MILOfest 2010 Influence and Legal Marketing

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Mark Merenda and Victor Medina presented on how the principles from Robert Cialdini’s seminal book, “Influence” apply to law firm marketing. Here is a summary and comments:

Reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity is if you do something for someone, they are more likely to do something for you. This runs the gammut from free samples to bringing someone glass of water, to hosting conferences and dinners. Even if the person know they are being manipulated, it still works.

In a legal firm environment, reciprocity can be invoked with something as simple a sending information packets, giving people at your office a hot drink, or hosting a seminar and a meal.

Social Proof

People go where other people are. If you see one person looking up, you will pass him by. On the other hand, if you see four people standing around looking up, you are likely to stop and look as well. That is the principle of social proof.

The easiest way to implement social proof in your practice is through testimonial.

WATCH OUT: Numerous bars have problems with testimonials. Be sure to check how your state views this before you risk getting yourself into hot water.

Authority

People want lawyer to tell them what they need to do. Your clients don’t necessarily want a number of choices – certainly not a mind clouding panoply of choices. Victor brought up Barry Schwartz presentation at TED on the paradox of choice:

REMEMBER: You are the expert. Customers come to you for direction. I am not telling you not to give your client choices, just be aware of the effect of the choices you offer. Don’t drown your clients in choices. Your job is to narrow the field, so you client can choose well.

Power of Free

Have you ever walked into a store and saw:

Buy two socks get one free.

What happens? You walk out with three pairs of socks that you never intended to buy.

You can do that too! Offer a free consultation, a free dinner, help someone on a small problem at no cost! A number of lawyers I talk to do exactly this last step. Their clients are so amazed that a lawyer helped them for free that they refer to that lawyer for years!

Of course, we have also been told that lawyers should not market ourselves on price. However, that is not what you are doing. You are not selling yourself on free. You are not equating the value of your services with free.

You are changing the equation in the customers’ minds to make it easier to call you!

Power of High Prices

Value is conveyed two ways:

  1. By the package and,
  2. By the price charged.

If you compete on price, you will be clobbered. Someone is always able to undercut you. As lawyers, we all know this:

  • We compete with bigger firms that farm out their work to cheaper lawyers.
  • We compete with legal service organizations that hire non-lawyers.
  • We compete with FORM BOOKS!

You do not need to (nor should you) gouge your customers. However, a high price is not your enemy! The most glowing client surveys came in from the customers Victor charged the most!

Price is used to establish the value of your services. Having a super high price helps FRAME your value. For example having multiple price levels with incremental price increase, help your customers to step from one level to another. This encourages them to move into a higher price point (even if they never get into the highest price point. In fact, it is not important the customers do not select the highest price point. Customers feel comfortable picking a price point that is not the lowest, and also not the highest.

These are just a few of the concepts in Robert Cialdini’s “Influence.” Check it out!

For more on how these principles apply to law office marketing, Mark and Victor discuss these and other topics on their Smart Talk podcast.

MILOfest is an annual conference for Mac based law firms.