Some legal nurse consultants think they’re in the legal nurse consulting business, but successful CLNC® consultants know they’re really in the marketing business. Everything is marketing. Whether you’re interviewing with a prospect, conferring with an attorney-client on a case, answering the phone or writing a report, you’re marketing. While you might not think of marketing as a 24/7 task, it’s helpful to remember that every word you speak, sentence you write and thread you wear leaves an indelible impression on attorney-prospects and clients. The expression on your face, the tone of your voice or the appearance of your report could make the difference between the attorney hiring you for the first time or the last.
- Sending a promotional package,
- Choosing what to wear,
- Deciding on the professional image you want to project,
- Analyzing a case,
- Offering a risk-free guarantee, or
- Developing your website,
it pays to do it right.
Here are 9 marketing principles you must live by to successfully grow your CLNC business.
- Just DO it!This sounds basic, but if you don’t get your name out through networking, social media, exhibiting, etc., the more than 1,800,000 attorneys practicing in the U.S. will have no way of knowing about you. Wayne Gretzky, the famous hockey player, said you miss all the shots you don’t take. These words of wisdom apply as much to marketing as they do to hockey.
One CLNC consultant shared how it took her four months to call her first attorney-prospect. She was almost paralyzed by fear and did everything but call an attorney, setting up her home office and developing her marketing plan. When she finally got serious about marketing, she immediately won her first attorney-client. How many attorneys and how much business did she miss out on during those four months?
The easy part of marketing is developing the marketing plan. But a marketing plan without action isn’t much of a plan, and it won’t get you clients. Include measurable, results-oriented objectives and target dates, then commit to acting on each objective.
For example, if you set a goal of marketing to five attorneys each week, you could meet that goal without accomplishing any results for your business. You’ll be more effective with a results-oriented objective, such as marketing to a minimum of five new attorney-prospects weekly until you get a legal nurse consultant job from one of them. This results-oriented goal not only propels you to act, but requires you to act until you achieve the desired result.
Most people know what they need to do – they just don’t do what they know. The most successful Certified Legal Nurse Consultants have been told “no” more often than they’d like to admit. So why are they successful? Because they understand that with more than 1,800,000 attorneys, one “no” is simply unimportant. They quickly move on to the next attorney-prospect who will say “yes.” Focus on the “yes”; not the “no.” Go out there and just do it!
- Master the 3-foot rule.Everyone knows at least one attorney. Take your business cards with you wherever you go, business or social: your daughter’s soccer game, your hair stylist, the dentist’s office, your church service. Polish your 30-second elevator speech so you can flawlessly share what you do anytime, anywhere. Network with anybody and everybody who comes within three feet of you.
If you exhibit at a legal conference, speak to as many people as you can, including attendees, conference organizers and leading speakers. Don’t limit yourself to attorneys. You could get a profitable referral from anyone you encounter, from the hotel concierge to the exhibitors. Anytime you can say hello to someone, you have the opportunity to promote yourself as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
- Tell attorneys what’s in it for them.No matter how experienced or interesting you are, an attorney will only hire you if he sees the benefit from your CLNC services. Scientists have proven that alleviating pain is a more effective marketing strategy than enhancing pleasure. Focus on the attorney-prospect’s pain. For example, the attorney just lost a case because the MD expert didn’t read the entire medical record. You can alleviate the root cause of the pain. The attorney will never lose a case again because he missed an important entry in the medical record – you’re going to read and analyze every one of them. Tell potential attorney-clients how you can help them, not just what you do.
Develop the opening statement of your interview to address these questions the attorney will be interested in:
- “Why should I listen to you?”
- “What’s in it for me?”
- “Why should I use you versus someone else?”
Ask questions that help you focus on the attorney’s concerns and needs. Strong communication that makes no assumptions is one of marketing’s secret weapons.
- Use your work product as a marketing tool.The most effective marketing strategy is the work product itself. Quality work product (or lack of it) has the last word in marketing. You must back up your marketing with first-class work product and stellar customer service that exude unparalleled professionalism. The quality of your work product precedes you and stays around long after you leave the attorney’s office.
When you focus on the prospect and excellent customer service (the relationship), you’ll be far more successful than if you focus only on the sale. This assures that you will distinguish yourself from other consultants vying for the attorney’s attention. Deliver what you promise PLUS more. Follow through on everything you agree to do. Stay involved, even when your assignment is complete. Email the attorney a new idea, a new research study or simply ask how the case is going.
These principles sound simple, and they are. That’s why it’s imperative that you uphold them 100% of the time. Attorney-clients expect you to provide all of the basics consistently.
- Your best prospects are existing attorney-clients.One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is failing to market to existing clients. An existing client is your hottest prospect because she already appreciates the benefits of using – and is willing to pay for – your CLNC services. The existing relationship dramatically increases the odds of successfully selling yourself again.
While discussing a case you’re working on, you’re usually in a strong position to emphasize additional CLNC services you can provide. This is far simpler and less time-consuming than finding a brand new prospect, researching the attorney’s needs, getting past the gatekeeper, setting up an interview and closing the sale.
