The Number 1 Challenge for Growing a Collaborative Practice

Last month, I conducted a survey on how to grow your Collaborative Practice. 100 people responded to the survey.

 The number one response to the question, “What is your greatest challenge for growing your Collaborative Practice?” was “Getting Clients.”

The top four challenges included:

1. Getting clients
2. Finding the time
3. Educating the public
4. Educating lawyers

Challenges about "getting clients" included:

  • Finding clients who want to engage in collaborative solutions to divorce
  • Finding clients with a mind set for collaborative divorce
  • Getting clients to choose collaborative divorce
  • Convincing clients the up- front costs are worth it.
  • Attracting clients who are willing and able to move forward with the collaborative process

How do you attract clients who want Collaborative Law to your practice?

It is far easier to build a collaborative practice by attracting clients who already have a world view consistent with the principles of Collaborative Practice than trying to “convince” someone who may not have an interest in a collaborative approach.

The first step to have a clear understanding of who your target client is and then develop a plan to consistently communicate a relevant and compelling message to your target audience.

The following are four strategies for attracting clients to your collaborative practice:

1. Define your target client. Clearly define the characteristics or your ideal client. What are their hopes, dreams, problems and fears? Think about your actual collaborative law clients. What were their goals? What was an important outcome for them in their divorce? Write down the characteristics of your ideal client.

2. Demonstrate your knowledge on how to solve your target clients problem, Leverage social media, including blogs, LinkedIn, facebook, and twitter to write about the problems and solutions for your target market. For example, if your target client is someone who has been in a long term marriage and wants to protect important relationships, write about the challenges of divorcing after 25 years of marriage and how to address those challenges. 

3. Focus your web site content on the solutions for your target client. Does your web site immediately communicate who you help and how you solve problems for the clients you want to attract to your practice? Or does it convey an all things to all people message? The more focused your message, the more successful you will be in attracting desirable clients to your practice. If you want to attract clients who value a less destructive approach to divorce, communicate this in your web site content and headlines.

4. Educate your professional network on who is your "ideal client." Let your referral sources know the characteristics of your best clients. Inform your referral sources on the client problems you excel at in solving. For example, if you are a skilled negotiator and know how to help clients avoid destruction in divorce, tell your referral sources. Convey stories about the clients you helped and the outcome of those cases.

Once you clarify your target client and create a plan to effectively communicate the solutions you offer, you will begin to attract more clients who value what you do best.

What strategies are working for you to attract clients who value Collaborative Law?

View additional articles and information on building your Collaborative Practice.
 

Is Your Law Firm Advertising Helping to Attract your Best Clients?

In my last post I wrote about the importance of being relevant to the clients you want to attract to your practice. Relevance means evoking an emotional response from your prospective clients because they see themselves in your message,“This is me, this is how I feel.” Once prospective clients have an emotional connection with your message, there is a heightened interest in who you are and what you do.

If prospective clients don’t experience this emotional hook, chances are your message will not achieve its goal of attracting desirable clients to your practice.

You can be relevant to prospective clients by having clarity about the kind of clients you want to attract. Your message will be lost if you try be all things to all people. Alternatively, you will attract the right clients by knowing who your best clients are and  communicating what matters most to these clients.

Recently, I helped apply this strategy to Quaid and Quaid, a family law firm who wanted to separate themselves from their competitors in a special D Magazine advertorial on Dallas Divorce.

The firm wanted to appeal to clients who put a high value on minimizing the destruction of divorce. All the partners in the firm were trained in Collaborative Law and passionately believed in the value of helping clients to divorce as amicably as possible. 

The following is the D Magazine advertisement:

(For a larger view of ad, click on continued reading at the bottom of page)

The advertisement was unique for the following reasons:

1.    The ad featured an image of what prospective clients want to avoid versus a large photo of  lawyers. 

2.    The ad focused on the client’s goals and problems not the expertise and talent of the lawyers. 

 3.    The ad targeted a specific audience, clients who wanted to move into the future with integrity, versus targeting a general audience of clients who wanted a divorce.

Keep in mind while creating an ad or writing content for your web site that a client will connect with you at an emotional level when they believe you understand how to help them avoid their greatest fears or achieve their most desired goals.

Distinguish yourself in your market by focusing on the clients you want to attract to your practice.

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What Bruce Springsteen Can Teach Lawyers about Law Firm Marketing

On a recent trip to Cleveland, I had the opportunity to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with my 19-year-old daughter. I was there to learn about and enjoy the history of Rock and Roll, but I became intrigued with the artists who were able to maintain their Rock and Roll legend status 35 years later. How did they do it? How can artists be as popular today as they were 35 years ago? And would it be possible for lawyers to apply this strategy for success to law firm marketing?

