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Small Law Firm Marketing – 5 Things You Need To Know

9 min read

Small Law Firm Marketing – 5 Things You Need To Know

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 marketing strategy can feel daunting. Some people consider marketing to be advertising. Some consider it to be promotion. Some consider it to be sponsorship. It is such a ubiquitous term; it can be as complicated as it can be simple. Wouldn’t it be great if you could focus on *what* to do instead of worrying about everything that qualifies as marketing? 

DOWNLOAD A COPY OF SMALL LAW FIRM MARKETING – 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW Grab your free digital copy of the 5-step guide to law firm marketing – making it easy for you to draw in clients and maintain relationships with them as well.

 

That is why we created this 5-step guide to law firm marketing – making it easy for you to draw in clients and maintain relationships with them as well. At its core, marketing is simply the actions you take to identify, and then attract, the right customers for your firm. 

You can do this. Let’s get started. 

1. DECIDE ON THE ONE THING YOU OFFER THE PUBLIC

As an attorney, you do a lot. It’s a complex, never-ending series of activities that allow you to advise and represent your clients. Here is the reality though, for most consumers, that’s a given. What your client wants is someone to solve a problem for them as it relates to the law.

How are you solving that problem? When facing a legal issue, hiring an attorney or a law firm is technically correct. However, what people are looking for is to address the thing they are afraid of happening. When you can paint a picture of success for them, you position your firm as the solution and give them a reason to hire you. 

Example:  

A couple looking to adopt a child is technically looking for an adoption attorney. However, what they likely want is someone to make a complicated process seem easy. Your marketing should focus on how you help, not what you do. 

Risk Management Bonus:   

Set expectations upfront. Giving your clients and prospective clients a sense of your process (or the fact that you have a process) will help set their minds at ease. This clarity should translate into your communication standards as well. Whether a scope of services document, an engagement letter, a disengagement letter – even your regular status updates, clearly spelling out what you are doing (and frequently not doing) on behalf of your client can avoid unrealistic expectations. 

2. CREATE A CLEAR MESSAGE  

Let’s face it, the curse of knowledge is real. When we know something, it is hard to imagine not knowing it. That knowledge has ‘cursed’ us and even when we try hard to speak more plainly, we frequently still talk at a level (or three) above our customers.  

As lawyers, the language you speak is highly specialized. The concepts you deal with are even more complex. The power of the words you choose can be the difference between winning and losing. The challenge is translating your “what” into easily understandable words for your prospective clients in your marketing.  

Most marketing materials, when simplified, speak down to a ‘7’ on a scale of 1-10. Your marketing materials need to speak at a ‘3.’ You can do this by staying away from any legal jargon. Focus on stating how you solve their problem in as few words as possible. Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about them. 

Risk Management Bonus:  

Do not let your marketing write checks your legal services can’t cash. In other words, when painting a clear picture of success, it is important to stay away from promises and commitments. It should go without saying, law firms should avoid guarantees that might come back as a claim should the result be less-than-optimal in a client’s mind. 

Example:  

Instead of “Experience the Jones Law Firm difference with personalized legal representation.” Consider 

“Navigating a divorce is stressful. At Jones Law Firm, you can relax knowing your case is in the right hands.” 

3. DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO GET CLIENTS 

Now that you have a clear message about how you help your clients, it’s time to think about how to get new clients. You can quickly waste a lot of time and money on marketing efforts aimed in the wrong direction. Ask yourself the following questions.  

Is your business based on referrals? 

Many professional service-based businesses prefer to work on referral business. Sometimes that is the only way they will take on new clients. If so, you need to be prepared to ask for referrals – from your business associates and your clients. If you are new, do some brainstorming about what business connections you need to make. Real Estate lawyers have a natural connection with Real Estate Agents. However, they can expand that reach by developing relationships with members of the Chamber of 

Commerce. What large employers are in your city that frequently recruit new employees? Relocation can provide a strong stream of referral business. Are you asking for reviews, testimonials, and case studies from your clients? The best ambassador for prospective clients is going to come from the clients whom you helped the most.  

What is the one thing you want to be known for in your market? 

If we are truly honest with ourselves, we all know the lawyer or law firm in our town that people go to for that “one thing.” Some of that reputation is earned, but a clear and careful marketing message can significantly impact that same reputation. Let’s face it – not all the earned reputations that exist are positive. Results do matter – a lot. Yet those results are also shaped by the types of clients we attract and accept. 

