Part of running your own law firm means learning how to run a business. In law school, lawyers are often only taught law, not the business of law. To run your own successful law practice business, you will need to become an expert at client intake, bookkeeping, managing an office, and marketing, among many other things. Learning legal marketing is arguably one of the most important skills you need to develop when you first start your law firm. It’s what drives your firm’s image and attracts clients to your practice.
Getting started with legal marketing can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to understand and learn to do well as you grow your practice and distinguish yourself in the oversaturated legal market. Successful legal marketing helps you stand out from the competition and puts your firm out there for potential clients to more easily find you. To market your law firm, you’ll need to have a plan, marketing tools, and some business know-how. We’ll help you get started.
The Difference Between Strategies, Tactics, and Plans and Why You Need All Three
Strategies are long-term approaches to achieve your goals and tactics are short-term tools and methods to reach your goals. Strategies are more general, whereas tactics are more specific. Plans are how you execute your strategies and tactics to achieve your goals. You’ll need all three to market your law firm effectively. Having all three also helps you visualize your marketing goals better.
For example, you may have a goal to get more visitors to your law firm’s website through organic searches. Your strategy to achieve this may be to focus on improving your SEO. Your tactics in pursuing this could include link building. Your plan will be making measurable steps to build more links to your website, for example wanting to list your website and business in as many legal directories as you can.
Your goals, strategies, tactics, and plans will change over time as your marketing needs grow, but it’s important to be mindful of them to help you have a clearer picture of how to get your firm to where you want it to be.
What Should Be In My Toolkit To Grow My Practice
Before you can start developing marketing plans for your law firm, you will need to build a legal marketing toolkit. Your marketing toolkit should at least include your brand and brand guidelines, client personas, an idea of what your marketing funnel will look like, and a strong website. From there, you can expand your toolkit to include things like an editorial calendar or a style guide, but you’ll want to have your basics down first.
Build Your Law Firm Brand
The first tool in your legal marketing tool kit should be your brand. Your law firm’s brand is what you’ll be marketing. Of course you’re actually marketing your law practice, but what exactly is your practice? How do you want people to view your law firm? What is your law firm’s brand? What kind of brand experience do you want people to have? For law firms and attorneys, your brand should at the very least convey value, trust, and quality in how you will improve your clients’ lives. Beyond that, you want to think about the image, style, and voice you want to convey and how you can convey that consistently.
The ultimate goal in branding is instant recognition and a positive feeling when interacting with your law firm’s brand. So make sure your brand and future calling card is reflective of you, your practice area, and your personality.
Once you’ve developed your brand, you’ll want to have a one-sheet that gives a high-level description of your law firm’s brand, voice, and personality anyone developing marketing or content for your firm understands where you’re coming from.
After developing your law firm brand, you will need to know who you will be marketing to. You’ll create a composite “ideal client” profile that will help guide your marketing efforts. A client persona is that composite. It is a description of an ideal client for your law practice. You could have several personas for your law practice, all of which fit under the umbrella of “ideal client” for you.
You should create at least one persona for each service you provide to help you craft more targeted marketing for your services. You should consider your personas’ demographics, background, motivations and goals, and challenges or pain points. You can do this on your own, or with help from your staff and clients. Brainstorm some profiles of your ideal client’s qualities. Give each persona a name, write down their qualities, and share it with your team. Knowing who your ideal clients are—and what they struggle with and what motivates them—will shape your website, its content, and your overall marketing strategy.
Developing Your Marketing Funnel
A marketing funnel is simply detailing your client’s journey in finding you and hiring you as their attorney. It can be broken down into three stages:
- Awareness stage: The client realizes they have a problem and starts doing research to better understand and frame their problem.
- Consideration stage: The client starts to define their problem and is committed to researching ways to solve it.
- Decision stage: The client starts looking for an attorney to help them with their problem.
Your marketing funnel will be based around your client personas and how they approach each stage of their journey. Generally, your funnel will focus on attracting visits to your website, potential clients from those visits, qualifying those potential clients to determine if they’re ready to hire an attorney, and turning those potential clients into actual clients.
Your Law Firm Website
Most people’s first impression of you and your practice will be your website, so you want to make sure it represents your firm and that it is fast, responsive, well-designed, and secure. As you’re developing your website, you should at least include an “About Us” page that tells your story about why you exist and what you do better than anybody else. You should also add a practice area page that lists the services you offer, a page that lists your mission and values, client testimonials, a blog, case studies, or even a FAQ to your website, among other pages. Eventually, you’ll want to add video to those pages to start fostering a relationship with potential clients. It’s much easier to relate to a moving image rather than a single picture. Pages that provide visitors more information about you as a person and your law practice help build trust and establish your authority before you even meet your new clients.
Legal Marketing: Measuring Success and Knowing When to Pivot
Once you have your brand, personas, and website ready to go, you’ll want to start promoting your firm. But how you promote your law firm depends on your marketing goals. Having set goals in mind helps create a more targeted legal marketing plan so you can attract the right client for your practice and stay savvy on your marketing analytics, KPIs, and ROIs to see if you’re within budget and timelines for your goals. Once you’ve defined your goals, you need to tie each goal to a specific metric. For example, if your goal is to increase traffic to your website, you will want to measure how many visitors go to your website and how they got there.
Some useful tools to measure your metrics and results include Google Analytics, which help you see how many people have visited, viewed, and exited pages on your website. It can also track downloads, how long visitors stayed on your website, and other website engagement metrics. Social media channels have their own reporting systems to measure engagement, though you can use social media management systems to consolidate those stats into a single source. You can also use CRMs to gain insight into your marketing efforts. If you don’t have a CRM in place and your law practice management software does not provide this sort of reporting, HubSpot or Salesforce are low-cost options that provide basic reporting into valuable metrics.
