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TWO GREAT COST-EFFECTIVE MARKETING TOOLS
By Patricia Yevics
Director, Law Office Management
Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.
Cost-Effective Tool #1 - Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern
In preparation for a
presentation on marketing I am giving in August, another person on the
program, a practicing solo practitioner, suggested the book Selling the
Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, by Henry Beckwith
published in 1997. She said that she almost never reads most marketing
books but it was recommended to her and she had been assured that it was
fun and fast reading. She loved it and now recommends it to all
Thinking, I would read the book and never need it again, I checked it out
of the public library. After just a few chapters, I decided this was one
of those books, you could refer to again and so I purchased it (on-line of
www.amazon.com. It can also be purchased from Barnes and Noble
stores and on-line at
This is not a "how to book" but rather "how to think" book. Although
there are some limited concrete suggestions, the purpose of book is to get
service businesses to think about what their clients and potential clients
want and how to give them what they want. He stresses again and again
that what people are looking for is not features or even superior work
product but rather relationships and law is a relationship business.
The book is a series of very short chapters (from 1-2 pages) which are
then summarized in boldface italics that often illicit a slapping of the
forehead and the statement :"Of course."
There is nothing specifically groundbreaking in the information that is
written but rather easy to read ideas and examples that should be used to
change the way you think about your services, your client relationships
and your firm.
It is a book worth owning and reading again and again. The book is also
available on audio which is great for those long waits in traffic.
Effective Idea #2: Ask Your Clients What They Think
In his book, Selling the Invisible, Henry Beckwith, has entire
section on Surveying and Research. Since the book does not provide real
details about implementing various marketing ideas, I am.
Anywhere from 50% to 80% of your new clients will come from referral from
current and former clients and most of your work will come from additional
matters from existing clients. If this is true then you should be
absolutely certain how you are perceived by your current clients. Many
national law firm marketing gurus believe, as do I, that it is absolutely
critical to determine what your clients think of the service they have
received from you. This includes clients for whom you are currently
providing service and those whose cases or matters have been closed.
Some insights that can be determined from a client survey are:
the level of
satisfaction the client has with the work that has been performed
perception of you and all of the employees he/she worked with
Whether the client
would refer you other clients
Whether the client
would use your services again
would the client give to improve the level of service
what criteria the
client used in selecting you
their needs for
future legal services
whether the client
is aware of all the types of legal services you provide
WAYS SURVEYS CAN
IMPROVE YOUR PRACTICE
It shows that you are interested in what your clients think.
Too often clients complain that we are not interested in their opinions or
that we do not take the time to find out what they think. A survey will
show that you are indeed interested in their suggestions for improvement.
One of the advantages we give for using solo or small firms is because of
more personalized and individual attention. Soliciting clients' opinions
proves that you are serious about this.
You can determine the
level of client satisfaction with the service.
Most of the
matters we handle for clients are fairly routine and we assume that simply
because we performed the service that the client was delighted with the
service. Often that may be true but unfortunately it is those times when
the client was not satisfied that causes a problem later. Most clients
who are satisfied with your service will not pass that information on to
others while those clients who are dissatisfied will tell as many as ten
other people even if they do not tell you.
Most people do not ask for an evaluation of their performance because they
are afraid to hear negative comments. Unfortunately your ignoring the bad
news will not keep unhappy clients from telling other people who will then
tell other people.
Consider the story of the disgruntled client who stood on a busy
intersection during rush hour traffic with a sign that had his attorney's
name and all of the client's complaints about the lawyer. Even if the
complaints were not true, the damage had been done.
You can uncover client
interest in specific kinds of new or additional services.
only practice one area of law there may additional services that you
clients may need which they may be unaware that you provide. Very often
a client will go to another attorney for a different service because they
were not aware that their current attorney performed those services. Do
not assume that your clients are aware of all the services you provide.
Even if you only practice one area of law, it is still important to ask
clients about additional legal needs. This could give you an opportunity
to recommend another practitioner who will return the favor when a client
needs the services you provide.
Motivating your staff
to improve client service.
book, Selling the Invisible, Beckwith makes the point that
marketing is not a department but your business and that everyone in your
firm is a marketing person. It is very important that your staff, no
matter how small, have the same commitment to quality service that you
do. If this is not true then you have the wrong people on your staff.
Since your staff will have as much, if not more, contact with your clients
as you do it is important that you share the information, both positive
and negative, received from the surveys with them in order to improve the
service. The surveys also tell you whether or not your staff has the same
level of commitment to quality service.
The surveys will also give you the opportunity to discuss areas for
improvement with your staff .
METHODS FOR CONDUCTING
many ways to conduct client surveys. The methods can be elaborate or
simple. They can be performed by a third party or by your office. For
solo and small firm practitioners, it is best to keep it simple. The
method selected will be determined on the scope of the information that
the practitioner is requesting and the time and resources available.
The written questionnaire is the easiest, least time consuming and most
cost-effective type of survey. Depending on the number of clients or
the type of information being solicited, the practitioner may choose to
send it only to certain clients about a particular type of matter, or to
all clients to assess the overall performance of the firms or just a
random sample. The anonymity of the client completing the questionnaire
can be optional.
If the type of matter has a definite conclusion then you should consider
doing it at the end of the matter. If you are performing recurring work,
they can be sent at any time during the engagement.
2. Telephone Surveys
These are obviously more time consuming and must be handled by some one
who has excellent phone skills and understands the importance of getting
accurate information. These should only be done for a few clients because
of the time involved. Each individual survey should take no longer than
fifteen minutes and should be limited in scope.
This is the most time-consuming method and should be used for only small
numbers of clients to obtain in-depth information. The practitioner
should conduct the survey at the client's place of business at a
convenient time for the client. It is also necessary to make certain that
the client understands that he/she will not be billed for the time.
Although you may use written and telephone questionnaires to inform the
client of all the services provide, the personal interview is to only be
used to obtain the client's perceptions and opinions about the firm. The
client is to do all of the talking. It is the practitioner's role simply
to listen, something that is not always easy to do. Since this is for
information gathering only, you should not defend or respond to any
comments made by the client.
Why if there are so many good reasons to conduct client surveys do so few
firms, both small and large, use them. Fear and arrogance. We are afraid
of hearing criticism and we are arrogant enough to believe that we already
know exactly what our clients think or even worse, that we do not care
what our clients think.
If you do choose to solicit you clients' opinions you must take their
perceptions very seriously and make every effort to act on any suggestions
they may give. Otherwise, it will simply be a waste of valuable time.
If you would like a sample copy of a simple client surveys, there is one
available on the website at
http://www.msba.org/departments/loma/articles/articles.htm. If you
would like additional ideas, please contact Pat Yevics
firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-492-1964, ext 3039 and give your name and