Many lawyers frown upon “out of the box” legal solutions, like those provided by LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. There are good reasons for this, most notably that the services aren’t well-tailored to each individual’s situation. LegalZoom and similar companies are not law firms and cannot provide legal advice, meaning the range of solutions they can offer is limited. Nonetheless, these alternative legal services companies have achieved valuations in the hundreds of millions. Not many law firms can say the same, so clearly there is significant market demand for more affordable, easily accessible legal help. In this post, we’ll walk through the process of how to design, market, and sell productized legal services to help your law firm capitalize on this growing segment of the market.
Products vs. Services
The key differentiator between a product and a service is that a product can be produced and sold at scale, while services are normally delivered one at a time.
As an example, consider a common household product like laundry detergent vs. paying someone to actually wash your laundry.
The detergent is a product. It can be mass-produced in a factory with minimal human intervention. It can be shipped out to distributors around the world, thousands of units at a time, and sold in stores for a reasonable price while still enabling the manufacturer to turn a profit.
On the other hand, having your laundry professionally cleaned is a service. It requires an actual person to put the clothes in the machine, add the detergent, turn it on, and then take the clothes out and fold them afterward. This is not scalable in the same way because each load of laundry requires the work of a human.
What are “productized” legal services?
Traditional legal services are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from a product which can be mass-produced and sold in large quantities.
Since legal issues can be complex and each situation is unique, the services are usually highly customized to fit the situation. The problem is, this makes them inefficient to deliver and increases costs for clients.
Productized legal services seek to bridge the gap between products and traditional legal services. They are a new breed of legal services where processes are standardized, and where much of the work can be automated by software.
They are not pure products and never really will be, but they have more product-like characteristics because they are efficient to deliver and thus more affordable for clients.
Few law firms are capitalizing on this trend yet, but we see productized legal services as one of the biggest market opportunities today.
Companies like LegalZoom have proven that demand exists in the market. But they can’t fully capitalize on this demand because they can’t practice law.
Although productized legal services are not viable for every client or practice area, lawyers can start taking advantage on this expanding market by leveraging the power of automation and offering more standardized, affordable solutions.
How to Start Selling Productized Legal Services in 3 Steps
Step 1: Design
The first step of the process is the design phase. This is where you conceive the idea for your productized legal service and start implementing the necessary processes to deliver it to a client.
Identify a common problem
A productized legal service must solve a very specific problem. Identifying the right problem to solve is one of the most challenging and important steps in the process.
The problem you choose should be common enough so that you can easily sell this solution to many customers on a consistent basis.
For example, you might create a solution specifically for no-contest divorces, similar to what WeVorce has done. Or maybe you can create a simplified estate planning package for young families who just had children.
The possibilities are endless, but the important thing is to be specific about what the problem is, who faces it, and how your service will solve it.
Focus on a niche if possible
Ideally, it’s best to drill down and find a problem within a legal niche. Finding a legal niche makes it much easier to scale because your marketing messages will speak directly to your target audience, and you will face far less competition.
Some examples of niche practice areas that are hot right now might include e-commerce, the cannabis industry, or the cryptocurrency industry.
If you can find a frequent legal problem faced by entrepreneurs in these industries, you can produce a productized solution for them and scale it up quickly as these industries continue to grow.
Come up with a well-defined solution that’s simple to deliver
It’s critical that the production and delivery of your service is streamlined and efficient. This means your solution should not be highly customized or complex.
Come up with a simple solution that is well-defined and closely tailored to the problem. It’s key that you can easily demonstrate the value in order to make sales. So the client should know exactly what they are paying for, and how it will help them.
Packaging a few simple services together might make this easier. For example, maybe they get a custom document (which can be drafted with automation), a 30-minute consultation, and access to a video guide that they can re-watch later.
Automate the intake and drafting
The most important part of designing a productized legal service is to leverage automation.
You’re selling a solution, not your time. Your goal is to sell it at greater scale. This is only possible if your production process is extremely efficient.
Seek to minimize data entry and eliminate the administrative processes that normally slow you down by using technology at every step of the process, from the moment a new lead is captured on your website all the way up until the service has been paid for and fulfilled.
For example, you can use online forms to collect information, email automation for communications to clients, document automation to draft the work product, and online payment processing for a seamless transaction.
