SUPERSTAR SECRET #1: They make marketing their highest priority. Superstar lawyers know marketing is the key to success. They hire capable attorneys to do legal work for them so they can focus their attention on maintaining relationships and attracting the clients they want.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #2: They know that nothing is more important than their credibility. Superstar lawyers avoid selling-based marketing, which casts them in the role of a salesperson, because it undermines their credibility and causes people to question whether they can be trusted. They use Education-Based Marketing instead, which attracts clients to them because of their knowledge, skill, judgment and experience.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #3: They seize the number one position in their niche. The Law of Leadership states it is better to be first than it is to be better. Everyone knows Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. But do you know who was second? In marketing, second place is not much better than last place. Superstar lawyers know that to gain the maximum marketing advantage, they must be first in their niche.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #4: If they can’t be first in their present niche, they create a new niche in which they can be first. Do you know who was the third person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean? If you didn’t know who was second, you probably assume you’ve never heard of number three. But you have. It was Amelia Earhart. You remember her because she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Superstar lawyers know if they can’t be first in a category, they create a new category in which they can be first.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #5: They establish themselves as respected authorities nationwide. Superstar lawyers know when prospects see them as an authority, they are drawn to them at both the conscious and subconscious levels. As they broaden their geographical area of recognition, the more knowledge, skill and experience they are presumed to have. Superstar lawyers focus their marketing efforts over a wide geographical area.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #6: They profit from the mystery of distance. Superstar lawyers know the farther prospects go to hire a lawyer, the more knowledge, skill, judgment and experience they believe the lawyer has. This principle gave rise to the expression, “You’re never an expert in your own home town.” By marketing over a wide area, superstar lawyers can attract more big cases than they could find locally.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #7: They create their own unique educational message. Superstar lawyers know education is the highest and purest form of marketing. Their educational message contains an explanation of the prospect’s problem, facts about their background, case histories of past clients, and the steps they recommend to help their prospect solve a problem or achieve a goal. The more they weave their qualifications and experience into their message, the more likely prospects are to hire them.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #8: They create their own method and promote their uniqueness. No two lawyers in the world have the same collection of knowledge, skills and experience. As a result, no two people solve problems in exactly the same way. Superstar lawyers develop a unique method of helping people solve problems or achieve goals. I did this when I introduced The Ryder Method™ of Education-Based Marketing. Before long, editors at the American Marketing Association featured my method on the front page of their national publication, Marketing News.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #9: They develop a free fact kit so they can send their marketing message to prospects regardless of their location. A free fact kit allows superstar lawyers to put their message into prospects’ hands when they first think about their problem and want to learn about solutions. When prospects discover the lawyer offers free information, they call the lawyer’s office to request the fact kit. Then the lawyer sends the materials by mail or e-mail. This allows the lawyer to put his marketing message into his prospect’s hands often before the prospect calls other lawyers. Superstar lawyers offer their fact kit through their letters, advertising, publicity, newsletters and web sites.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #10: They establish a presence on the Internet. Superstar lawyers make their educational message easily available to prospects by posting it on their web site. They know that because the Internet’s scope is so vast – and its uses so varied – their marketing puzzle would not be complete without the Internet piece, which is now a cornerstone of law firm marketing. A DUI defense attorney told me even he gets clients from the Internet. He said when drivers are arrested, they post bail, then look for a lawyer on the Internet because it is more entertaining than flipping through the yellow pages. Superstar lawyers put their marketing information on an Internet site so it’s available to prospects no matter where they are or when they want it.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #11: They offer their message in various forms so prospects can choose the form that suits them best. Some prospects cannot afford a superstar lawyer’s fee. Still, they might come to his seminar. Or subscribe to his newsletter. Or buy his CDs or DVDs. Or…what else? Superstar lawyers know marketing is like a fruit tree. First, they create a powerful educational message that takes root and forms a strong, sturdy trunk. Then each method they use to deliver their message – advertising, publicity, seminars, newsletters, CDs, DVDs, and their web site – becomes another limb. Every limb bears fruit. And the more limbs they grow, the more fruit they harvest. They know that when their tree has a healthy trunk and strong roots, its limbs produce fruit for decades.