I have people often ask me: ‘what’s the number one reason lawyers fail in running their own practice?’ My answer is simple.
The #1 reason lawyers fail at building their own practice is because they don’t know how to think like entrepreneurs.
We’re trained from day one of law school to find exceptions and discrepancies and expose them. But to build a business, you must learn how to identify similarities in the success of other businesses and take advantage of them. These are two entirely different crafts and many lawyers find the shift to be impossible.
Then there’s sales, a close-second reason that lawyers fail at their own practice. We aren’t taught to sell, nor are most of us natural salespeople. In fact, 49% of all lawyers are introverts and the majority of the rest of us are just book nerds. Well, I’m a computer nerd, but a rose is a rose.
Yes, you must learn how to sell if you want to build a successful practice. But what if I told you that there was a way to sell and it not feel like selling? Or at least it won't feel like selling a used car on the local corner lot?
Education-Based Marketing is a paradigm shift in sales. It’s a mindset that makes sales feel far more like helping people - something we wouldn’t be practicing law if we didn't want to do.
But first, realize that a client doesn’t just hire a lawyer on the spot. No, hiring a lawyer happens in three stages. Just like any purchase decision does.
Awareness is the first stage a client goes through in the process and happens when they become aware of the issue, and then their need for a lawyer.
The second of three stages is the research stage, in which a client does their due diligence to find the right lawyer for their situation.
Last is the buying stage, when a client makes a decision on what lawyer to represent them.
Most sales models connect you with a client in their research stage, or worse yet the buying stage. This usually involves advertising so they can easily find you in their hunt for representation, or sometimes poorly organized referral marketing where you try to get clients with a need today from your network. Familiar to all of us, which is why we stick to it, but a pretty bad model because we’re competing with everyone else doing the same thing.
Wouldn’t you like to opt out of competition entirely, and get clients who are pre-determined to hire you, without ever talking to another attorney?
Education-based marketing aims at building a relationship with a client before the awareness stage, before they even know they have a need for your services.
But why would we spend time building rapport with someone who may or may not need us? Because the moment they do need law services, there’s a stunningly large chance that you’re the one they’ll pick up the phone to call.
Click here to get access to my free Law Practice Growth Guide that shows you how to grow your law firm predictably and create freedom for yourself.
Here’s what education-based marketing is, and how to leverage it as a lawyer.
Identify an audience or specific people that do or will have a need for representation within your practice area. It’s important to be very, very specific here. If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one. Think about it this way, if you’ve got a brain tumor are you going to the surgeon doing just brain surgery, or the general practitioner around the corner who takes any comers? So when you’re identifying your audience, be very specific. Like “I’m going to lock up the market for estate planning for architects in San Francisco”.
2. CAPTURE LEADS
Make sure you're collecting people's contact information. For example, if you're doing a seminar don't just give everyone the handouts. Give them enough to be helpful, and whet their appetite, but hold something back so you can start a dialogue, educating them more. This is very, very important. If you don’t collect their information there’s no way you can provide them with additional value – education – over time. You’ve just wasted your marketing time and dollars.
3. NURTURE WITH EDUCATION
Now that you've got their contact information, it's time to show that you're a thought leader. By helping them spot legal issues that relate to their situation, you're bridging the lawyer-client gap ... and nurturing the relationship. In other words, you’re not talking your language, you’re talking theirs. Put on your client’s hat, and educate them about things that interest them, not you.
Remember, using legalese here is the worst thing you can do. Speak English like a normal human being. Legalese makes you sound pompous, not smart.
4. SELL WITHOUT HARD SELLING
Now that you're a thought leader - and you're nurturing the relationship over time with education, it's time to turn the work into clients. And the best way to sell is ... by not selling.
What does that mean? That's a topic for a whole 'nother article, but the short answer is you can be more effective getting clients by dropping the hard sale and using an Authority sale. More on that to come.
If there’s nothing else you take away from this, please hear one thing.
More than ever before, selling is contingent on relationship. Relationship is contingent on trust. And trust is cultivated by intentional attempts to help someone.
Education-based marketing is about starting to build trust today in order to win sales tomorrow. Unlike the hunter, who is purely reactive. I want to teach you to intentionally plant the seeds with your future prospects and feed them with great content...so when they are ready, YOU are the one they turn to.