawyer’s legal fees, it is no wonder why a lawyer with access to the most potent marketing materials will still not be able to make suitable income in the practice of law.
The best marketing materials alone will not guarantee financial success to a given attorney or law firm that purchases them. One believing such a notion needs to think long and hard as to whether they are willing to alter such a philosophy or otherwise learn from the success of financially successful individual practitioners.
Individual lawyers are businessman selling legal services to the prospective public. As such, it is customer service, from point of contact through to the desired consultation with the individual reaching out for legal aid that will become the final barometer as to whether a lawyer will indeed, “make money,” in the private entrepreneurial undertaking of law.