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #12: They make themselves highly accessible. Superstar lawyers give clients and referral sources their direct line telephone number, cell phone number, e-mail address, pager number, and so forth. They may also give clients their home telephone number. Whatever it takes, they make sure key people know they’re welcome to call anytime.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #13: They provide client service beyond compare. They return phone calls quickly. They work day and night to finish projects. They have backup plans for their backup plans. They error on the side of caution. They hire a bright, responsive support staff. And they always go the extra mile. Whatever it takes, they get the job done. And the superstar’s staff is equally committed to bring the client the best result on time, on budget.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #14: They make sure everybody knows they welcome new business. One obstacle successful lawyers face is that other lawyers think they don’t want new clients. As a result, they quit referring cases. When prospecting for new clients, superstar lawyers know it is far better to receive too many inquiries than too few. They make sure their current clients, past clients, prospects and referral sources know they welcome new clients. This allows them to skim the cream off the top and refer the rest.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #15: They turn people on their contact/mailing list into goodwill ambassadors. Every person on a lawyer’s mailing list knows one or two other people who are prospects for the lawyer’s services. Superstar lawyers ask clients and referral sources to invite prospects to call for the lawyer’s educational materials.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #16: They send a monthly newsletter, alert or bulletin. Superstar lawyers know the value of keeping everybody on their mailing list informed and up to date. In their newsletter, they offer (1) facts and advice about the law, (2) summaries of successful cases they have handled, (3) dates of future seminars and retreats, (4) educational articles available from their office, (5) their web site address, (6) answers to questions, and (7) facts about their background. Superstar lawyers keep lines of communication open so clients come in for services and colleagues refer their friends.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #17: They carry out an aggressive publicity program. Superstar lawyers know their ability to gain ongoing media publicity depends on supplying editors and producers with news releases and articles every month. This requires that they maintain a current mailing list and fax numbers of publications and broadcast outlets that reach their target audience. At the end of each news release, they offer their free fact kit to anyone who calls their office. This is another way they attract an ongoing flow of inquiries.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #18: They deliver their marketing message through educational seminars. Superstar lawyers communicate by seminar in a variety of ways: in person, by phone, and by video-conferencing. Phone seminars and webinars allow clients, prospects and referral sources to take in new information without leaving their offices, which saves the cost of a hotel and airfare.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #19: They develop powerful listening skills. Whenever a client or prospect calls, superstar lawyers drop whatever they are doing and focus their entire attention on the caller’s concerns. By their actions, superstar lawyers convey that the other person is the most important person in their world.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #20: They charge what the market will bear – and then some. One way prospects determine value is by price. Superstar lawyers know it is better to be the most expensive lawyer in town and have people appreciate their knowledge than to be the cheapest lawyer in town and have people question their skill. Superstar lawyers get superstar fees because they deliver value to their clients in the form of results, service, quality, attention, access and responsiveness. They know it doesn’t matter how much they charge as long as their clients believe they receive even more value in return.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #21: They are dignified, professional and confident. Superstar lawyers pay close attention to detail and appearance. They don’t let clients or prospects see anything that might reflect poorly on them or hurt their credibility. They know that prospects are moved by the lawyers’ belief, conviction and self-confidence. As a result, they know their value and know how to help prospects achieve their goals.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #22: They are warm and friendly. Superstar lawyers know their chances of earning a new client increase dramatically when the prospect likes them. They call prospects by name, smile, and maintain good eye contact because eye contact conveys honesty and trust. The sense of relationship that develops between superstar lawyers and their clients is a bond that is not easily broken.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #23: They genuinely respect and care about their clients and prospects. Superstar lawyers know when people see dollar signs in a lawyer’s eyes, they grow defensive and resist the lawyer’s efforts to help. But when the lawyer really cares, this feeling comes through loud and clear. Superstar lawyers don’t talk down to prospects. They maintain an attitude of helpfulness and make prospects feel special. Their respect and caring give prospects a powerful emotional reason to choose them over other lawyers.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #24: They stay positive, grateful and polite. The superstar lawyers’ outlook is always positive and optimistic. They appreciate their success and are grateful to the many people who helped them along the way. Superstar lawyers are genuine. They express themselves with the refinement you would expect of a highly educated, highly polished professional. All in all, most people find them nice to be around.