In law school, you learned a certain way of thinking based on logic, rationale, and a healthy dose of skepticism. That may be fine for how you deal with cases in court, but it’s probably holding you back in your business. In this four part series, I’m going to talk about how you can identify and deal with the negative thinking that’s preventing you from growing your business.
Skepticism can take many forms such as
- Other lawyers aren’t doing that so it probably doesn’t work.
- I already tried that once, and it didn’t work for me.
- That seems like so much time and effort for so little reward.
I hear these reasons over and over again when it comes to why lawyers don’t market themselves – or don’t market themselves effectively. They’ve already concluded that marketing doesn’t work. And you know what? If you believe that, your marketing really won’t work.
Fallacy 1: Other lawyers aren’t doing that so it probably doesn’t work.
Lawyers often look to other law firms when they’re trying to decide whether to do something or not. Where’s the proof that this works, they ask. The problem with this approach is twofold.
First, when lawyers think of marketing, they think of where are these other lawyers advertising? Which publications? What do they say in their yellow page ads? What types of correspondence are they sending? What does their webpage look like? In other words, what tactics are they using? The problems with this are:
- Most law firms (and small businesses in general) aren’t strategic with their marketing. They want to advertise or send promotions or create a website rather than set goals, segment and target their audience, and focus on ways to reach that particular subset of people.
- As James Surowiecki says in The Wisdom of Crowds, if a small group of people try something first, chances are, even if their experience was bad, others will still follow. That means, if a law firm sends out a postcard, for instance, even if it wasn’t effective, there will be a number of lawyers who think this is the way to market themselves because someone else is doing it – regardless of whether it actually works.
- Just because a particular marketing tactic works for another law firm doesn’t mean it will work for you. Marketing lives and dies by how relevant it is to its target audience. If you’re a criminal defense lawyer looking to reach inner city Hispanics arrested on drug or alcohol charges, chances are that writing a blog in English about the technicalities of criminal defense law won’t be very effective since inner city youth probably doesn’t sit around reading lawyer blogs all day. What might work? Writing a weekly or monthly column in your local newspaper in Spanish about what to do if such-and-such happens. That way, even if those prospects you want to reach don’t see it, their family members might.
Fallacy 2: I already tried that once and it didn’t work for me.
Ok, perhaps you’ve tried something once – why didn’t it work? “Why” is a very powerful question that many people just don’t ask. They simple assume that since they tried it and got poor results, “it just doesn’t work.” There are a number of reasons why your marketing might not have worked:
- you’re not reaching the right people
- your marketing message is generic or not relevant to their concerns
- your offer wasn’t compelling enough to get them to respond
- your headline was boring so no one bothered to read further
- they put it aside but forgot about it
- it was a busy day and they didn’t have time to consider it
- too few people saw your advertising
Fallacy 3: That seems like so much time and effort for so little reward.
Most businesses have a difficult time balancing short term vs. long term results. If something isn’t producing the results they want right now, they dub it “ineffective” or “a waste of time” and move on to something else. I hear this as a response to everything from creating a marketing plan to setting up a referral generating system to creating an authoritative blog. In short, if it takes any effort at all and doesn’t produce immediate results, then it’s not worth doing.
The truth is, good marketing takes effort. It takes time to analyze where you are, where you want to go, and the best ways to get there. It takes time to put systems in place to generate leads. It takes time to create a blog that people want to read. It takes time to build a referral network that is constantly sending you business.
But, once those systems are in place – once you know what you need to do and how to do it – things get easier and you start to see results. If you only do something sporadically – such as advertising only when you really need business this month – it’s not going to work like you hope.
Marketing isn’t something you can do once, expect a flood of clients, and put off again until the next time you hit a down turn. It’s something that you need to do consistently – like doing your finances. Each month, you pay yourself and your employees and your bills. If you skip a month, you can expect consequences.