Most lawyers have no problems tackling their day-to-day legal work. When it comes to the business side of their law firms, however, many lawyers are inexperienced … and they make easily preventable marketing mistakes. This shouldn’t be surprising; the practice of law and the business of running a law firm require two separate skill sets. Although some attorneys do excel at both facets, it’s rare. To keep hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars a year from going to your competitors, avoid these 8 common law firm marketing mistakes.
Marketing Mistake #1 – Failing to Treat All Leads as Urgent
The vast majority of the time, people don’t reach out for legal help that they may need sometime in the future. Usually, people call lawyers because they need help ASAP.
If they’re calling your firm, you need to be ready. The initial phone call from a potential client is your best – and potentially only – chance to convert the lead into revenue.
This means that everything about the lead’s initial interactions with your firm needs to be smooth, convenient, client-friendly and, above all, responsive.
If you don’t treat your leads as urgent and deserving of immediate attention, they will find another firm. Avoiding this pitfall can make a giant difference in your lead conversion rates (and, therefore, your bottom line).
Marketing Mistake #2 – Inadequately Training Your Receptionist
When someone calls your firm, your receptionist is the caller’s first point of contact. If your receptionist doesn’t know how to interact with a warm lead effectively, that lead may be long gone before you even hear about it.
How can receptionists do things the right way?
For starters, receptionists should never send potential clients to your voicemail. As soon as they do, the callers will likely hang up.
If you’re not available, your receptionist should get the potential client’s contact information and tell him or her that a lawyer will call them back quickly – by a specific time. (Even if you can’t call back in that timeframe, the receptionist should say you can anyway. When you are able to call the lead back, you can then apologize sincerely for any delay.)
Marketing Mistake #3 – Using a Call Menu or Phone Tree
There’s a simple, tried-and-true rule for how to use a call menu or phone tree: Don’t.
The more times that a potential client is sent to your voice mail, the more likely it is that the client will hang up without leaving a message – and that he or she will call one of your competitors.
The fix for this is straight-forward: Have someone answer your phone. Your potential clients will be much more likely to hire you if they speak to someone right away.
Marketing Mistake #4 – Ignoring After-Hours Calls
Even after hours, prospective clients don’t want to talk to machines. They want to reach someone who can help address their potentially urgent legal matters.
An after-hours answering service can help you field calls even when you’re out of the office.
However, not all answering services are created the same. By seeking recommendations from colleagues and contacting different service providers, you’ll learn how they treat callers and identify which providers are the best.
Once you’ve hired an after-hours service, you should call your firm to test the service’s reliability. If there’s an issue, address it immediately (or find another service).
A good answering service is a smart investment that only costs a fraction of your marketing budget.
Marketing Mistake #5 – Recording Ineffective Voice Mail Messages
As mentioned above, the ideal scenario would be for zero potential leads to ever reach your voice mail … but because of glitches and answering services at full capacity, it’s inevitable that some callers will need to “leave one after the beep.”
If a lead – potentially worth millions – contacts your office at a time when no one can get to the phone, an outgoing message may be your only chance to capture that business. So yeah, your voice mail needs to be good.
Avoid mentioning your work hours, especially closing times. And don’t record something generic that inspires no confidence or enthusiasm.
Here’s what your firm’s outgoing message should sound like:
“This is attorney <name>. I am unable to answer your call, but I DO want to speak with you. Please leave a message, and I will return your call personally within 15 minutes.”
Maybe you can’t call back in 15 minutes – you can apologize for that later. Advertising that you care about leads’ legal matters and will get back to them swiftly is the best chance you have of securing their business. Otherwise, they may never leave you messages in the first place. (And that gets you nowhere.)
Marketing Mistake #6 – Forgetting to Ask for Client Reviews on Google and Yelp
Imagine you need a lawyer immediately. You find two firms on Google or Yelp, and they look equally qualified … but one has 300 positive reviews, while the other has 13. Which firm would you choose?
Online reviews act as “social proof” of the quality of your firm.
In the modern marketplace, consumers evaluate reviews on virtually every type of product; law firms are no different. If potential leads see that other people had positive experiences with you, they’ll believe that they, too, will have positive experiences.
If you don’t have enough reviews, it will cost you valuable business opportunities. Fortunately, this free guide can help you learn to obtain 5-star reviews from your clients.
Marketing Mistake #7 – Responding Poorly to Negative Reviews
Because negative reviews are occasionally bound to happen, you need to know how to handle them.
When receiving a negative review, follow these two rules:
- Don’t get into a public dispute.
- Don’t ignore the review.
Responding appropriately to a negative review may help placate the reviewer, but that is not the overall goal of your response. Your goal is to leave an overall positive impression on the thousands of people who may come across that review while they research your firm.
Answering negative reviews in a polite, compassionate and reasonable manner will broadcast to your audience that you treat customers with respect, no matter what.
(For an example of how to address negative reviews, check out this free resource: A Guide to Obtaining 5-Star Reviews for Your Law Firm.)
Marketing Mistake #8 – Believing Prospects Who “Have No Money” and “Only Want Advice”
When potential clients claim that they don’t have enough money, take it with a huge grain of salt. They may want advice, but if you can convince them that they need your services, they’ll hire you.
Your goal is to persuade them that they can’t afford not to hire you.
Every lead needs a solution, so listen deeply to their problems and demonstrate clearly how you can fix them. By becoming an essential part of resolving their issues, you’ll prove to them that being your client is the best option they have.
Do that, and they’ll find the money.
Summary – What TO Do
These 8 marketing mistakes highlight what not to do. Here’s what to do instead:
- Treat all leads as urgent.
- Train your receptionists to effectively process new leads.
- Make sure phone calls are answered by people, not machines, whenever possible.
- Invest in an answering service for after-hours calls.
- Record better voice mail messages promising swift, personal response.
- Solicit positive Google and Yelp reviews from your clients.
- Respond positively to negative reviews.
- Turn clients who “only want advice” into satisfied, paying customers.
Want more resources?
Lexicata’s software and in-house experts can help you develop strong marketing practices to increase your lead conversion rates and improve your client intake process. And of course, feel free to contact us for a consultation or product demo.
Andrew Stickel has been helping lawyers grow their law firms for more than 6 years. In addition to owning Social Firestarter, a law firm marketing agency, he also produces daily content on Facebook and YouTube, which is consumed by thousands of lawyers every day.