Getting People to Consider You When They’re Considering an Attorney
While what follows might not make much sense, according to recent research commissioned by FindLaw, it’s something that lawyers need to be aware of, and act upon: When considering an attorney, most consumers hold interpersonal and emotional factors just as highly as degrees and experience.
This finding comes from FindLaw’s recently conducted U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey. FindLaw commissioned this updated research to look at the online consumer legal market and to better meet the needs of law firms and their customers.
Among other things, the survey found that while an attorney’s expertise was cited as an important factor by 49 percent of consumers, recommendations from friends was close behind, at 40 percent. An attorney’s fees certainly matter, at 32 percent—but a sense of trust appears to be just as crucial. Even having a convenient location trumped experience, being considered important by 26 percent and 18 percent of respondents, respectively.
That being said, consumers aren’t necessarily ignoring a firm’s expertise, credentials and history.
Certainly, these attributes have great value, and most certainly you should point them out in your marketing materials. But if your firm puts too much emphasis on them and not enough on how those attributes can help people with legal needs, you could very well miss an opportunity to attract more clients.
So you should also highlight what often are called “soft skills.” Among the most essential of these is listening closely to what clients are saying, and providing the types of service and solutions that meet their needs—and calm their fears.
And those softer skills are bound up with how you market your firm and your services. Soft skills demonstrate that you are responsive to potential clients’ specific needs. In other words, your practice is about them, not you.
Given that, and given the findings of the FindLaw Consumer Legal Needs Survey, here are five considerations to keep in mind when seeking to attract new business:
- Traditional word-of-mouth referrals are still important. Positive client experiences beget more clients.
- Use social media to grow your referral network. Building connections builds business—and online connections have become increasingly important in our increasingly digital world.
- Convey a trustworthy brand through your reputation and your marketing language. That means emphasizing both your qualifications and your ability to empathize.
- Ensure that your local listings online and in print are accurate—that way, you don’t miss out on location-sensitive searchers.
- Respond quickly to potential clients. In the retail world, that’s called customer service. And while your services aren’t exactly a “product,” your reputation still depends on meeting client needs.
If this sounds like a total upheaval of your firm’s brand, take a simpler approach. From a marketing perspective, the message should be: You can put yourself in your client’s shoes. In your actual practice, make sure you walk the walk.