Step 2: Marketing
Next, you need to formulate a marketing plan. How will you get this service out into the world and make it known to your potential clients? When it comes to productized services, online marketing is the best bet due to its greater reach.
Create a profile for your ideal customer
First, figure out who your customer will be by creating an ideal customer profile. This will help immensely when producing your marketing materials.
How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? What is their socioeconomic status? Most importantly, what about them will make them interested in purchasing your service?
These are a few of the questions you should ask yourself. You should be as specific as possible in your answers.
When you know your customer, it’s much easier to speak their language, which means your marketing messages will resonate better, leading to more sales.
Craft your value proposition
Your value proposition is closely related to the customer profile. It’s essentially the reason why your target customer would want to buy your service.
When it comes to productized legal services, your value proposition is likely to be a combination of the following:
- Easy accessibility and delivery via online channels
- The outcome or desired result the client receives (e.g. reduced risk, asset protection, knowledge, etc.)
Come up with a sentence or two identifying the unique value of your service using simple language that your target audience will easily understand. You will want to use this language consistently across all your marketing and advertising channels.
Set up your marketing funnel
Next, you will need to set up an online marketing funnel.
The core of the funnel is a professionally designed website that explains your services and your value proposition. You will drive traffic to this website from a variety of channels, and your goal should simply be to capture leads with a simple contact form.
Behind the scenes, you will need a CRM to track and manage incoming leads and an analytics engine to measure key data points about your web traffic and conversion rates (more on this below).
Drive traffic via online marketing channels
Finally, you need to start getting targeted traffic to your website. There are many different strategies which you may want to test out, from blogging, to Facebook ads, to Google ads, to SEO, to LinkedIn, to YouTube, to content marketing, etc.
Below are a few detailed guides on these topics which you may want to check out:
- Blogging tips for lawyers
- Facebook marketing for lawyers
- How to get clients with LinkedIn
- Content marketing for lawyers
- Law firm SEO guide
The specific strategy that will work best for you will depend on your service and your target customer. Generally, Facebook advertising is a great place to start out due to its powerful targeting capabilities.
Your only goal at this point is to drive as much targeted traffic as possible and start capturing leads.
Step 3: Sales
With your service designed, your processes and marketing funnel in place, and some fresh leads flowing in, the final step is to start selling!
Convert leads into paying clients
When you capture a new lead, the sales process begins.
Make sure to contact each new lead as soon as possible via phone, email, or both. Use a consultative approach to sales, and present your productized solution only if it will really solve their problems. If not, refer them elsewhere or offer a more comprehensive service instead.
Be persistent about following up when you don’t hear back from someone, and use a CRM to keep tabs on every prospective customer. You can also use strategies such as drip emails to automate follow ups, nurture your leads, and help push them toward making a purchase.
Measure your KPIs
KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are essential when it comes to an online business. They help you measure your performance and ensure that your business is running profitably.
Here are the basic KPIs you need to calculate every month:
- Your total web traffic from each different source (install Google analytics to measure this for free)
- The percentage of website visitors that filled out your contact form
- The total number of leads generated and which source they came from
- Your conversion rate (i.e. how many leads end up actually buying your service)
- Your marketing spend across each channel
- Your total revenue
- Your ROI (i.e. how much profit you make from every dollar spent on marketing)
Iterate and grow
Armed with all of these key data points, you can make informed decisions about how to improve and grow your business. Here are some basic strategies:
- Figure out where most of your web traffic is coming from, and spend more time working on that channel
- If a certain source of web traffic isn’t producing sales, stop focusing on it and try something else
- Tweak your web design periodically to optimize it for conversions
- Increase your marketing budget in the successful channels, and reduce it in the less successful ones
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with new services or new marketing strategies – taking calculated risks is the key to longterm growth!
Most of the legal services being provided by lawyers today are comprehensive solutions that are custom-designed for each and every client’s legal problem.
While these services may provide a lot of value to clients at the upper end of the market, they are inefficient to deliver, and therefore too expensive for the average consumer to access.
A massive, largely untapped market opportunity still exists at the lower end of the market, i.e. the area that is currently being served by non-law firms such as LegalZoom and other online alternatives.
By “productizing” legal services and designing standardized service offerings that can be marketed online and fulfilled with the help of technology, lawyers can capitalize on this emerging market and achieve rapid law firm growth in the process.