Lawline - How to Reach Your Target Clients: Going Beyond and Getting Ahead in Legal Marketing
A common misstep among lawyers is that their marketing and business development activities only involve other lawyers. From doing CLE to writing legal articles to participating in local, regional, and national Bar Associations, their sphere of engagement revolves around the legal field specifically. On the one hand, contributing to legal outlets and organizations makes a lot of sense as doing so helps you stay abreast of timely legal developments, build credibility in your practice area and develop a solid referral network, among other benefits. However, focusing your energy only on lawyer-heavy "extracurriculars" limits your reach considerably.
Since ideal clients are often not lawyers themselves, it's critical to incorporate activities into your marketing plan that target these folks as well, and in a way that captures their attention. If your name and expertise are only found in trade organization listservs and publications, which aren't usually open to the public, the outside world will not be able to easily find you for your services when they need you. To address this concern, you must spread your promotional net wider, well beyond your legal circles.
As we all rely increasingly on digital assets, the typical avenues for generating business have shifted significantly over the past several years, and even more so during the COVID-19 era. Potential new business is no longer coming from in-person interactions as it once may have, and instead, people are learning about you or being introduced to your work for the first time through a screen. Given that, you need to meet your potential clients where they are - online.
As mentioned in my previous article, "Back to Basics: Why Solo and Small Law Firms Need a Strong Digital Presence," clients are using digital assets more and more to research their purchasing decisions. Search engine competition is fierce, with law firms vying for top placement on Google and other popular sites to bring in business, especially in certain legal areas like personal injury, immigration and family law. Instead, let large online platforms do some of the work for you.
While you can invest marketing dollars in paid advertising or SEO services to boost the placement of your website on search engines, there are other options to get you noticed. Using online outlets that have established clout can be more efficient and affordable, especially if you're coming from a smaller firm. There are many reputable review sites used to discover lawyers that are at your disposal. Lawyer-specific sites like Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, and Lawline allow you to fill in your free profile with relevant information on your bar admissions, practice areas, accomplishments, and contact information. The same goes for more general recommendation-based platforms like Yelp.
Once you create and complete your profiles on these platforms, you can ask satisfied clients to write reviews for you, which will boost your ratings and subsequently make you easier to find in a search based on your location and areas of expertise. Furthermore, encouraging peers and happy clients to nominate you for awards such as Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers is another effective way to build your reputation and bring your name to the forefront of a lawyer search.
In addition, social media accounts on behemoths like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are imperative for raising your profile. Creating individual and/or business accounts (both are recommended) is free and posting and engaging with others on these channels builds your name and brand outside of the limited legal sphere. Furthermore, social media profiles are typically the first items that come up when someone types your name or firm in a Google search, so you want to make sure that your profiles are up to date and consistent across channels so that they draw people in, rather than drive them away.
Overall, if you're looking to get more traction from a wide array of clients, you must ensure that your name and expertise are located in places online where your information can easily be found. Of equal importance is conveying what you do in a straightforward and digestible manner for a broader audience. Translating various areas of your legal expertise to a wider market is not always easy but in most cases, it is absolutely necessary. While the nuance of your practice is certainly important when you're working on a new matter, it's much less necessary when attracting new clients. For the most part, clients need to know where you are located, what areas you focus on and why they should choose you (awards, notable cases, experience, etc.). Now, it's time to put yourself out there to the rest of the world.
Reprinted with permission from the September 22, 2020 issue of the Lawline blog.