Legal Marketing Evolved: Important Considerations for Attorneys
Attention, Fellow Lawyers.
The business development game has changed. Winning requires a strategy beyond drinks and dinners, logoed merchandise, and a table for 10 at your client’s charity event. Many of your clients are no longer in your own backyard — they’ve moved to regional or national offices. Your clients are busy and forced to do more with less.
They are also empowered with information. They are searching for answers to their issues from their couches on their smartphones at 11:30 at night.
Your prospective clients want to hire a lawyer that has the expertise required to resolve their legal issue. They want someone they trust. They want an attorney who can resolve their issue at a fair price. Someone who has resolved similar matters for people or businesses in similar situations. They want to understand the process of working with you, the attorney.
All your digital assets — your website, social media profiles, online reviews, listings — provide opportunities to build trust and credibility with prospective clients. To reach volumes of potential clients that you couldn’t ten years ago.
But it’s going to require a new way of thinking about your practice and the clients you want to attract.
Do You Want to Be a Rainmaker?
The word “Rainmaker” has always translated negatively in my mind. Maybe in yours too. The thought of some overly extroverted, insincere schmoozer-type sales guy. You don’t have to be that guy to be successful. You just have to be yourself — authenticity is key. And be willing to provide value to the specific group of clients you’ve set out to help.
The ability to generate new business translates to freedom, power, and influence — whether you are a solo practitioner or one of 250 attorneys in the firm.
Before developing your marketing strategy, it’s helpful to take a step back and think big picture. What would the ability to bring in new clients and create a profitable practice mean for you?
- Are you interested in building your book of business so you can start your own firm?
- Will you be up for partner in a few years?
- Do you want to focus the type of client you serve to make back office operations more efficient?
Figure out what success means to you. Success doesn’t come without compromise and some seemingly tough decisions.
Focus Your Practice
For starters, you can’t be all things to all people.
This is a tough one for a lot of attorneys who feel like if they narrow their practice areas, they will lose out on clients. The real danger today is spreading yourself too thin.
So how do you choose?
- What area of the law are you most passionate about? Combining passion with profitability is always ideal.
- Is there a sub-niche of your current practice area that could serve as a differentiator for you? Instead of being an employment lawyer, focus on social media in the workplace.
- Think of a former client that you would clone if you could. What matters did you help that client with? Can you create a profitable practice?
- Where are the gaps in your firm? Do you work for a larger firm that needs an estate planning practice to serve its business clients?
- Use technology. Can you identify a practice area that would be easier to streamline through workflow development so that you could create a profitable practice based on volume?
This doesn’t mean you have to immediately stop taking matters in other practice areas, or even remove those practice areas from your bio. Simply focus your marketing efforts around one practice area. Drop the shotgun approach — spreading your marketing efforts too thin will leave you frustrated.
Detailing Your Target Client
Take a few minutes to answer some questions about your target client.
- What are the questions they ask you on a regular basis?
- What do they not ask you but should?
- What do they need from an attorney to be successful in their jobs?
- What are the trends and issues related to your practice that will impact them in the next 6, 12, or 24 months?
This assessment of your target client will serve as the foundation for all of your online marketing efforts. You may need to outline a few target clients — eventually. Do yourself a favor and start with one.
Build Trust and Credibility through Your Content
So you have a picture of your ideal client. Consider how the internet has empowered him with information and options. If he isn’t getting the answers from you, he’s getting them somewhere. Why not be his go-to resource?
You have the opportunity to build trusted relationships with prospective clients you’ve never even met — and before they even know they need your services. Building trust requires more than developing high quality content, or even a large volume of content. It requires a clear definition of your target audience, and delivering quality, relevant content consistently.
You have the opportunity to develop content that pushes clients towards a specific “product” — or bundling of your services — that you’ve developed. An easy “foot in the door” offering that is limited in scope, but the perfect way for a client to “test the waters” of working with you. You’ll also make it available for a flat fee, thus meeting the client’s need for predictability and transparency.
Offer Prospective Clients Ways to Engage
No, I am not talking about the form on your “Contact” page. I am talking about using your website as a true sales tool. Setting up calls to action to prompt visitors to “opt-in” to a conversation with you. What does this look like?
- Signing up for your email newsletter.
- Subscribing to your RSS feed so they can follow your blog.
- Downloading a resource guide or checklist that empowers your prospective clients to solve a problem themselves.
- Automatically scheduling a 20-minute consultation call with you through an online scheduling system.
Your website can and should be working for you 24/7. If you are spending a chunk of your marketing budget to “get to the top of Google,” take a step back. Let’s say you get to the top of Google and you have a pipeline of new visitors coming to your site. What are you asking them to do when they get there?
Improving the Client Experience to Create Raving Fans
The number one rule of business development is to deliver quality work to the clients you already have. This is still true, and even more important, today. Your clients have tremendous power to influence your ability to get new clients. If they have an excellent experience, they will likely refer you to their friends and colleagues. They may even write a review that you can include on your bio page or LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, they can negatively affect your ability to generate business as well.
Using technology to improve the client experience can be a real differentiator for your practice. Simple systems can also streamline your back office operations, thus increasing profitability while providing you with peace of mind. Start with your file opening and file closing processes. Put a workflow in place for each.
Ready to Get Started?
You can set up marketing and business development systems designed for success. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering the building blocks of setting up your marketing strategy and systems on my blog at thisbusinessoflaw.com. If there are specific questions you have, or topics you’d like me to address, please let me know in the comments below.