I found the answer in a quote from Bruce Springsteen that was on display at the exhibit. When asked how long he thought he could remain a Rock n’ Roll legend, Bruce replied:

"I believe the thing called rock and roll will last as long as you look down into the audience and can see yourself, and your audience can look up at you and can see themselves, and as long as those reflections are human, realistic ones."

At the core of successful marketing is your ability to be relevant to your “audience” (prospective clients). This means your prospective clients are able see themselves in your marketing story. Your marketing story, in turn, is the value you communicate about your services to prospective clients and referral sources.

A good example of a lawyer who has mastered this approach is Kevin Fuller, senior partner with Koons Fuller in Dallas. Kevin knows who his client’s are: high-net-worth families and businesses who want the best possible results, and he consistently communicates his understanding of their problems and how to solve them. 

In an article titled, Nasty Divorces Mean Trouble for Businesses,  Kevin successfully spoke about a problem many of his clients want to avoid: Destroying their wealth:

This article is consistent with Kevin’s marketing story and speaks to the core of what many of his clients care about:

"It's about getting the business through the divorce without destroying it or the owner."

Your marketing efforts will produce results if your marketing story is relevant to the goals and interests of the clients you want to attract.

Before you spend any more time and money on marketing communication, follow the philosophy of a rock star legend and make sure your prospective clients — the clients you want to attract to your practice — can see themselves in your marketing story.

How to Build Your ADR Practice?

This weekend I spoke at the17th Annual Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference in Seattle on how to create an ADR marketing plan.

I observed highly passionate professionals who wanted to build their practice and attract more clients so they can use their skills and expertise to help clients.  I also observed frustrations about marketing and building an ADR practice, including:

    • Not enough time
    • Lack of clarity on what to do first
    • Not sure how to identify their best clients or how to attract them.

Do these sound familiar?

The following are six tips for getting started on an effective marketing plan for your ADR practice:

1. Ask yourself, “What is my vision for my practice; what kind of work do I want to do? Why is this important to me? Write down the answer and then commit yourself to doing something every day to meet your vision. Commit yourself to excellence in your ADR practice, involvement in your community and confidence in how you communicate your brand.

2. Be selective about the work you accept. If you are constantly busy with work that is not consistent with your vision for your practice, it will be difficult to find the time or energy to grow the kind of work that will allow you to achieve your goals. Decide who your ideal client is and proactively attract this type of client to your practice.

3. Nurture and grow business from your top referral sources. Referrals come from people who know, like and trust you. The best way to gain trust is to develop a relationship with those who already know about you. This will require scheduling the time to get to know your referral sources and learning about their businesses and interests.

4. Provide remarkable service to your clients. Word-of-mouth marketing is by far the best marketing strategy for any service. The only way to get people talking about your service is to make the experience for clients remarkable -- then they will want to tell other people.

5. Have a web site that educates people about your law or ADR practice. Offer information that is of value to your prospective clients. Your message should connect at an emotional level with your target markets’ desired outcomes.

6. Share your success- help others learn and grow. The more you share your success and knowledge with other ADR professionals, the more they will learn and spread the ADR message.

I am interested in your success stories and challenges. I will blog about them and help you spread the word about your practice.

Overcoming the Temptation to "Take Any Client"

This week I wrote a blog post about how the choices we make today determine our success in the future. Today I read Seth Godin’s blog , Take What You Can Get? and he eloquently reinforced this message.

Godin talks about the temptation we face to take what you “can get” when your practice is struggling or the economy is slow.

We can all relate to this temptation:

• You want to build your Collaborative Law practice and meet your monthly revenue quota; you receive a call from a prospective client who wants to “crush” their former spouse. They want you to represent them in high-conflict litigation. Do you take the case?

• Your law firm’s value proposition is to solve problems for clients who have high asset/ complex family law cases. The only clients you have been attracting recently want the cheapest divorce possible and don’t care much about the depth of your expertise. Do you take these clients?

Without question, anyone who is in business will experience these temptations. What will separate you from the pack is how you choose to respond.

In Seth Godin's blog post he  suggests the following:

"There are two things worth remembering here:

1. Like bending a sapling a hundred years before the tree is fully grown and mature, the gigs you take early will almost certainly impact the way your career looks later on. If you want to build a law practice in the music industry, you'll need to take on musicians as clients, even if the early ones can't pay enough. If you want to do work for Fortune 500 companies, you'll need to do work for Fortune 500 companies, sooner better than later.

2. The definition of "can get" is essential. Maybe it seems like this gig or that gig is the best you can get because that's all you're exposing yourself to. Almost always, the best gig I could get is shorthand for the easiest gig I could get."


You can avoid the “can get” trap by knowing what success looks like for you and exposing yourself to the people, clients and cases that will move you toward your desired results.

I would like to hear about the temptations you face in your practice and your strategies or challenges for overcoming these temptations.