To win new clients and build your clientele, you need a "core story," according to Alex Nottingham, a business consultant, executive coach, lawyer and author. He spoke at the PILMMA national marketing summit in Las Vegas today.
The three most dangerous trends facing personal injury lawyers.
Marketplace Clutter: in 1992 consumers received an average of 3,000 commercial messages per day. Today it's 30,000. Therefore, differentiation is a must.
Competition: 18% of attorneys are in plaintiff personal injury practices - some 240,000 lawyers -- and it's a $51 billion industry. Media choices have skyrocketed: in the 1960s people watched on three networks but today viewers can choose from hundreds of channels. In 2004, lawyers spent $250 million on TV advertising. In 2008 it jumped to $500 million. It will soon be $1 billion, according to Nottingham.
Consolidation: 89% of law firms have fewer than 20 employees. Smaller firms are terminating employees to reduce their cost costs. With fewer hands on deck, law firms need to find a new form of marketing that involves a systematic approach.
Four Reasons why clients don't hire you.
- Clients don't have access to you. They can't find you on the web, their friends haven't heard of you and they haven't seen your marketing.
- They need to be educated about you. Potential clients are scared and need information to before making a buying decision.
- Negative buying criteria. Clients have a negative perception as plaintiff PI lawyers as ambulance chasers. The more lawyers can educate potential clients about the results you bring them, the more confidence they have in you.
- Clients don't see you as special. They see you the same as any other lawyer.
Nottingham said lawyers need a core story, which an education-based marketing system designed to systemically accelerate business growth. You will attract more buyers if you teach them something. Only about 3% of your audience is ready to buy now, and you're competing for them against the entire phone book.
A core builds trust and includes:
A stadium pitch to capture their attention. Imagine you could make a presentation in a stadium filled with every potential client you could have. "What would you say to grab people's attention and make them hire you? The typical person's attention span is only 8 seconds," he said. A bad pitch would be, "Let us tell you about how our law firm has been around for 30 years." This is self-focused and 90% of listeners will walk out. A good pitch would be, "Here are the four tricks creditors use to keep you in debt."
Wow data. Include a gripping statistic about a client problem in your story. Problems are 5 times more persuasive than pleasure, according to Nottingham. For example, the headline for your core story can be "54 million Americas are unable to work from a disability that changed their lives" or "The average person will get into 6 car accidents in their lifetime." Present the data on your website and in your ads. Get the data from the US Census Bureau, and CNN.com.
Solutions. Give them a way to solve their problem -- something practical they can put to use right away. For example, give potential clients an accident notebook to put in their car's glove box. Advise them to see a doctor even though you don't feel hurt.
Differentiation. Talk about how you are different -- for example, that you have a client hotline or that you return phone calls the same day. Set forth a case study that shows how you took a person from a terrible situation and improved their lives.
Then lawyers should deploy their core story, using newsletters, referrals, radio, TV, partnerships and the Internet. "By putting a client's pain points on your web site, you can overcome the reasons that potential clients don't buy," he said.