If you’re an attorney running your own law firm, you already know that it’s never been more difficult to market a firm than it is right now. Armies of lawyers with massive war chests for media budgets are opening their own practices armed with dozens of consultants that all claim they’re the best in their respective field of marketing.
You know the cases are out there, but how are you supposed to compete with such overwhelming odds?
With the right marketing you can bring in hundreds of even thousands of cases each year while having an efficient and ROI marketing mix that grows your law firm.
In other words, it’s possible to not only compete, but thrive.
Many attorneys have what I call “shiny object syndrome”. I see them jump from strategy to strategy utilizing bleeding edge technology that they neither understand nor need. Look, you’re a master of your craft who has devoted their lives to practicing the law, not to digital marketing. That’s why it’s understandable that you want to keep up with the Jones and not fall behind, especially with digital advertising changing so quickly, but this scattershot approach generally doesn’t work. What you need is a consistent, battle tested, and affordable strategy that just works and doesn’t take up all your time.
In the first part in this series I’m going to walk through step by step the mindset you need in order to be successful with your marketing.
Simplicity Is The Name Of The Game:
Digital marketing doesn’t have to be really complicated. As a firm owner, partner, marketing director, what have you, you only have so many hours in the day to maximize the impact of your marketing efforts. The technology is always changing, but the principles of marketing have not.
That’s not to say that you can get away with no time or capital investment and expect it to magically work. What you can do though is create processes, be thoughtful about your efforts, and focus on the fundamentals, in the right way, in order to build a marketing machine that over time will work and continue to grow.
At the end of the day, digital marketing, for law firms or anyone else, is about building a brand.
If you invest in building a real, durable, respectable brand for your business, and stay disciplined to the fundamentals, you will achieve the success you want over time.
Here’s what a potential new client looks for when they’re trying to select a law firm for their needs:
Is this attorney an expert in what I need help with?
Can I trust this person?
Does this person share similar values as me?
Do I like this person?
Do I think they can win my case?
Basically, they want to look at your brand and confidently tell themselves that you can address the points above. It’s work to build a brand like that, but most people, if they put in the work, can do it.
Of course there are a ton of nuance that can go into building a digital marketing program and establishing a brand. I’m sure, right now, there’s a brand strategist reading this and cringing, but for the vast majority of attorneys looking to do it themselves you can comfortably follow the 80/20 rule. Basically, it means that 20% of the effort will get you 80% of the results.
Brand And Performance Marketing Are Not Their Own Islands:
One popular misconception I see is people only wanting “marketing that drives results”. They assume that only marketing that screams fill out my form and become a lead is worth anything. The reality is that you need to stop thinking in terms of performance marketing versus brand marketing, and start thinking about marketing in terms of a funnel. With a funnel based approach, you’re thinking about where the client is at in their process. Rather than conforming them to your marketing program, you’re utilizing your marketing content to meet your potential new clients where they are. Consistently, I see attorneys trying to market their firm by only going for the same audience as every other single lawyer out there. Only people that are ready to hire them right now, or people at the bottom of the funnel.
In the clients journey to selecting a lawyer for their case, they’re going to be at different places and, for that reason, require different kinds of content to reach them effectively.
All Marketing Is Content Marketing:
Speaking of different kinds of content, all marketing is to some degree, content marketing. Whether you’re running Google ads, Facebook ads, a billboard, a radio commercial, tv ads, whatever, it’s all just a delivery system. You optimize content to platforms and audiences, but you’re still making content and delivering it to potential new clients. Once you’ve identified who your potential new clients are, it becomes about the content that you’re delivering them at their specific place in the client journey.
Relationships Are Everything:
The entire goal of any good marketing program is to build a relationship with a client as quickly and as simple as possible. All marketing does is help build those relationships before your client picks up the phone or walks in the front door at scale. The goal however is 100% to establish a personal and intimate relationship with your new client as quickly as possible. This is especially important for something like hiring an attorney, but also extends to most consumer brands as well. When you envision a can of Coca Cola what do you feel? Maybe you have thoughts of Christmas? Maybe of family picnics? Can you almost taste it? Do you feel happy? Maybe nostalgic? All of this is the work Coke’s marketing program has done in order for you to associate specific things with their brand. Basically, it’s the relationship that you have with their product. While, obviously, your relationship with a consumer product brand is going to be vastly different than that of a professional services company like a law firm, the basic idea is the same. You’re building specific associations in the clients mind with your firm. All of your content needs to be aligned in building up that relationship. Whether they’re at the top of the funnel or the bottom, all your content needs to have a consistent message that builds a relationship with your customer. Forbes has a great article about why relationships are so important over here.
