Trey Ryder 2013-12-05 00:02:56
Small Interactions Build the Road to Big Cases I often hear the story of the personal injury lawyer who once handled an annoyingly small case — only to have the client return years later with a huge claim. Suddenly, that annoying case looks much more valuable, not because it generated big dollars, but because it built the lawyer’s credibility and cemented a relationship that endured for years. Since a small case — or a seemingly unimportant interaction — can one day cause a big case to come through your door, you’d be wise to set aside time to accept small cases and create interactions. And since marketing is a numbers game, the more relationships you build, the more cases you have the opportunity to attract. Regardless of whether you market yourself to consumers — or business owners and executives — here are ways to build relationships and credibility: TIP #1 Offer free materials that contain information and advice in your area of law. The more helpful information they contain, the more likely prospects are to save your materials, even for years. With properly designed materials, you can build an amazing amount of credibility and create a strong sense of relationship, even if you and your prospective client have never met. TIP #2 Offer free seminars where you can interact with genuine prospects interested in your subject. Not only can the seminar build remarkable credibility, if you have the opportunity to shake hands with prospects, you could create lasting personal bonds. TIP #3 Send your free newsletter to everyone who requests your materials and everyone who attends your seminar. Once you interact with prospects and build your credibility, you enhance the feeling that your prospect knows you by continuing to send your monthly newsletter. TIP #4 Offer small services and audits that will attract the prospects you believe could have big cases in future years. Test different services to see which ones attract the highest number of the prospects you want to reach. For young consumers, offering to write a will might appeal to some prospects, but offering to review insurance coverages could draw many more. For business owners or executives, offering a liability audit might draw a few inquiries, but offering a business succession audit could pull much better. Besides services and audits, you could offer reviews and updates for documents that need to be occasionally revised. Also, you might make the process more attractive by creating a two-step offer. First offer an educational handout; then follow the handout with an offer to provide services. For example, you might offer a copy of 7 Red Flags That Signal Your Estate Plan Is Out Of Date, which could lead to a review of estate planning documents. Or, you might offer 5 Terms That Most Courts Will Not Allow In Agreements Not To Compete, which could result in your reviewing the company’s non-compete contracts. If you want to build relationships in large numbers, you might follow the hospitals’ lead. In Payson, Arizona, where I live, a number of Phoenix hospitals have purchased local medical practices. Routine medical problems are handled in the local office. But when someone comes in with a heart condition or other serious problem, the patient is transferred to the Phoenix hospital that owns the practice. In this way, local doctors’ offices serve as feeders to Phoenix hospitals. Whether you want to attract consumers or business clients, you could establish satellite offices staffed with associates around your city or state. Their job would be to handle routine legal matters and build as many relationships as possible in the community. When a big case comes through their doors, that case goes to the supervising partner in the downtown office, while the associate maintains contact at the local level. Beware: I’m not suggesting you offer cheap services as an entry point because cheap services usually attract cheap, undesirable clients. I’m suggesting, instead, that you attract prospects with services the prospect perceives as “no big deal.” If your prospect already has a lawyer, he might think it’s a major decision to go to another lawyer. But if you offer a minor service, such as reviewing a document, your prospect might consider it only a second opinion — another point of view — which isn’t anywhere near the same as hiring a new lawyer. These small steps help you build relationships and credibility for at least two situations: One, when your prospect needs a lawyer, he or she already has a relationship with you. And two, if the person decides to look for a new attorney, you are in a strong position because (1) you already know the prospect, (2) you already have credibility with the prospect, and (3) you already have provided the prospect with educational materials, seminars, newsletters and small services. Don’t discount the importance of future business by focusing only on income for the present. Several years from now, when competition is even more intense, you’ll look back at those little services you provided — and those free materials you mailed out — and realize that the crop you are harvesting grew because you made the time and invested the energy to plant those small seeds. Trey Ryder specializes in education-based marketing for lawyers. He designs dignified marketing programs for lawyers and law firms in the United States, Canada and other English-speaking countries. Trey works from his offices in Payson, Ariz. and Juneau, Alaska. To read more of Trey’s articles, visit the Lawyer Marketing Advisor at www.treyryder.com.
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