Defining Your Ideal Client
Figuring out who your marketing is for, is the first step in great law firm marketing.
Every Attorney Is Different
I was reading through an interesting thread on The American Bar Association forum about dealing with clients’ emotions. I noticed that attorneys take all types of approaches towards their emotional clients. Some were empathetic and accommodating, saying,
“Make your office a safe place to experience emotions. Have water available; tissues too. Have them in places where clients can see and get them without having to ask. Keep the room cool in temperature.”
Others were very stern with comments like,
“I actually have a document called “Rules of Engagement” that my clients have to sign as a condition to my representing them. One paragraph states as follows:
I am not your savior, boyfriend/girlfriend, Santa Clause, protector, best friend, priest or rabbi. I am simply your lawyer. If you need therapy, please go to a therapist. If you need a friend, please call one. I am here to advise you as to the legalities of your particular case.”
One attorney suggested that there is not too much that you can do about it, stating,
“I’ve been discussing this with other attorneys and also I’ve posted about it before on the list, everyone’s stumped. I think sometimes you just get the crazy clients and you just deal with it.”
But I’m wondering if this is really true. We really don’t have any influence on the types of people who hire us? Is there anything we can do in our marketing efforts to attract the clients that we really want to work with? I wonder what the empathetic lawyer’s website looks like, in comparison with the stern one’s.
Who Do You Want To Work With?
This got me thinking about a marketing concept, call an Avatar. Simply put, an Avatar is the detailed profile of your target client. They often included demographic information, like age gender and income, and usually goals and pain points; most businesses have several. A savvy marketer knows exactly who they’re speaking to while crafting they’re advertising messaging and the content they produce.
The exercise of the defining your avatar can be extremely valuable to attorneys who find that they’re consistently dissatisfied with the types of clients that they’re attracting. And, it can help just about any attorney, to bring in more profitable cases, and clients with the potential for repeat business.
Wouldn’t it be worth spending a bit of time outlining your avatar and adjusting your messaging, to avoid spending countless hours working on the wrong cases?
So grab a legal pad, and let’s craft your ideal client in 7 steps. I’m going to ask you a series of questions. Answer them first with regards to your most common type of client, your worst clients and your best clients. Divide you piece of paper into three columns. Once you’ve done that we will go back through and create your ideal future client.
1. Background And Demographics
First, Let’s take a look at the background and demographics your clients. What is there: age gender marital status Number of children location occupation annual income assets that may relevant to their case previous legal history hobbies and interests. Not all of this Will be consistent or relevant to your ideal client, but that’s important to know too.
2. Personality and Communication style
Next let’s take a look at their personality and communication style. Try to be as specific as you can in this section. Consider things like: how did they like to communicate? Email phone in person? How trusting or controlling our they? Are they willing to make changes? How do they handle confrontation? Look back on your career, who do you really work best with? Who can you really help, that others cannot? This process can give you a good idea not only of what to say to your ideal client but how they prefer to be reached.
3. Challenges and Pain-points
Now consider the challenges that your avatars facing. Why are they seeking help? What problem is it that they need to solve? Try to understand how this problem affects them as the person that you define in the previous two sections. How does their case fit into their world? What do they have to lose?
Then list the goals of your best worst in most common clients. What is the best possible outcome for their case? What do they want to accomplish once this matter is resolved? What are they currently doing to improve their situation? What can be gained?
5. Your Offer
Now let’s look at your role. What can you do to help your client overcome the challenges they face? What are you willing or unwilling to do? How does hiring you help them achieve their goals? What can your client expect from you? And what do you require of them?
What objections does this client have to hiring you? Consider costs, location and scheduling. Are they considering your competitors? Could they try to represent themselves? Do you have enough experience with cases like theirs? Can you provide them the attention that they need?
Define The purchasing process for these clients. How long do they have to shop for an attorney? Are they initiating legal action or required to appear? How long will it be before their cases resolved? Are there opportunities to work with them in the future?
Examples and Applications
By now you should have a good idea of what you’re looking for a client and what you want to avoid. So let’s examine a few of the ways that you can leverage your content and messaging to get the best cases and advance your career. The compassionate and stern attorneys that I mentioned before will make great examples. Now let’s say they’re family law attorneys wondering “what should I write for my blog?”
Our stern attorney handles a lot of divorces, but he would prefer to work with wills and estates. Looking back on his avatars, he remembers that he wants to attract drama-free, wealthy professionals with children. He then writes a series of blog posts with advice on asset protection during divorce, the trust options available and what you want consider for your pre-nup. He then asks the CPAs and wealth management professionals in his network to share his posts.
Our compassionate attorney, on the other hand, really wants to help people. After she retires from her practice, she wants to get into politics or represent a non-profit. Her blog posts are mostly about the stresses of co-parenting, how the adoption process works in her area and how divorce is different for people serving in the military.
Do you think these two will use different imagery on their websites? What about color choices or what they put in their profile section?
I know this exercise can seem a little silly and abstract, but hopefully you can see how much easier your marketing decisions will be, once you know who you’re speaking to. Is this something that is discussed in your firm? Did you find this helpful? Let us know in the comments below.