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YOU’RE STARTING A LAW FIRM; NOW HOW DO YOU MARKET YOUR PRACTICE? The word marketing has so many definitions, just the thought of creating a law firm...
Solving this problem can be very simple. Whether you want your current site to attract the right customers and let your marketing dollars finally pay off, or you are looking to create one for the first time, your website should present your firm as the solution when your ideal client needs an attorney.
So how do you create that website? Follow the strategies laid out in this guide and you will have a website that speaks to the potential clients you are looking to attract. We’ll even include pro tips to help take your website to the next level.
If you are a law firm that wants to attract more of the right clients to grow your business, this guide will save you time and money - neither of which you can afford to waste.
You will get real-world advice that you can implement yourself. You will also get a website that you can be proud of and begin converting visitors into clients immediately.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
The purpose of a law firm’s website has changed quite a bit over the years. At first, they were nothing more than a business card – a place to stake your claim and give people a way to find your phone number. Those sites were easy to maintain, and aesthetics weren’t that important.
During the next phase, a website would serve as a place to share every piece of information about the law firm. Pictures of the building, resumes, and CVs of staff, briefs, and case studies for victories and large settlements. Those sites were expensive to build, hard to keep up-to-date, and difficult to maintain.
Now? The legal industry has shifted, and online bundled legal service providers are competing with traditional law firms. That places a premium on making sure that an effective website is part of a well-thought-out plan to attract the right customers.
Your website should complement your law firm’s brand – what do you stand for and what sets you apart from the law firm down the street? In other words, what is the specific message of your firm’s brand?
This is not about the type of law you practice, rather it is all about your ideal client. Hiring a lawyer can be scary for many people. Your website should tell people two things:
If you’re a divorce lawyer, you help people navigate a difficult emotional journey. If you’re a personal injury attorney, you help clients get back what they’ve lost.
Your job frequently forces you to avoid falling prey to the curse of knowledge. Whether you are a trial attorney speaking to a jury or an estate planning attorney explaining your state’s tax laws to a client, you take complex legal concepts and must explain them in as simple terms as possible. Your website needs to do the same thing.
Most experts talk “down” to a 7 (on a scale of 1 – 10) when explaining difficult concepts. In a face-to-face conversation where you can add context and supporting details, especially with someone interested in your services, that can be very effective.
Your website’s tagline needs to bring that number down to about a 2 or 3. It has the goal of converting visitors into clients. They don’t know you and they don’t really care about you – they care about themselves. Specifically, they care about how you can help them.
Imagine explaining what you do to the average kindergartner. If they can understand how you help people, then your website is doing its job.
What you do is complicated. The ins and outs of an ever-changing legal world combined with a consumer landscape that is more and more about “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” make your marketing strategy that much more important. People are increasingly using search engines to solve all of their problems, legal ones included.
Your website needs to communicate the value you bring to your clients. And it needs to do it quickly.
Pro Tip: The 5-second test
How can you be sure that you have nailed it and created a website that works? See if your site can pass the 5-Second test. Here is how it works:
Did they get it right? Congratulations! Did they get it wrong? No problem. Talk to them, get their feedback, and make your tagline even simpler.
Another common mistake made by many businesses has to do with the images chosen for their website. Law firms are no different. It is tempting to show a picture of your building or you. Remember though, everything on your site should focus on your customers and how you can help them resolve their fears. You might have the nicest building on the block, or you might have a great headshot you want to use – however, avoid the temptation to make the picture about you.
The image displayed when people arrive on your site should paint a picture of what life will be like if they hire you as their attorney. Wills, Trusts, and Estates can be about leaving a legacy for generations to come. The picture should focus on a happy family – maybe even multiple generations. You have created a tagline that tells people how you solve their problem(s) and you have told them how you will make their life better. Your images should do the same thing.
Let’s look at two examples side by side:
Potential clients are not searching for an attorney. They are looking for a solution to the internal fears they have at this moment. By default, any law firm can solve the external problem posed by, “I need to hire a lawyer.” When you shift your website’s focus to address the anxiety around the issue itself, you will position yourself as THE firm for your desired client. When you show images of people who have had their anxiety relieved, you allow your clients to imagine success – and they will be more likely to hire you. A picture can be worth 1,000 words (or 1,000 dollars of budget).
Finding the right photo to use, especially when using ‘stock’ photography, can be maddeningly time-consuming. At the end of the search, after spending valuable time selecting an image, you may have also spent money on a photo that leaves you feeling as if it is not the image you had in your mind to represent your firm.
You can still stay true to the principles laid out in this guide by including a picture of you or your family as long as it shows the success your customer will experience with you as their attorney. You may or may not save some money, but you may also feel an immense sense of pride by including the people you hold dear on your site.
Pro Tip: Peace of mind
It’s more than images though. Your language should describe a life transformed and talk about how your clients will feel after hiring you. Will they be relaxed knowing their family’s future is secure? Will they be confident their business structure is the best for them? Perhaps they will have peace of mind that their divorce was handled with care. When dealing with emotionally charged situations, people want to know how their life will feel better.
You would be surprised how many businesses spend time and money driving people to their website but never ask for their business. This is one of the most common mistakes companies, including law firms, make. It is also the easiest one to fix.
Imagine you need to hire a new office manager for your law firm and decide to look for a staffing agency to help you. You head to Google and click on the first agency that comes up in your search results. It has a beautiful site with a very attractive person answering the phone. Their tagline tells you that they take “Hiring seriously.” As you click through the site and read their testimonials and their core values, you’re sold on their ability to help you.
There is one problem. Other than a 'Contact Us' link at the bottom of the page, there’s no easy way to schedule an appointment or request a call. You head back to your search results and go to the next agency’s website. The site is not visually appealing. However, right there in front of you is the sentence, “Office Staffing Solutions for Law Firms: We help you hire the right people the first time.” Right below that sentence is a button that says, “Schedule an Appointment.” You click, schedule a 30-minute call for 1 pm that day, and get an email explaining how the meeting will go with a few questions for you to answer prior.
If you want your website to be focused on growth, then everything on your homepage should be about driving potential visitors to take one action – call you, schedule an appointment, or even fill out a contact form. Anything else is secondary. Whatever you choose, it should be prominent. Make it a button on the main image of your homepage. It should also be static on the top of your website. As people scroll down on your homepage, that call-to-action should stay prevalent at the top of your site.
Let’s look at that sample website from earlier with the call-to-action added:
Pro Tip: Schedule, don’t request
A very common call-to-action is to have someone request a call. The button takes visitors to a form where they provide contact and possibly some additional information. Once they submit, they need to wait until you follow up. The time frame for an acceptable turnaround is different for every person, but even 1 business day will feel too long for a prospective client.
People are used to instant gratification for customer service and the longer they wait for you to return their call, the more likely they are to move on to the next attorney. When you add the fact that hiring an attorney is frequently an emotionally charged situation, time is definitely of the essence.
There are quite a few free or inexpensive options available that provide your prospective clients the ability to schedule an appointment with you from any device. They connect with your work calendar to provide available times for the general public, send automated responses and reminders, and provide immediate satisfaction for your client.
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