For most, if not all law schools, marketing is not a part of the curriculum. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Practicing law is one of the liberal professions, and as such is ruled by its own ethics which typically limit the marketing options of their members. While there may be differences from country to country and even from bar to bar, when it comes to marketing, lawyers are not allowed to do what companies are. Still, for the things that you are allowed to do as a lawyer, there are certain basic marketing principles that always apply, even whether it’s writing blog articles or about what you put on your website.
It is beyond the scope of one blog article to give a thorough introduction to marketing. So, we will stick to some essentials. These can be summarized in five sets of questions.
The first set of questions has to do with your target audience: Who is your target audience, and what are they looking for? You must identify your target audience and learn about their needs and their interests. Are they big businesses, small business, or specific types of individuals? You have to find out where can reach your target audience: e.g., on what social media they are, etc.
The second set of questions has to with differentiating yourself from the competition: What sets you apart from the competition? Who is your competition? What are they doing? What services are they offering? What makes you different from them? This does not have to be limited to legal services, but also applies to the whole ‘customer service’ aspect of things: how client-centric are your competitors, and is your law firm?
The third set of questions has to do with the message you want to communicate to your target audience: What is your message? This applies to any communications you have with clients or potential clients, whether it’s a blog article, a video, an image, your website … Your message has to be tailored to suit your target audience.
The fourth set of questions has to do with the presentation of your message: how do you present your message? This applies to the medium you choose, to the language and the visuals (imagery and video) you use, as well as the layout, … One important aspect of the language you use, e.g., is the readability of your texts. All of these, too, should be chosen to best suit your target audience.
A fifth set of questions has to do with building customer loyalty: how do I retain clients, and create repeat business? It is a good habit to regularly do specific campaigns for your existing clients.
Once you have answered all those questions, you can proceed to the next two groups of questions. These largely fall into two separate categories: questions about the operational aspect of your marketing, and about your online presence.
With regard to the operational side of things, you must ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my business plan?
- Will I handle my marketing internally or do I outsource?
- What follow-up process do I have for prospective clients?
- How many clients can I handle, at most?
- What are my marketing goals?
- What does my marketing budget look like? As a rule of thumb, it is generally recommended to spend at Least 2.5% of your revenue on marketing.
The last set of recommendations focuses more specifically on your online presence (website, blog, social media, etc.). Legal consumers are online customers: more than 90% of people with a legal issue look online for solutions first. If they need to get a lawyer, they mainly find them through recommendations and through online searches. But the vast majority of people looking to hire a lawyer will check that lawyer out online first, i.e. before contacting them. So, from a marketing point of view you should:
- Have a (well-designed) website. Does your website live up to the current best practices?
- Optimize your website for search engines: What are the keywords your target audience will be looking for?
- Measure and track all of your marketing efforts. In a future article, we will focus more on the relevant marketing metrics, and what you can learn from them.
- Install Google Analytics on your website, not only to keep track of who visits your website, but also to see which pages work and which don’t.
- Maintain a digital database of all contacts so you can follow up effectively
- Create Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages, because it is more than likely that that is where your target audience will find you.
- Get reviews, testimonials, etc. In an online world, social proof is essential.
In future articles, we will deal more in detail with some of these aspects.