Intro to Top 5 Marketing Tips for Plaintiff's Lawyers

Wow! Great stuff in the works today. A number of very talented marketing consultants agreed to help with the Top 5 list. I’m honored that so many talented people would share their knowledge with us. In alphabetical order, the contributors are:

Thank you, everyone. Thanks for sharing this information with me and my readers. What a wonderful Top 5.

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The 'Be Attitudes' for Plaintiff Attorneys by Bruce Allen

Bruce Allen is the author of the Marketing Catalyst Blog.  Bruce has been a top marketing consultant for over 20 years, with his own consulting practice and also inhouse at law firms and consulting firms. On with Bruce’s advice:

  1. Be Real – Plaintiff attorneys are in the business of first impressions. You are measured by opposing counsel, by juries, judges, recorders, reporters, and most importantly, prospective clients. If you try to be something you are not, you will be found out, and that never works for you. You can try to be too slick, too folksy, too intellectual, too connected... whatever. If it’s not you. Don’t do it.
     
    Your marketing materials, the words you use, the advertisements you place, have to match your personality. The first impression that counts is when someone meets you face to face. If your how you represent yourself in print or word doesn’t match who they meet, you lose. Be real. Be yourself
  2. Be A Story Teller – Every client you represent has a story. It’s probably a good story… and people love to read a good story. When you make connections with the media don’t tell them about what you’re doing; tell them the stories of your clients. Don’t talk about how you’ll bring them justice; talk about how they haven’t had any. To be the most visible point at someone else and the attention will come back to you.
  3. Be The Expert – Keep narrowing the type of cases you represent until you become the biggest name in that segment. It is a lot easier to aim your marketing 1% of the market than 50%, or %100.
  4. Be Visible – Become an advocate. Support causes that will bring reward to the clients you represent. Become a mentor to other attorneys on their way up and you’ll benefit from the referrals. Advertise about the success of your clients, not the success of your practice. Get a PR agency to place you on podiums and get you quoted in news stories. And most of all, be accessible to your clients when they need you. Clients talk about who they see, so it better be you.
  5. Be Caring – In the heart of every client you represent is at least a little fear. Probably a lot of fear. There is nothing more powerful than the word-of-mouth from someone that is a true believer. To make them a true believer in you, you’ll need to care about what happens to them.
    When it comes to marketing a plaintiff practice it would be easy to simply run through all of the basics of marketing, but that could not be nearly enough. A plaintiff attorney WILL live and die (professionally) by their ability to connect with people and quickly earn trust. Do not ever believe that ‘marketing’ can make you anything you are not. 
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Tips for Marketing a Plaintiff's Personal Injury Practice from Larry Bodine

These tips come courtesy of Larry Bodine. Larry Bodine produces the Law Marketing Portal and also is the author of Larry Bodine’s Professional Marketing Blog. When I asked for some tips, Larry graciously allowed me to reprint an article he had already published on the subject. The original article Marketing a Plaintiff's Personal Injury Practice was originally published in the Law Marketing Portal on May 16, 2004.

Larry produces the Professional Marketing of North America newsletter which you can sign up for here.  Larry has been the  Editor and Publisher of the American Bar Association Journal, the National Law Journal, Lawyers Alert (which was renamed Lawyers Weekly) among other news publications. Here is Larry’s article:

Marketing a Plaintiff's Personal Injury Practice

From: Larry Bodine

What are some good tactics that a plaintiff's personal injury lawyer can use to market his services?

Clearly, he and his firm benefit by having aggressive media relations -- they know that getting on the 6 o'clock news gets them new business. But beyond that -- what works? He describes marketing for plaintiff lawyers as "you need to be there when lighting strikes." Marketing that appeals to a business client doesn't fit because he's seeking consumer clients -- people who have catastrophic injuries.

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5 Marketing Tips for Plaintiff's Attorneys from Andy Havens

Andy Havens is a marketing consultant and is the author of  the entertaining and informative Andy Haven’s legal marketing blog. Andy is a regular contributor to LLRX. Andy’s company is SaneStorm, which provides a free consultation to determine how they can help you.

