Benefits include better client engagement and opportunities for new service areas
Marketing always feels like an uncomfortable proposition for lawyers. Most of us are mindful of being tasteful, as well as respectful of ethical and professional obligations. Many of us would rather practice law and not advertising. But we do get ourselves out there, even if we do it differently than McDonald’s or Coca-Cola.
Most lawyers or their firms will, at a bare minimum, have a website and a directory listing. This does virtually nothing to increase the chances of working with ideal clients, who after looking at a few websites may find it hard to distinguish one from another.
Though a lawyer may be happy to take on any legal work, at some point they need to consider how to increase the chances of attracting more ideal clients. Targeted marketing may be a way to do just that.
Targeted marketing is the identification of a specific audience and developing products or services, and a marketing campaign for that audience. The target audience will be determined by a number of factors, including:
- psychology (values)
- behaviour (habits)
The benefits of targeted marketing include better client engagement, opportunities for new service areas, and maintaining a clear vision of your firm’s brand.
Targeted marketing helps you stand out from competitors who are not specifically targeting your audience. Targeted groups are more likely to engage with you because what you offer and say is relevant to them. You are better able to speak to their needs and make them feel heard. This lays the foundation for a strong relationship even before they meet you.
By focusing on a target audience you will develop a deep knowledge of it. You may discover needs and problems that you were not aware of, and develop and offer new services accordingly.
Targeted marketing keeps your brand and vision focused because you know who you want to work for. Niche firms are very good at this because their target market is easily defined by their practice areas. Firms with multiple practice areas may not think they have a target market because they are ostensibly trying to attract many, which results in an unfocused presentation of the firm’s brand.
Applying targeted marketing to your practice
The first step to identifying a target audience is to create an ideal client persona. Different practice areas will have different target audiences, so it is fine to have more than one client persona. Factors in fleshing out this persona include:
- age and family information
- occupation and income
- goals in purchasing your services
- problems they are facing, and how what you can solve them
- what influences their decision making and buying choices.
Base this persona on as much accurate data as possible, relying on any market data available to you. Look also to existing and past clients to see what type of work you enjoyed and who you enjoyed working with.
Once you have an understanding of your ideal client, you can direct your energy to engaging with them in a meaningful way. Knowing who they are will help you tailor marketing initiatives and communication styles in a manner they are comfortable with (i.e., social media and other technological platforms, or old-fashioned). You can then create content (blog posts, presentations, webinars, workshops) that is relevant and understandable.
While you may think that you already intuitively have a target audience, sitting down and actually developing an ideal client persona is a valuable exercise. It will force you to confront the question of who you actually want to work for.
When we start our careers, many of us will accept anybody that walks in through the door with a legal problem, whether it is a senior lawyer with a file for you or a potential client. However, at some point we need to switch gears and start trying to attract clients with whom we want to work. Relying on mass marketing or unfocused strategies is an inefficient way to go about this. Targeted marketing, on the other hand, is a way to strategically guide the direction of your practice.