Client Referral Strategies For Attorneys
How and Where To Get Referrals….
Without Ever Having To Ask For Them
Referral Strategies focuses on how and where to get referrals….without having to ask your clients, and with very little effort on your part. It couldn’t be easier, could it? I’ve talked to many business owners that utilize some kind of referral system. But there are two problems with how they approach it, and it’s costing them a ton of money.
One, they don’t track anything they do in regards to referrals. And two, they’re cheap in rewarding those who send referrals their way.
That’s like stepping over a dollar to pick up a nickel – it’s not very smart.
Review the ideas below and put them to work for your practice.
Referral Strategy #1: Target a referral source that has influence in your area, such as trade groups and organizations. For instance, let’s say you practice family law. You could target Trade Unions. Just make a few calls to local union halls and ask if they send out a monthly newsletter or some other type of correspondence to their members. If they do, offer to sponsor it in exchange for having a coupon for your practice in the newsletter or added to their mailings that go out. The cost – maybe $200 a year.
The coupon would read:
FREE One Hour Consultation for Your Family Law Needs
(Insert your contact info here)
Your Name : _________________
Your Unions Name: _____________
Just Present This Coupon For Redemption
Just tell the Union Officials that when a member uses the coupon and becomes a client, the Union will receive an additional $200 donation – this is one of only of three times I ever recommend an actual cash donation because it’s necessary to incentivise the union to help make this strategy work. And it’s okay – they’re a non-profit.
Referral Strategy #2: Partner with Non-Profit Agencies. If your practice, or one of your practice areas, could benefit from a partnership with a non-profit, pick up the phone. For instance, a divorce attorney could partner with various womens shelters. A bankruptcy attorney could partner with credit counseling agencies. And if your practice focuses on wills and estates, you could partner with various senior services. Just tell the agency you’d like to set up a referral program that would increase their yearly donations. For every referral they send you, you make a donation.
These non-profit agencies can become very strong referral partners in a very short time. Since they benefit from referring clients, they typically become highly motivated to provide referrals. One additional benefit – non-profit agencies have loyal donors, board members, community activists and volunteers who many times will go out of their way to do business with, or refer others, to a firm that was providing working capital to “their agency.” Just have a coupon made up to track your referral sources – very much like the coupon shown in Referral Strategy #1.
Referral Strategy #3: How many churches do you have in your area? I’d wager you have a few. And they are the perfect referral partner because they are the always looking for new ways to raise money. I can’t think of a single church in my area that wouldn’t love the chance to receive donations from your practice.
All you have to do is call the priest, pastor or minister and ask to meet with him or her to discuss a potential fund-raising opportunity. Make this offer – for every referral they send you, you will make a donation to their church. In return, the church agrees to promote your practice – whether it’s in their Sunday bulletin or in mailers that are sent regularly to the church membership.
Do you see where I’m going with this – any organization that looks to raise money is a prime candidate to help with a referral program. Some examples – Scout organizations and High School Booster Clubs (both athletic and band).
Referral Strategy #4: Who cuts your hair? Whether it’s a barber or a stylist, you utilize their services regularly. So why not take advantage of it. They talk to hundreds and hundreds of people a year when someone is sitting in their chair….and those people sitting in the chair, they also talk to hundreds and hundreds of people each year. Do you see where I’m going with this? For the barber or stylist that does your hair, have some cards made up like I highlight in Attorney Referrals using Business Cards – Idea #1 – and hand them out to not only your stylist, but every single employee in the shop.
And please, don’t do what most attorneys do when they get a referral from their hairdresser or barber – most give away movie tickets and other small tokens of appreciation. Take care of them like you mean it. Do this well, and you’ll create a referral machine.
While you’re at, why not approach each and every barbershop and salon you can find….and make them the same offer. Wouldn’t hurt to have another 50 – 100 people singing your virtues, would it?
Referral Strategy #5: Target an upscale Clientele – For most practice areas, the key to growing your business is to target a more wealthy demographic. Wealthy clients obviously have more to risk and have the resources to pay your fees. So, go where they are – become involved in the arts. See if you can get a seat on the board of directors for a local symphony or theater. And get active in the local chamber of commerce or a local Rotary.
In short, go where the money is….and the money will find you.
Referral Strategy #6: Work The Media – Reporters are starving for “experts” that they can interview on a particular legal topic. Pick up the phone, or send a quick e-mail, to TV and print reporters in your area and volunteer to be that person.
If you can dumb-down complicated legal issues, you’re going to be their hero, and they’ll rely on you regularly – with your practices name front and center, of course. Heck, sometimes they might even ask you to participate in a regular segment or write a column – that’s even better. Free Pub Rules….
Referral Strategy #7 – The GRANDDADDY of them all: This is, without a doubt, the most effective way to get referrals. It’s one of my favorites – it’s ridiculously easy to do and some of the wealthiest attorneys in the country utilize it.
Most of you have some sort of “unofficial” referral program with other attorneys, psychologists, accounting firms, marriage counselors….or whatever professionals serve your ideal clients.
I want you to take it to the next level – do what the largest and most successful corporations in the Country do. Utilize Strategic Alliances.
Strategic Alliances are no longer the domain of the Fortune 500. They’re so easy to do – even a solo practitioner can do it.
Here’s an example of how the big boys do it.
Let’s say Spielberg and DreamWorks Animation is getting ready to release a new movie targeted at kids. They partner with Burger King and do a joint promotion where Burger King co-promotes the movie on their nationally televised ads….and Speilberg and Dreamworks supplies the character toys that will be given away with the kiddie meals.
The toys get the kids into Burger King (with their Parents being dragged along) which results in more revenue for BK, while the upcoming movie can plan on kids waiting in line to see it when it’s released.
That’s an example at the national level for those with very deep pockets.
Here’s how an attorney at the local level can put it to work.
Instead of having “verbal agreements” with other attorneys and professionals about referrals and fee’s, go a little deeper. Simply plan your strategy and then implement it.
First, take an inventory of who you have “unofficial” referral programs with now. If your list is all attorneys, expand it to as many other professionals you know that serve your ideal client.
Call them up and say you’d like to expand your referral program by marketing to each others client lists. You’ll write a simple endorsement letter about yourself on their letterhead and mail it to his/her clients at your cost….and they do the same with your client list.
In the envelope, include your card – just add the name of the individual whose list you’re using. This makes it a whole lot easier to keep track of who’s referring the client.
Also make sure the card says “Contact Me For Any Legal Matters – If I Can’t Help, I Know Another Top Attorney That Can”
The final step is this – write up a simple contract (for other attorneys only) outlining the referral fee agreement you wish to have. It keeps everyone honest.
Do this 4 times a year. At a cost of less than $200 each time you mail to a 500 person client list, it’s a simple, cost-effective way to have a continuous stream of referral clients.
Please, take the time to implement the ideas listed above and operate your referral marketing system each and every day. Who knows, you might end up having to bring on a partner or two.
Now it’s time to move on to third part of the Attorney Referral Systems – Dance with the One That Brought You