I wish it weren't so, but... Lawyers are masters at screwing up lead generation. For most attorneys, it’s a game of “follow the leader.”
“Well, every other law firm on the face of the earth is doing it this way, so it must be right. Let’s do what everyone else is doing.”
This approach ignores the fact that most attorneys – and the “experts” who advise them – have no idea how to market their firms and generate leads. It's blind leading the blind.
That’s why you’ll always find lawyers throwing their money away on pay-per-click campaigns and throwing their time away at networking events.
Here are some of the most common lead generation mistakes that lawyers make.
1. Focusing on Short-Term Tactics Instead of Long-Term Strategy
Too many practices make knee-jerk reactions, choosing where to put their marketing dollars without doing their homework. That’s why they choose where to find their leads based on an article they read in a legal publication, or something a guy at an agency told them on the phone that day.
Jumping into any marketing tactic without looking at the big picture is usually the wrong choice.
Every single marketing initiative must be evaluated based on all options, your budget, and the results you want to achieve.
Before you choose a vendor, or choosing what most people refer to as a strategy (even though it’s really a tactic), take a step back. Make sure any vendor or tactic supports your firm’s long-term, strategic goals.
Will what you're doing work for the long term? Bring you the right kind of clients? Not be a problem if your vendor vanishes? Is it an asset to your practice?
2. Valuing Quantity over Quality
Most paid lead generation is designed to send you as many leads as possible. Sounds good, at first blush.
But here's the rub. Many leads, but not necessarily the right leads.
The most egregious offenders are typically the people selling pay-per-click advertising, directory insertions, and SEO services.
These aren’t inherently bad, but you have to think about the clients you’ll actually get when you spend those marketing dollars. Not all clients are created equal. OK, maybe they're created equal, but they ain't that way by the time you find them.
Will your firm be better off if a pay-per-click campaign brings in a bunch of slow-pay/no-pay clients?
Make sure you’re fishing for leads in the right pond. A pond where people have a legitimate need for your services and the ability to pay for those services. Not the freebie seeker pond, sucking up your time with free consultations that go nowhere. A pond where the people are a pleasure to work with.
Poorly chosen Internet lead sources may bring you a lot of volume. But when you factor in the collection rate and low referral rate on top of the cost of the actual campaign, it turns into a very expensive proposition with little long-term reward.
(Side story, on this topic. I once met a lawyer billing over $400,000 in fees from marketing through a pay-per-lead service. I was impressed... until I learned the whole story. Yes, he billed $400,000. Collected a fraction of that, because the client quality was so low. Cut the marketing vendor a huge check. And was left $50K at the end of the year. Ouch.)
3. Not Knowing Your Numbers
When it comes to numbers, most lawyers think in terms of budget. For example, they may allocate $3,000 per month to marketing.
It’s important to have a threshold, yes. But what are you doing to make sure your marketing generates at least $3,000 in business? If you don’t know your numbers, you have no idea what kinds of results your marketing will deliver.
Ultimately, budgets shouldn’t matter. The only question you should be asking is, “If I spend X dollars, will I get back that amount and more, and how quickly?”
If you get a good answer to that question, the real question becomes, “How much can I spend?”
Don't think budget. Think investment and return.
4. Not Knowing when to Fold
A wise fellow once said, “You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run.”
Well, that guy was a bit of a gambler. But his musings apply to lead generation.
Creating opportunities requires you to spend money on testing. A lot of attorneys pull the plug too quickly. After two or three months, they bail on a lead generation campaign because they think it’s not making them any money.
On the other hand, many attorneys are caught asleep at the switch, running the same campaign for years without knowing if it was actually working.
Lawyers are guilty on both fronts. I don't blame them. There's a lot to manage, running a practice. And the thought of cutting a vendor loose seems like a headache.
Anyway, they don’t give their marketing enough time to succeed and they fold too quickly. Or they keep doing the same thing over and over without measuring ROI and hold too long.
In both cases, lead generation investments are flushed down the toilet.
So - here's the bottom line. You're smart. You made it through the law school gauntlet, through starting a practice. But once you're playing in the world of marketing, make sure you understand what you're doing - because it's easy to make mistakes that burn cash, and leave your business at risk.
Do your homework - or if you don't have the time, find someone you trust to help you.