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Estate Planning Leads -- Do You Have Enough?

Posted On: June 23, 2020

By: Jennifer Goddard

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Written by: Jennifer Goddard

Jennifer Goddard is CEO and co-founder of IMS. She has been at the helm of the agency since its start-up in 1995. Jennifer specializes in helping estate planning and elder lawyers grow 7-figure firms with digital marketing. Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in business administration from Michigan State University.
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Estate planning leads are the lifeblood of an elder law or estate planning lawyer. If you're not talking to a potential new estate planning client at least every week day, your firm is in trouble.

So, let me ask the single most important question about the health of your firm: How are you managing your lead flow?

Most elder law and estate planning attorneys take a haphazard approach to lead flow, with very little control, predictability or reliability in the number or quality of new estate planning leads coming into the firm at any time. When the lead flow dries up, they have no real way to turn the lead generation tap back on.

Most will just hope and wait … some will start calling their referral sources ...  others gear up to host another live estate planning workshop (or they did, before the pandemic).

The typical estate planning or elder law firm has only three sources for new leads:

  1. Professional Referrals. Working with primarily financial advisors, many lawyers focus their marketing efforts on meeting advisors and developing referral relationships.This can and does work, but with inherent problems.
    1. Referral Sources don’t work for you … rather, you work for them. They do not have your financial interest at heart. They look out for themselves first, and their clients second ... your interests fall WAY down the list. Accordingly, they can start wielding too much power over your financial well-being – demanding low fees and quick turnaround.
    2. Referral Sources can be fickle. They can (and do) change their minds overnight and send new business to their nephew or a younger, cheaper attorney. They can change their focus and stop talking to their clients about estate planning or elder law planning – as many have done during this pandemic when the stock market has been highly volatile.
    3. Referral Sources can send you bad-fit leads, and you have to take them. Even if the client is difficult or not a fit, you’re obligated to take them on, if you want the referrals to keep coming.
  2. Workshops and Seminars. Ah -- remember when you could buy a mailing list, rent a venue, and invite lots of older people to join you for a live workshop? Those days are mostly over, friend ... and that's not a bad thing! Even before the pandemic, seminars demanded a grueling pace from the attorney and were the main reason for the Revenue Roller Coaster that throttles so many firms, stopping their ability to grow. Successful seminars dump a lot of leads on the firm all at once  ...  the firm stops the seminars so they can catch up ... then the work dries up and then the whole process has to be restarted to get revenue flowing again.
  3. Word of Mouth Referrals. These are great for a law firm, and most attorneys don’t do nearly enough to nurture word of mouth referrals … but word of mouth is inherently hit-or-miss and not a reliable, predictable source of steady flow of estate planning leads.

Why Relying on These Three Lead Sources Throttles Business Growth

Relying on these three primary lead generation sources results in a feast-or-famine revenue flow – also known as the Revenue Roller Coaster. Great revenue months are inevitably followed by long dry spells. Just when  you think you're "over the hump" in growing your practice, revenue hits a wall and the white-knuckle months return.

These highs and lows in lead flow make it very difficult to grow. When good months are followed by awful ones, it’s impossible to staff properly. You end up either over-staffed and supporting inflated overhead … or chronically under-staffed – unable to keep up with new business when it does flow in, effectively throttling growth.

In this environment of unpredictable lead generation, the solo practitioner almost never successfully hires another estate planning attorney to expand the practice. Instead, if they bring on another attorney at all, they look for someone to bring in their own book of business ... expectations are seldom met ... conflicts arise and partnerships fall apart quickly.

How To Build An Estate Planning Law Firm That Is Profitable & Sustainable

Sustainable, Profitable Law Firm Growth Requires Another Source of Leads

These three lead generation sources are simply not enough to grow a healthy, profitable law firm. There are too many holes in the plan, too many bad months, too much volatility and zero control.

What’s needed is an independent source of new estate planning leads that is sustainable, reliable and profitable.

What's needed is modern marketing for estate planning and elder law firms.

It’s a Good Thing that Estate Planning Attorneys Have to Pivot Now!

Many lawyers who use this model are all-too-familiar with how expensive, grueling and difficult it is to get estate planning leads. But they haven’t made the shift yet because they were afraid … now they HAVE to pivot to stay alive.

Here’s why that’s the best thing that could have happened to them –

Once they do pivot, they will

  • Attract more premium, educated, wealthy potential clients
  • Spend WAY less on client acquisition
  • See their profit margins massively expand due to their lower acquisition and overhead expenses
  • Get time back for themselves and their actual LIVES – without having to run off to give another workshop, or work all weekend to catch up on work so they will have time to do their workshops next week
  • Find other ways to invest their time for bigger pay-offs in their practice. The CEO of the business should not be wasting their time speaking at workshop after workshop just to drum up a few clients. There is so much MORE they could be doing to grow the firm, build profitable revenue, expand their reputation and impact. They need to dream much BIGGER, and will have the time to make BIG happen!
  • Have a system in place that leverages modern technology and puts them in the driver’s seat of their own financial future.

My clients have already made this pivot ... find out how they're consistently generating estate planning leads in my newest free training.

Register here.

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Disclaimer: Growing a small law firm to six or seven figures (or more) is not easy. The journey is both challenging and exhilarating. At every step you may be tempted to quit. Those who succeed are committed, coach-able and resourceful. If that’s you, let’s talk.