If you are an IP lawyer who thinks of creating sales funnels and simply guiding your prospects through various stages until they buy your IP legal services, you may have to rethink your client attraction strategies very soon to get even better results.
This is because of the need to address the issue of control – who controls the buying process and how does this affect the way IP legal services are searched for and purchased?
There is an evolution in the way marketing to prospects is done:
The ‘old fashioned’ way, which should be dying out but is not, is based on one-way, lawyer-to-prospect flow of communication, the reliance on networking and events, and very little effort made to stop prospects thinking they are simply being lectured to;
The ‘prospect guidance’ way, which many lawyers have started to take on board, is based on building a sales funnel and directing prospects through various stages until they purchase high priced legal services;
The ‘nurture marketing’ way, which is the direction lawyers should be focusing on. This is based on communicating regularly and effectively to nurture relationships and develop trust with prospects.
There are problems with the first two methods in the current economic climate.
The ‘old fashioned’ way usually takes place when lawyers believe they don’t have the time or resources to do any marketing activities, and rely on methods that have been used in the past to get more clients. More often than not, there is a heavy reliance on telling people about the legal expertise on offer and the length of time one has been in service. It is still the case that when many lawyers do actually communicate to prospects, it tends to be in complex terms and is not based on an understanding of the problems that prospects really want solved.
The ‘prospect guidance’ method is a step up from the above. Here, lawyers acknowledge the need to create a process to get more clients (e.g. a sales funnel). If done well, processes or systems are put in place to communicate with prospects with the sole goal of getting them to take specific action at various stages until they buy high-priced legal services.
There is a problem with this second approach though. It assumes that the lawyer and / or his marketing team are in control of the purchasing process, i.e. “if we create different stages in a sales funnel such as reports, lunches, events or seminars, and guide prospects through specific steps at given times, then we will control the way they get information on the solutions possible and the way they then make a decision to purchase OUR legal services.”
This does not take into account the internal factors that many prospects have to overcome, which then influence the decisions made to search for specific legal services.
So, what is nurture marketing?
It is the process through which IP lawyers, and their colleagues, stay top-of-mind in their prospects’ minds by engaging in informative and bi-directional exchanges that have no hard sell. More importantly, the IP lawyers have the permission to communicate to the target prospects, they also have to provide more and more value each time they do so.
This requires a move away from communicating for the sake of it and systematically providing information and resources that prospects are looking for (or have indicated they really want).
Nurture marketing is more easily done if prospect engagement is continually improved using feedback collected from prospects. IP lawyers also have to measure ALL nurture marketing activities. This is absolutely vital as it is impossible to gauge which prospects are hot without performance indicators in place to compare responses from different prospects over time.
While many IP legal services professionals may have some sort of web marketing strategy in place, they might find that these are not very effective at attracting new business. For example, you may do SEO very well and rank top of searches, but then lose prospects because the information provided or follow up strategy fails to keep prospects interested in what is on offer. This is the kind of issue an effective nurture marketing strategy can address.
Nurture marketing includes the following:
A systemised process for collecting feedback from prospects and clients about their needs and, more importantly, the internal factors that have to be addressed which influence purchase decisions;
Permission to continue engagement with prospects, but holding back from simply sending irrelevant communications that do not help address specific issues highlighted in the feedback provided;
Making sure the information provided is tightly targeted at a specific niche so that recipients separate it from the mass of information they get every day for other marketers or IP legal services professionals;
Systemised and automated multi-channel campaign management in which online and offline communication messages complement each other. Key here is pointing prospects to resources and activitiesthey are actively looking for, and to make sure there is an evolution of the messages delivered to match the increasing interest from prospects as they move from discovery, through awareness, to the validation stage.
Direct marketing principles should apply to all communications.
IP legal services professionals should have ALL prospects in a nurture marketing programme, and only move to sales / proposal mode once prospects have explicitly indicated that they are happy for that to happen. This requires a change in attitude amongst IP legal services professionals and all their colleagues, with a clear focus on creating and managing great experiences as opposed to simply trying to push prospects into steps they are not ready to take before they buy anything.
Eria Odhuba helps lawyers implement new online business models to attract more clients to their practices, giving them the chance to be succesful and enjoy the things they would like to do but can’t because they have no time or money.