Thursday, October 1, 2015

Word-of-Mouth Revenue and the Value of a Client

Toothpaste marketers have it easy. 

It’s not hard for them to figure out the value of a client… or in their case, of a customer.  They know the margin they make on the product, how many tubes that customer will buy and how often that customer will come back to buy it. Moreover, the word-of-mouth phenomenon is not prevalent.  After all, how often do you give or receive referrals on which toothpaste to buy?

But what about the marketer of legal services?

For most practice areas, there is no “typical” client.  And there is absolutely no way of knowing or even estimating how many times that client will come back for more services. But most important, the value of a client is determined not just by the revenue that client brings in, but also by the revenue that client generates through word-of-mouth and referrals.  Unfortunately, most law firms fail to track that information and thus fail to get a fuller understanding of what each client represents to the firm.

This lack of information can have a direct impact on the firm’s fortunes. For example, the revenue obtained from a particular client may be “appreciated” to a greater extent than the smaller client whose contribution to overall firm income is significantly less. Yet, that smaller client may be of greater value to the firm simply through its connections to other potential sources (i.e. prospects) of new revenue.

When data concerning from where referrals are coming is not collected, law firms miss the opportunity to not only understand the value of each client, but also the opportunity to nurture those sources of “down the road” revenue. They may not see that that client who used to send lots of business their way is no longer doing so, and thus they may not recognize that his or her perception as to the quality of their services is no longer what it was. They may not see that Mrs. Smith merits a lunch invitation, Mr. Jones has earned a larger gift basket come the holidays, or that the XYZ Company is in danger of becoming an ex-client.

To be able to act on this information, law firms must first be able to capture it.  Yet this need not be a daunting task, By simply asking the question (as one would regarding through what medium a client heard about the firm), and tracking the revenue generated through these sources, a great deal of actionable data is obtained.

You can find more information regarding the tracking of word-of-mouth revenue and the value of a client at

In the meantime, I look forward to the day your firm’s success in business development can be quantifiably tracked to perceptions of its work quality.

Les Altenberg is President of A.L.T. Legal Professionals Marketing Group ( ), a full-service marketing firm dedicated to the business development efforts of law firms and those who serve the legal industry. He can be reached at 856-810-0400 or via email at