Know Your Potential Clients: What Do They Want?
An important aspect of being a successful lawyer is knowing how to run a business — and that includes getting involved in marketing. In talking with lawyers throughout the country, I’ve met some savvy marketers, and I’ve picked up some tips from them.
A lot of lawyers have told me, “When I talk to someone on the phone or in the office, I can get them to retain me.” The hard part, they say, is getting them to call. Here’s some advice I’ve heard over and over: Get them to call you the same way you talk to them in your office — use plain language, the language your potential clients use in conversation. By the way, this is also the language they use to search for your firm on the Internet (more about that later).
Who are you trying to reach?
When you’re writing a website or blog — or when you’re recording a video or a TV or radio commercial — it can be difficult to remember who you are trying to reach. It isn’t your law school professor or your colleagues. It isn’t the camera operator or the public relations person.
Remember, you are trying to reach people who need an attorney. That might be someone who is considering bankruptcy, who needs a criminal defense lawyer, or who wants to develop an estate plan. Whatever your practice focus, when you plan a marketing campaign, think about who you are trying to reach. Who is your potential client?
What do they want from their lawyer?
It is easy to say that a potential client wants a solution to a legal issue. But they want more than that. They want to know that you have the skills to help them in their particular area of concern. And they want to know that you will listen, that you will take their legal matter seriously. Most of all, they want to feel comfortable that you are the attorney for them.
Will you talk to them in plain language?
Like most professions, the practice of law has its own specialized jargon. Using the same legal terms in marketing materials that you would when addressing the court or writing a brief or motion can make it difficult for your potential client to understand you. If they don’t understand you, they will not call you. Simple as that.
By using language your potential client understands, you are assuring the person that you will talk in a way that is helpful to them. You won’t bamboozle them with language that is incomprehensible.
A book that addresses this subject is “Plain English for Lawyers” by Richard C. Wydick. He is an attorney himself, and he approaches the topic of plain language with humor. Chapter 1 begins: “We lawyers do not write plain English. We use eight words to say what could be said in two.” He warns that the need to be cautious can produce verbosity, and the need to be precise gives rise to redundancy.
When talking to people face to face, the need for plain language is clear: You can see their reactions to confusing language. When communicating by writing or video, try to remember the need for plain language.
How are people searching for an attorney like you?
If you have a website, find out how to use Google Analytics or any other analytics tool. (Call me if you need help with this) That will tell you the questions or phrases searchers used when looking for a lawyer in your practice area. The information you gain puts the focus on the words potential clients use — not the words a lawyer might use.
One attorney I know has used that data to add new pages to his website — pages that are focused on what potential clients are searching for.