Getting Started with Attorney Referral Marketing
Besides doing your law firm marketing online extremely well, it’s important to focus on referral marketing for your law practice. Referred legal client prospects turn into paying clients. They are the least expensive to obtain and the most likely to convert. You don’t have to go through the pre-screening processes with referred prospects, as this has already been done by the referrer. Moreover, referred clients for your law firm are more likely to be cooperative and also more likely to refer others.
These concepts are agreed upon by lawyers, in general. This begs the question, “Why don’t they invest more resources into this technique?” The answer is simple: they feel uncomfortable and they lack the time. This is where the techniques listed below will come into play.
We’ve put together these law firm referral marketing tips based on a 150-page E-Book that Kara Prior, CEO of James Publishing, put together. James Publishing also has another division of their company called James Referrals, which offers a Done For You Legal Referral System.
Let’s get started…
Make Client Lists More Valuable
Client lists are one of the most valuable assets of any company. This is basic business 101, but what good are these lists if they aren’t readily available in a useable format. Download the ebook by James Publishing “How Small Law Firms Can Obtain More Referrals” for more information on how to organize and update your client lists!
Past Clients vs Non-Clients
Direct referrals can come from one of two sources: those from past clients and those from non-clients. The approach you will use for each of these will be different.
For past clients, you can simply ask and use the automated approach so that you continue to be in the back of their mind.
For non-clients, you will need to nurture them as a lead source and continue to build your relationship with them in a non-automated way.
Attorney Referral Outreach Techniques
One proven technique for referrals is booklet sharing. The process is fairly simple: email your list of contacts with links to valuable information, such as digital booklets, and a request to share it with anyone they feel will find it valuable. This process can be simple; it can be automated; it can be inexpensive. Moreover, it can and does work!
The booklets don’t have to be long but need to be long enough to fully cover the topic. Even though you know most of these tasks aren’t available to be done-by-oneself, you want to present the information as such. Most don’t have the time, energy or knowledge to do-it-themselves. You know that; they don’t.
Your newsletter should be entertaining and informative. These should not be used as a one-page ad, so, don’t only talk about yourself or your firm.
Most prefer to watch or read to gain information. Pairing a webinar with the booklet satisfies the needs of both types. You can record it once and use it over and over, or publish it so that viewers can play on-demand.
You need to know how clients view your firm, and feedback is the best way to do that. The problem comes in with the implementation. You want both qualitative and quantitative data, without running off the client.
Once the client completes a form, or whatever action you choose, provide them with copies of your booklet for them to hand out. Again, this isn’t a direct advertisement. It is simply providing information to someone in need.
Having Google Reviews is a must, as you will still have online leads. Physically asking for a referral will give you more, and doing so at a positive time in the client’s case, will give you a better shot at a heartfelt review for everyone online to see.
How do you get former clients to continue to pump out referrals, even after time passes? Sending regular newsletters about general topics, such as social security, to continue to help them, and also to remind them that you helped them during a difficult time in the past.
Generating Attorney Referrals From Allied Professionals
You’ll want to organize your non-attorney professionals by specialty. If you don’t already have a contact list, you can Google search profession title “near me”. If you’re in a time crunch, focus on those who seem to have a better market strategy, as those have the potential to be able to help you more.
You can send out letters tailored to each “specialty list” to request an informal referral alliance with those who are in your non-attorney list. Be sure to include a different marketing tip for each memo, making the relationship start out with a “give” instead of a “take”.
You can take it a step further by requesting you be a direct source of help for the patients or clients of the potential “partner” by offering an informative handout on the information you specialize in.
Meeting with Prospective Referral Sources
Letters, by themselves, are not going to give the response you need to be able to start generating referrals. Consider giving those who haven’t responded a follow up call or even a few follow up calls and emails.
At the end of the phone conversation, you can then request an informal meeting, so that you may get to know each other. After all, if either of you is going to refer the other, shouldn’t you at least know if you like them?
You’ll want to gain some general information and background, for both yourself and for the potential future clients, you will refer to them. Find out information, such as their ideal client, so you’ll know what types of clients to send their way.
The more information you know about one another, the more you will both be able to help your clients.
Afterward, you’ll want to send a follow up email confirming the verbal agreement or sending a personalized “thank you” card, again to confirm the agreement.
Workshops for Attorney Referrals
Look at what profession would be a natural feeder for your firm. Don’t publicly advertise you offer workshops, but instead pursue qualified leads. The more qualified the lead is, for this, the more difficult it may be to convince them you’re doing things differently. Insist that you genuinely want to help their clients and add an additional service to their establishment.
When conducting workshops, the audience gets to hear about what your firm offers and what kind of person you are, but they don’t get their specific questions answered. This is a great opportunity to schedule a consultation. You can offer a free consultation, but make sure you require them to fill out an extensive intake form. That way you know the prospect is willing to work to get the result they want.
For most firms, the best sources of referrals will be one of the following: attorneys in the same specialty but in a different location or attorneys in the same area but with a different specialty.
Just like with the non-attorney referrals, you may want to send out an informative letter series with a request to be an informal local partner or to form an informal alliance.
Or, you could choose an alternate route and send valuable information, specific to your specialty, but information that could also be used by your potential partner, in a time of emergent need for their own clients, in a pinch.
