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Marketing Myths Most Lawyers Believe

by Trey Ryder

Marketing Myth #1: "My marketing's most important purpose is to promote my services." False! The most important purpose of your marketing is to establish that you can be trusted. Most of us don't do business with people we don't trust. While your prospect is considering whether to hire your services, he is also trying to determine whether he trusts you.

Marketing Myth #2: "My prospects know the services I offer." Not true. If you believe prospects know the services you offer, you will start losing clients to lawyers who make their offering of specific services crystal clear. Many lawyers have had the experience where one of their clients has gone to another lawyer because he didn't know the first lawyer provided the same service. Write a detailed list of your services and give a copy to all clients and prospects -- because if prospects don't see the service they want on your list, they may go to another lawyer.

Marketing Myth #3: "My referral sources will send me all the new clients I want." It won't happen. Certainly you're grateful to get referrals from time to time. But if you think all the new business you want and need will come from referrals, 99% of the time you're wrong. You must develop a marketing program that will attract clients directly to you so you don't rely solely on referrals. Also, this helps you avoid paying referral fees.

Marketing Myth #4: "When prospects or clients have questions, they will call me." Not true. People often hesitate to call unless they know their calls are welcome. This is particularly true of prospects who haven't yet established a relationship with you. In all of your communications, invite prospects and clients to call you with their questions or problems. Often, their questions lead to work you can perform on their behalf.

Marketing Myth #5: "It makes no difference whether my photo appears in my marketing materials." Not true. Your photograph is a key piece of your marketing puzzle. A warm, friendly, engaging photo with good eye contact can do wonders for your marketing. It helps establish a friendly, trusting relationship with your prospects and increases your reader's comfort. Prospects don't care what you look like, but they feel better when they know.

Marketing Myth #6: "Interacting with prospects is a waste of time." Wrong. Always look for new ways to get prospects to interact with you. The more prospects talk with you, the more opportunities you have to explain how you can help them. Your interaction can take place over the telephone, in your office, at your seminar, by e-mail -- almost anywhere. The nature of the interaction doesn't matter as long as you and your prospect carry on a meaningful dialogue.

Marketing Myth #7: "I have to be careful not to repeat myself when talking with prospects." Wrong. When people take in new information, they forget most of it. And unless prospects remember what you say, they won't likely hire you. It's good to repeat yourself when you want to make a key point. Selective redundancy gives you the opportunity to convey your message from two or three different perspectives.

Marketing Myth #8: "My prospects understand what I say because they know the legal vocabulary." Not true. When you assume your prospects have basic knowledge or understand simple terms, you're often wrong. Your message means nothing if your prospects don't understand what you're saying. Always go back to square one. Make sure you're not talking over your prospects' head. And if you must use a legal term, make sure you define it.

Marketing Myth #9: "Marketing methods don't work as well today as they once did." Not true. If your marketing doesn't work, it's probably due to a poor, inadequate or incomplete marketing message. Don't blame the method that delivers the message when it's really the message that's lacking. You should design your marketing message as carefully as you prepare a case for trial.

Marketing Myth #10: "The more complicated my message, the more prospects will understand the need for my services." Wrong. Every day, your prospects suffer from information overload. They screen out complicated messages. Keep your message simple because a simple message is the only message that has any chance of getting through to your target audience.

Marketing Myth #11: "How an advertisement looks is not as important as what the ad says." Not true. Graphics in print ads are critical, not only to your image, but also to make sure your ad seizes your prospect's attention. Yes, a powerful message is important. But without strong graphics, your prospect may never see your ad. Then you've wasted your money.

Marketing Myth #12: "Prospects and clients don't mind when I'm slow to return phone calls. They understand that I'm busy." In your dreams! Everybody's busy. Delays in returning phone calls are one of the biggest sources of complaints about lawyers' services. They are a major hot button with clients and prospects. When you return phone calls promptly, you make a powerful, positive impression. When you don't, the impression you make is far more negative than you might imagine. Prospects cannot easily assess the depth of your knowledge or experience. But one thing they evaluate quickly is whether you return phone calls promptly.

Marketing Myth #13: "The articles our public relations firm generates will attract new clients." Maybe not. In most cases, p.r. programs bring exposure, but exposure does not always bring new clients. Attorneys routinely report, "We were happy with the number of articles about our firm, but we didn't get even one new client!" A good publicity program can be an important part of your marketing program. But whether your publicity program generates only exposure or solid marketing results depends on the experience and know-how of the person conducting your program.

Marketing Myth #14: "The most effective time to deliver my marketing message is when my prospect is in my office." Wrong! The most effective time to deliver your marketing message is when your prospect first thinks about his problem and wants to know what solutions are available. You have a significant advantage over other attorneys when you have a packet of materials you can mail to your prospect, regardless of his location. You can offer your information packet any number of ways, such as through your advertising, publicity, newsletters or mail. When your prospect thinks about his problem, he sees that you offer material on the subject. Then he calls or e-mails your office and requests your information. And you respond by sending your materials, as promised. In many cases, this puts your marketing message into his hands before he calls other lawyers.

Marketing Myth #15: "My quarterly newsletter will prove to be an effective marketing tool." Not even close! In today's over-advertised society, you're fortunate indeed if you can create an impression in your prospect's mind. If you hope to make your impression stick, you should send your newsletter at least monthly. The more often you mail to prospects on your mailing list, the more new business you will likely attract. The frequency with which you deliver your newsletter is much more important than its size.

Marketing Myth #16: "By lowering my fees, I'll gain a stronger competitive position." Not true. When you lower your fees, (1) you undermine your credibility because prospects wonder why your services are no longer worth what you once charged, (2) you attract clients who know the price of everything and the value of nothing (people who are loyal to the dollar are never loyal to you!), and (3) you lose money because it is usually impossible to achieve the volume of cases you need to make up for the profits you lose. Instead of lowering your fees, raise them -- because it's easier to justify why you charge so much than to explain why you charge so little.

Marketing Myth #17: "If I invest enough dollars in marketing, I will eventually get the results I want." Not necessarily. Your results depend on the marketing methods you choose. If you don't get favorable results from a small investment, you won't likely get better results from a larger investment. The key element is the strategy you select, not the amount of money you invest.

Marketing Myth #18: "To attract new clients, I should promote my services." No! When you promote your services, you take on the role of a salesperson, which undermines your credibility. This is called selling-based marketing. Instead, promote your knowledge using Education-Based Marketing. This allows you to attract new clients, increase referrals, strengthen client loyalty and build your image as an authority without selling. Education-Based Marketing gives prospects what they want, information and advice -- and it removes what they don't want, a sales pitch.

About The Author

Trey Ryder is a law firm consultant who specializes in Education-Based Marketing for attorneys. Trey Ryder offers lawyers three free articles by e-mail: 9 Smart Ways to Cut Marketing Costs and Improve Results, 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, and Marketing Moves Most Lawyers Miss. Send your name and e-mail address to and ask for his free e-mail packet of articles.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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