For every attorney-client, track the CLNC services you have provided to date. Unless you’re already providing every possible service (more than 30 services in all) on every case, you have a tremendous marketing opportunity. Add just one CLNC service for each client and you will greatly enhance your growth.
I mentored a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant who was providing one or two CLNC services to approximately 30 attorneys. We focused on growing her business by providing just one more CLNC service to each of her attorney-clients. Then six months later she focused on adding another CLNC service, and so on. Her new goal was to market more to existing clients, selling a wider range of CLNC services to fewer attorneys. By concentrating her marketing efforts on existing clients, she makes better use of her time and has increased revenues.
Your existing attorney-clients can and should be the core of your marketing program.
- Grow relationships and your business will grow automatically.Remuneration doesn’t just come in the form of a check. When you help your attorney-clients win, they repay you in the form of word-of-mouth referrals. Referral business is free and one of your most effective marketing tools. Commit to meet the needs of each attorney-client, deliver exactly what you promise and then some, provide excellent work product, and listen and communicate effectively, no matter how small the project or request. You’ll receive referrals beyond your wildest dreams.
When your attorney-clients trust you to do right by them and by anyone they refer you to, that trust becomes the source of more referrals. All other factors being equal, people will do business with and refer business to people they know, trust and have valued relationships with.
A CLNC consultant shared that she spent substantial time and energy marketing to a law firm. When the attorney hired her, she assumed her superbly executed marketing efforts had paid off. However, after several months of consulting with him, the attorney told her he had discovered her when he asked another attorney to recommend a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant and that attorney gave him her name. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth referrals and never be afraid to ask a satisfied client for referrals.
- Don’t expect help from your competitors.Beginning legal nurse consultants often naively expect their local peers to give advice and help them succeed. Smart business owners in any industry do not rely on help from competitors. A competitor expects to win your clients – that’s not mean, that’s just business. Even if your peers seem willing to help you, this is still not an effective marketing strategy. Here’s why:
- You could be receiving bad advice. People often mean well, but are not necessarily qualified to give advice. Always assess the validity of any advice offered. Study the experts who can actually help you move toward your goal. Seek advice from the Institute’s CLNC Mentors. The CLNC Mentors are full-time practicing Certified Legal Nurse Consultants who have real-world experience with the challenges you might encounter.
- You could devote that time to being in front of an attorney. Networking with local peers may feel good and may even appear productive as you make new friends and collect business cards. It’s easy to convince yourself that these activities will pay off. But if you’re not getting business or referrals, you’re misusing your precious time. Don’t confuse socializing with marketing.
The best marketing strategy is to develop alliances with CLNC peers with a variety of specialties outside your local area. Three to ten is ideal. A productive relationship with your CLNC peers thrives best in an environment free of competition, jealousy and secrecy. You’ll find yourself in a space where you refer each other, subcontract with each other and help locate experts without fear of losing business. In fact, such an alliance will bring you more business.
- Add pillars to your marketing foundation.There’s no single magic bullet for effective marketing. Marketing is most successful when based on a foundation with lots of pillars. If your whole business depends on one marketing strategy (one pillar), the business could easily fall, knocked off its lone marketing prop by unforeseen circumstances.
Add one pillar at a time, systemize that strategy, then repeat the process, adding pillars and systemizing each one, with the goal of adding as many effective strategies as possible. Don’t try to add too many strategies at once. You want to be sure each strategy works smoothly, effectively and systematically before implementing the next one. For example, if you choose to focus on networking, first systemize how you network and request and obtain referrals. Once you are satisfied that you have mastered the art of winning referrals, it’s time to add the next pillar (e.g., social media), then the next one (e.g., exhibiting) after that.
Free and inexpensive strategies such as networking can be just as effective as marketing strategies that require an expensive budget. Create as many free marketing pillars as you can first, especially if you are a beginner and on a budget.
A single additional pillar could increase the growth of your CLNC business 5%, 20%, even 100% or more. As you add solid pillars, each one working for you, you will become a true marketing pro.
- Reinvent your marketing plan regularly.No matter how long you’ve been in business, you can always learn more about marketing. Although the basic rules of marketing stay the same, the techniques and the technology are transforming with lightning speed. Consider social media as an example. Commit to study marketing regularly.
Look outside your own industry for new and fresh marketing ideas. If you rely solely on your legal nurse consulting peers for ideas, you run the risk of becoming an imitator, not an innovator. Innovation is the only path to excellence in marketing. Model best marketing practices in other industries and you’ll quickly bring innovative practices into your own.
Once you commit to living by these proven marketing principles, you’ll be in control of your CLNC success and generate the positive professional image and marketing power to grow your CLNC business to new levels. Next to solving the mysteries of a challenging case, successful lifetime marketing is the most personally and professionally rewarding and stimulating aspect of owning a CLNC business.
Success Is Yours,
P.S. Comment and share best practices for marketing in your legal nurse consulting business.