Consumers these days may go to lawyers because they’re desperate, or have a need they can’t fulfill on their own. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t informed about who they want to hire. People research lawyers the same way they research cars, homes, or computers. They get online and gather information. Knowing a lawyer’s specific area of expertise is like knowing a car’s gas mileage. Every bit of information they gather is a data point that speaks to competence and professionalism. The more transparent you are about you and your practice, the better the chances that you’ll get the right clients. The less consumers can learn about you, the more likely they’ll keep looking for someone who isn’t so much of a mystery. This past month I shared Avvo’s #1 and #2 insight, read on for #3.
Consumer insight #3: Don’t be shy
Let consumers know who you are and they’ll be more likely to talk to you. Here are some tips for getting noticed in the online research space:
- Build your online profile. We asked about 90 focus group participants in three cities to design a web site that would best help people like them get their legal needs met. Without prompting, all of them designed the Avvo lawyer directory as part of their site. Consumers know there’s a point in their legal journey where talking to a lawyer might be necessary. When that point comes, they want to contact the right attorney. So they research credentials, years practiced, areas of expertise, location, cases won, whether there’s been a sanction. They want it all. And having this on your own web site isn’t enough: consumers specifically tell us they want to see all this lawyer information on an external objective site.
- Offer objective evaluations of your work. Consumers consistently tell us that client reviews matter. A lot. This isn’t just true of legal consumers. Studies of Amazon shoppers reveal that consumer reviews are valuable, especially those that don’t seem canned. People want personal stories, experiences that seem real. Also, one bad review won’t kill you. People know how to weigh the negatives against the positives, and one negative review might even make the information they’re getting seem more objective to them. The best way to offset the impact of a bad review is to make sure you get a few more good ones. There’s nothing wrong with asking a satisfied client to write one for you.
- Let them see you. You’ve heard this before from Avvo: your headshot matters. Consumers tell us they will pass up a lawyer in the Avvo directory if their photo doesn’t convey the right impression. Why does your photo matter so much? Because even though consumers are looking for as much objective data about you as possible, their ultimate decision to contact you may just come down to their gut. A good photo is one that hits consumers at the gut-level, telling them “this is someone I can trust, someone I would like.” All that hard work building up your resume gets you considered. But a good headshot could be what gets you that phone call.
- Go one step further with video. Seeing an image of you online is great. Watching a video of you is even better. Video is increasingly relied on by consumers as a source of information, whether on their computers or on their mobile devices. Introduce yourself on your web site in video, so people can see you as a person and a professional, not just information on a page.
It’s ok to showcase yourself. These days, it’s necessary. Competition is fierce, and you’re not going to be right for everyone. The more information you offer about your experience and expertise, and the more consumers vouch for you online, the more likely it is that you’ll find the right clients for you.