The following guest post is from one of my readers, Texas attorney Billy Skinner:
With the overwhelming number of law school graduates flooding the market each year, getting your law practice noticed above the crowd can seem like a daunting task. Attorneys often think the only way to promote their practice is through expensive TV advertisement or roadside billboards.
However, small law firms and solo law practices can produce successful marketing campaigns by creatively using alternative marketing methods. There are several inexpensive ways you can promote your practice and build your client base. Here are some suggestions:
- Using Facebook Ads
Most of your potential clients probably use Facebook on a daily basis. Advertising through the social media network can help you target those potential clients while not breaking your advertising budget. Facebook advertisements can be priced either on a per view or per action basis, so your budget can range from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars a month depending on your audience targets.
Facebook ads can be created through your company’s business Facebook page in a few simple steps. During this process, you can choose the audiences who will see it based on location, age, interests and more. This demographic targeting is the key to making Facebook ads cost effective. By knowing the interests, demographics, or geo-locations of your future clients, you can exclusively target these individuals, meaning you aren’t paying for people who aren’t likely to become customers to view your ads.
Once the ads are running, they appear in a person’s timeline seamlessly with their friends’ updates, on both mobile and desktop devices. This can help to catch their attention without feeling intrusive, like popup ads do. The ads can provide information about the business and have multiple actionable buttons, like a link to the website or a phone number.
The cost of the advertisements are significantly lower than other online options, like Google AdWords. Facebook ads can run for as little as $5 per month, and the budget can be changed at any time. You are always in control of the amount of money you spend, and the company will not charge more than the amount you designate.
- Through a Monthly Email List to Market to Referring Attorneys
Attorneys actively involved in the legal community can be the biggest asset to small firms. According to research by LexisNexis, about 26 percent of an American law firm’s income typically comes from referred work. One way to increase lawyer-to-lawyer referrals is through a monthly email communication.
Creating a list of possible referring attorneys is a free way to promote your business. Once on your email list, you can foster your relationship with that referring attorney through a monthly email, which can include updates about your practice area, information they can use to assist their clients, and details about the types of cases your seek.
When compiling the list, you should search for firms that are not competition and other attorneys who practice in different areas of the law but who deal generally with the same type of client. For example, if you are a criminal defense attorney, you might seek out family law attorneys as they both deal with individuals. By contrast, an M&A attorney might look to build an email list of business attorneys.
Reminding these attorneys monthly of your availability and skills is a free and effective marketing tool. Referral relationships cannot simply be sustained through an annual mixer at a local bar event, rather they take time and effort, and frequent communication is critical to making that happen. So, by sending regular email newsletters you subtly remind them of who you are, and what you do. And in so doing, you stay top of mind for when the moment comes that they need to make a referral.
- Writing and Updating a Blog
Having a legal blog could be a simple and inexpensive way to promote your law practice. This type of marketing, however, is different from advertisements that could produce a quicker return on investment. Creating an online journal is a long-term venture that could help differentiate your business from competitors with a mild amount of effort.
Creating the blog itself is a simple task, and it likely is something you could do on your own. Although a hired designer could create a more unique and intricate design, a simple WordPress format could be enough when starting the online journal. Once the blog is personalized to suit your firm, think of the image you would like to portray and who your audience likely will be. There are two main techniques, the first is to appeal to potential referral sources, and the second is to appeal to clients directly.
Whichever audience you decide to target, posting creative and unique content is the most important aspect of a blog. Blogs need to be updated with timely information and material relevant to your legal field. The content could include authentic text, videos, infographics and even images. Having varied material will make the blog more appealing to readers.
For example, if you are a criminal defense attorney who handles drunk driving cases, you could write about a specific aspect of the law, such as how to challenge the results of a field sobriety test. You also could create a video in which you or your staff demonstrate how common field sobriety tests are administered. These two alternative formats of essentially the same content allow you to reach a broader audience as some visitors will want to view the video and others read an article.
Moreover, when a new post is made, share it on your company’s social media. This helps to keep your social media active with current information, while helping your work to reach an even larger audience. If the information is unique and creative, it likely will be shared on different social media accounts, helping to get your company name out to potential clients.
Frequent blog posts also could assist your website in searches. Google uses the recency of content updates, paired with the magnitude of updates, as part of its algorithm to determine search rankings. Search engine rankings are important because 96 percent of people seeking legal advice use a search engine, according to Google.
- Volunteer with Legal Groups
Spending some of your extra moments volunteering with local legal groups and associations is another inexpensive way to indirectly market your law practice. Like with any type of volunteering, this would allow you to meet an ample amount of people and provide you with an avenue to discuss what you do.
Volunteering helps connect you to those who may need your services in the future, whether they are future clients or experienced lawyers who may be able to refer clients to your practice. In addition to doing good, it provides you the exposure you need to meet as many people as possible in a short amount of time.
To the extent that your volunteering is done, at least in part, for marketing, it’s important to select activities that will put you into contact with potential clients or referring attorneys. So, for example, if you’re a tax attorney, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, while admirable, will likely be less professionally helpful than volunteering to be on your local communities business owner’s association.
Effective marketing and client development does not have require a substantial budget. In fact, many of the most effective forms of attorney advertising take little to no money. What they do require, however, is thinking ahead of time about what your clients are like, what their interests are, and what their needs are. Once identified, practices should then consider alternative ways to connect with them, whether it is through social media, a practice’s blog, meeting in person through volunteering or through referrals.