Myth: Effective Marketing Lets Potential Clients Know How Great You Are
Your potential clients don’t need to know how great your are. They couldn’t care less about where you went to law school or how high falutin’ you are. Among other things, this emphasis on the wrong things is what lawyers get so wrong with their websites and marketing efforts.
What clients need to know is what you can do for them. They need to know they can trust you to handle their business efficiently and effectively. They need you to be a good steward of your time and their money.
When potential clients are considering doing business with you, there are certain things you need to address to put them at ease, earning their trust and their business. Here are three questions potential clients need you to answer:
1. Is your proposal interesting to them?
Potential clients often answer the question of whether your proposal is interesting to them before ever making contact with you. If the answer is “no,” then you’ve likely not hear from them. Your potential clients are often deciding whether your proposal is interesting based on your firm’s marketing materials they first encounter. Maybe that’s your website, a billboard, or an industry publication. If you fail to identify the problem they’re experiencing, and how you can guide them to the solution, you’ve already lost. (For more on this, read Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand).
To effectively guide potential clients to an understanding that your services are interesting to them, you have to know who your target client is. If you’ve misidentified the folks who are interested in your services or the services they’re in need of, you will be unable to correctly identify for them the problem they are experiencing. You will not be communicating that you understand what they are experience and have the knowledge and skills to guide them to a resolution.
Once you do have their attention, you need to distinguish yourself from others who are seeking their business. You can accomplish this in part by establishing that your proposal is the one that best meets their needs.
2. Is your proposal right for them?
Here’s a story that a young lawyer shared with me about an experience she had: Before this lawyer had enough experience and gray hair to go to potential client meetings on her own, she made contact with an insurance company who was interested in her firm doing their work. So she set up the meeting that the managing partner and she were to attend. By the day of the meeting, a couple more lawyers had tagged along. (If you don’t know this yet, here’s some news: when there’s the scent of new business in the air, lawyers latch onto their business partners like ticks to a hunting dog.)
One of the partners had it in his head to talk about one particular line of business the potential new client wrote, and how experienced their firm was in handling it. The client wasn’t interested in talking about that. They wanted to talk about bigger picture items. Yet the partner would not be dissuaded. At every turn of the meeting, he brought the conversation back to what he had come their to say.
The rest of the lawyers in attendance were horrified. But the offending partner was oblivious. And short of handing him a note bearing some very direct message, there seemed no way to derail the train. So on it went.
For you to answer a potential client’s question as to whether your proposal is right for their needs, you must actively listen to discern their needs. This may require you to disregard any presuppositions you brought with you to the meeting. Otherwise, you will be answering the wrong question.
3. Can they trust you?
Trust is hard won but easily lost. While a trust relationship takes time to build, you can certainly signal right away that you cannot be trusted. Some of the most effective ways to sow seeds of distrust from the outset are to oversell yourself, be unduly critical of your competition, and to fudge on facts (especially when they can be confirmed from outside sources).
To the contrary, you can establish a firm foundation of trust when you carry yourself with integrity and deal with everyone in an upright manner. There is a shortage of people who are genuine and honest. Being someone known for these characteristics will open doors for you that would otherwise have been closed and will give people the confidence to take their interactions with you at face value.
Photo by ElectroSawHQ