Do sponsorships matter? 

Your community likely provides ample opportunities to spend money sponsoring events, organizations, or activities. Those dollars are a key part of their marketing strategy. Are they a key part of yours? 

Before you spend money on sponsorship, ask yourself if they attract your target audience and align with your values. Will you reach the right people that are in the right frame of mind to understand how you can help them? Are you telling them the problem you solve with the accompanying exposure? A lot of money can be spent to display a logo and a tagline. Make sure you are connecting the dots between your service -> the event or organization -> potential clients. 

Example:   

You’ve been approached by a local baseball team to sponsor them. As part of it, you get a sign prominently displayed during the games. If your target audience includes families, this may be a great opportunity to get involved locally AND reach your ideal customer! It’s ok to have fun with your sign too – just make sure it connects to your firm. A Personal Injury attorney that handles car accident cases might use a tagline like “Car accidents can be scary. Call Smith Attorneys when you need to get home safely.” 

Risk Management Bonus:  

You’ve been approached by a local baseball team to sponsor them. As part of it, you get a sign prominently displayed during the games. If your target audience includes families, this may be a great opportunity to get involved locally AND reach your ideal customer! It’s ok to have fun with your sign too – just make sure it connects to your firm. A Personal Injury attorney that handles car accident cases might use a tagline like “Car accidents can be scary. Call Smith Attorneys when you need to get home safely.” 

4. TELL YOUR STORY EVERYWHERE THAT MAKES SENSE FOR YOUR FIRM

You’ve decided on the one thing you offer. You’ve created a clear message that people can easily understand. You know how you want to get clients. Now you get to build a framework of tools to help funnel the right people to you in an efficient way. Here are the basics that every firm should consider: 

Claim your free Google My Business account  

We live in a ‘Google first, ask questions later’ world. Google is the pre-eminent search tool (Did you know Microsoft Edge runs on the Google platform?!?!?) and they have a simple mission – “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” They are constantly tweaking their algorithm to answer any question people might ask.  

When someone looks for an attorney “near me” or uses their city name as part of their search, Google will show business listings (with the mapped locations) as well as websites. This is a free tool that is an absolute must-do for any law firm. It lets you turn people who want to find you in search AND maps into new clients. Did we mention it’s free?  

Create a website 

 As just stated, Google = search. It’s now such a ubiquitous term that it is a commonly accepted verb used across the world. If you do not have an internet presence, you are losing opportunities. This is also where that previous work comes in handy. Your website does not have to be a big, bloated, expensive undertaking. A solo attorney can even get away with a 1-page website! 

In addition to the Google-fication of our society, we also live in a mobile-first society. People prefer to scroll. They don’t want to navigate through pages of a site to find what they need. Phones are not click-friendly. 

Your website should immediately and clearly tell people what you do, how you can solve their problem, and how they can interact with you. If they have to think too hard about any of those three things, they will likely move on to the next law firm. To learn more about building an effective website for your business, check out our other free resource “3 Things Every Law Firm Website Needs”. 

Do you need social media?  

Social Media can be a great tool. Yet, if you do not plan on being active on social media then it should not be a part of your marketing toolbox. While it can act as another version of Google My Business, the most successful businesses that use social media are actively providing value and posting consistently. 

They also understand the role of social media and have tied it to their business goals. Successful businesses speak in a clear voice, have fun with their posts and understand their audience. A lawn service might use social media to give tips on creating a healthier lawn. A family law firm might provide tips for better family communication. 

Not all platforms are created equal, and understanding the role each can play is vitally important. 

Facebook (Meta) is the “share anything and everything” network. It does allow for sophisticated and accurate targeting for businesses. Interestingly, Facebook is a great way to target senior citizens. Seniors are the fastest-growing user group!  

Instagram (also owned by Meta) is a much more visual (pictures and videos) platform. It is also a mobile-only platform that is more successful for artistic and creative businesses.  

X The primary use of X is to share short updates and engage with users by sharing links to resources, blog posts, and articles. Having a strong brand voice is extremely important for X. Interesting content is also recommended.  

