How to Troubleshoot Your Marketing Program
Correct these 18 problems to improve results
by Trey Ryder
One weak link can cause your marketing chain to break.
If you aren’t getting the results you want, check for these trouble spots.
1. Is your marketing message complete? Your message must identify a problem,
prove it exists, identify a solution, prove it works and build your services
into the solution. Your message should answer every question your prospect might
ask. And don’t be concerned if your message is long. Long messages work -- not
because they’re long, but because they’re complete.
Compare these two situations: A prospect makes an appointment, walks into your
office and says you can have five minutes to explain how you can help him. Another
prospect says you can have one hour to explain what you can do for him. Which
prospect is more likely to hire you? Certainly, the prospect who gives you more
time because you can give him more information. The same is true with written
materials and web sites. The longer you keep your prospect’s attention, the
more likely you are to win a new client.
2. Is your message written for your audience? A message that attracts blue-collar
workers is different from a message designed for white-collar professionals.
A message that attracts doctors is different from a message written for accountants.
Make sure you write your message so it addresses the problems, concerns, wants
and needs of your target audience.
If you have two or three audiences with varying concerns, you need one message
for each audience. In the same way, if you are promoting more than one area
of the law, you need a different message for each area. Your message is most
effective and works the hardest when it is custom-designed specifically for
one target audience. When you try to use the same message for various audiences,
your marketing suffers. This is because when you broaden your message so it
applies to all groups, you dilute its effectiveness for each group.
3. Is your message easy to understand? Whether your audience is young adults
or business executives, you should write your message in everyday language,
not legalese. The easier your message is to understand, the more likely prospects
are to read it. Show them a complicated message and they’ll put it aside “until
later” Prospects don’t buy what they don’t understand. Prospects must clearly
understand what you offer and how they benefit from hiring you.
4. Is your message where prospects will find it? A tax lawyer who wanted
to represent doctors before the IRS ran an ad in a weekly shopper newspaper.
Not surprisingly, he was disappointed with the results and wasted his $2000
investment. You must deliver your marketing message in ways that effectively
reach your prospects. Test to see which delivery methods work best for your
5. Are you attracting enough inquiries? Marketing is a numbers game. You
profit from working the percentages. If you get 5 new clients for every 100
inquiries, you must generate 200 inquiries if you want to win 10 new clients.
First, you must learn your percentages. (No two lawyers’ percentages are the
same.) Then you must develop enough marketing momentum to attract the number
of clients you want.
6. Can you deliver your marketing message in a way that prospects find more
convenient? Your prospects are busy -- just like you and me. If you offer seminars,
but your prospects are too busy to attend seminars, your marketing program has
a fatal flaw. When you send materials by mail, fax or e-mail, you have an advantage
over lawyers who wait for prospects to come into their offices or attend seminars.
7. Do your prospects believe you have the knowledge and skill to represent
them? Provide biographical information about your qualifications, experience
and professional memberships. Also, discuss other clients you have helped in
similar circumstances to prove that you have in-depth experience in that area
of the law.
8. Do you generate responses from prospects? An often-overlooked yet essential
principle of direct marketing is to tell prospects precisely what you want them
to do. If your prospects aren’t sure what action you want them to take, they
often do nothing. Tell prospects the next step you suggest. Or, give them a
choice of two or three options, such as call you for a phone consultation, come
in for an office consultation, or attend one of your seminars. When you give
prospects choices, they focus on which choice suits them best, instead of whether
they should take action, which often results in no action.
9. Do you depend on in-person consultations to deliver your marketing message?
When prospects think about going to a lawyer’s office, they often feel like
lambs walking into the lion’s den. Offer prospects non-threatening ways to get
to know you, such as telephone consultations, e-mail questions and answers,
seminars and newsletters. After prospects grow to trust you, they are likely
to respond favorably when you invite them to your office.
10. Do you provide services that address prospects’ needs? Or do you offer
cookie cutter services and try to squeeze prospects into pre-packaged programs?
No one likes to be the square peg shoved into the round hole. The more you meet
prospects’ needs, and the more prospects realize your services are custom-tailored
to their needs, the more new clients you’ll win.
11. Do your prospects know you sincerely want to help them? When you build
strong personal relationships with prospects, you have a big advantage over
lawyers who treat clients as “just another file.” Take time to get
to know your prospects and you’ll have the opportunity to win a loyal client
12. Do your prospects know how you can help them solve problems? Lawyers
often tell me, “My client went to another attorney because he didn’t know
I provided the services he wanted.” Your client’s perception of what you
do is based on what you have done for him. Often, clients do not know the range
of your services. Your educational materials, web site, newsletters and biographies
should keep clients up to date on the areas in which you practice and the services
13. Do you offer introductory services that lead to other services? If you want
to draft contracts, offer to review existing contracts. If you discover problems,
offer to make changes or rewrite the agreement. Prospects like to start working
with you on a small scale. Then often, as your relationship grows, the amount
of work they ask you to perform grows as well.
14. Do you offer fees that are attractive to prospects? You should price
your services in ways that appeal to your prospects. If you allow prospects
to choose the fee structure they prefer, they are more likely to hire your services
than if you give them only one option.
15. Do your prospects know the risks of waiting? Explain the benefits of
solving the problem now and the risks of allowing the problem to persist. If
your prospect doesn’t know better, he may decide to “think about it”
-- and you know what that means. Establishing urgency is key to a sound marketing
program. Relate a story about someone who waited too long and the terrible situation
that resulted. Ask if your prospect wouldn’t like to avoid that awful problem.
Also, explain about a person who took the action you recommend, and describe
all the problems he prevented and the benefits he enjoyed.
16. Do you allow prospects to make decisions without pressure from you?
Prospects don’t like persistent efforts to close the sale. When you act like
a salesperson, you undermine your credibility. Instead, offer prospects information
about their problems and the solutions you recommend. Then let them make their
own decision. It’s OK if prospects feel pressured into doing something, as long
as the pressure they feel comes from their circumstances and not from you.
17. Does your program strengthen loyalty between your clients and you? The
best way to increase and maintain loyalty is to provide ongoing information
through seminars, newsletters, web sites and other forms of education. When
you keep clients informed, you cement your relationship, you educate them about
the many ways you can help them, and they refer their friends.
18. Are you committing enough time and money to your marketing program?
Marketing takes a concerted effort. To achieve success, you must devote time
and resources. What’s more, you must invest in a proven program. If you simply
dabble in marketing, you may never get the results you want. Here’s the double
First, you should test your marketing on a small scale so you discover what
works and what doesn’t. Still, you must commit enough money so you can take
the steps most likely to bring you success.
Second, you should expect at least some responses as soon as you implement
your program. Still, you must allow time to make mid-course corrections so you
can improve your results as you learn more about your target audience and how
it responds to your marketing efforts.
By evaluating your marketing program against these weaknesses, you have
the opportunity to dramatically improve your marketing effort -- and results.
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