The traditional method of getting referrals is dying a slow painful death.
Awkwardly asking clients to refer others to you can be effective, but it’s uncomfortable for everyone. It forces you to momentarily stop being their lawyer and play “the salesman”, asking them for help in growing your business.
Over the past month, I’ve been describing The White Knight Referral Strategy. This new strategy allows you to remain an advocate for your client and generate referrals. It starts with a written marketing piece that positions you as a lawyer who keeps the client’s best interest at heart.
This marketing piece benefits clients by showing them when they’ll need a lawyer and when they won’t. It also has pass-along value. When they have a friend or colleague in a similar situation, they’ll send this to them.
The marketing piece you use to generate referrals can take several different forms. Some lawyers may write a short e-book they send to clients. Others may use an infographic or brochure. In the past, I used a chart that I gave to my clients and referral partners.
No matter what format you choose, you can maximize its effectiveness by answering these 3 critical questions.
Three Questions Your Referral Marketing Piece Must Answer
1. When can clients self-service?
In every practice area, there’s something the client can be doing for themselves. In some cases, this can be performing a legal related task on their own. But, it doesn’t have to be.
Another form of client self-service is properly preparing for legal help before hiring an attorney. You can tell them which documents to gather or how to make their experience with an attorney less expensive.
2. When can clients spot “gotchas” by themselves?
When you tell your clients what to watch out for, they’ll feel like they’re gaining an advantage over ‘the system’. They’ll feel smarter, like they know a little more than the average person because they can now spot issues on their own.
When you’re the source of their newly acquired knowledge, they’ll associate those good feelings with you.
3. When should they retain counsel?
Finally, you should be telling clients when they will need to hire an attorney - whether it’s you or someone else.
Giving away this marketing piece will give value to everyone who reads it (for free). While you’re doing a good deed here, you’re also promoting your practice. Because you’re the one educating them, there’s a good chance they’ll turn to you when they need help.
More Than Marketing
You now have something to offer clients and referral partners as a benefit to them, not as just another piece of marketing. Usually, marketing content has no real benefit to clients. Sometimes it’s educational, but lacks pass-along to those outside of your current networks.
A piece that answers these three questions has more value than typical marketing content. The more valuable a piece is, the more viral it can become.
Ultimately, this becomes marketing without marketing. You don’t feel like a salesman because you are gifting something valuable to your client base.
The Referral Hook
After you’ve written your piece, you’ll need a referral hook. This is the call to action. It introduces your client and referral partners to the marketing piece and urges them to share it. Let’s look at a few examples.
“Bob, as you know I’m always advocating for the best interests of my clients.
I’ve written a guide called ‘Three Sneaky Gotchas You Can Spot In Nondisclosure Agreements Without a Lawyer’ which is the kind of thing that will be useful to you in the future.
Also, I think too many lawyers push people into being clients instead of educating them to handle things without paying a lawyer for every little thing.
Who else do you know that could benefit from this so they aren’t calling lawyers when they don’t have to?”
You're telling them that you have something that could benefit both them and the people they know. It’s marketing without marketing. You don’t have to feel like a salesman when you send this out because you’re doing them a service.
Maybe you’ve spotted someone on LinkedIn (in this case, CPA Charlie) that you want to reach out to as a potential referral partner.
“Hi CPA Charlie, you and I are both connected to Mary on LinkedIn. I’m a business attorney.
I’ve written a quick checklist of ‘Five Sources of Business Financing Where You Don’t Actually Need an Attorney’ and thought it might be useful to you and your clients, so they know what they can handle themselves.
Can I shoot you a copy?”
In this referral hook, you’re making a possible connection with someone who will send you business when it’s appropriate.
These referral pieces can work in every practice area. I’ve even seen it work in family law, where the lawyer positioned themselves almost as an anti-divorce attorney. They published The 5 Ways You Can Save Your Marriage And Not Call a Divorce Attorney.
To implement the White Knight Strategy in any practice area, first think of a topic that applies to your clients and prospects. In a written marketing piece, tell them when to self-service, what to look out for, and when to call a professional. Then send it to them with a referral hook that encourages them to pass it along.