Are you starting your own practice and need help getting your name out there? Or perhaps you practice at a law firm but are trying to ramp up your personal marketing efforts?
As you look for ways to market yourself, your business, or the firm you work for, it might seem like anything you do is going to cost you lots of money. However, the truth is that you have several ways to grow your business and successfully market yourself without breaking the bank. Start marketing your practice and abilities with these five cost-effective tips.
- Be active in your community. People trust recommendations from people they know more than any other type of advertising. The more people see you involved in their community and trust you, the more likely they will be to use your services—and refer you to their family and friends. Not sure how to get started? Here are some great ways to strengthen your community presence:
- Volunteer at a local nonprofit for a cause you are passionate about.
- Do pro bono legal work.
- Join civic groups like the chamber of commerce, Kiwanis, or Rotary clubs.
- Host free educational talks and events at government offices, libraries, churches, etc.
- Create or enhance your website. If friends and family don’t have a recommendation for you, where do you turn for help when searching for services? The Internet, of course! Potential clients are the same way. You need to have a website that—in addition to complying with your state ethical rules—includes content that will help people find you when they are searching for help with legal services.
Think about what information clients need to know before they make the decision to contact you. How will you help them with their legal issues? What areas of law do you specialize in? Do you have articles on popular or timely legal topics you’ve written that you can share with them?
If you can, enlist the help of a digital expert when developing your site. Hiring a college intern is a cost-effective way to bring someone on who can help you build a site that is easy for potential clients to find and mobile-friendly for people who will be using their phones and tablets to navigate your site.
- Collect reviews online. A 2014 survey found that 88% of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business. People want to see real, honest reviews before deciding to use your services. Different sites appeal to different people, so expanding your business and customer base requires the broadest reach. Many effective review sites are available; in addition to general review sites like Yelp and Google Reviews, many lawyer-specific ratings sites can help you bring in business.
Start with a few of these and then add additional sites as you become more comfortable with the online review process:
In addition to these sites, you can also install a review option or create a reviews page on your own website. Do this in accordance with your state ethics rules to showcase reviews from other sites.
- Have a social media presence. Many consumers use social media to connect with businesses and share reviews and comments. Before using social media sites for your business, be sure to check your state ethics rules to ensure that you are in compliance. Your local bar association may also have social media guidelines to follow. If you do use social media for your business, be sure to differentiate your professional self from your private life. For example, on Facebook, create a business page that is separate from your personal account. You can promote your business page on your personal page, but keeping these accounts separate means you won’t have to worry about clients accessing your personal information and photos.
Other tips to make the most of your professional social media profiles include:
- Always use a professional photo for your profile picture. First impressions count!
- Post compelling content. Share articles you have written or timely information potential clients might want to know, such as changes in local laws.
- Keep your information up-to-date so people can contact you.
- Join professional networks. Several networks can help you market your firm or business. State bar associations provide their members with approved resources that will help them build and continue to grow successful businesses. Some bar associations also offer “find-an-attorney” services to potential clients that will help you advertise your growing practice.
Another way to market your practice is to join a legal plan network. Attorneys who participate in legal plan networks provide services to clients who are plan members, much like doctors on a healthcare network. For no joining fee, attorneys receive client referrals and have their information listed on network directories searched by millions of plan members. When you are part of a legal plan network, you also benefit from free educational materials and training opportunities on topics like how to manage client expectations, how to recruit and maintain clients, and how to incorporate the latest technology into your business.
Each of these will help you focus your limited resources on activities that will successfully market your business. If you invest your time in these five areas, you will steadily build a strong practice that will continue to attract clients.
About the Author
Nicolle Schippers is corporate counsel at ARAG, a leader in legal insurance. She is a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) board of directors and president of the Group Legal Services Association (GLSA). Follow her on Twitter @nschippers1.