Strategic marketing for small firms

Cost-effective client acquisition is critical for small firms that do not have the ability to dump vast sums into a marketing budget.

Kevin Cheung

Why does a person choose one law firm or lawyer over another? Some may be influenced by the money firms spend on acquiring them. Others will conduct research and select a lawyer based on opinions derived from their findings. And others will be drawn to a lawyer due to a feeling of affinity with that lawyer. 

Cost-effective client acquisition is critical for small firms that do not have the ability to dump vast sums into a marketing budget. The following are some ways to organically develop a potential client pool. 

Narrow your target

Marketing to anyone and everyone is an inefficient way to attract potential clients. Instead, identify a group with which you have a relationship, whether it is the same ethnic background, same or similar community and religious groups or groups with which you have a shared experience. By marketing to a narrower group with which you have an affinity, you will also be starting from a position of commonality with potential clients, which is a competitive advantage. Groups will also have focused opportunities to offer your expertise in presentations, workshops, campaigns, newsletter and blog contributions. This will be an opportunity for you to develop a reputation as a trusted advisor for members of that particular group. 

Narrowing your target is particularly important if you practise in a popular area such as real estate, business or wills and estates. While there may be countless real estate lawyers in your jurisdiction, you may be the only one that shares a commonality with a particular group. Leverage that commonality to increase your opportunity to be hired.

Stay top of mind

Most people do not need lawyers every day, and very few actually want to purchase legal services. When the need for legal services arises, however, you will want to be top of mind for potential clients. Developing content for blogs, newspapers and other media can be a way to do this. This builds an audience that slowly develops trust in you. This trust is a competitive advantage that sets you apart from the competition. While this may be a long-term and ongoing investment, it increases the potential for you to stay top of mind for people looking for a lawyer.       

Deliver value before being retained

Another cost-effective way to attract clients is to provide them with value even before they retain you. This includes creating downloadable content and delivering presentations. Even better, conduct workshops for a small group of people. For example, estate planners can do a hands-on workshop on how to create an estate plan. Workshops provide an opportunity to interact and work with potential clients before they retain you, which can help establish trust.

Sharing content, such as checklists, updates on the status of particular laws and newsletters allows prospective clients to get to know you and become familiar with your work product. This eases the anxiety for them in not knowing what to expect from a lawyer they hire. 

Reverse engineer client acquisition by thinking about why a client chooses a lawyer. From reputation, advertising, independent research to pre-retainer relationship, whatever you think it is, make the effort to provide potential clients with an opportunity to get to know you before they even think of retaining you.     

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