Marketing to Private Clients (2) – Where should you start?

 In Practice Management

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Marketing to Private Clients

Start by understanding two things:

  1. the marketing idea is not the only key; but it is the “personal performance marketing skills” of the person or team involved that is the critical factor that makes the difference between success or failure.
  2. get your priorities right

On a very basic and pragmatic level, marketing is about influencing people:

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  • To contact you;
  • To say “yes” to you;
  • To recommend you to others;
  • To use other services in your firm;
  • To return to you in the future

Get your priorities right – Introducing the Marketing Triad™

This article in the series is the most important. It will tell you what your priorities are, where to start and how to adjust your way of thinking. It will also provide you with a framework for your future marketing planning and explain the overall structure of this book. After working with several hundred legal firms over many years, the concept of the Marketing Triad is now my constant starting point and, if followed, almost always brings positive results.

The marketing Triad sets out the following priorities:

Priority 1 – Convert existing opportunities and enquiries into profitable business

Priority 2 – Market to existing clients

Priority 3 – Market externally to generate more opportunities and enquiries

Priority 1 – Convert existing opportunities and enquiries into profitable business

Marketing will almost never directly win you business. The most marketing will do, if successful and effective, is creat opportunities and enquiries for you that would not have existed. The area that requires attention and skill is the process of converting those enquiries into profitable business.

For example, consider this conversation:

Switchboard: Good morning. Charles, Nathan and Benjamin Solicitors. How can I help?

Ian: Yes, I wonder if I can speak to somebody, please, to get some indication of the cost of making a will.

Switchboard: Well, if it is a simple and straightforward single will, our fee will be £85 plus VAT, and for a mirror image will be £125 plus VAT. Thank you for calling.

Switchboard terminates the call!

How much business are you losing?

Charles, Nathan and Benjamin Solicitors (fictitious name) told me they received, on average, 12 cold calls or new enquiries for wills per day across their six offices.

This would equate to 60 enquiries per week and approximately 3,000 enquiries per year

Given that a “simple and straightforward” will is charged on their single will basis of £85, these calls represent a minimum potential revenue of approximately £255,000 per year to the practice. If the enquiries were for mirror wills, then a maximum potential revenue of £375,000 per year. Don’t forget; this does not take into account the possibility of revenue from tax planning, wills or other services that will likely be more lucrative. When you start quantifying the potential revenue of these calls, the numbers become surprisingly large.

The reason converting enquiries into profitable business is Priority 1 is both logical and simple. What is the point of spending time, money and effort marketing the firm, only to fail to convert enquiries?

Any marketing effort or initiative, however simple, does no more than produce enquiries either by phone, by visitors walking into the firm or by email. Think of these as going into your “enquiries bucket”. Most firms do not have a structure for handling enquiries. In many cases, they are handled as a piece of administration at a relatively low level instead of being seen in terms of potential substantial revenue.

The consequences of dealing with calls that was are obvious… the bucket will leak and business will be lost! The first priority is to identify how many enquiries and opportunities go into the bucket, how many of these are being lost and the potential value of plugging the hole. Ask yourself:

  • How many enquiries for wills or other private client services do you receive per day by telephone, visitors and email?
  • What is the potential revenue to the department based on these numbers and average fees for various services?
  • What are your current percentage conversion rates?
  • Which member of staff gets the best results dealing with these enquiries?

If you do not know the answer to these questions, then you must take steps to find out!

Priority 2 – Market to existing clients

The vast majority of legal practices devote most of their marketing energy and resources into chasing new clients. This is a complete marketing contradiction. Answer the following questions in the Percentage Test below:



Revenue source/resource spend 0-20% 20-40% 40-60% 60-80% 80-100%
1.  What percentage of probate work comes from the following sources?
  • Existing Clients of probate/private client dept
  • Existing clients of other departments in the firm
  • Recommendations from clients of the firm generally
  • Introductions from other professional contacts and sources
2.  What proportion of your marketing resources/efforts wins new clients?

The percentage test

Most probate practitioners answering these questions will discover that between 80-95 per cent of incoming business derives from those sources in question 1 with the smallest percentage coming in from the source in question 2.

What is the point of devoting the largest chunk of resource to that producing the least results? This is a commercial anomaly!

Priority 3 – Market externally to generate more opportunities and enquiries

Your focus should be entirely on priorities 1 and 2, and you should only contemplate serious action in priority 3 when these first two have been handled and mastered.  More on these later.


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