  1. No marketing without goals: If you're doing stuff just to do stuff, cut it out. If you're doing something because your competition is doing it, I
    can pretty much guarantee that they don't know why they're doing it, so cut it out. You're better off spending the money on employee bonuses. Seriously, if you don't have a very good reason for a marketing program, you may in fact be doing more harm than good.
  2. No marketing goals without specific measurements: Hey! This links right up with that last one! That's right, campers. Goals require measurement.Marketing without measurement is like basketball without baskets; lots of dribbling, but no point whatsoever. If you can't measure the success (or failure) of your marketing programs, you won't know if you're making progress. You won't know which activities are paying off for you, and which should be abandoned. Every marketing process should be a cycle; you do something, measure its effect, change the activity based on the measurement, and do it again. That way, every time you do something, it becomes more efficient and/or effective. Over time, you end up with world-class marketing. If you don't measure your programs, over time you end up with... who knows what. It could even be worse than when you started. You'll never know. Was that a basket? Or did it bounce off the rim? We can't tell.
  3. Brand is about more than a logo, tagline and color palette: Those are like the black tie at a "black tie affair." Yes, you need them. But if you show up wearing just that, you'll be asked to leave. Pants are a requirement, too, after all. Brand is hard to get right. It takes hard work,
    lots of time and, more than anything else, attention. You have to work to align everything in your practice with your brand. Example: billing. If your brand is something like, "We fight harder for your rights," then your bill collection policies have to be tough but fair. If your accounts receivable people are all soft and fuzzy when they contact clients, that's off-brand. Contrariwise, if your brand is, "We're the friendly lawyers," you can't have knee-breakers making collections calls. Think of brand as the "corporate personality." You can't be even a little schizophrenic. All your transactions have to fit within the brand. That goes for how you treat employees, vendors and other law firms, too. You can't be "the friendly firm" to clients and total bastards to your staff. It won't ring true, and you'll be asked to leave the party, go home, and put on pants.
  4. Get your silly mug out of your ads: We know you're beautiful. Yes, your mama gave birth to a beautiful, beautiful baby. You are, without a doubt, the best looking lawyer since Hammuarabi slapped down the code. I don't care. Get out of the ad. Don't argue with me. I don't want to heart it. Get. Out. Of. The. Ad. I don't know who is worse on this one, lawyers or real estate agents. Your face has nothing to do with the value proposition you're selling. If you are working in family law, show pictures of families. If you are working in med mal, show pictures of doctors and patients. Pictures of people are powerful drivers of behavior in advertising. IF they are linked logically to the decision you want your customer to make. Unless you are actually selling yourself, get out of the ad. I've told this to dozens of lawyers, and some of them get all up in my grill with, "But I am selling myself. That's what a lawyer does." No. It's not. That's how it feels to you, since you're the provider. But the client doesn't care if you're Mr. Pinkleburger with sideburns and a bad sprayed-on tan or Ms. Claymore wearing a 1980's, teal power-suit. They want a result, not a particular face. Show them images related to either the situation you can help them avoid/escape, or the situation you can help them find/discover.
  5. Blog: A year ago, I thought a blog was something you went to your  internist to have removed in an outpatient procedure. Now I preach the gospel of blogging. In less than five months, and with fewer than 40 posts, I created a blog that more often than not ranks on the first page of Google, Yahoo and AltaVista for the search term "legal marketing." I generally get 100-200 visitors a day to my blog, about half of whom come from search engines, half from other blogs and media sources. A law firm without a blog in 2005 is going to look, in retrospect, like a law firm without a web site did in 1996. Pretty damn dumb. But there are right ways and wrong ways to go about it. See #1 and #2, above. Don't just do it because everyone else is. Do it for a reason. So what's the reason? Blogs aggregate content that readers are interested in. They do so in a way that's very attractive to search engines, and they are subscribable in a format call RSS (Real Simple Syndication) which lets people keep track of your blog by its headlines through a portal like MyYahoo. If you need help getting started with a professional blog, there are several consultants who do a great job for lawyers. One of them being Kevin O'Keefe over at LexBlog.  If you want to work blogs into your overall marketing mix, give me a yell.
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Marketing Tips for Personal Injury Lawyers from Tom Kane

Tom Kane is a marketing consultant and the author of the ABA book Letters for Lawyers: Essential Communications for Clients, Prospects, and Others and is also a contributing author on The ABA Guide to Legal Marketing: A Collection of the Best Ideas, Approaches, and Success Stories . Tom also has great advice at his weblog The Legal Marketing Blog.

