What?! You want me to put my pricing and fees on my website?
Hear me out! I know this can be seen as a pretty controversial piece of advice, but I’m about to lay out why I think this is one way that you can differentiate your firm and establish trust with potential clients. And not just clients, ideal clients!
Let’s imagine two scenarios…
You get a call from someone that’s found your website online. They have a case. A great case. The best case. At least according to them. You schedule (and reschedule after the client no-shows) a consultation to go over it with them. On the day of the consultation, you review the case (potentially for free) and then you let them know about how much it’s going to cost to resolve their matter.
“Really? That much? I thought it would be much lower. Can you do it for less? No? How about contingency? No? Have I told you how great of a case it is and how lucky you’d be to have it? Oh, right. Well what if I did most of the work and you just reviewed it? Ok ok, I’ll find someone else.”
You’ve now spent hours of your time working with someone that couldn’t afford your rates in the first place. If you’re in a level-headed mood, you’re probably thinking you lucked out because most of the cost-concious clients end up being your neediest. But if you’re like most people, you’re probably left wondering if you should offer a discount. After all, you’ve already sunk time into this, at least you can get something out of it. Or maybe you’re wondering whether you set your rates too high and you start questioning what your services are worth.
None of it is healthy. For you or for the client.
You get a call from a potential client. They tell you they have a potential case, and that it seems to be pretty straightforward based on some of the criteria you laid out in your blog post. In fact, the reason they decided to call you first was because yours was the only firm they could find that even mentioned how much the services might cost.
They schedule a consultation, and when you get to the point where you let them know an estimate for the costs of your services, they nod in agreement. It’s right around the range you mentioned in your blog post. They’ve already mentally spent that money with you. Now it’s just about signing the fee agreement.
And that other client? The one that wanted to haggle for a discount. Well, they never called in the first place. They’re off having a consultation with your competitor, telling them that their rates are too high.
Which one would you prefer?
The latter of course.
So why don’t other law firms put pricing on their website?
Have you ever known attorneys to be revolutionaries when it comes to marketing? Me either. That’s why every attorney and law firm website looks exactly the same. And it’s not doing them any favors.
But the real reason they don’t do it is fear. Fear that the estimates will be held against them; fear that potential client will see a price and say “that’s too expensive”; fear that they’re putting their firm out there too much, that they’re the only one doing it, so it must be wrong.
Let’s look at each of these fears individually and knock each one down.
But I don’t want my estimates held against me!
Imagine a friend or family member (that you like) calls you up. They have a potential matter to discuss, but they want to know what something like this typically costs so they can decide if it’s worth pursuing.
You won’t tell them to buzz off. You won’t give them a curt “well every case is different, we’ll need to do a consultation before we can discuss any of this.”
You’ll probably answer with a range, and follow that up with some of the factors that go into that estimation, and you’ll probably close with a “but every case is different so the numbers could be higher or lower than what I’ve laid out, so don’t hold me to it.”
Perfect. Let’s put that in a blog post! You’ve given nothing away. You haven’t locked yourself into a bad deal. You haven’t improperly set expectations.
But what you have done, is to put your trust in the potential client. You’re implicitly saying that you trust them not to use that information against you. And what do you do when someone extends you their trust? Well, you probably reciprocate. And so now that you’ve answered a question that no one else will answer, that potential client is going to trust you a little more than the other firms they’re considering, and guess who’s going to get the call?
You. All because you were willing to put yourself out there more than the other firms.
What about being disqualified for being too expensive?
I think the scenarios up above illustrate the point pretty well, but let’s hammer it home shall we?
Marketing your firm is as much about repelling bad clients as it is attracting the ideal clients. By being willing to publish your rates and your pricing information, you’re sending a signal.
To the folks that can’t afford your services, you’re letting them know that it’s not worth your time or theirs to make contact.
But to the ideal clients, the ones that not only can afford your rates but that value your services as much as you do, you’re telling them that you’re the person to call. You’re telling them that you trust them to be reasonable, competent adults when it comes to estimating the costs of your services. And reasonable competent adults like to work with other reasonable, competent adults.
But I’d be the only one!
In the legal field, true differentiators are really hard to come by, mostly because your potential clients don’t know enough about the process to figure out what factors they should be differentiating on. You can’t say “I work harder than everyone else,” you can’t guarantee results, and saying “I write the best employment agreement in the state,” besides being ethically dubious, is completely unverifiable by a potential client.
So what are we left with?
“Smith law firm promises to work hard to deliver you conscientious and zealous representation in your matter of blah blah blah zzzzzzz.”
The same copy you see on every single law firm website.
Cost transparency is one of the single most effective ways to distinguish your firm from your peers.
We’re in an age where the companies that are willing to be the most transparent and the most approachable will get the business. Take the story of Marcus Sheridan. He’s a pool installer. And his business was floundering until he decided to answer the one question none of the other pool installers were willing to answer. How much does a pool cost? Pools, like legal services have a wide range when it comes to cost, and every pool is different. But he didn’t have to give an exact answer, he just had to address the question on all of his clients’ minds, cost.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It’s one of the few advantages you have as a smaller, more nimble firm.