Previously I discussed the 7 Most Common Marketing Mistakes Attorneys Make when building their marketing campaigns. But 7 is just the tip of the iceberg. Following are additional mistakes attorneys should look to avoid when building their marketing campaigns and building their brand and what steps you can take to avoid such mistakes. Although this article is written with the attorney in mind, these concepts, when applied to any industry will ultimately lead to increased market share and profitability. So without further ado…
8. MAKING ASSUMPTIONS
One of the biggest complaints about attorneys is that they don’t listen. Just because you specialize in a particular area, does not mean that this is what the potential client is looking for. A very common mistake for attorneys is they misconstrue what a client’s needs are with what they do and what services they offer. The old saying about the world looking like a nail if you are a hammer holds true for attorneys as well as other professionals.
Of course, we all know what happens when we ASSuME! Instead, of assuming you know what a potential client’s needs are, ASK and really LISTEN to what they have to say rather than to spend time talking about how wonderful the firm is and why the client needs to hire you. Making assumptions can lead to over promising and setting yourself up for failure in the eyes of the client, which is never a good thing. Given that malpractice and ethical issues frequently arise from unhappy clients you should be careful, after all who needs that headache?
9. FOCUSING SOLELY ON YOU
Whether you are adding information to your website, writing blog posts, creating ads and marketing material or writing your firm’s Bio, the focus should always be on your target audience. Yes, you are marketing your firm, your practice and your services, but the message needs to reflect the benefits to the client. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, “What are the different reasons a prospective client would come to us?” Then provide information that reflects the benefits of your firm and what you can do for the prospective. Just remember, there is a fine line between useful, positive information and coming across as a used car salesman.
10. WRITING MARKETING MATERIALS LIKE LEGAL DOCUMENTS
As attorneys you are trained to think, speak and write in a particular fashion when filing legal documents for the courts. However, for non-attorneys, much of the legal jargon used in legal contracts and documents makes little to no sense. When preparing your advertising and marketing campaigns, you must always keep in mind who will be reading your marketing materials. Chances are even if your target market is made solely up of professionals, using a bunch of legal jargon will seem intimidating to many and will result in alienating people and potentially loosing prospective clients.
I am not saying you should talk down to your audience, because that will have the same negative ramifications. I am simply saying that you are not writing your marketing material for the court. You are trying to reach real people. Use language that your target audience will use when they describe the legal issues they are faced with. Until you learn this important skill, you may even want to ask a non-attorney you trust to look over your information for you to make sure you are writing in a way that the average person will understand.
11. BORING RESUME-STYLE CONTENT
To be boring, does not necessarily equate to being professional. When potential clients search for their prospective attorneys, they seldom look in the phone book any longer. And those potential clients who do search randomly in the phone book are probably not the ideal clients for intellectual property or business attorneys. Under most circumstances the clients you will want are those who will be utilizing the World Wide Web to research those they wish to work with. But how can you and your website or other marketing material stand out in the crowd. The answer is, personality. When designing your website, blog and/or marketing materials, be sure to include some personal flare.
Let people know who you are and what you do, but also let them know WHO they will be working with. Don’t think for one second that a prospective client will go elsewhere if as soon as they start working with you, you are not someone they “like.” Be genuine and where appropriate let people see the real you. You can include a personal flare without providing personal information of a sensitive nature. Just remember that people tend to like to associate with those who are like them in some way, so hiding who you really are is a mistake. In fact, showing who you really are can be an effective way to attract like-minded clients who have a higher likelihood of becoming good, long-term clients.
12. NO MARKETING PLAN
All too often strategies are implemented without having a solid plan in place. With all of the many ways attorneys can market their firms, you need to have a clear sense of what areas you want to delve into. Are you planning to utilize online marketing, real world marketing or a combination of the two? Are you planning on going to real world networking functions or are you going to use social networking, or both? If you are going to use social media, which media sources do you use? These are just some of the many questions you need to answer in planning your marketing strategy.
The most successful campaigns combine online and real world media. Taking on too much and spreading yourself too thin, however, will have more of a negative affect on your results than if you only chose two or three areas within which to promote your firm heavily. Biting off more than you can chew and then having one or more avenues go stale sends exactly the wrong message.
13. NOT LEVERAGING SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is not just a fad. It is an ever-growing phenomenon that is taking the whole world by storm. With the inception of popular sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, not only do you have the ability to reach a far greater audience, but also, your target market has more experts to choose from than ever before. Gone are the days of customer loyalty. If a client is unhappy with a firm, they will simply look somewhere else. Because of the Internet, attorneys are now representing clients all over the US and abroad. Particularly attorneys in areas such as patent law, where he or she need not be admitted in any particular state. With the inception of the Internet, the first step most people make in searching for an attorney is to look online. Being active in social media will help you stand out in the crowd of millions of attorneys and firms, while giving prospective clients a personal view of you the person. Besides, people like to work with people they like.
14. NOT MAKING MARKETING A PRIORITY
Can you honestly say that your firm has more business than it can handle? I would venture a guess that no, it does not. Marketing is so often put on the back burner to everything else that needs to be done. This is especially the case for firms that need to cut their budget. If you cut marketing to save funds in your budget, you will likely need to cut more of your budget down the line. Even if the firm’s table is quite full right now, you must always seek to add new clients to make up for yearly attrition.
Look for my next article on social media specifically for the attorney.