It’s at this point I think it’s important to have a conversation with yourself about who you actually are as a lawyer, and what your law firm is. I don’t mean your aspirations. This isn’t a talk about how much money you want to make, or where your vacation home is going to be, or whatever. I mean who you actually are, not what you wish you were. Before you can go anywhere you have to understand where you’re starting from, and that means I need you to have an honest conversation with yourself about what your strengths are, what you’re trying to accomplish, and who your clients are.
Are you a quiet person who loves legal theory?
Do you love trial and love to put on a great show for juries?
Do you love working with clients and truly helping them get their lives back on track being that trusted councilor?
Maybe you’re great at managing other attorneys and want to build an incredible team?
Whatever your strength is, you need to know it and embrace it. Wishing you were someone else or that you were better at something else or whatever isn’t particularly useful. Whatever your strengths as a person, as an attorney, and as a law firm are, you can effectively leverage them to grow your law practice and be a success. Denying who and what you are however, just makes that road about 10 times harder. On marketer that speaks about empathy a lot is Gary Vaynerchuk. If this is a concept you’re struggling with (as we all have) it’s worth check out some of his videos here.
One of the best things that you can do to have an effective marketing program is to have true empathy with your clients. Let’s take the example of a personal injury law case. Put yourself in that clients shoes for just a moment. You’re driving along minding your own business, then the unthinkable happens.
Your get broadsided
Or rear ended
Or hit head on
You’re in pain.
You have no idea what’s going and all of a sudden you’re slapped with a massive medical bill for an accident that wasn’t even your fault.
What started as a normal day has now become a nightmare.
You’re not sure life is ever going to be the same again.
Now, what do you want to hear being in that mindset?
If you’re at the top of the funnel you want to know there’s a way to fix things. That this doesn’t have to completely change your life.
If you’re in the middle of the funnel you want to understand the specific steps you need to take to get things back to normal. To life this massive burden that’s been placed upon you.
If you’re at the bottom of the funnel you’re looking for who and what is best to help you get the process of fixing things started.
The simple act of empathy, and putting yourself in your clients shoes can profoundly shift the marketing content you create and dramatically increase the results.
I want you to do something right now. Seriously right now.
Close your eyes.
Seriously do it here in just a second
Close your eye and imagine you’re lying in a hospital bed. Your entire life has been upended.
What are you looking for in a partner to help your recovery?
Starting with client empathy should guide your hand with every decision you make not just for your marketing, but your whole business.
Roughly, these are the stages of a well thought out marketing funnel for a law firm.
1. Awareness: That this service exists.
2. Education: Do I need this service?
3. Research: Investigate potential solutions and firms
4. Consideration: Which law firm or attorney am I going to hire and why?
5. Overcome Objections: What’s holding me back? Internal justifications of hiring legal counsel.
6. Sign: Going through the logistical pieces of signing and becoming a client of your firm
7. On-boarding: Going through the experience of properly on-boarding an attorney and giving them relevant case info, documentation etc.
8. Retain: The on-going day to day client experience with your firm. Phone calls, depositions, meetings, etc.
9. Referral: If a client has had a great experience how you effectively get them to refer your customers.
One notable thing that always catches attorneys I work with by surprise is that the funnel doesn’t end when someone becomes a client. In fact, it’s only step 6 of 9. Your marketing and client experience doesn’t stop when they’ve signed on the dotted line. In fact, your marketing should be intimately involved with creating great on-boarding experiences, retaining your clients with marketing communications, and helping push those that have had a positive experience to refer potential new clients. Moz does an excellent job running through this specifically for content marketing. You can look at their guide here.
The Experience Is As Important As The Outcome
Here’s another point that throws many lawyers for a loop. The client experience, from a business standpoint, is as important as the outcomes of their legal issue in many cases. What do I mean? I mean that how a client feels about your firm, ow their case was handled, etc. can actually end in a positive business outcome for you despite them having a negative legal outcome. With frequent communication and a positive client experience they can, in some cases, actually still be happy with your firm and even refer you business despite the outcome of their legal issue. If you want to learn more about building a delightful client experience this article in Forbes is a great place to start.
Top of Funnel: Tactics For Awareness, Education, Research, and Consideration
Generally speaking, when an attorney thinks of marketing, this is where their head goes. In this section I’m going to take you step by step through the most common tactics that people use and break them down by the right way of approaching each tactic at the different funnel stages. Novels can, and have been, written about each individual platform, but in our next article we’re going to cut through the nitty gritty and give you the best high level tips in order for you to have the correct context to think about each tactic and decide if it’s the right one for you.