Whether you’re hoping to grow your practice or not, most lawyers are perpetually faced with the challenge of getting getting new clients. And to a large extent, this is arguably a zero-sum game. There isn’t an endless supply of legal consumers out there, so if you win a client, then someone else probably lost one. That’s why marketing and advertising is so important.
It’s a competitive world, and no less so in the legal industry. Law school breeds competition, but you don’t learn how to win clients in law school. So how can you be a winner?
If you want to win someone over, win over their his or her friends
Marketing and advertising can get you exposure, but they only go so far. If the likeness of you and your major competitor is plastered on every bus in town, then you need something else to give you an edge. If your competitor is on every bus but you’re not, you can still have skin in the game.
Only 11% percent of legal consumers we surveyed said that whether a lawyer advertises on TV or radio is important in deciding whom to hire. Meanwhile, almost half (49% percent) of consumers said that, to find the right lawyer, they asked a friend or family member for their opinion of that lawyer. Every client is a potential advocate. Every friend or family member a a client brings to your office is also a potential advocate. Having word word-of of-mouth advocates could prove even more valuable than your website.
Be an open book
Most people want to know everything they can about a lawyer’s credentials before hiring.
More than anything, it’s important to share specifics about your practice area. You say you practice family law, for example, but what proportion of that is child custody? You say that you’re a traffic attorney, but do you have experience in with DUI charges?
People also want to read reviews. A strong and detailed review by a client, especially one that speaks to your expertise and highlights your personality in a positive way, can make a difference. Many people don’t have friends or family who can refer them to a lawyer; reviews might be all they have.
Let them know you can get the job done, whatever it is
Legal consumers have told me on several occasions that they want to know whether a lawyer can “do what I need them to do.” People want to know that you can deliver. So, share information about the cases you’ve won and emphasize how many years of experience you have. If you’re a newer lawyer with fewer credentials, that’s OK. There are ways to build your resume in a short amount of time that can pay off and get you noticed.
There’s a caveat. Consumers tell us that if all of your information is on your website, the content feels more like a marketing pitch and becomes less easy to trust. That’s why you need to get listed somewhere for third-party validation. Once listed, make sure your information is up-to-date, ensure your client reviews aren’t stale, and double check that your profile highlights your accomplishments, including publications and lectures. Avvo profiles are a great way to showcase this information.
Silence could be tacit admission of inexperience
I recently put new flooring in my kitchen. When my friend came over and didn’t say anything about it, I assumed he hated it. Maybe he didn’t. But that doesn’t matter. When you don’t have enough information, assuming the worst is an automatic, common response.
If your competitors are telling potential clients what they’re about, and you’re not, then you’re at a disadvantage. You can’t plead the 5th when it comes to lawyer marketing. You have to show your cards to stay competitive.