Lawyers and other professionals often cringe at just hearing the word “marketing”. The idea of marketing their practice feels cheesy, unprofessional, and perhaps even “below” them. However, it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, marketing is a basic necessity of any business, whether you call your plans and strategies for bringing in revenue to your company “marketing” or not. If you are not doing some type of marketing, then how are you getting clients in the door? If you’re getting clients from referrals, that’s a form of marketing. Even if you’re getting new clients from your website, that’s a form of marketing. If you’re being asked to speak and give presentations, that’s marketing. These things are all a form of marketing and it’s helpful to break the thought process that there’s something wrong with wanting (and needing) to market your practice.
As a business owner, it is important that you have some kind of marketing strategy to ensure that you consistently bring in revenue each and every month. Otherwise, how can you guarantee that you will make enough to pay all of your overhead to keep your doors open and still have a paycheck to take home?
One of the biggest observations about my fellow estate planning professionals, particularly attorneys, that I have had over the years, is that they are making this very crucial mistake when it comes to marketing. Most professionals have no strategy or plan in place for marketing to their existing clients.
Existing clients are the best potential revenue source for your firm. Think about it. They already have a relationship with you. They know who you are. They know where your offices are located. And, most importantly, they already trust you. All too often, estate planning attorneys unconsciously promote the idea that estate planning is a one-time and you’re good for life transaction. I have even seen over the years some professionals send very cold disengagement letters to clients, after they have completed their plan, that basically says “we’re done”.
As you may know, I am a big advocate of seminar marketing. Right at each seminar I begin promoting the concept of a long-term, on-going relationship with our clients. Even if you don’t do seminars, you can bring this up at your initial consultation. I discuss what we call our “Free Service Package”, as opposed to a pre-paid annual maintenance plan. This package includes periodic, free review meetings.
My long-time executive assistant and our Executive Director, Kristina Schneider and I regularly hold consultations with other estate planning attorneys. Over and over again, we see people who have been in practice for several years but have no active plan in place for bringing in clients after their initial estate plan has been completed. I don’t believe it’s necessary to review your clients’ plans every single year, but we’ve found the idea of a free review every 3 years is the perfect amount of time to lapse before a checkup is warranted.
How Can Review Meetings with Clients Help My Practice?
You may be wondering how offering your time, free of charge, to your existing clients to review their estate plans can help your practice. There are lots of ways. Here are a few.
- Additional Estate Planning – Whether you discussed some other planning recommendations initially when you met with the clients, or you make new ones at the review meeting, you can often get clients to move forward with these recommendations. This can include other new planning services you may have added to your practice, such as the standalone IRA Beneficiary Trust, Successor Trustee Manual, the Health Document Emergency Card (check out Docubank.com and inquire about the special Ultimate Estate Planner discount for you and your clients), and any other advanced-level or niche planning (such as asset protection planning, pet trusts, etc.). Lots of clients will spot, on their own, changes they want to make, after you review their plans and they silently respond, “what was I thinking?”.
- New Client Referrals – The review meeting is a great time to inquire about referrals from clients. Most people know of someone – – a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor – – that could benefit from your services. Sometimes it is as simple as asking for people to consider to refer their family and friends to you to generate the referrals, or simply forwarding your e-mail newsletter.
- Developing Private Seminars – Public seminar marketing can be a big undertaking for some, but most professionals would agree that whenever the opportunity should present itself to give a private seminar to either a group, club, organization, or church that the client may be affiliated with, it’s a no-brainer opportunity to do it! There’s typically little to no cost and the affiliation with your client serves as a powerful testimonial to others attending. Again, like asking for client referrals, asking clients about opportunities to give a private seminar comes out of merely developing the habit to ask!
- Referrals to Affiliated Professionals – If you are affiliated with other professionals, such as financial advisors, CPAs, or even attorneys of another area of law, this is a great opportunity to continue to service your clients through the referral to some of your affiliated professional referral sources.
- “CYA” Protection – These review meetings are a great opportunity to catch potential mistakes (whether done by you or someone else in your firm, or even things miscommunicated by the client). At review meetings, we’ve found out clients have moved or refinanced mortgages but have failed to make the appropriate changes to their title documents or estate plans. We’ve even found things like clients handwriting their own changes to their estate plan. These review meetings are a way to ensure that the plans you prepare for your clients can and will work as you (and the client) had intended them to, saving you and your firm from hassles down the road (and potential liability exposure and expense!).
- Nurturing a Long-Term Relationship – This last and final benefit of holding these review meetings with existing clients may not sound that important, but it’s probably one of the most important benefits that your firm will enjoy from these meetings. By training your clients to come to you whenever they need something related to their estate plan, you’re staying “top of mind”. You’re also helping to direct future beneficiaries and successor trustees to come back to your firm for the eventual plan administration and their own estate planning needs.
In conclusion, every single estate planner should implement the strategy of re-marketing to your existing clients, by simply holding periodic review meetings. If you don’t, chances are a competitor will, at some point, grab them (and their future revenue) and you won’t even know it!
I am offering all of our newsletter subscribers a free consultation with Practice-Management & Marketing Specialist, Kristina Schneider. Kristina has been with me now for over 15 years. She can not only discuss how to properly implement this 3-year review process with your existing clients, but she can also take a look at your other current marketing strategies and how we, at The Ultimate Estate Planner, can help you and your practice. Please click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Attorney Philip J. Kavesh is the principal of one of the largest estate planning firms in California – – Kavesh, Minor and Otis – – which has been in business since 1981. He is also the President of The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., which provides a variety of training, marketing and practice-building products and services for estate planning professionals.
If you would like more information or have a question for him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-866-754-6477.