Marketing Checklist for Attorneys & Legal Practices
Building and running a successful legal firm can be challenging. Every day, attorneys and law practices of all types are faced with the challenge of getting and staying in front of clients. And every day, new cases arise – causing both defendants and plaintiffs to scramble and find the best attorneys as quickly as possible.
So, how exactly can you position your legal firm to be that “best” resource? How do you build that initial level of trust and superior image? Whether you’re focused on criminal defense, estate planning, personal injury, corporate law or any other area these challenges are consistent.
With this in mind, we have created a marketing checklist designed for attorneys and legal practices. This checklist is probably most appropriate for small and mid-sized practices as well as niche practices.
This checklist assumes that your firm has been around for several years and is not brand new. This means you have satisfied clients, a somewhat established name, a website and perhaps a small team of attorneys and support staff. Regardless, you are looking for some sort of guidance to growing your law firm.
Important Note: This article is only offering broad, general marketing ideas for attorneys and legal firms. Every attorney and legal practice must comply with the rules and regulations of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Here are a guide to marketing your legal practice:
1.) Define your Target Market
Regardless of your own specialty and services, determining who your ideal client is and creating a plan to pursue this type of client should be a top priority when developing a marketing plan. We should not assume our ideal client will find us, or that our firm is a good fit for everyone. For any marketing campaign to be successful, you should have a specific segment of the population in mind. What area of law do you specialize in? Are you a family/divorce attorney focused on married couples in their 30s? Or are you a corporate lawyer focused on business owners in Albany, NY?
When defining your target market, ask yourself some questions:
What type of person is the ideal client for our services (be specific)?
What particular habits/preferences/needs/goals does this client possess?
What is the income level/budget of this ideal client?
Where is our ideal client located geographically?
What level of service are we providing?
What other characteristics about your target market can you identify?
After you’ve thought about these questions, and identified a target market, it’s time to create a Target Market Profile, which will help identify the key behavior patterns and characteristics of your chosen market segment. To make this step more effective, think about developing a buyer persona, as well. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representatives of your ideal customer based on real data and educational speculation from past work and research. Remember that your buyer personas and Target Market Profile will act as both the guide and focus of your marketing efforts.
2.) Establish/Update your Website & Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Now that you’ve identified your target audience, make sure your website is addressing their unique needs and preferences. Develop and maintain a professional website by including relevant, accurate information about your firm’s services, past cases and mission. Many people will be viewing your website on a mobile device, so remember to make your website completely mobile-responsive.
Let your target audience know who you are and what types of services you offer. Your website could be where potential clients first learn about your law firm, so make sure you create a lasting, effective first impression.
Conduct a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit/review to ensure that your website has the right settings, keywords, tags and content so you are found by the important search engines (primarily Google, and to a lesser extent, Bing) for searches related to your target audience.
Including the appropriate keywords across your website is crucial. What keywords do you want your website to rank for? For example, in order to organically boost your website ranking on search engines for the search query, ‘divorce attorney Albany, NY’ you need to include related content on your website so the search engines can find you. Update your website’s blog consistently with fresh content on divorce best practices, tips, litigation process, etc. Create meta titles and descriptions that include these keywords for each webpage. Keep meta titles at no more than 55-60 characters, and meta descriptions at no more than 150-160 characters long.
Install Google Analytics to your website so you can monitor and measure your website traffic. Google Analytics is a free analytics tool that provides data and detail on your website visitors and will help inform your future marketing initiatives. With Google Analytics, you’ll discover who is visiting your website, from where they’re finding your website, which pages they are reading, where they are leaving from, and much more detailed information.
Set up your Google My Business account, as well. This free account will let you show more information about your business, including general business info, hours of operation, location & website. This information will appear in Google search results and on Google Maps.
3.) Focus on Digital Marketing
Today, everyone is turning to the Internet for information before making purchasing decisions. Use the following digital marketing tools to effectively reach your target audience:
A) Social Media - Post to the social media platforms that are most relevant to your business. With attorneys & legal firms, we recommend building a presence mainly on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Do research to determine when the best time to post is and plan your posts accordingly. Consider using a social dashboard like Hootsuite to organize all your social profiles into a single social dashboard, allowing you to schedule posts in advance to all profiles at once. This simplifies and streamlines a cumbersome process.
B) Email – Email remains one of the most effective marketing tools today. It’s important to provide engaging content that will attract and maintain the attention of your target audience. Simply keeping your name in front of past clients by sending out a monthly e-newsletter is an inexpensive communications tool. Optimize your emails through A/B testing to ensure you have engaging content. Consider email automation strategies, as well. An important statistic to remember is that for every dollar spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return up to $38. That’s a great ROI!
C) Video – The use of video continues to grow in importance in marketing. Video can be especially beneficial for legal practices. Think of incorporating client testimonials and interviews with those clients who speak highly of you. Feature videos of attorneys introducing themselves. Share video on what drives you and why you do what you do. Explain what values encompass your legal firm? According to Aberdeen Market Research, businesses using video in their marketing grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t use video. Video can consist of professional video, live-stream video, or Content-Driven Video.
D) Content – Remember, content is king, and that includes things like social posts, blog articles, website content, ebooks, brochures and more. Like your website, make sure all information is accurate, informational, interesting and relevant to your target audience. Remember to focus your content on the keywords that your target audience is searching for.
An important tip to remember is that consumers don’t want to be sold, they want to discover useful information, learn new things and determine that you are a knowledgeable, trusted resource. For interesting post ideas, check out a social media content development dashboard like PromoRepublic.
E) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems – Consider utilizing a CRM system, like ResultsCRM, to keep all customer interactions, contact information, projects, billing information and payments in one place. The best CRM systems integrate with QuickBooks accounting systems to eliminate the double-entry of information in accounting systems. Additionally, this will make a firm more valuable and attractive when it comes time for an exit, because all client, billing and project information is stored in a single system.
For help managing your growing practice, consider a practice management system. AbacusNext helps legal professionals succeed through a suite of compliance-ready technology solutions designed for a secure, cloud-enabled practice at an affordable cost. Specifically, check out AbacusLaw (the #1 Legal Practice Management Software) and Amicus Attorney (legal practice management software with cloud mobility in a desktop product).
4.) Get involved in, and support, your local business community
Business owners like to support one another, especially those that support the local community. Think about joining a local chamber of commerce. Check out local business groups and start networking with other local, successful professionals. Consider volunteering to speak at upcoming events, offering insights and tips for avoiding legal issues, and how to properly handle them if they occur. These tactics will allow you to increase brand recognition, make connections and increase your network.
5.) Planning & Measuring Success
Building a successful marketing strategy takes time and effort. Investing the time to regularly analyze data and metrics will help you reach your goals. As a principal in any firm, it is important to get into the habit of making financial projections and measuring performance against projections to gauge actual performance and progress toward your goals.
There’s no question that positioning and keeping your legal practice as the top option for potential clients is a difficult feat, but these 5 key areas should boost your marketing and help put your legal firm on the right track toward growth.