YouTube can be very useful for firms that have the time and money to create informational content. If you don’t want to be an “influencer,” YouTube may not be right for you. 

LinkedIn is known for professional networking. It’s a great place to share information and is geared toward businesses and professionals. If you want to expand your referral network and target other professionals, it may be worth your time to be active on LinkedIn. 

TikTok can be extremely effective – if you want to target Generation Z (birth years from the mid-to-late 1990s through the early 2010s) and have a firm grasp on your brand and how it can translate to this platform. Otherwise, run – don’t walk – away.  

Risk Management Bonus: 

The simplest way to understand the impact of social media is that the minute you post, your content belongs to everyone else. Once it’s live, you lose 100% of control of your message and your intent no longer matters. Other than cat videos, posts almost always go viral for all the wrong reasons. It’s ok to have strong opinions but understand how that can negatively affect your business. Similar to your messaging, social media can put you in a dangerous position of defending a promise or excusing a post. 

As they say, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube! 

5. BE KNOWN FOR SOLVING PROBLEMS  

High-quality content is king. With so much information readily available at a moment’s notice, the key is to provide useful information that provides value to people. And do it for free. Is there content you can provide that: 

  1. Is it aimed at your target audience?
  2. Makes their life easier by giving them practical advice? 
  3. Positions you as the expert in your practice area?

If you can pull off that trifecta, you will position yourself as the person they will call when they need your services. That makes your life easier too! What are some examples of content you could provide?  

  • Example: 10 things to be aware of when creating an estate plan. 
  • Example: The 5 things you need to do if you’re in a car accident. 
  • Example: You’re buying a house? Look for these 3 things in your Buy-Sell! 

Your content can be used in a variety of ways. Can you start a blog and post your blog content on social media? Can you offer the information as a checklist on your site and let people download the information in exchange for an email address? Do you already have a network of email addresses you can email the content to? This can also be a great way to contribute to other organizations that might be searching for content. They get your brain power, and you get exposure!   

Risk Management Bonus: 

As you would expect, it’s important to stay away from guarantees and promises of a result with any information. If people believe that something will happen if they follow your advice, it can put you in a risky situation. Even if there is no attorney-client relationship, it is important to use disclaimers and language that does not imply a promise.   

Disclaimer: 

ALPS presents this publication and sample documents as general information only. While ALPS strives to provide accurate information, ALPS expressly disclaims any guarantee or assurance that this publication or sample documents are complete or accurate. Therefore, in providing this publication and sample documents, ALPS expressly disclaims any warranty of any kind, whether express or implied, including, 

but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. 

Further, by making this publication and sample documents available, ALPS is not rendering legal or other professional advice or services and this publication and sample documents should not be relied upon as a substitute for such legal or other professional advice or services. ALPS warns that this publication and sample documents should not be used or relied upon as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your professional practice, business, or personal affairs. Instead, ALPS highly recommends that you consult an attorney or other professional before making any decisions regarding the subject matter of this publication and sample documents. ALPS Corporation and its subsidiaries, affiliates and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss or damage sustained by any person who uses or relies upon this publication and the sample documents presented herein. 

Links Disclaimer: 

Some links within these materials may lead to other sites that we believe may be useful or informative. ALPS Corporation does not incorporate any materials appearing in such linked sites by reference. These links to third party sites or information are not intended as, and should not be interpreted by you as, constituting or implying our endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of the third-party information, products or services found there. We do not maintain or control these sites and, accordingly, make no guarantee concerning the accuracy, reliability or currency of the information found there. 

 

 

Matt joined ALPS in December of 2008 to direct our Sales, Marketing & Customer Service Departments. Prior to joining ALPS, Matt served as a Training Manager for DIRECTV, specializing in improving the customer experience and in leadership development. His focus at ALPS has been improving the processes and systems that impact our customers directly, as well as creating more value for our policyholders. Whether improving the online experience, changing how we communicate with our customers, or spearheading the development of our education services library, Matt has kept the focus on ALPS customer base. Matt has almost 15 years of leadership experience; having worked as Director of Customer Service Training for FTD.com, Training & Quality Manager for Charter Communications, Operations Manager for US Bank, and Competitive Programs Manager for Hewlett Packard. He has his Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University and his M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from the University of Iowa. Matt and his wife moved to Missoula in 2006, where they have two children.

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