To get those metrics to measure, there are a number of online and offline ways to market your law firm and drive traffic to your website.
SEO. SEO is search engine optimization. SEO is the practice of making your website search engine friendly (“optimizing” your webpage) to help you rank higher on SERPs (search engine results pages). There are a number of factors that go into best SEO practices, including keywords, links, local SEO considerations, and metadata. But if you’re new to SEO, just write each webpage like you’re talking to a person, not a robot, and you’ll be off to a good start.
PPC. Also known as pay per click, these are online ads you pay for when people click on them. The most famous example of these is Google AdWords, which are the ads you see at the top of your Google search.
One important thing to note with PPC ads or any ads you put online or in an email newsletter, is that they should always link to a designated landing page that is specific to the ad you are using. Your landing page should reflect what your ad offered. For example, if your ad was for your estate planning services and clicking on your ad sent your potential client to a page about your personal injury work, they’d probably lose interest and you’d lose the business of someone looking for an estate planning attorney.
Social Media. Social media is here to stay and if you’re not on social media or don’t at least have a Facebook page for your practice, you’re not taking advantage of a massive platform with a built-in audience. Social media can be used to engage with and learn more about your clients, colleagues, academics, or really anyone on a more genuine and personal level, whether organically or through ads. For attorneys, we recommend that you at least be on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But if your clients are found on Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Reddit, you should consider having accounts there too.
Legal Directories. One easy way to help increase your website’s SEO through link building is by listing your firm in legal directories. Some directories are free to list yourself, others are paid. If you’re looking for free legal directories, check out our 7-Day Legal Directory Challenge.
Google My Business. You should also claim your Google Business profile. Given the amount of people who search for attorneys through Google over legal directories, claiming your Google Business profile is an important way to get noticed online. It’s a way to get noticed without paying for ads. By keeping your profile updated, getting and responding to reviews for your firm, and adding a FAQ section to your listing can help boost your SEO, helping you get more visibility in SERPs.
Email Marketing. As long as you don’t make bacn, email marketing is a great way to generate new and repeat business. You can create ads, newsletters, notifications, and other emails to send to those on your (segmented) lists.
Guest Posting. Guest blogging is another great way to help generate traffic to your website. To start, create a list of blogs you’d be interested to guest post on, check out the guest blogging policy, then apply. We at Lawyerist offer opportunities to guest post, as does the ABA, and most other online publications. To increase your chances of getting published, start building a relationship with the organization first, where feasible, research and write out post ideas, follow the publication’s guest posting policies, then pitch your idea!
Offline, or traditional, marketing can comprise of billboards, tv and radio ads, business cards, posters, snail mail advertising, and sponsoring summer T-ball teams. This sort of marketing is especially important if you’re trying to establish yourself as a pillar in your community or generate word-of-mouth referrals. Other ways of promoting yourself offline is by networking, becoming the go to legal authority for your local news station, or teaching webinars/courses to educate your community.
You shouldn’t rely only on digital or traditional marketing. You should have a mix of both in your marketing plan since only one or the other wouldn’t necessarily provide the growth you’re looking for. And if something isn’t working out the way you want, you can always change and adjust your marketing plan based on your needs and goals.
Measuring Results and Adjusting Your Goals
Success in your content marketing plan will be defined in different ways at different times. Setting up and reviewing your goals regularly will help you keep better track of your results and measuring your ROI. Your goals may change from increasing awareness of your law firm, to increasing traffic to your site, to increasing the number of potential clients from your website, demonstrating your expertise, or creating relationships with strategic partners.
It’s ok to change your strategies, tactics, and plans as your law firm grows or as your goals change. Just be mindful of where you are and where you want to be as you’re reevaluating your marketing plans.
Convert Visitors into Clients
Of course all this marketing is great, but you have to have a way of closing the deal, of selling your services, so to speak. “Sales” doesn’t have to be a bad or smarmy thing. “Sales” simply means you have a process in place that aligns with your marketing plan so you can sign your ideal client. It’s basically business development. You’ve put in all the time and effort into your marketing plan, not having a follow through plan to sign all the potential clients that are interested in hiring you would be a shame.
Sales is ideally the last part of your marketing funnel and process, emphasis on “process.” Marketing is not a stagnant practice. You can’t just “set it and forget it.” You need to be paying attention to your metrics, your goals, and how your marketing plan is affecting those so you can adjust and improve accordingly. Keep improving the calls-to-action on your website. Have a form readily available when people want to reach out to you. Make sure your ads are performing the way you want them to. Consider syncing your website to a CRM so you can track and follow up with leads that fill out your forms. Legal marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to constantly have a flow of people moving through your funnel so you don’t run out of fresh clients.
Just remember, your marketing efforts have been to attract your ideal client, not any client. You’re empowered to say “no” to people you don’t think would make a good fit for your practice. You don’t have to work with everyone who walks through your door.
Developing and working on a legal marketing strategy and plan takes time and effort, especially if you want to do it well. If you don’t think you have the time or don’t want to commit the time, we recommend hiring someone to help you. Check out our Law Firm Website Designers and SEO Services Providers portal for a list of vendors we think could help you out with digital and offline marketing or branding. You can also take our free Law Firm Website Designer Assessment to be matched with someone to help you take your website and digital marketing to the next level.
If you want to take a stab at developing your own legal marketing plan, check out our blog posts and podcast episodes below to learn more about just how to do that. If you want to take your practice to the next level, sign up to be a Lawyerist Insider, if you haven’t already. You’ll get access to our library of downloads and our private Facebook Group. If you’re really eager to build an efficient and future-oriented practice, check out Lawyerist Lab for hands-on, personalized training to help you build your dream law practice.