If you’re just beginning to market your firm, you may be wondering, “What do I do first?”
The best place to start is by identifying your Target Audience and then your Message. First of all, think about who it is you want to talk to because that will drive not only what you say, but in some instances, where you will say it. Once you identify your target audience you can begin to think about your message. But be careful; don’t just think about all the things you can tell them about you. Think about what they want to hear—what is important to them—and craft your message with that in mind.
Once you’ve done those two things, then you can focus on disseminating your message to your audience(s). For simplicity, think of your marketing in terms of three broadly defined channels:
Online is arguably the most important channel because web searches are the starting point for many of your potential clients. Think about it: today nobody goes anywhere without their cell phone, and that means people are just a few clicks away from finding you online. Research shows that most people use search even when vetting a referral. So you want to make sure your web presence is right. That means your website, your online listings (like Martindale or Avvo), and your social media profiles (LinkedIn and even Facebook) should all be on-message and presenting you in your best light.
Think of your website as the hub of your marketing efforts. Any marketing you undertake will likely result in people visiting your website as they seek to “learn more” about you and your practice. When interested people see your name, be it in an ad or mentioned in connection with a case or even quoted in the media, they will search for you and end up visiting your website. The same will happen when someone hears you speak at an event or meets you socially or is given your name as a referral.Once your online presence and messaging are set up, you can leverage a range of online or digital marketing tactics to connect with your important audiences:
- E-announcements are basically ads delivered to the inboxes of prospective clients
- Social media allows you to share your thought leadership and expertise with both your existing network of connections as well as those you hope to connect with
- Search Engine Optimization strategies can be beneficial for certain practice areas to drive more visitors to your website
- Digital ads are a good way to build name awareness and are relatively inexpensive
Think of offline as any tactic that does not require internet access. It can include things like traditional print advertising, billboards, TV and radio. It also includes direct mail and brochures or other leave behinds that you use in new business meetings. You might also consider sponsoring an event or submitting a paper or authored commentary to a publication.
It is important to remember that these offline efforts can often be repurposed to feed your online presence. For example, if you write an article that is featured in a print publication, you can post it on your website. This will not only allow you to reach a larger audience, but will also preserve the content for much longer than a magazine or newspaper could.
The in-person portion of marketing your practice could include speaking engagements, conducting a CLE or just the tried and true method of getting out there and meeting people—face–to–face. Any rainmaker or business development person will tell you that successful lawyers with successful books of business know how to go out and make connections. But don’t forget the small touches—the phone calls, the handwritten notes, the congratulatory emails—because people like to hire people that they like.
Once you define your audience and the relevant messages, consider all three categories above as the building blocks of your law firm marketing plan. Use them in combination and concert. Look for ways you can blend your tactics within each category. For example, post that white paper on your website, repurpose your print ads for social posts, take parts of your speeches and presentations and weave them into your new business pitches. Most importantly, make sure your messaging is consistent in everything that you do. That will set you on the right path for marketing success.