Ok, that’s a trick question. The answer is that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because whether it’s true or not, your client thinks it’s true. So it’s your job to change their minds.
The idea for this post came from an awesome webinar I attended the other day given by Joshua Lenon at Clio which discussed a number of topics titled Business Development Strategies for Law Firms. If you’re not on their email list to be notified of upcoming webinars, you should be. It’s clear Josh puts a lot of time and effort into preparing these and he's a wonderful presenter. They always include helpful information, and as a bonus, most of the webinars qualify for CLE—though this particular one did not.
How Can a Law Firm Stand Out from the Crowd?
Early in the presentation, Josh made the point that the majority of people looking for an attorney view them as interchangeable. So how can you change their mind and differentiate yourself from every other attorney offering similar services?
The answer is that you need to represent to the prospective client that you are the expert in your field and therefore, you will provide them with the best possible outcome. There are several effective methods to show off your skills, some of which are discussed below.
- Ratings/Reviews - You should be proactive in asking for reviews from your clients. There are even tools out there that help you do that. People will see them on the review sites and directories and you can prominently feature them on your site.
- Teaching - Offer to speak to groups, especially those that offer CLE. You can then use this experience to market the fact on your site—you teach other lawyers how to practice. A strong presentation to lay people also highlights your expertise. You will not only look good to the people present, but you can also put your schedule of past and future presentations on your site to give people a chance
- Blogging - This shows off what you know to both prospective clients and referral sources. Be sure to make your content valuable to your audience. If it were all marketing fluff and written for your benefit instead of theirs, no one will read it, and it won’t help you. Keep in mind that people don’t want to be sold to. They want to make their own decisions. So don’t be heavy handed in your posts but make sure they can easily find a call to action so they can contact you.
Blogging is one of the primary forms of "inbound marketing,” which serves the dual purpose of driving people to your site as well as presenting you as an expert in your field. Inbound marketing will be discussed many times over on this blog in the future because it’s typically the best long-term marketing strategy you can make. Have you taken a look at the cost of Google AdWords lately?
What Role Does Your Law Firm Website Play in Getting Clients?
You’ll notice that your website is a large part of getting across your message. But isn’t word of mouth the best form of marketing, you ask. Yes, I believe old-fashioned word of mouth is still the best way to get clients. The problem is that referrals aren’t enough these days. The most interesting statistic that Josh presented in the webinar was that over 80% of buyers of professional services go to your website to evaluate your capabilities, regardless of how they may have heard of you.
That jives with other figures I’ve read. While it may seem surprising at first blush, think about it. You always have your smartphone with you. It’s easy to Google the name of an attorney you were referred to. Why not feel more secure in your decision to hire someone by performing a quick search. If they see five stars next to your name or go to your site and see something they like, it will seal the deal. If they can’t find anything, or worse, see something negative about you, they’ll look for someone else.
This means that even if you’re currently enjoying the success of having word-of-mouth referrals, you can’t ignore the internet. People want to see a professional looking website that reinforces the idea of hiring you. It should be easy to navigate, present your advantages in a clear manner and make it easy to contact you or sooner or later, you’re risking losing the advantage of your referral sources.
If I haven’t yet convinced you of how important a website is, Josh also presented this tidbit from a recent study by McKinsey & Company: While customer journeys that started online and incorporated non-digital interactions were successful, those that were most digitised lead to the greatest customer satisfaction. If your website is set up to prepare the client for what to expect and you meet those expectations, it only makes sense that the client will feel more satisfied. That is why I attempt to reflect the personality of the law firm when designing a website. If your website is very aggressive and draws a prospective client looking for an aggressive attorney, if they don’t see that during the consultation, odds are that they won’t hire you and you just wasted your valuable time.
In order to get more clients or keep the clients coming, you must give them a reason to choose you over your competition. A proper website is the main vehicle in delivering that message. Of course just building a site doesn’t mean anyone will see it. That’s where effective marketing comes in. But that’s a another blog post.