Advertising is a form of marketing, but not all marketing involves advertising. This is a truism, print it out and put it over your desk so you always remember it.
In fact, advertising is but a small portion of your marketing – at least, it should be.
For my practice, the majority of the marketing occurs after the prospect has already contacted me for an appointment.
See, it’s easier to keep a client once you have one to keep. The hard part is often perceived as getting the client in the door, but the real challenge becoming keeping the client involved in the process until the end.
For the consumer lawyer, that means making sure the client is going to cooperate with discovery and fact-finding. For the consumer bankruptcy attorney, it means ensuring the client provides documentation, shows up for meetings of creditors and hearings on comfirmation, and makes Plan payments in a timely fashion.
To do this, the client must be invested in the process. And I’m not talking about money.
Consumer debtors – be they consumer law clients or bankruptcy clients – do not necessarily care about money. Shocking, right? Well, it’s true. If the consumer cared about money they would not have racked up the bills, fallen behind, paid a credit counselor hundred if not thousands of dollars, would not have thrown a ton of cash at debt settlement companies, and a host of other things.
Throw enough money at a problem and it goes away, is the thinking. So, too, with legal fees. Pay the lawyer and let him or her take care of the problem. The client resumes the happy position on the sofa, watching television (figuratively, of course).
So how do you get the client invested, and keep him there?
Communicate early and often (to borrow the Chicago saying about voting).
From the minute the client comes in, provide written information about their situation and the solutions you offer. Make it clear and concise, written in a way your client can easily understand. Reinforce the education during and after the initial consultation.
Send copies of all pleadings, along with a letter explaining what it is and what it means.
Pick up the phone and call your client once a month just to check in and let him know what’s going on with the case. Use that time to ask questions and see how things are going for the client. You’ll pick up more information, possibly another case or referral. Plus it shows you actually care.
Let the client know about upcoming court dates. If no appearance is necessary by the client, invite him down to listen. Once the hearing is over, send a letter telling him what happened and why – also, what the next steps will be.
By making your client your partner in a case – any type of case at all – you will keep the client invested in the process.
(photo: Charlie Antonio)
Jay Fleischman is a consumer rights lawyer and blogs about marketing a consumer bankruptcy practice.