  1. TV/Radio Advertising – TV ads are expensive, but effective if you spend enough.. How much? More than your competitors, or at least enough to get your name known, remembered and the phone ringing. Radio ads are less expensive, but also less effective. However, they can work if you place enough ads on stations that your target audience listens to.
  2. Networking with Lawyers – Good source of plaintiff’s work is referrals from other lawyers that do not take plaintiff’s work, or don’t handle litigation at all. Such networking should include involvement in local and state bar associations. Being active in ATLA is also effective if you seek a leadership position and become known as a player, so that you get referrals from your counterparts in other states. The key to involvement in any organization is to be a doer, not just a joiner. You should seek a leadership position and volunteer often on committees. Otherwise spend your time elsewhere.
  3. Make Friends with Media – Get to know newspaper, and radio/TV reporters by taking them to breakfast or lunch. If they know what you do, and get to know you personally, they are more likely to call you when they want to get a lawyer’s perspective on a story they are working on. Remember that they are usually under a tight deadline, so you will need to be very responsive by calling them back immediately, if not sooner.
  4. Community Involvement – Join key, visible community organizations where you can make a difference. Again, you need to be very active and known as contributor or it will not work. You could also sponsor a community project. For example, give free T-shirts (or whatever) to all high school seniors who take a pledge not to drink on prom night, or some other high profile community involvement.
  5. Yellow Page Ads – Yellow page ads can be expensive also, and they are less effective than TV/Radio ads. Moreover, there are just too many of them. It is harder to stand out among the crowd. So, if you do pay for one ad or more, make your ad(s) stand out as different. Narrow your niche(s), e.g., dental malpractice vs. general medical malpractice. You can’t be all things to all potential plaintiffs, if you expect to stand out among the 100 or so pages of lawyer ads. Subject to bar ethics rules, do something different to have your ad stand out. Include a picture of your dog, your out-house, or whatever you deem appropriate to set your ad apart.
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A Model for Marketing Professional Services from Jim Logan

This advice comes from Jim Logan, the author of JSLogan Blog. Jim’s been in marketing for over 20 years and is the founder of  Accelerate Business Group.  In addition to all of the wonderful advice on his blog, Jim has an interesting approach to billing. On with Jim’s advice on marketing for Plaintiff’s Lawyers:

Instead of giving 5 Tips, I'd like to share my thoughts on what I believe is far more valuable: a model for marketing professional services.

I believe plaintiff’s attorneys can best market their services by keeping at the forefront of their thoughts that everything they do is about their client. Their client is seeking "justice" to right a wrong that has fallen upon them. Keeping their client’s perspective at the forefront of their thoughts, they should address three things in their marketing effort: benefits, difference, and reason to believe – solely from their client’s perspective.

Client’s seeking professional services of any sorts review and choose service providers, professionals, and representation by consciously or sub-consciously evaluating their choices by weighing the expected benefit, difference, and reason to believe in the professional’s offering.

Benefits – If you’re a client seeking a plaintiff’s attorney: What benefits do I get as a result of selecting you or your firm? What do you offer me? What am I getting out of the deal if I select you or your firm to represent me?

Difference – As a client seeking services: Why should I select you or your firm instead of the plaintiff’s attorney or firm down the street? What makes you different? Assuming all plaintiff’s attorneys have equal skill, what extra do I get with you?

Reason to Believe – Why should I believe you can deliver the benefits and difference you claim?

Of the three points above (benefits, difference, and reason to believe), I believe difference and reason to believe are areas where the most opportunity are found:

  1. Do you or can you offer a unique difference in the way you approach a client interaction or matter management? Milestones, routine updates with client, etc.
  2. Do you or can you bill for activities differently than your competitors? For instance, don’t bill for administrative costs and activities.
  3. Can you offer guaranteed response times? Returned calls, correspondence, etc.? This addresses a concern of the client that the matter is as important to you as it is to them.
  4. Offer testimonials and references, not just on satisfaction with outcome, but satisfaction with attention, responsiveness, creativity, dedication, etc. This is critical to addressing reason to believe.

Benefits, difference, and reason to believe need to be integrated into everything the solo practitioner or firm does - web and print customer communications, every interaction with client while earning their representation, establishing their business practices, pricing, etc.

When you look at marketing materials of most firms, you see everything about how wonderful the firm is: pedigree of attorney's, success rate of the firm, etc. Rarely have I seen how important the client is. This is a great mistake. I believe the marketing effort should always be about the client - their benefits, their success, the value they enjoy from doing business with you or your firm.

