In business, there are two primary ways in which we learn from mistakes:
- Through trial and error (with the hope that a particular mistake won’t cost us a significant amount of money or put us out of business); and
- From the mistakes of others (which allows us to avoid the pain and agony others have been through by learning from them).
Let’s look at the 7 most common mistakes we lawyers make in our law practices:
- We fail to recognize (and admit) what business we’re really in. As lawyers, most of us focus primarily on the technical aspects of practicing law rather than the need to generate a constant flow of new clients through effective marketing. We need to think in terms of being in the businesses of (1) marketing our law firms; and (2) practicing law – in that order.
- We look at what other lawyers are doing and do the exact same thing. Why is it that the majority of marketing that most attorneys engage in looks the same as that of all of the other attorneys? The question that a prospective client wants answered is, “How are you different from all of the other attorneys?” We need to focus on answering that question in our marketing.
- We don’t know the difference between marketing and selling. Selling is what you do when you are on the phone or face-to-face with someone. Marketing is what you do to get someone on the phone or face-to-face with you. Your marketing should be focused on attracting people who are interested, motivated, and predisposed to do business with you. Good marketing makes selling easy and, in many cases, unnecessary.
- We fail to utilize diversification in our marketing. Would you rather have one way of attracting new clients or six ways of attracting new clients? The more diversity you have in your marketing, the more stability (mental, emotional, and financial) you will have in your law practice and your life. Always keep this one marketing lesson in mind: Diversity = Stability.
- We fail to develop marketing systems that work while we’re not working. A majority of lawyers believe that the most important aspect of their law practice is the number of hours they put in each week. When they want to make more money, they put in more hours. This leads to burnout. Having marketing systems in place that are always working to attract new clients allows you to eventually earn more money from higher fees and better quality clients (rather than working more hours).
- We have no referral systems in place. For just a moment, think of all the clients who have told you “You’re the best lawyer in town!” or “You did a great job!” How many referrals did you receive from those clients? As you know, your best clients come from referrals. That’s why it’s critical that you have systems in place that cultivate relationships and stimulate referrals.
- We hold back because of the fear that our peers will look down on us and ridicule us. Your peers (judges, attorneys, and community leaders) aren’t paying your bills! Most attorneys put on kid gloves with their marketing because they don’t want to “look bad” or create a “cheap image.” Worrying about what others think or say about you has a detrimental effect on your bank account. When you ignore the opinions of your peers while focusing on marketing that attracts good quality high-paying clients, you increase your income and become the envy of your legal community.
Avoiding these mistakes is a delicate balancing act. For more information, listen to our CD on The 7 Biggest Marketing Mistakes Every Lawyer Makes (And How To Fix Them).