Figuring out where and how to market is at the crux of many of the decisions we are asked to make as law firm owners. No shortage of options are available. You can spend money on online directories, website design, pay-per-click, social media, networking, writing a book—the list is literally endless, and vendors are calling every day with “new opportunities in your area.” Once you decide where you want to spend your advertising dollars, then you have to decide what to say. Do you change your message depending on where you are advertising?
Market segmentation is the process of taking a large market (in this case “legal consumers”) and breaking it down into smaller groups with similar needs, characteristics, and demographics. Since no law firm serves all legal consumers, we must segment our services to those who want what we offer. In general, the more targeted you can be, the more successful your marketing and advertising efforts are likely to be. We know we need to be laser-focused to compete in this competitive marketplace, but how?
Define Who You Are
The first step in market segmentation is a vision. Who are you? Who are you today and who do you want to be tomorrow, or in five years? What are you trying to accomplish with your firm and as a lawyer? These questions are not easy. They take time and discovery. But the answers will make it so much easier to decide where to advertise and what to say. Once you discover who you are and what you are trying to accomplish on a broad level, you can write your law firm constitution, or define your vision and values. This exercise will help clarify your audience, your purpose and set your goals. Without taking the time for this step, you will do what most of us do: spend a little money in a lot of places and have no idea whether any of it is working. Most people do this wrong and come up with a page of aspirational buzzwords that don’t say anything at all. I’m asking you to write something practical, applicable, and aspirational.
We have three values. Each one is articulated and then described in action with regard to both clients and employees. In other words, how this value is applied within the firm. This is an example of one of our values.
We are hungry for growth and improvement in all things.
We understand this is a time of intense and often painful transition. We recognize the need to be patient, caring, compassionate, and kind. We will work relentlessly to protect you and your children, but we will not use the legal system or process to tear down families or inflict unnecessary pain and suffering. We want to support your continuous improvement toward fulfillment, peace, and independence.
We embrace technology, especially that which allows us to serve clients better and live out our other values. We invest in personal and professional growth, education, and company growth. We face change with optimism and an open mind. We work to continuously improve our relationships, health, knowledge, service, and effectiveness.
Identify Your Advertising Options
Once you have your values locked down, after pondering your best clients, your worst clients, your ideal employees, etc., write down all of the different advertising options that are available to you. Which ones are in line with your values? If you value technology, you will probably spend money on digital marketing. If you value your traditional and institutional clients, then think about their behavior. Where do they look for attorneys? Where do they spend their time? How do they make their buying decisions? Answers to these questions will inform your decisions about where to spend those precious marketing dollars.
Communicate Who You Are, Specifically
Take your law firm constitution and tell your clients what you stand for and why you exist. Tell your clients who you like to work with, and more importantly, who you don’t want to work with. It’s remarkably effective to tell the wrong clients you don’t want to work with them. We started telling people who wanted to burn their spouse and use the system to inflict pain not to hire us and we started attracting all the right clients. Clients who share your values will like you more, send more clients your way, and make your job easier and more fun.
Use Your Clients’ Language and Study Their Background
When in doubt, ask your clients what they like and what they don’t. If you are feeling stuck, check out your online reviews and read what your clients have to say about you. What do they value? What do they like? I think you may find surprising results. When I looked at mine, clients told me they valued always knowing what was coming, having a friend and advocate, and someone who made a terrible process a bit more bearable. No one talked about where I went to law school, the number of years I have been practicing, or how much I charge. If you use the same language as your best clients, you can attract similar clients. Ask your best clients how they chose you or found you. Study the demographics of your best clients. Start by identifying a list of the clients you enjoy working with. Cross-reference that with how much revenue they generate. Find out where they live, shop, work and play. How old are they? Do they have minor children? Consider creating a mock ideal client and writing to that person.
Start with Why
Simon Sinek’s best-selling book “Start with Why” explains that starting with why instead of what or who is the best way to gather a tribe and attract people to you. I’m advocating the same approach. Figure out your why. Take ample time and energy to figure it out, define it and write it. It will become your foundation for marketing segmentation, hiring, and more.
About the Author
Billie Tarascio is the founder of Modern Law, a family practice law firm in Arizona, and Access Legal, a cloud-based legal tech company that provides documents, tutorials, and assistance for Arizona residents who opt to self-represent in family court. Contact her on Twitter @mymodernlaw.