Why Your Referrals Are So Expensive. Make Them Count!

I talk to a lot of lawyers who tell me that they don’t do any marketing.  Their business is built 100% on referrals from past clients and other lawyers.  I would argue that those are the most expensive leads that a law firm receives and that many of them are wasted.

Why Referrals Are Costly

Here’s what I mean. Referrals are earned over a long period of time and are based on many factors like your education, relationships, past results, and sometimes, the referral fee you are willing to pay. You have earned your referrals through hard work,  long hours, and a huge financial investment in yourself.  But, many of your referrals may never even call you. Confused? Don’t be.  I’m about to explain what happens through data that was collected on over 300 participants that recently hired an attorney.

Here’s the good news.  43% of the people we surveyed found their attorney through a referral.

That is a very large portion of the people we surveyed but it isn’t the largest chunk.  Internet Research came in #1 when it comes to finding a lawyer.  If you’re surprised by that, you shouldn’t be.  December 2015 is going to be the first holiday season where more money will be spent shopping online  than shopping in stores. People are buying cars, ordering dinner, and even finding their soulmates through the internet.  You could be missing out on a huge increase in business if you ignore the online market.

Attorney Research

This next chart isn’t necessarily bad news for attorneys who depend mostly on referrals…unless you have a really bad internet presence.  Almost 80% of the people we surveyed said they did research on the attorney before they called.  That means no matter how they heard about you, including a referral, they’re looking you up.

What will people find when they Google your name?  Below are some common resources that will rank highly for your name:

  • Website
  • Avvo Profile
  • FindLaw Profile
  • Yelp Reviews

You can control most of the information on these sites and you can control 100% of the information on your website.  It is the best tool you have to tell your referrals why you are the right attorney to hire.

Window Shopping

Still not convinced? How about his next slide.  According to our survey, 75% of people will look at 3 or more websites before calling an attorney.  In fact, 29% will look at 6 or more websites.  Once people are online they are shopping.  It is very easy to click the back button and look for another attorney if they don’t see what they are looking for.  Your referrals may now be comparing you to your direct competitors to make sure they are making the right decision. Like it or not, your website may determine whether they pick up the phone to call you or someone else.

Hiring an attorney, no matter what your practice area, is a big decision.  Just because someone was referred to you doesn’t mean they will hire you or even call. Your experience, past results, and how well they are presented to your audience can sway someone your way or be the reason they move on and look for someone they deem as “better”.

Let’s sum this up.  You have worked hard your whole career to earn your referrals.  Don’t fumble the ball at the 2 yard line.  Make sure these potential clients find out exactly why you are the right attorney for them.  Otherwise, you’re just creating a great source of clients for your competition.

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