2020 is Right Around the Corner – Now is the Time to Future-Proof Your Solo or Small Law Firm
As a marketing consultant for FindLaw, I’m on the front lines consulting with attorneys at solo and small law firms about their marketing programs every day. With 2020 here, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on how much has changed in the legal marketing world in the last decade and look at what law firms can do to compete in 2020 and beyond.
When a legal consumer turns to an attorney to prevent or resolve a problem, they do so because they need help. Legal consumers want to know that you can effectively handle their matter and deliver on their expectations. You need to demonstrate your experience, skills, knowledge and know-how—they need to trust you.
While the core reasons behind why legal consumers select one attorney or firm over another remain the same, the factors that consumers take into account when making their decision have changed. It’s no longer enough to have a nice-looking website that showcases your numerous awards and professional achievements. And you can’t expect to win prospects over by throwing marketing dollars at Google and attempting to buy your way to the top of paid search results. Today’s legal consumers are tech savvy—they use every available digital channel to vet and validate you and your firm. They can’t be fooled and won’t tolerate inauthenticity.
Delivering what legal consumers want
Decisions to hire you are no longer being made in your office. By the time someone walks through your door, they’ve done their homework and have decided to hire you. What can you do to appeal to and win over today’s discerning legal consumers? You need to make sure that your online brand matches or exceeds your offline brand. How? Here are eight digital marketing components you need to care about and consider:
Yes, your website still needs to look good and include information about your legal practice, the matters you handle and how you help clients. However, to stand out from competitors, you need to take it a step further. Use an on-site blog to flex your thought-leadership muscles and provide prospects with practical and applicable information. What about your attorney bio? It needs to say more than where you went to law school and how many legal works you have published. Prospective clients want to know more about you so include information that provides insight into who you are and the things you care about. It’s also important to include photos of yourself and your office on your website and to make sure they are current. In the legal profession, experience is a major asset so show off those hard-earned gray hairs.
2. Social media
When it comes to social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, many solo and small law firms are missing out on key opportunities to reach and connect with prospective clients. Use social media to build your likes and follows and make yourself a truly local firm. Post news and events about your community and build your social media audience(s) to connect to everyone you know offline. Doing so depicts you and your firm as local and relatable which goes a long way towards building trust. It also helps you grow referrals as prospective clients can see when you’re connected to someone they know and trust.
It’s a fact, consumers pay attention to online reviews and take positive and negative reviews into account when making decisions on everything from which Thai restaurant to try to which divorce attorney to hire. Think about all of the verbal thank yous and handwritten notes you’ve received from former clients throughout the years—you need to ask clients for online reviews. Be proactive and diligent and find a way to incorporate a formal review process into your current client service model.
Consumers love video and there’s no better way to express who you are as, let’s face it, there’s really no way to fake it on video. Including and sharing videos on your website and social media channels gives prospective clients a chance to see, hear and feel your personality and passion. Videos can also instantly make you seem more real and relatable—important attributes that legal consumers look for when making decisions about which attorney they trust and want to work with.
5. Legal directories
Inclusion in professional legal directories like FindLaw.com and Avvo help legal consumers validate that you are legitimate and part of the legal world. They also provide an accessible and convenient way to learn more about you, your firm and the specific legal issues you handle. Think of your legal directory profile as the cliff notes version of your personal and firm bio. Make sure that your profile contains the most important information and conveys the image and message you want communicated.
6. Third party endorsements
Good lawyers win awards. When a prospective client looks you up online and sees that you’ve been recognized by Super Lawyers for five years in a row, it matters. People want to see that the attorney they’re considering is accomplished. Being endorsed by professional legal organizations like Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers and AV Rated is important and can help win over prospective clients. Make sure to showcase your achievements and include relevant information and badges on your website.
When it comes to pay-per-click campaigns and paid search, putting all your dollars towards ranking first probably won’t yield the best ROI. That’s not to say that PPC isn’t important—it is, vitally so in this digital age, but you’ve got to be targeted and strategic. Make sure you’re going after the right keywords, not just the most obvious or popular ones. Paid search helps you get in front of legal consumers which is critical as they’ll likely need to see your name two or three times before they feel comfortable enough to take the next step.
8. Google My Business page
When it comes to search engines, Google is king and claiming and optimizing your Google My Business page helps you get in front of and introduce yourself to prospective clients. Make sure to build out your profile by adding details about your firm, photos and your website and contact information. Also encourage current and former clients to leave reviews on your GMB profile and make sure to regularly update your profile.
Understanding how consumers make legal purchasing decisions today can help solo and small law firms get ahead and succeed in the future. Learn more about how focusing on the marketing strategies discussed above can help your law firm develop a distinguished and strong brand.