This post was originally published two years ago. The importance of lead conversion for law firms has never been greater, so we’ve updated the post:
Every lawyer knows what it’s like to pursue a prospect and then have that live lead go dead. Maybe they chose another firm. Maybe they thought they could handle it themselves. Maybe their problem went away.
The reason that prospect went toes up really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you stop hoping to land new clients and start working these proven strategies that will bring them into your firm’s fold:
#1: Make sure the prospect is worth the effort.
It’s human nature to get excited about a potential new client when someone shows interest in hiring you. But interest alone is not enough and you can’t let your emotions lead your business development efforts. If a prospect cannot afford you or your firm isn’t equipped to help them, chasing them is a waste of time and money.
To ensure you’re pursuing the right people, you need to develop your ideal client profile — a list of qualities that your firm can use to determine if that potential client will be profitable and sustainable. Start by reviewing your list of former and current clients and look for clients that provided your firm with its most rewarding business relationships. Write down the common attributes those successful relationships shared as the foundation for your ideal client list.
Now institute a qualifying process that will cull out those leads that don’t meet your criteria so you can disqualify them more quickly and move on to prospects with a better profit potential.
#2: Nurture your leads.
You have a limited window of time to engage with your leads before they become missed opportunities. This is where lead nurturing comes into play.
According to inbound marketing firm HubSpot, companies with effective lead nurturing programs generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost. In addition, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. And companies that use marketing automation software to nurture leads experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.
Marketing automation makes you smarter, faster and more efficient. Among many things, marketing automation allows you to:
- Identify, track and engage prospects online
- Segment your prospects for targeted messaging
- Nurture leads through drip email campaigns with no human intervention necessary
- Create and manage lead-generating landing pages
- Measure the revenue contribution of every email, e-newsletter or other marketing effort
#3: Narrow in on a niche
When people see you as a jack of all trades (the generalist approach), they also perceive you as the master of none. People will pay more for a specialist because they see you as an expert. People will refer more to a specialist because they aren’t afraid of you stealing their clients or competing with them. Contrary to popular belief, this approach does not limit you. It helps to focus your marketing and business development efforts.
Review your top 10 client list (either by amount of revenue/fees generated or in terms of how much you enjoy working with them). Then, look for any similarities. It may not be apparent at first, but keep asking questions and you will find it. Building a niche around a solid client base is one of the fastest ways to differentiate yourself.
Another way to help determine your niche is to track the inquiries from prospective clients to determine what’s drawing them to you and your law firm. See if they don’t begin to naturally fall into one or more groups. Becoming aware of these commonalities is a way to let your niche find you, helping you develop your law firm marketing. Once you niche your practice, you will find that referrals come more readily to you, since it will become clear in referral source’s mind just exactly what it is you do.
#4: Build your brand.
Back in the day, attorneys gained their reputations primarily through word-of-mouth and personal interaction. Today, building a reputation online is crucial since this is where most people gather and interact in the 21stcentury. So you need to be where your prospects are on social media, with both organic and paid posts, as well as adding content regularly to your website and social media pages through blogging.
Prospects will draw conclusions about the quality of your legal services from your website, your blog, your marketing materials, your business card, your office space and even the way you dress. Assess your competition and identify areas where you are different and better, then communicate that difference to your prospects so they know exactly why they should choose you.