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #25: They stay away from dishonest, negative and lazy people. Superstar lawyers know negativism breeds negativism. They know that if they’re around negative attitudes long enough, those attitudes become the norm. Superstar lawyers resign clients who take advantage of them and clients who are lost causes. They decline to represent prospects when their intuition says “No way!” Not all people see the opportunities these lawyers see. Not all people share their goals. Superstar lawyers know that negative people drain their energy and spill doubt all over their custom-tailored suits.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #26: They never use closing techniques to pressure people into hiring their services. Superstar lawyers let their reputation stand on its own. They educate prospects about their background, qualifications and experience. They discuss their successes. They emphasize the importance of having a skilled lawyer represent them. And they express their desire to help. Superstar lawyers never pressure a prospect into making a decision. They leave total control in the prospect’s hands. This causes the prospect to further respect and trust the attorney, and increases the likelihood that the prospect will retain the lawyer.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #27: They create a network of like-minded entrepreneurs. Some people are cut out to be leaders, others to be followers. Superstar lawyers build a network of friends and colleagues who share their energy, drive and determination. Then they encourage and support each other’s efforts so they are not inhibited by people who don’t appreciate their desire for achievement.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #28: They hire a coach to help them achieve success. No matter how they define success, superstar lawyers have so many distractions that they can easily lose site of their goals. Coaches help them identify what they’re doing right – what they’re doing wrong – and help them steer their course so they reach their destination. Michael Jordan didn’t get where he is without a coach. Nor did Andre Agassi. Kobe Bryant. Alex Rodriguez. Arnold Palmer. Or Tiger Woods. Chances are you’d do better if you had a coach, too. (I have one.)
SUPERSTAR SECRET #29: They take time away from their business. No one can endure the intensity of a law practice without interruption. Superstar lawyers generously allot time for their families, their church or synagogue, their outside interests, their vacations – anything they enjoy doing. This time away from their office recharges their batteries, keeps them from growing stale, and makes them even more effective when they practice law.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #30: They form relationships that go beyond lawyer/client. Superstar lawyers know prospects and clients are people first. They also know many people don’t feel as though they have anyone they can talk to or confide in. If someone wants to share a success, they listen, then offer congratulations. If someone wants to discuss something other than a legal problem, they invite them to explain their situation. Superstar lawyers know these clients probably aren’t looking for a solution; instead, they just want someone who will listen. The most important thing they do for their clients on any given day may have nothing to do with practicing law.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #31: They form non-profit organizations to attract clients. Superstar lawyers gain positive publicity by starting a non-profit organization that attracts new prospects. Then they invite onto their advisory board non-competing professionals who are likely to send referrals. As the group’s founder, the lawyer is the gatekeeper. He invites speakers and advisory board members to address the group on relevant subjects. Then he features these speakers in news releases to the media. The more he focuses the spotlight on the speakers, the more clients they will likely refer. When the time comes to discuss legal issues, the lawyer is the speaker.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #32: They never stop educating their audience. Prospects, clients and referral sources want to believe that superstar lawyers have the knowledge, skill and experience to support their fee. Still, they know people may hesitate to hire their services – or make referrals – if they aren’t sure about the depth of the lawyer’s knowledge. Superstar lawyers take every opportunity to educate their target audience. This allows them to put their knowledge on display and increases their credibility, which attracts more new clients.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #33: They also educate their colleagues. Superstar lawyers aren’t afraid of teaching their secrets and methods to other lawyers. They offer continuing legal education programs. They conduct professional seminars and sponsor retreats. They write books and produce CDs and DVDs – whatever will be most useful to their colleagues. Superstar lawyers welcome the opportunity to become a lawyer’s lawyer.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #34: They just do it. Superstar lawyers don’t get bogged down in marketing plans and committee meetings. They identify the steps in their marketing process and go to work. Sure, they may make a few mistakes along the way. Who doesn’t? But the result of taking action now is far more profitable and rewarding than planning… and planning… and planning – but never getting to first base.
SUPERSTAR SECRET #35: They hire professional help and accept guidance. Most superstar lawyers are excellent marketers. Still, they know that the most successful marketing programs require more time and energy than they can commit. What’s more, they require careful planning, painstaking attention to detail and precise execution. After all, even the fastest race horse needs a jockey to motivate and guide it to the finish line, while able competitors close in from all sides. Superstar lawyers know that the secret to success is to retain the help of someone who understands their market. And while many superstar lawyers keep these relationships confidential, they hire help and accept guidance from uniquely qualified lawyer marketing specialists whose marketing philosophy is consistent with their own.