Albert Einstein is credited with saying “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” If reality is an illusion, what is real? What we believe, or perceive, is real to each of us. Perception may vary from person to person, just as taste varies, but what we perceive is what we believe. That is reality.
What do perceptions have to do with law firm marketing?
Prospects generally familiar with your law firm have already created their own personal realities when it comes to your firm. Do you know what they think about your firm? Which perceptions are helping you attract more business, and which perceptions are costing you? Ultimately, it does not make a difference what YOU perceive about your firm. It only matters what your prospects perceive. They are the ones who affect your bottom line and profitability. What your prospects perceive becomes your firm’s reality.
For example, if your estate planning practice is perceived as being too expensive, ipso facto, it IS too expensive.
Bundled pricing can make a huge difference in how your prospects perceive the value they receive from your law firm. Let’s look at a hypothetical case study for moment:
John is a 30-year-old high net worth individual, heir to the snag-free paperclip fortune. He is soon to be married to his high school sweetheart, who is pregnant with his first child (it’s a boy!). John is also in talks with television networks regarding a mini-series based on his life as the “paperclip king” and growing up in rural Idaho. Random House has reached out to him to discuss an autobiography. A clothing designer has begun a new line of evening wear and accessories featuring his paperclip design. John wants to start a new business of his own, yet to be decided. His life is pretty complicated and he’s looking for an advisor to help him protect his assets now and in the future, as well as preserve his wealth and provide for his family for generations to come.
John met with several estate planning attorneys who all appeared to be qualified and knowledgeable, and they all described the various services that they offered. But no one looked at his situation from a holistic perspective: what needed to be done right now, what needs to recur on a regular basis, and what needs to be done at specific milestones going forward. No one gave him the big picture of what all of that would cost, either. Everything was discussed as a single service at a certain price. Without a calculator and calendar, John couldn’t figure out how much he would be spending or when. What value would he get from working with one or all of these lawyers? He wasn’t quite sure.
Then John met an attorney who listened to him carefully and proposed a bundle of estate planning, asset protection and wealth preservation services, offered at three levels of service, payable at a fixed fee every month. He chose the second bundle, which included a prenuptial agreement, will, trust fund for his unborn child, gift trust for his future grandchildren, various charitable giving and asset protection strategies, disability planning, preparation of gift and estate tax returns, life insurance policies, and monthly trust administration, all packaged nicely into one monthly fee. While John admitted that he probably spent more than he needed to, he decided to pay for the peace of mind that his fees would remain constant for the duration of the contract, and he also understood exactly what he was getting for his money.
He chose value and convenience over bottom-line pricing. The bundle made the difference.
Isn’t this blog post supposed to be about law firm marketing? What’s the point of this hypothetical case study? Bundled services and pricing packages can help change the perception of value. And value is worth paying for. And how you present information is, in fact, a form of marketing. Marketing is the best way to elicit change when it comes to perception. Marketing will help you create a new reality for your firm.
So, the next time you meet with a prospective client, listen carefully to their needs and then consider proposing a bundle of estate planning services that they might need now as well as for the future. You may find that bundling your traditional estate planning services, such as drafting or updating a will, establishing a trust, and prenuptial agreements, with some of your more sophisticated wealth preservation services, such as the formation and operation of family limited partnerships, creating charitable giving strategies (including CRTs and CLTs), setting up private foundations and providing long-term trust administration, may help you earn more business.
Price may not be the part of your firm’s public perception that could use a boost. Take a survey to discover what else might be affecting your firm’s reputation and take action to change any negative perceptions identified. Then make sure that you communicate those changes clearly and consistently, using whichever marketing and communication strategies are at your disposal, from email newsletters to social media to direct mail to mentioning it to your clients at regularly-scheduled meetings or with colleagues and referral sources out on the golf course.
Becca Fieler is an Online Marketing Specialist for BizActions | PDI Global Marketing Solutions, a division of Thomson Reuters, serving as a strategic partner in the planning and implementation of electronic communication and marketing initiatives. She develops and oversees comprehensive programs that present marketing strategies and solutions to diverse audiences, including attorneys, accountants, banks and credit unions, human resource companies and other professional service providers.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128