This perspective sets the tone for the tactics used to market your services.

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5 Marketing Tips for Plaintiff''s Attorneys from Kerry Randall

Kerry Randall is the principal of The Lawyer Marketing Guy and is the author of the great ABA book Effective Yellow Pages Advertising for Lawyers : The Complete Guide to Creating Winning Ads. He is also a contributing author for the ABA book Flying Solo: A Survival Guide for the Solo Lawyer. Kerry provides a free marketing analysis to potential clients. On with Kerry’s tips:

  1. Always invest in the highest return-on-investment vehicle first. Only after you have saturated the highest-ROI vehicle do you move on to the next highest.
  2. Benchmark the most successful firms you can find in other, non-competing markets around the country. When you travel, turn on the TV and look at the yellow pages in the hotel room. Find out which firms are the most successful at bringing in new clients from their marketing. Learn from them.
  3. Never go into a battle you aren’t fully committed to win. Never design a marketing message that will compete. Design only messages that will clobber the competition.
  4. Never spend your marketing money without thorough investigation, scrutiny, and confidence. You may not turn every marketing campaign into a goldmine, but your total marketing plan will be successful if you investigate and plan before you execute.
  5. Evaluate your results. Test new ideas. Take chances. (For professionals, marketing is always "test marketing.") Look at your results before you decide what new ideas to test, and which chances you should take.

In addition to these tips, Kerry has also written The Lawyer Marketing Guy’s Seventeen Failsafe Marketing Rules.

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7 Key Insights for the Ultimate Yellow Pages Ad from Tom St. Louis

Tom St. Louis is a marketing consultant and has been the president of Zerald Communications since 1990. Tom provides free critiques of your Yellow Pages or print ad. Tom also provides lawyers with 2 free e-books “Marketing From The Heart” and “How To Hire The Marketing or Advertising Company That's Right For You” at his website. On with Tom’s advice:

Lawyers are famous throughout marketingdom for the most fatuous, self-serving, horrendously expensive and laughably ineffective ads. Virtually all lawyer ads have as their unexamined theme ‘Here I am. I’m the best! Choose ME!!!’

If, from your vantage point, this approach seems self-evidently silly, you may be ready for an entirely new paradigm. Here are 7 insights to help you vault to a more responsive Yellow Pages approach.

  1. Truth in Advertising. People don¹t believe what you say, even when it¹s true. And, they believe what they tell themselves in their own
    mind, even when it¹s not true. So, telling them ‘all about you’ simply cannot be the best approach. Capiche?
  2. Avoid Name, Rank and Serial Number ads. Perhaps the biggest mistake lawyers who advertise in print make is to assume that the theme of their ad should be: ‘Who we are, what we do, and how to reach us’.
  3. Use a headline. The second biggest error is not having a great headline. Here¹s a clue: Your name and logo are not a headline. The headline must arrestingly present a powerful benefit to the prospect‚Ä?from their point of view. Re-read the last five words of the previous sentence ten of fifteen times.
  4. The Magic Moment. The Yellow Pages is a ‘magic moment’ medium. There is no other print medium where people in need go to find an instant solution, ready to take buying action right away. If you could just understand the mindset of your prospect in their moment of need, you would dominate your heading year after year.
  5. When everyone is Zigging, it’s time to Zag. Virtually all Yellow Pages ads‚Ä?especially ads by lawyers‚Ä?are created through pilfering elements
    from competitors’ ads from previous years. This produces what I call ’The greatest hits of same old same old’.
  6. The Yellow Pages is not a visual medium. Imagine going to a fancy restaurant and ordering dinner. The waiter brings your order along
    with a picture of a beautiful meal, which looks even better than the one you ordered. Which one would you want to eat? The incorrect assumption everyone makes is that appearance counts for more than substance in the Yellow Pages. With only bad ads to choose from, people will pick the best looking of the bad ads. When one party offers real substance, they win hands down, beating the ‘prettiest’ ad handily.
  7. ‘Point of You’. Your ad should be based on the frame of mind of your prospect in their moment of need. Someone once said, ‘Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care’. The moment your prospect ‘gets’ that you understand where they are coming from and feel that you are committed to leading them to the best solution, you have effectively separated yourself from all your ‘same old same old’ competitors.
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