Lawyer Marketing Tools
Five Must-Have Marketing Tools for Solos and Small Firms
by Jason M Romrell
You’re a lawyer. You’re trained to “think like a lawyer”. You can spot issues all day and even in your sleep. You protect clients from lawsuits and keep them out of the grey-bar motel. You right wrongs and achieve justice for your clients. Lawyer jokes aside, you contribute to a safe and productive society. Unfortunately, being a great attorney doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a successful business owner. Business management is not taught in most law schools. You don’t have to know the first thing about marketing or business management to pass the bar. The good news is that marketing a law practice is like marketing any other business. Here are five must-have marketing tools that will help take your practice to the next level.
1. Referrals. Two common referral sources are (1) existing clients and (2) people who like you. To get referrals from existing clients, a good place to start is by exceeding clients’ expectations (this requires you to set expectations right at the outset). If you do good work, existing clients will gladly reference you as the go-to attorney. Just don’t be shy about asking for referrals. A very easy, professional way to ask is “Who do you know who needs an aggressive family law attorney?”
People who are not your clients are also a great referral source if they like you and know what you do. At the gym or at your daughter’s piano recital or at the neighborhood barbeque, don’t just be “a lawyer”, be “a divorce lawyer who really focuses on helping people, not destroying families” (by the way, this is a great time to use your elevator pitch...you have one, right?) Think about the kinds of people you would send your family and friends to if someone asked for a referral, and be that kind of person.
Pros: Referral strategies are low cost and feel good. They are the source that keeps on giving, so long as you keep impressing people with your skills and likeability.
Cons: This is a long term strategy that may not yield results for years. Referral strategies are best used as a long-term plan along with short-term strategies.
2. Smart LeadsTM. Most people don’t want to hire an attorney and very few people have an attorney on retainer. When a legal need arises, people turn to Google more and more to find a lawyer who fits their need. You can compete with thousands of other lawyers and law firms for top rankings or you can buy sponsored ads. Or...you can buy Smart Leads and get what you want--interested prospective clients looking for legal help right now. Using Smart Leads is the most effective use of your marketing dollars because it is focused like a laser on delivering interested prospects one-at-a-time in your specific area of law.
Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. You’re cited for driving under the influence. You could ask family or friends for a referral, but you decide to deal with this on your own. You search for “dui attorneys” in Google. You see a dozen results. You click on a link for a free consultation. You enter your information (name, email and phone) and sit back waiting for a call from a qualified attorney. Can a billboard, yellow pages ad or newspaper spot yield that kind of focused result?
Pros: Hyper-targeted marketing. You pay for an interested prospect who has an immediate need in your area. If you know your value proposition (why hire you versus other lawyers), you’ll be adding clients to your books in a matter of hours.
Cons: You still have to “sell yourself” and sign the prospect.
3. Social Media. Social media offers a host of possibilities for legal marketing. It also offers a significant amount of risk. Lawyers shy away from social media for one of two reasons. First, some lawyers simply don’t have the time or interest to learn how to use social media effectively. Second, some lawyers have experimented with social media without any noticeable return on investment (time). LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools are a good way to get your name out and connect with prospects. But effectiveness only comes from consistent engagement. If you’re going to use social media as a marketing tool, be committed to the process long term. Don’t worry, you won’t break the internet if you get on these sites and start using them. Just keep these things in mind:
- Be interesting but not stupid. What you write will live forever (even if you delete it).
- Do not practice law or give legal advice, and (where appropriate) use a disclaimer.
- If you engage with people through social media, make sure they know you’re not their attorney and will not be their attorney unless and until both agree in writing.
- Learn from others. There are thousands of brilliant attorneys using social media. Find them and ask them for tips.
Pros: Low cost of entry and very little technical knowledge required. Great way to build a reputation as an expert in your chosen area of law. Great way to build an online presence.
Cons: There are some ethical landmines in the social media field. And once you’re in, you can lose yourself and your billable hours trying to keep up.
4. Networking. Strategies abound for how best to use networking to your advantage. One of the most effective strategies is simply to be interested and interesting. If you’re at a networking event or social gathering, get to know the people around you. It takes guts to meet people, but if you’re interested in building a bigger, better practice, you gotta have guts! Don’t go into any networking event or social gathering without a plan. Consider who you want to meet and what you want to talk about. If you aren’t a good conversationalist, prepare some questions in advance and take them with you as a cheat sheet. Focus on what others are interested in. Legal topics (especially for non-attorneys) can become boring, and you don’t want people to think you have no sense of balance or real-world perspective, so shake it up. If you want to be a networking superstar, worry less about yourself and what you do and how great you are. Show genuine interest in others. Ask questions and listen to the responses. Remember what you learn about people and blow their socks off next time you see them by personalizing your next conversation. Blow their socks off again by being a networking matchmaker. Introduce your new contact to someone they might benefit from knowing. They’ll remember how gracious you were, and when the need arises, you’ll be the one they go to for legal help.
Pros: Face-to-face meetings and real-time engagement are great ways to start building relationships that become clients or referral sources. If you’re selecting about networking events, costs can be kept relatively low.
Cons: Networking is a long-term relationship building strategy and your reach is limited to those who participate.
5. Website. Your presence on the web is no longer optional. If a prospective client can’t find you on the internet, you don’t exist. People are already flocking to the internet to find lawyers, a trend that will continue to grow. Websites are the new yellow pages. Websites are the new business cards. And websites are already yesterday’s news. There are dozens of effective ways to establish and maintain a presence on the web without having a website. In fact, some marketing experts are pushing clients to blogs and abandoning the traditional website altogether. Whether it’s a blog, a hosted listing on a community site, a social media profile or a traditional website, prospects expect to find you online because that makes you real and adds to your credibility (after all, it’s the prospect’s perception that counts).
Pros: You control the contents of your website, so you control your image. A well designed website can help you “rank” on search engines with the right content and can deliver clients right to your door.
Cons: A professional website optimized to rank well can be expensive. A website used as a proactive marketing tool will require constant attention and updates, adding to the cost.