Most established law firms get a large share (maybe even a majority) of their new clients through referrals from attorneys and other professionals. This approach, in the long run, may give you a better return on investment than marketing strictly on potential individual clients.
Why do Clients Want Referrals?
Because they don’t know where to get the help they need.
- Sought referrals from family and friends (62%) and lawyers (31%)
- Searched online (37%)
- Looked at directory listings (28%)
- Considered advertising on TV (13%), online (13%), radio (7%), and billboards (6%)
Potentially the most time-consuming and confusing way is to try to find a lawyer themselves. They may discover dozens of local attorneys through web searches and websites listing them. They may read client reviews on Yelp! Depending on what they seek and the number of lawyers in their area, this can be overwhelming, and the information they find unhelpful.
Seeking “social proof” is a common shortcut to finding what you need, whether that’s a divorce lawyer, plumber, or new lawn mower. The person may ask friends, neighbors, and family members for suggestions (if the issue isn’t too embarrassing). They may also ask for advice on whom to hire through social media posts.
If the person’s used an attorney before and is happy with the representation, they may ask if they can handle the issue. A friend or neighbor’s suggestion may send them to a lawyer. The person may follow up by scheduling a consultation.
Why Won’t Attorneys Take Cases?
The attorney may learn the person needs help with an unfamiliar issue or they’re too busy with other matters to invest the required resources into the case. If it’s an area of law they don’t practice in, it’s not worth the time to get up to speed. They want to maintain their good reputation and not risk a bad outcome. Their time is spent most efficiently by specializing in certain cases.
Why Should I Want Referrals?
It gets you the biggest bang for your client acquisition buck. Think of other professionals as gatekeepers. When their clients need help they can’t or won’t provide, they open gates to others who can do this work.
The report estimates that:
- 54% of law firms advertise to acquire new clients
- 91% of firms advertising can’t calculate what return on their investment they’ve received, if any
- 94% don’t know their cost of new client acquisition
The report estimates advertising is not the best use of your money, while investing your time and money into referral generation is a better option. Instead of trying to reach a broad audience of tens or hundreds of thousands of people, you can focus on dozens or hundreds of people who may refer clients to you.
How Do I Attract Referrals?
Your firm can use its website, online ads, and social media posts to get more referrals. These are not just techniques for reaching potential clients. They can help you start and develop relationships with people who can repeatedly send you new cases.
A strong reputation is a key to getting referrals. An attorney or accountant won’t refer a client to you unless they feel you can handle the matter well and put the client in the best position to succeed. Your reputation isn’t just your knowledge and experience in a particular legal field but the personal, professional way you’ll treat and communicate with the person.
You can leverage your website to help you reach this goal with some content written for other professionals, not the general public:
- Client testimonials
- Case studies
Social media can help. LinkedIn can be a critical tool not only by allowing you to connect with others but to show your expertise and successes through posts and articles.
The videos you make for your website can be posted on YouTube. What you say should sometimes be directed to other attorneys. Their time is valuable, so keep the videos to the point, and make them useful and educational. No one will spend thirty minutes listening to you talk about how great you are.
Part of the process is personal interaction. You could develop referrals but never meet the other person, but that’s not something to bank on. Don’t just join your state’s bar association, get involved with different sections and committees. You should also teach professional education classes.
There’s no free lunch. Developing referral networks will take a substantial initial investment. Once it’s established, though you still must put in time and spend money, it may be fairly self-sustaining unless you have big plans for your firm. If you’re willing and able to continue to network in a big way, you could be that rainmaker bringing cases that others work on. It’s nice work if you can get it.
Want More Referrals? McDougall Interactive Can Help
If you have questions about increasing your referrals, and on creating some niche content for other attorneys as part of your mix, call us at 877-623-4291 or book a consultation by using our online contact form.