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Business Development

Want Repeat Clients? Make Yourself a Favorite

By Tea Hoffmann

Repeat clients are the most accessible and cost-effective prospects to target. 

We all have our favorite “things” we choose to purchase again and again. Whether it’s the brand of coffee you most enjoy or a specific type of running shoes that allows you to perform well, most of us are repeat buyers of certain products. As consumers, we understand we have a choice. But purchasing our favorite products gives us a sense of security and helps us be more efficient when we shop.

In other words, we don’t have to stare at the variety of choices when we’re buying peanut butter. We simply need to find the Peter Pan creamy and put the jar in the cart.

So, If You Were a Product, Would You Be Your Client’s Favorite?

While referrals from colleagues, friends and family top the list of reasons clients choose a particular lawyer or firm, studies show that buyers are also influenced by several factors. These include:

  1. Positive reviews. Client testimonials, case studies, and other recognition in outward-facing marketing materials have proven impactful for law firms and individual lawyers. A study in 2021 found that 70% of buyers read a review before making a purchase. Written individual attorney reviews combined with testimonial statements and case studies about the overall competencies can influence prospective buyers, lateral and associate candidates, and future staff hires. Keep the reviews and testimonials fresh, descriptive and compliant with ethics standards. Professionally produced video reviews are also compelling and relatable.
  2. Peer recommendations. Are the attorneys in your firm aware of the firm’s overall capabilities, or is work inadvertently sent outside the firm due to lack of knowledge? If your lawyers don’t know their peers’ expertise and experience, you could be missing out on client opportunities. On the other hand, if peers trust each other enough to refer “their” clients to other lawyers in the firm, retention and profits increase.
  3. Social media. Firms that dismiss the impact social media has on their client’s buying journey are living in the past. With online searches at an all-time high, your firm’s ability to be “found” by prospective buyers is imperative. Links added to social media posts enhance your search engine optimization and should celebrate successes, educate clients and promote the firm’s brand. (See “LinkedIn Profile Update: How to Stand Out in Four Steps.”)
  4. Awareness. Your ideal clients must continuously be made aware that your firm and your lawyers exist. Whether it’s an article in a trade journal, a post on LinkedIn, an industry-focused webinar, or an ad in the airport, consistent reminders that you exist are vital. With well over 1 million lawyers in the United States, a web presence is not enough. Individual lawyers must keep themselves and their services “top of mind” or risk a client heist by another firm. Loyalty is limited and lawyers, in the minds of many, are another expense and expendable.
  5. Experience. Providing a high-touch, responsive experience for each client is crucial to your firm’s success. For example, a client who has a bad interaction with your firm (at any stage of the representation) will tell at least 10 other people who will then tell their friends and so on. In addition, experiences leave an impression, either positive or negative. Therefore, it is incumbent on firms to evaluate a client’s experience and seek continuous improvement based on client feedback.

Six Ways to Keep Clients Coming Back to You

I know you and your firm are not peanut butter. However, the way clients choose one firm over another is similar. Whether you serve business or individual clients, retention and repetition are priorities. (OK, criminal, bankruptcy, and domestic relations may be exceptions.) To ensure you keep your clients coming to your firm again and again, you must do the following:

  1. Determine your client’s expectations before each engagement and work to exceed them.
  2. Sustain your firm’s positive reputation and brand image by setting client service standards for every person who works in your firm. Then, hold each person accountable to those standards.
  3. Provide value after the engagement in the form of client alerts, webinars and materials of interest to your clients.
  4. Keep clients informed about the services your firm can offer and why it’s the obvious choice.
  5. Continue to solidify relationships with each client and let them know you always appreciate referrals.
  6. Communicate regularly, even if you don’t have any active matters.

Why Repeat Clients Are a Smart Target

Repeat clients are the most accessible market segment to target and the most cost-effective. Treat them as the priceless assets they are, and you should continue to be their favorite.
Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Tea Hoffmann

Tea Hoffmann is managing principal at Law Strategy Corp., a consulting and coaching practice focused on helping lawyers and firms make the changes necessary to become more profitable, strategic and focused. LSC provides law firm training, coaching, retreat presentations and strategic planning. Tea is a former practicing lawyer who has served as a GC for a publicly traded company, a CBDO at an AmLaw 100 firm, and chief strategy officer at an AmLaw 200 firm. She is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. Tea also serves in the Tennessee Army National Guard where she is a major with over 20 years of service. Email Tea at teahoffmann@lawstrategycorp.com.

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