Marketing is like a foreign language for many attorneys. There are seemingly unlimited different places to advertise, from online to offline, TV to radio, physical to print. Online legal marketing in itself is a vast universe. There is SEO, social media, content marketing, email marketing, PPC ads, Facebook ads, YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp, Avvo, lead generation services, and much much more. With all these options, it can be overwhelming. But today’s legal industry is getting too competitive to build a practice on word of mouth alone. If you intend to grow your practice, having some kind of marketing plan is a must. In this post, we’ll walk you through a simple question and answer exercise that you can use to determine which marketing strategy will work best for your law firm.
Why Some Marketing Strategies Work Better than Others
Effective marketing is simply a process of figuring out how to get (1) the right message (2) in front of the right people (3) at the right time. That’s it.
A failure in any of these three areas will ultimately hinder your marketing efforts, leading to wasted time and money. But once you are able to identify a specific marketing strategy where all three things align, you will set yourself up for growth and success.
As an attorney, the right people are those who need your services, know they need them, and have the ability to pay for them. The right time means the moment when they cross the threshold between discovery of legal issues and desire to seek a resolution. The right message consists of the content and format of your marketing materials, which needs to resonate with the prospective client in such a way that they feel compelled to act.
Some marketing strategies don’t work well for certain practice areas because they do not properly align these three criteria. In order to determine which strategy will work well for your practice, you must take a deep dive into the nature and value of your services, as well as the characteristics that define an ideal client.
A 3-Step Exercise to Identify the Best Law Firm Marketing Strategy
Step 1: Q & A Analysis
First off, you need to analyze your practice in detail, including both the types of clients you work with and the types of services they need. Ask yourself the following six questions, and write down a thorough, detailed answer for each:
- What types of services do you provide? (be very specific – not just general practice areas like “criminal” or “estate planning”)
- Who are your target clients? (again, be specific – consider age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, location, occupation, interests, etc.)
- How do your clients become aware of their legal issues?
- How urgent are the legal issues?
- What are their motivations to resolve the issues?
- What is likely to be their first course of action once they become aware of their issues?
Here’s an example…
Now let’s use a hypothetical criminal defense lawyer as an example and consider how he/she might answer each question:
- I defend clients from drug related charges and appear on their behalf in court.
- My clients tend to be younger people between the ages of 18-35. The majority are male. They often come from poor families and rough neighborhoods around the city, and frequently they are minorities. Selling drugs is often a means to provide for themselves.
- They were likely recently arrested or charged with a drug related crime.
- They might be facing jail time or have a pending court date, which are very high on the urgency scale.
- They are motivated to maintain their personal freedom and reduce the potential fines and penalties that they may face.
- They may search online for more info about the charges they face; they probably know they need a lawyer, but they rarely know many lawyers personally, so they might ask for referrals or search online for law firms in their area.
Step 2: Impact on Marketing
Next, you will use the answers from step 1 and think about the direct impact they will have on your marketing. Again, let’s use the hypothetical criminal defense firm above to illustrate how these answers will impact its marketing strategy:
Answer: Defends clients from drug related criminal offenses
- Impact: All marketing materials should be designed to clearly illustrate this by using relevant language and and emphasizing the value of hiring an attorney when facing drug related charges.
Answer: Younger clients who tend to actively use smartphones and the internet
- Impact: The most effective marketing strategies will primarily be online as opposed to offline. All content should be optimized so it is easily accessible on mobile devices.
Answer: The clients are typically not well-off financially
- Impact: They may be cost-conscious, which means they will be likely to use the internet to research their legal issues before contacting a lawyer. Having helpful content and resources available that will help answer their questions will be a good strategy to attract them to the law firm’s website.
Answer: The clients tend to live or spend time in certain neighborhoods and parts of town
- Impact: Location based targeting will be important to keep in mind when writing content, doing SEO, creating advertisements, or listing on directories.
Answer: They are facing jail time or court dates, which means that they will be motivated to move quickly
- Impact: The goal is to be the first lawyer they come across when they search online, and to engage them quickly so they don’t move on to another lawyer. PPC advertising might be highly effective due to precise timing and location targeting, and it would be wise to consider website live chat to improve conversions.
Answer: They are motivated to maintain their freedom and reduce fines and penalties
- Impact: The marketing materials developed should emphasize why it’s important to hire an attorney, and how it can directly help reduce the penalties and fines from drug charges. Also, this is a very strong motivation, which again reinforces the need for your firm to be easily accessible and able to respond in an instant.
Answer: They are unlikely to have many direct relationships with lawyers
- Impact: They will be more likely to look for lawyers online as opposed to asking for referrals. Having a wide-reaching online presence will be beneficial.
Step 3: Define the Marketing Strategy
Finally, use the information you gathered in the “impact on marketing” step to design your marketing plan. Focus on aligning the three elements of effective marketing: right message, right people, and right timing. Below is the end result for our hypothetical criminal defense firm.
An Ideal Marketing Plan
In this case, it’s readily apparent that online marketing makes the most sense. Young people use the internet extensively and are comfortable doing research as well as finding products and services online.
You need to be where your target customers are, so developing a strong web presence is an excellent strategy. It’s also important to focus on the time sensitive nature of these service and utilize strategies that will streamline the funnel.
Below are a list of assets which should be incorporated into the marketing plan:
- This is the backbone of the marketing plan. It needs to be a robust site with lots of informative content related to drug charges, the potential consequences, and how to fight them. This is how you ensure you’re getting the right message out to your prospective clients.
Profiles on Avvo & Yelp
- These are two of the biggest web directories where people are likely to search for attorneys, and both of them allow for precise location targeting. Also, both services are free to sign up for, so there is no downside – the more places you can have a web presence (especially a locally targeted one) the better.
Google Adwords Account
- Google Adwords is the most powerful online advertising platform because it enables you to target people with highly relevant ads at the exact moment when they search Google for specific keywords. Although it is expensive, it essentially guarantees that you are targeting the right people at the right time.
Website Live Chat
- Getting traffic to the website is only half the battle – the other half is capturing leads. Because these types of clients are on a tight timeline and facing urgent legal issues, they will appreciate the ability to chat live with a customer service representative. Live chat services such as ApexChat can improve conversion rates significantly.
Law firm marketing can be challenging and feel like a hopeless endeavor at times. But as long as you focus on aligning the three elements of an effective campaign, you will eventually see success. The three elements are…
- Getting the right message into your marketing materials, which is highly relevant to the needs of your clients and that will compel them to take action
- Getting this message in front of the right people, which are those who actually know they need the services you provide and have the means to pay for them
- Doing this at the right time, which is the moment when they decide to take action and move forward with the process of resolving their legal matters
In order to identify a strategy that will meet these three criteria, you can use the Q & A exercise outlined above. It will help you assess exactly who your clients are, what their motivations are to hire a lawyer, and where they are likely to go for answers. Then all you have to do is design your marketing plan accordingly, and you’ll have a good shot at landing more clients like them in the future.