Those who know me understand that I love marketing my estate planning law practice. I believe that we have thorough front-stage processes and back-stage methods that take care of clients in a uniquely positive way. To get the word out, I’ve written professional articles for trade journals, as well as newspaper columns for laymen, posted blogs, conducted workshops, created brochures, shot videos, recorded podcasts and authored books. I use all of these materials in educating my clients, which naturally leads to attracting like-minded prospective clients.
Over the years, it’s become a self-perpetuating cycle. It does, however, take a continual and significant investment of time, money, creativity and planning.
A colleague for whom I consult on these matters recently asked me, “What’s the one marketing strategy that works above all others?”
“All of them!” I answered.
You see, he was overwhelmed with the prospect of creating his own marketing strategy, so was searching for that “silver bullet” – the one effective tool that can be employed resulting in A+ clients knocking your doors down. It just doesn’t work that way. With that said, here are five insights that will, over time, help you to create your own effective marketing campaign.
Consider the Clients You Wish to Attract
When building your marketing strategies, identifying your target market is probably the single most important step. The common error many estate-planning attorneys make is to seek clients with a certain minimum net worth. “I will only take clients worth over $5 million,” you might proclaim to your centers of influence.
That’s a mistake.
I’d rather have a client who’s worth $2 million and has the right mindset over one worth $10 million who doesn’t. So the first insight is to identify the best client mindsets. Is he open to new ideas and thinking? When your team asks for information, is he responsive? Is your experience and expertise important to him? Does he have reasonable expectations as to the time, complexity and value of your services? These are just a few of the questions that you might explore when thinking about your best clients and which ones you’d like to replicate inside of your practice.
Identify the Client Experience Your Firm Offers
You want to appear different from your competitors, so how do you accomplish that? In prior columns, I reviewed how you can create client value through leadership, relationship and creativity, while avoiding the commoditization trap. By thinking about the front stage elements that create each of your clients’ uniquely positive experiences, as well as the back stage methods your team takes to consistently deliver that experience, you have the beginnings of a system that you can build a marketing strategy around.
When reviewing the front stage steps, record and name them. That’s the beginnings of your client process that you will market to set yourself apart.
Educate Your Clients
In today’s experience economy, the best clients are looking for a relationship with a qualified attorney and great firm, as opposed to completing a transaction such as a client might find with online document preparation software. How do you consistently create experiences that lead to valuable relationships? In our field, you do this primarily by educating your client.
With that said, different clients appreciate different levels of information, so you need to develop materials that will meet these varying desires. For those fact finders who can never get enough, you may consider self-publishing a book. If you aren’t especially adept or have the time to write a book, you can enlist a ghost-writer. You might even find a series of books in your niche that are authored by another but you can brand as your own. I’m working on such a series now.
Authoring books isn’t the only educational tool. I conduct regular workshops for my existing clients in my firm’s estate-planning maintenance program, as well as for prospective clients. Don’t just give the workshop and let your efforts vanish into thin air, either! Video record them and then have them professionally edited to include on your web site.
Incorporate Different Delivery Methods
Some prospective clients will want to listen to your podcasts while driving, while others like to read a short blog on your web site. Consequently, you have to deliver your content in several different formats, recycling it if you will. As an example, I’ve turned my weekly estate planning column into one of my books. Chapters and sections of my books will then become material for short podcasts and webinars.
The greater your variety of distribution channels, the more likely you are to reach your target market. We live in extraordinary times. A few years ago, you might have had to spend thousands of dollars to create and deliver your content on television, radio or print advertising. Today, a multitude of inexpensive channels exist to reach those who are searching for someone like you right now!
I would by untruthful if I told you that all of this can be created in a short period of time. I’ve been at this content creation for more than 15 years, with the last few years being the most productive. The cost of creating electronic or web-based content has come down significantly, plus it has the incredible power of reaching broad audiences. You must, however, have a plan carefully laid out and executed.
Finish Off with Great Graphics and Design
Finally, don’t just type your content out in Word and copy it for clients. Nothing looks less professional than a bunch of blotchy copies of old newspaper articles or lists made from your secretary’s computer. Your content needs to look professional and have a graphically themed interface. The look you create for your brochures, on the web, and in print and media advertising should have a consistent look and feel.
There are numerous web applications, such as fiverr.com, that can design professional logos for a fraction of the cost of what marketing firms might charge. With that said, I suggest that you invest in a good advertising/marketing agency. The benefits of doing it right the first time far outweigh the cost of having real professionals on your team. Having a good team also adds value just the same as you add professional value to your own clients’ needs.
Now, go to it!