While many lawyers recognize the importance of marketing for growing their practices, there are still a great number of lawyers who are anti-marketing for various reasons. Some lawyers are generally skeptical of the need for marketing, uncomfortable with the idea of “selling” to clients, or think marketing is a big waste of time. Marketing may be out of the comfort zone for lawyers at first, but once they understand their role and how it can help them in their practice they are likely to gain interest . First, let’s explore some common objections to marketing and resolve any qualms about them.
Marketing is not a waste of time. Many lawyers think their time is better spent on “real” legal work. However, it is not necessarily the case, or even likely, that all a firm’s clients will come as a direct result of superior legal work. Of course, being a good lawyer will help in this regard, but it isn’t enough to sustain your firm indefinitely. If your work slows down or competition kicks up, you are going to need a marketing strategy to gain new clients and stay in business.
Business development and marketing in the legal industry is not unethical. Marketing for lawyers sometimes gets a bad rap. Even some young lawyers are skeptical of whether marketing their services is professional, or worry they may alienate clients with their efforts. You can look to a state bar ethics counsel for answers to your ethics concerns or insight into how other firms reach out to clients.
You don’t need to be a professional marketer in order to market your firm. While your firm may choose to hire an outside marketing agency or expert, or dedicate members of your own staff to marketing efforts, you as a lawyer can and should be involved in most aspects of your firm’s marketing strategy. You have the legal knowledge and industry insight, and you know your target client base best. That information plus a little basic marketing training is enough to get you started.
Now that you understand that marketing is both a necessary and acceptable practice for you to engage in as a lawyer, we will discuss the roles a lawyer should take in your firm’s overall marketing efforts.
Build buyer personas before developing a content strategy. As a practicing lawyer, you should have a number of clients you know well, in terms of their backgrounds, values, and what they look for in a legal service. You should use this knowledge to develop buyer personas, or representations of the ideal client, for your firm’s services. This is an area of legal marketing where your work representing clients is a necessary part of the strategy. As we said, you know your target client base, so this is not a time to take a hands-off approach.
Content marketing is key. Once you develop your buyer personas, you will have a better idea of what type of content to create in order to appropriately market your firm. Blog posts and thought-leadership pieces which you likely already produce as a lawyer are the bulk of content marketing. Here, your role as a lawyer is essential again because you are the legal professional. Take the opportunity to enlighten your audience with content that showcases your legal knowledge and expertise.
Generate new leads from relationships with existing clients. Some lawyers will say that they get the majority of their clients from referrals, making other marketing tactics unnecessary. Referrals are indeed a great source of leads, but marketing efforts can strengthen and expand your referral network rather than replace it. You can then leverage the network of people who trust your firm by getting client testimonials and using these to market your firm. Marketing from the perspective of a “regular” person instead of a lawyer will help potential clients feel less like you are selling to them.
Continue using traditional marketing methods. “Old school” lawyers especially will be happy to hear that even in today’s digital era, traditional marketing still has value. Appearing at speaking engagements, hosting workshops, and attending networking events are great ways to build relationships in the industry and gain consistent leads. You can combine this practice with digital marketing efforts by advertising and promoting these events online.
Leverage your social media presence. Social media marketing is a must when it comes to marketing the law firm in today’s age. While you can delegate posting on social media to marketing staff, being comfortable using social platforms yourself can be helpful in growing your network. Leverage your own personal contacts through Facebook and professional contacts on LinkedIn to gain leads and expand your reach.
Whether you like it or not, as a lawyer, you are running a business. And sometimes you will have to dedicate time to selling that business. You likely already do some of the practices described above as a practicing lawyer, meaning you are marketing your firm without even trying. If you need more support for effectively getting involved in your firm’s marketing process, contact us today!