Being in the right place at the right time: How to find future clients

From buying a home to drafting a will, there are pivotal times in life when big decisions – that can have serious consequences – need to be made. It’s during these times that legal consumers need a trusted professional they can turn to. Someone who can answer their questions, provide sound advice and help them make well-informed decisions. In short, they need you and your firm. But while you know that, they may not. In fact, they may not even be convinced that they need an attorney as they’ve never hired one before. So what can you do to make sure you’re connecting with the right consumers at the right time?

Understanding the legal consumer’s journey 

For small law firms, a key part of attracting new clients centers on understanding their journey. What issues and problems do they face? What steps and actions do they take to understand and try to solve those problems? What emotional, financial and logistical decisions are they contemplating? What factors ultimately lead them to hire an attorney?

By understanding the process a legal consumer goes through before they hire an attorney, you can take steps to make sure your firm is well-positioned to meet their needs — every step along the way.  

The roadmap to hiring an attorney 

When it comes to hiring an attorney, the process legal consumers embark on is typically long and arduous. From an individual who’s weighing the pros and cons of ending a 20-year marriage to an aging parent who wants to provide financially for a special needs child, these consumers tend to be contemplating big decisions. 

Because the stakes are so high, many legal consumers go to great lengths to try to understand and resolve their issues – exploring numerous options and avenues before finally realizing they need professional legal help. During this process, legal consumers essentially move through three stages: awareness, consideration and decision.

Awareness stage 

During the awareness stage of a legal consumer’s journey, they realize they have a problem that needs attention. At this stage, an individual is focused on learning and gathering information. They may turn to online resources that discuss their specific issue and seek advice from experts like a marriage counselor, accountant or financial planner. They want to understand and weigh their options.

How can you meet legal consumers’ needs during the awareness stage?

  • Answer questions clients frequently ask and publish to your website 
  • Develop referral relationships with other professional service providers
  • Be the expert you are and produce articles, podcasts and videos on consumer-friendly topics that relate to your practice areas 

Consideration stage 

Once a legal consumer understands more about their problem, they move forward to find the best solution. During the consideration stage, a legal consumer digs into the nitty and gritty details that surround their problem. They likely have an idea of a desired outcome and focus on finding the best way to get what they want.

How can you meet legal consumers’ needs during the consideration stage?

  • Write blog posts that address frequently asked client questions and publish on your website and YouTube channel
  • Be active on consumer-friendly social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Conduct free online or in-person seminars on specific legal topics

Decision stage 

After weeks, months or maybe even years of thinking about a problem and researching possible solutions – an individual realizes they need to hire an attorney. And once they arrive at this decision, they tend to move fast. The decision stage of a legal consumer’s journey is often dominated by questions and considerations related to trust and cost. Namely, a legal consumer wants to know they can trust you to resolve their problem and that they can afford to do so.

How can you meet legal consumers’ needs during the consideration stage?

  • Advertise on legal directories like FindLaw.com
  • Make sure the messaging on your website speaks directly to consumers and addresses their questions, fears and needs
  • Ask former clients for testimonials and online reviews

The payoff: Timing and planning 

A legal consumer’s journey to hire an attorney can be long and winding. Depending on the issue or problem they face, there may be many bumps and even some detours and wrong turns along the way. During every stage of their journey, legal consumers are seeking trusted information and resources. By positioning your firm front and center – through referral resources and via online channels like your website, social media channels and legal directories – you can build recognition and foster trust. And when the time finally comes and a consumer is ready to make a decision, you and your firm will be the clear choice.

Need help building a marketing plan that meets your firm’s business goals? Check out FindLaw’s Legal Marketing Services

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