Client “personas”— Why you want to understand who you’re talking to

Simone Hughes
Make it Count
I don’t know why I woke up in the middle of the night reciting an old English fortune-telling rhyme:
Tinker, Tailor,
Soldier, Sailor,
Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar Man, Thief.

The game is played like the one where you pluck the petals off a daisy. When you come to the end of the petals, or in this case, have run out of things to count, you have to make up a story about you as the persona on which you landed.

Perhaps it’s because I’m leading the overhaul of our web site and digging into the law firm’s hierarchy of practices and services. It’s challenging to say the least. Every encounter is different and I am being met with a wide range of reactions.

To get our objective fulfilled of populating the web site with client-focused logic, terminology and testimonials, I have to engage each practice area. I have to encourage each of the lawyers in the different areas to step into the shoes of their clients to anticipate how their clients search, find, like and engage with them and the firm through the multiple digital means today. How does, or doesn’t, online presence influence a lawyer’s traditional referral, meet, greet and engage process? Are there differences by client industry, geography and type of legal service needed?

Client personas
The answer is yes. Think about your best and worst clients. I bet that you can “profile” them. You can pick out what made them a good, profitable client or what characteristics had you writing down the work. The idea here is that if you can come up with a profile of a long-term profitable client, it will increase the probability of consciously selecting the best clients for a mutually satisfying relationship at the beginning.

Be attractive to your desired client
Understanding the client profile or persona that you desire increases your odds of being found online. You can use ideas, thoughts, images, phrases and words that your ideal client personas would find persuasive and appealing so that their traditional and digital searches will bring them to you faster than your competitors.

Big Data is turning all of this intuition into predictive modeling . . . but I believe that you can do it yourself if you reach out to your best clients, ask them about their business, understand why they make the choices they do and how they reach out, or don’t reach out, for help. You can develop your best client personas and then bake this knowledge into all of your marketing.

Take some pointers from marketers
Marketers and business developers have to understand the lawyers, practice areas, firms, competitors and markets for, against and in which they work. It’s a matter of survival and is career limiting not to develop practice-area personas and be able to relate and assist each practice. I have developed lawyer and practice personas to allow me to effectively and efficiently support my firm. With some groups, I get right to the point and minimize interaction time, and with others, we go golfing. Being successful starts with understanding your client and then using that understanding to develop a fantastic relationship, network, referral, followup, follow-through and finally closing the deal by using traditional and increasingly digital means.

 I think my rhyme as chief marketing officer might go something like:

Thinker, Fixer,
Doer, Mixer,
Good Staff, Bad Staff,
Networker, Chief.

What do you think?

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