In legal marketing you need to know is very few people have the time, energy and perseverance to “shop” very much for a lawyer. These prospects will use price as a quick way to decide if someone is competent. In law marketing you need to know people are already preconditioned to think about price in certain ways.
If your fee is $150 per hour, a second lawyer’s fee is $200 per hour, and a third lawyer’s fee is $250 per hour what is the pre-programmed way clients will be thinking? It is highly likely in legal marketing they are thinking the “cheap lawyer” must not be as good as the other two. Why? Because in the USA culture people are taught “you get what you pay for” and thus the cheapest lawyer “must have something wrong with them” or they will be “cutting corners” in some way to be so “cheap”. You don’t want to be in that law marketing club for sure. They are also thinking “the most expensive lawyer must be the most experienced, most skilled, the most specialized and at least among the best.” You do want to be in that legal marketing club or at least close to that club. So you see in law practice management being in at lest the beginning of the top 30% of fees in your community is where you want to be if you possibly can. In legal marketing terms you are “positioning” yourself as among the best by having a higher price.
Additionally in legal marketing terms it is also much better to spend you law marketing dollars getting fewer high quality prospective clients to speak with and do that well than it is to have to shift through a legion of “frogs” who are shopping, shopping, shopping for “cheap”. Also the “cheap” client is not loyal to you but to “cheap” and if they find “cheaper” they are gone. I will give you a bit more on this aspect of legal marketing later in the article.
We have the legal marketing positioning we need in place now so what is next? What do you actually say to have someone ready to pay top dollar? First you need to tell them up front, close to the beginning of the conversation, something close to the following: “I do want you to know that I can’t work with everyone. Sometimes I don’t have the exact expertise you may need. Also I do want you to know that I am not the most inexpensive attorney in the city. If I am a good match for your situation I will be talking with you about fees. If my fees are too expensive for you don’t be afraid or embarrassed to tell me. I will have some good referrals for you that might be a better fit for your budget.”
In legal marketing terms what have you done here? You have made yourself a scarce service. We all are pre-programmed to think something or someone that is scarce is valuable (Cialdini Ph.D., Influence, Science and Practice; 2001). You have told them you don’t work with just anyone. Now they are hoping that their case is a good fit so they can have you. They are wondering if you can fit them in since you are in such demand that you can decline cases. Nice law marketing positioning for sure. Suddenly they are auditioning for you, not you auditioning for them. They also are thinking this fellow must be really, really good or he would not be saying such things to me. They are thinking that they better act quickly and say yes to hiring you or you may be full and can’t take them later. They also may be imagining a really, really high fee in their minds and when you quote something less than their imagination (which you can often) or contrast it with something higher or a benefit (more here later) they are relieved. Besides if they have been shopping then they know the really, really high fee and you are maybe 20% to 30% below that.
OK so lets say this legal marketing scenario did not go that well. What if the person says something like: “But your fee is $300 per hour and another lawyer I talked to charges $225 per hour.” What do you say? How about something like this: “I don’t know exactly why this lawyer is charging so much less than I do, however, I can tell you exactly what you will be getting working with me, what my qualifications/experience/expertise are with respect to your particular matter and I just can’t help but wonder what he might be missing or leaving out by charging the fee he charges.” In law marketing here you want to bring forward in their minds the unconscious thought that someone who charges less must be doing less of a job for you or is not as competent. The old “you get what you pay for” scenario most of us were raised on works well in legal marketing. Another way to say it is “penny wise, pound foolish” since if a lawyer who charges less does the job one could just wind up paying more later because of that “cheaper” work.
Another good job of law marketing positioning I’d say. In a specialty practice area this old adage is even more applicable than say a commodity practice area like residential real estate closings. I think you get the idea here in this law practice management effort. In what you are saying be sure they are wondering just what might be missing since doubt is what you need to create in the mind of the prospect about your competitors. You might even want to go so far as to list out in detail what you will be doing and providing for the client before you say the magic words I just gave you so they see all that is coming their way by selecting you. Again with this legal marketing approach what we are doing is bringing forward “doubt” and “suspicion” while making sure they know how solid you are for them. It never hurts to have testimonials or letters of recommendation as well to show prospective clients before you give the magic words.
In legal marketing a bit of preemption or prevention could work well in telling prospective clients about your fees as well. If you contrast your fee against a higher fee then your fee does not sound so large even if it is larger than a competing lawyers fee. An example would be a family lawyer might say something like: “Some attorneys would charge as much as $20,000 for handling this type of a divorce, however, with my experience and expertise I know I can do the divorce for you for $15,000″. Here you are saying your competitors’ fees first with your fee second making your fee sound good compared to the others. Another law marketing example would be in estate planning you could say something like: “I can prepare a document (for document insert the correct technical term) that will save you $400,000 in federal estate taxes for only $20,000.” Here you are contrasting your fee to the savings and saying the savings first and your fee last. A PI lawyer might say, “Some attorneys would charge you 40% of the recovery, however, I will be able to take your case for 30% of recovery.” I think you get the idea here when it comes to this law practice management strategy.
Legal marketing is not always a “slam dunk so now, you have done everything I suggested above and the client is still having price objections. My advice is to let that client go. If money is their only remaining objection and nothing you have said or done to this point has made a difference then I suspect they are going to be a problem in other areas later on. What type of a law practice management problem? Well, like not paying their fees or objecting to some of your billing demanding still a lower fee. Also, they are telling you extremely clearly they are a price only buyer not a value purchaser who is not loyal to you as a long-term client but loyal to the lowest price. In legal marketing you need long-term clients who are not price sensitive and not problematic. Finally, if you begin to negotiate the price now you are showing weakness and they will use that weakness with you down the line. I say legal marketing is tough enough without this type of client. Make a good referral to one of your competitors who is not reading my material so they have the headaches that keeps them bogged down and not able to do any legal marketing since they are bogged down with these types of clients!
Author:Henry Harlow,The Law Firm Marketing Coach