The key is to provide enough information to get their client out of the pinch, and into your firm. This isn’t stealing the client, as you offer a different service. As a matter of fact, this only extends the client’s loyalty to the lawyer who was able to help, even though the problem presented wasn’t in their specialty range.
Meeting with Prospective Referral Sources
Lawyers are busy people and sometimes they need to be reminded, several times. They may need to be called and emailed several times until an actual meeting is arranged. Once the meeting is arranged, you or one of your lead attorneys should be the one to attend the meeting.
At the meeting, you will want to gain as much information about each other as possible. It is important to answer general questions you will need the answers to later, such as:
- What does their ideal client look like?
- How should the client reach out? Or will the attorney contact the client?
- How would your potential partner like his or her firm to be described?
- Is there a consultation fee? If so, will the fee be waived for your referrals?
- Do they have any branded handouts they want you to pass along?
You should also be prepared to answer any of the questions your partner feels are important. After the meeting, be sure to follow up to confirm the informal partnership, whether it be by email or sending a thank you letter.
Website and Book for Other Attorneys
Although it may seem counterintuitive to market yourself to other attorneys, and this may be the case if you’re only thinking in the short-term.
The fact of the matter is, lawyers can only specialize in so much. There is bound to be a time when a client reaches out to his or her preferred attorney, only to find, that their case can’t be taken by that firm. They will then trust the referral of that attorney, and because you have educated said attorney, or “nurtured that lead”, the client will more than likely be pointed in your direction.
You want to be known as the expert in your industry. To accomplish this, you must be willing to provide free and valuable information on a consistent basis that appeals, not only to potential clients but other attorneys, as well.
The old saying holds true here, “The more you give, the more you receive.”
Referral-Generating Office Processes
What the leaders find valuable, the rest of the office will find valuable. Schedule out time in meetings to talk about referrals. Get your staffed pumped about trumpeting their current stats. Set goals and acknowledge those who meet or exceed them.
What about the clients? The importance of treating referred clients like VIPs should go without saying. However, it is a step looked over by most firms. Small gestures are often enough to create a great impact. Whether it’s offering priority scheduling or following up with non-signers, these little actions speak volumes to the client and reinforce what the referrer planted.
You want to keep up with how you are getting clients. You may use a CRM, you may be able to record the data in real time. For smaller firms, a simple spreadsheet will suffice.
Attorney’s are busy people. This is common knowledge. What is not common knowledge is that your firm is always willing to take on new clients and that referrals are and always will be, appreciated. You want to remind clients, partners, everyone of this on a consistent basis. Print stickers that say “we appreciate referrals” or something of the like and place them on client folders. You could also add a button to your graphics for your preexisting brochure template.
The fastest way to stop a flow is to stop acknowledging. Be sure you continue to thank those who send you potential clients, even if the client does not sign a contract. This should be done promptly.
More Referral Tips From Practitioners
One simple tip is to create a one-page PDF that gives information about you, your firm and the types of cases you’ve handled. The content needs to be easy to read and not overwhelm the prospect. It should be updated regularly.
This is super simple and can be an effective marketing tool to get your name to potential clients as well as other attorneys. It can also be useful for accountants or other business partnerships, such as venture capital.
Although you obviously need a strong online presence, you also could benefit greatly from writing a book about your specialty. This will take some time and dedication, but having a tangible piece of education that your clients can hold in their hands and give to others in need, is invaluable.
You can then use your book as a digital marketing tool via your website. Offer a free download in exchange for receiving an email address. This grows your contact base.
You can use your book as leverage for clients who just aren’t ready to take the plunge. This makes you look like more of an authority and also a nicer person.
Referrals from Blogging
The important aspect of blogging is to pick and side and stand on it. Being opinionated is the best way to make sure your audience, more specifically other attorneys, know what types of cases and clients you want to take.
Blogs are there to help you market your firm, but they shouldn’t be filled with marketing fluff. If someone isn’t able to read your blog and learn from it, in the legal realm, there is no point in publishing it. If you want to be viewed as an expert in your field, you need to speak like an attorney, not a sales rep.
Speaking to Lawyers
Here, you want to take your strong suit and run with it. Lawyers can sniff out insecurity better than anyone else, after all. If you know you’re a great public speaker, use your ability to publicly teach about your profession. If you are a great writer, write a book or publish newsletters to be sent out once a month or so, blog, or employ email marketing.
The resource you give up the most is time. If you choose to go in the direction of your strength, you won’t waste as much time fumbling around.
Do One Thing and Do it Well
Attorneys are able to help other attorneys. Specializations are put into effect for a reason. This fact is so important when you market yourself to other attorneys. You aren’t there to steal their clients; you aren’t going to take them and run away in the sunset. The clients will come back when they need that service, again.
Marketing yourself as a niche practitioner is one of the single smartest moves a firm can make. You want to be different and you don’t want to be viewed as a threat by one of your single most valuable referrer groups: other attorneys.
Done-For-You Referral System
You know that referred leads are going to be your highest converters. The cost of a referral is usually nothing more than the price of a thank you card to the referrer. Asking for referrals is uncomfortable, especially when it’s not something you’ve commonly practiced in the past.
What if there were a way that your firm could benefit from a referral system but not have to trudge through the uncomfortable steps to get there? Go take a look at the fully managed James Referral System.