K.I.S.S. was my mantra in practice.
I had to practice it every day; the temptation was to overcomplicate things, which is in the nature of the profession.
When it came to marketing to clients, my (K.I.S.S.) strategy was to exceed their expectations.
Some clients were much harder to please than others but for the few that did show their genuine appreciation, it more than outweighed the rest who no doubt thought “Well, that’s what we are paying your for”.
If you ask lawyers what it means to exceed their clients’ expectations, most will struggle to come up with an answer. Sometimes they equate it to a slightly quicker response time, being accessible or coming in under budget but by an order as slight as the thickness of a cigarette paper.
Clients are focused on outcomes, not the process. I am not suggesting that you warrant something that is not in your gift, but you need to understand what would really lead to the client recommending them to their nearest and dearest or circle of acquaintances.
One thing that you could do which would make an immediate impact is to stay in contact. I used to have something called a tickle file. I had a reminder system where I made sure I told the client something even if we were still waiting on a response from the other side. The idea of being constantly chased just got me down.
Do you operate a similar system?
In many ways I wish my previous firms had introduced a system that within reason allowed the client access to their file. They could then see at a glance the stage of proceedings.
In addition to staying in contact, I also made a point of expressing a view on a case. Clients want to know what you think. And as one client remarked “I don’t pay to listen to you sucking lemons all the time” which I took to mean get off the fence.
This is highly valuable to the client. Of course, you will caveat the advice where the outcome is dependent on third parties but don’t always go for the 50/50 option.
In addition, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. Clients can see through your vague response easier than you think. If you have to defer to Counsel all the time, what does that say for your own judgment? Isn’t the client going to wonder if you are anything other than a glorified post box?
These issues are not rocket science but you need to firm up a way of super-pleasing your clients. It may well be that your clients love you just the way you are but don’t be fooled by their demeanour. Just because they don’t say anything doesn’t mean they wouldn’t think of going elsewhere.
Start paying more attention to the simple things:
- Your reception;
- Your voicemail;
- The tone of your letters;
- How you answer the phone;
- How you deal with billing; and
- The promises you don’t keep.
Marketing for professional services is not hard, but it is hard to do well sufficient to differentiate your offering from your competitor.
A novel solution may work but by keeping things ultra simple and over delivering on your promises you are more likely to develop your raving fans – those that will continue to instruct you and refer work to you.
~ JS ~