If you are struggling to gain new clients or even keep clients that have been given to you, chances are that you are mired in your own belief system about what clients really value. A study of professional services buying habits by the Virginia-based research firm Hinge Marketing indicates that what buyers say they value and what they really value when buying professional services are two very different truths. While the survey did not cover law firms, I believe that the same results would apply if consistently researched.
What clients say they consider when buying:
- Expertise/ Technical Skill
- Quality of the team or lawyer assigned to the matter/account
What clients really consider:
- Will you help them avoid poor results
- Can you fix the problem (make sure to define the problem correctly)?
- Will you make my life easier?
- Do I like you as a person?
While this all appears very easy to understand, putting it into practice is an entirely different matter. Most lawyers spend their lives persuading and trying to bring others around to their particular point of view, which can be deadly in a client development situation.
All of this suggests that lawyers (and anyone that wants to sell a service or product to someone else) should take the time learn more about target clients are looking for. Law firms should consider an investment of time and money in a research program that should include:
- Identifying the segments of the market most interested in a firm’s services;
- Identifying the client drivers for selecting counsel in these markets;
- Determining the most effective way for reaching high opportunity clients;
- Creating the strongest message to potential clients; and
- Reconciling internal understandings with market perceptions of competitiveness.
The goal of a marketing research program is to provide a firm with actionable information to improve overall marketing effectiveness, client procurement, and brand development.
Researching and understanding this information can help lawyers to reach their target clients better and then provide their clients with more personalized client service.