This “credit solutions” lawyer found success using a combination of four common marketing techniques that he tweaked to fit his practice.
Wisconsin attorney Michael Mack offers credit solutions to consumers. His website address is http://www.thecreditman.com and his blog address http://www.michaelmack.com.
“The biggest challenge was sifting through the B.S. on marketing and finding effective client- generating strategies I could deploy without going broke.
“The challenges you face when you start a law practice, in my case on a shoestring budget, are different challenges from when you get your practice going, growing, and profitable.
“I left a large, established law firm. It didn’t have to concern itself with such mundane matters as marketing. We played golf with the clients, took them to dinner, billed them without hesitation, and the clients gladly paid.
“The first year I started my practice I struggled. I dissipated precious capital on advertising — most of which didn’t work. John Wanamaker said, “Half the money we spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is we don’t know which half.” I think John was being optimistic because it’s probably more than half that we lawyers waste on advertising. That’s why so many lawyers struggle.
“Things changed for the better when a friend of mine, an insurance salesman, gave me a book on direct response marketing. It was not a book for lawyers per se, but for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
“The concepts contained in the book just clicked for me. I went from struggling with advertising and marketing, and not sure what to do and frustrated, to actually enjoying the marketing process. I changed my mindset. I suddenly understood that in addition to being a lawyer, I was also a business owner. Therefore, I needed to have a sales and marketing driven law business.”
Michael found success using a combination of direct mail, book writing, print ads, and giving away free information. He added his own twist to each method to boost his response rate.
“I started using direct mail, but I did not use it like most other lawyers. For example, the envelopes were hand written because half the battle is getting the letter read.
I included coupons offering, for example, a “Free Credit Audit.” These coupons created high perceived value instead versus simply offering a free consultation. I also included a “24-Hour Free Recorded Message” on the letter so folks could hear me providing useful information about a legal topic. With the letter I offered a free report entitled “How to Stop the IRS Cold and Start Living Again.” The prospect could order the report by leaving their contact information, including their phone number.
“You don’t have to be a Hemingway, or master ad copywriter to win big with direct mail, because odds are excellent other lawyers are not using effective direct mail. Good is good enough.”
Here are some additional strategies that have worked for Michael.
High Impact and Sequential Direct Mail.
“Sending prospects interesting objects with a letter attached, like heart-shaped candy in February around Valentine’s Day, or sending prospects a letter which looks like it was hand written on a legal pad. Also, continuing to mail prospects 2 or 3 times is important because you can get an equal response on the 2nd or 3rd mailing as the first mailing.
“These are not the testimonials you normally see with paid actors or a scripted pitch, but ones with real people, real names, real videos or photos, and a compelling “nightmare” story which the client suffered before the client hired the lawyer, culminating with a happy ending because the client hired the lawyer.
This works because it’s human nature. If tell you I’m an effective lawyer, you may take that with a grain of salt. If your neighbor tells you I’m a good lawyer, you’re more apt to believe them.
Write a Book and Get Free Publicity.
“Talk radio and the media in general are hungry for consumer topics. I wrote a book on how to eliminate credit card debt. Then I created a media kit and obtained a list of radio stations – first local, then national – and I started getting interviews talking about a topic which affects a lot of people.
“Free publicity, besides being free, works for two reasons. One, you are considered the expert. Two, a prospect who finds you first is more likely to hire you than if you solicit him or her. I didn’t care about selling books; I cared about using the book as a “sales letter” to attract clients.
Advertorial” Print Ads.
“These look a little like a real newspaper article, but with a disclaimer at the top that it’s an advertisement. These ads, especially with a compelling headline, tend to get much better response.
Offer Free Information.
“Offer free reports, CDs, books, webinars, consumer guides, e.g. “The Consumer Guide to Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer,” toll-free hotlines, etc. Give the prospects content they can obtain easily without having to meet with the lawyer, and make it interesting and compelling. Gain their trust. Win them over before they even set foot in your office.”
Successes and Failures
Michael hasn’t been successful by making any groundbreaking discoveries in marketing. His practice thrives from his marketing efforts because he finds out what has worked for others, and then uses those techniques along with his own personal touch to continuously bring new clients through his door.
“I’ve succeeded a lot more than I’ve failed, but it’s not because I’m some genius. Far from it. I have simply duplicated what has worked for others – mostly in other industries – and used them in my own practice.
“I have “swipe files” of letters, and ads, and free reports, and web sites, and audio files, and other things which I collect. Almost all of these things come from other industries, but you can change them to suit your legal practice – assuming you’re in compliance with your state bar.”
“A simple example: There is a famous headline which ran in print marketing a perfume.
“Tova Borgnine Swears Under Oath Her Perfume Contains No Aphrodisiacs.”
“I ran an ad in local newspapers which read:
“Attorney Swears Under Oath Credit Card Debt May Be Legally Forgiven Without Bankruptcy.”
“This ad was wildly successful. I actually signed an affidavit attaching documentation (proof) of settlements with credit card companies and debt collectors. I also had my clients hold a blown-up version of the document showing the debt was forgiven.
“However, every now and then you try something and it just doesn’t work the way you hoped. For example, I now do a fair amount of digital advertising. I tried some banner ads with headlines which had worked for newspaper advertising. They flopped online, however.
“I then had a conversation with an individual who markets fitness books and he said that banner ads can be fickle and I should stay with it and test, test, and test again until I come up with a winner. I went back and tried a lot of different ads and finally I found a winner. It surprised me because I thought that particular ad was weak compared to others I thought would generate better response, yet didn’t.”
Benefits and Drawbacks
Michael has client acquisition down to a science. Even though it takes serious time and effort in the beginning the benefits are well worth the hard work.
“Besides the financial benefits, there is peace of mind knowing that you are in control of your client faucet. Marketing is no longer guesswork. I can create a steady stream of clients predictably, consistently, and cost- effectively.”
“You have to stay with it. You DO need to invest some serious time and effort studying and learning about direct response marketing; and then applying what you learned to your own law practice.”
Best Marketing Advice
1. Stay within the guidelines of the law
“Make sure you are in compliance with your state bar/office of lawyer regulation. Some states, like Indiana, are not keen allowing lawyers to use testimonials. However, there is always a way to market effectively.”
2. Get over your fear of failure, take risks, and don’t be afraid to be unique
“One thing I noticed is that lawyers often have a “sheep” mentality when it comes to advertising and marketing. All ads kind of look the same, and say the same thing. When you stand out, when you’re bold, you take a risk. I’ve had lawyers make unflattering comments about how I market. I can’t listen to them, because it’s my client to whom I need to listen.”
3. Know the fears and desires of your client and market to them personally
“An important skill you must master in marketing is thinking backward. In other words, before you create any marketing campaign, put yourself in the shoes of your prospective client. What keeps them up at night? What gives them indigestion? What is their typical day like? What do they really imagine that they want?”
4. Seek out the help of an expert
“Find people who have been successful at marketing, and who are actually doing it. Seek them out and ask them for help. Pay them if necessary. Lawyers are used to getting paid for their wise counsel because lawyers provide valuable information. The same applies to paying for wise counsel so you obtain valuable business-building counsel. Look at other industries and ask yourself if the marketing you see in other industries could be applied to your practice.”
“Every time I’ve listened to someone trying to sell me “image” based advertising, I’ve regretted it because it’s almost always a waste of money. I go with tried and tested marketing, and I don’t ramp it up until I know I have a winning campaign.
“In fact, I test every marketing campaign I undertake. For example, I’m about to launch a webinar on foreclosure and I am going to test my lead pages (landing sites) to see which ones pull better than the other.
“I use a marketing based CRM called Infusion Soft which helps me measure results. I also used programs like LeadPages.com which has a split test feature which his easy to use, even for a computer dunce like me!
“I heard a famous trial lawyer once ask: if you were on trial for your life, how many character witnesses would you like to be called on your behalf? How much scientific evidence should we present? How much proof?
“The right answer is – all you’ve got, or can get. In other words, an overwhelming quantity and quality of proof to prove you’re the best lawyer for the job. Testimonials of real people who suffered a real problem that you, the lawyer solved, is powerful.
“Documentation is powerful too. For example, if I was a personal injury lawyer I would take pictures of the clients holding up a BIG check (kind of like the Publisher’s House Sweepstakes) with the dollar amount. I would scan in actual settlement letters from insurance companies offering to settle. I would upload audio files of me negotiating a deal with an insurance adjuster so the client could “listen in” to my tough negotiating tactics. I would get the client to imagine – future pacing – what their life would be like if they hired the right lawyer.”
“There are some basic resources about marketing I would highly recommend. Dan Kennedy’s “Ultimate Sales Letter” is excellent, for example. Denny Hatch’s “Million Dollar Mailings” is an excellent resource. For the internet, Brendon Burchard’s stuff is great. Jon Benson’s stuff on online sales letters is top notch. I could go on and on!”
Listen to his radio interviews http://www.thecreditman.com/attorneymichaelmack-radio_interviews.html
Read articles in which he has been featured http://www.thecreditman.com/attorneymichaelmack-michael_mack_in_the_news.html