Lawyer Marketing Tips: 6 Ways to Win a Tough Market

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

It’s a simple fact: Marketing is difficult for lawyers. Attorneys aren’t in practice to “generate leads” or “build visibility.” They’re here to help clients.

Problem is, lawyers don’t just have clients. They need to win them. The market for doing so is ultra-competitive, buyers are often uneducated in the intricacies of the legal system, and there are strict ethical considerations to deal with.

That said, there’s hope! Effective lawyer marketing is possible … if you and your law firm do it right. In this post, we’ll review:

  • Marketing challenge attorneys face
  • Specific considerations for law firm marketing
  • Six tips and best practices to do it right

Let’s get started.

Lawyer Marketing Tips: Featured Image

Lawyer Marketing’s Unique Challenges

Lawyers have unique challenges when it comes to generating interest and demand.

  • Competition: There are all types of lawyers – from general practitioners to full-service law firms, and just about any legal or industry niche in between. When a person or a business needs an attorney, there is usually an important reason – to protect assets, get justice, or complete a transaction. Because there are so many lawyers and so many different legal services, it is challenging for a lawyer to set themselves apart from the pack. It takes creativity and a strong strategy to stand out – showcasing the lawyer as the best professional to handle the matter at hand.
  • Uneducated consumers: Because most everyday people rarely need an attorney and many do not understand the different types of attorneys, buyer (in a lawyer’s case, prospective client) education is critical. As a result, the buying process usually involves more information seeking on the part of potential clients.
  • Ethical constraints: There are plenty of marketing ethical landmines out there for the unwary. A wrong move or tactic may get a lawyer in hot water, or worse – censure or disbarment. So, while it is challenging enough to navigate the competition while educating potential clients about specific legal services, legal marketing must be done with an eye always on the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPCs) and the ramifications for violating them.

All of this influences how law firm marketing strategies are constructed – and the “rules” are ever-changing. Lawyers who don’t realize this (or care) will be left behind.

Marketing Strategy for Attorneys: Getting Started

Lawyers typically develop legal skills without learning marketing and business development skills or how to build a reputation. Books of business have long been built on who you knew and who would refer you to someone else. But this paradigm is changing … fast.

Lawyer marketing is growing fast. Dedicated agencies are providing expert service. And attorneys of all stripes are becoming more and more savvy in modern marketing techniques like content marketing, social media and search engine optimization.

That’s all starting to leave in the dust firms who only rely on legacy techniques. So, if your current marketing strategy isn’t helping you reach your business goals, you’re not alone. Here’s what to do about it.

Our Top 6 Lawyer Marketing Tips

  1. Know your clients
  2. Know your competition
  3. Turn IP into great content
  4. Build a best-in-class legal website
  5. Use social media the correct way
  6. Use targeted advertising

Tip #1: Know Your Clients

As we noted previously, lawyers come in all stripes. That means clients do, too. Legal marketing won’t do you any good if you don’t understand who you’re talking to.

Think about your best clients. What commonalities can you list? Do they represent businesses? If so, what are your contacts’ titles and experience levels? Are they consumers? What are they likely to read and watch?

This information lets you construct personas of your ideal clients. The more detail, the better. Think of buyers as individuals, not statistics. Then tune your message and your tactics to them.

Tip #2: Know Your Competition

Your competition is, by definition, going after those same target personas. You need to know what makes them special, and what they’re saying about themselves.

Take some time to browse websites and relevant publications. Take note of how they’re positioning themselves. Are they aggressive litigators? Compassionate? Results-focused? Experienced? If you see a trend, there’s probably a reason … and you might want to jump on the train. Conversely, you might see a lane – an unfilled need held by your ideal clients. That’s the perfect fit.

Tip #3: Turn IP into Expert Content

Trade organizations and bar associations aren’t the only experts in the legal community. Individual lawyers have plenty of knowledge and opinions that potential clients want to see!

Turning this IP into content that drivers lawyer marketing is critical. You need to pull people into your website and social profiles, then thrill them when they see what you have to offer. This sometimes makes attorneys uncomfortable. The amount of intellectual property you need to give away to make a happy reader can be scary. But that’s the market you’re in. If Lawyer A ethically offers more than Lawyer B, Lawyer A builds credibility … and probably gets the phone call when a need arises.

So think about the questions your ideal clients are asking. Can you help point them in the right direction in a blog post or podcast (without treading into actual legal advice)? If so … put it out there. You’re selling yourself and your smarts. Let them shine!

Tip #4: Build a Best-in-Class Website

Most law firm websites are … pretty bad. They’re full of legalese, generic bios and the same old stock photography.

You can do better.

Websites are typically the first place clients engage with a service provider. Don’t waste the opportunity. Here’s what to focus on:

  • User Experience (UX): Your website is about promoting you, to be sure. But it’s for your users. They’re used to experiences from the likes of Netflix, ESPN and Disney. And they won’t excuse long load times, poor navigation and broken images just because you’re not Netflix, ESPN or Disney.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): We could write a book about SEO – the thing that keeps you on top of Google search results. Suffice to say, though, that it goes hand-in-hand with UX. Google wants to “recommend” good sites with high ranks. Make yours good.
  • Mobile Friendliness: Consumer-focused sites can see 80%+ of their traffic come from smartphones. Even ones targeted at businesses can get 15-20% from mobile. And Google crawls your mobile version first. Don’t just focus on desktop!
  • Accessibility: Site accessibility is a critical but too often ignored element of website building. If you make your content inaccessible to visually impaired individuals, for instance, you automatically lose their business. (And it’s potentially illegal.) Stay up to date with guidelines, and deploy a tool like accessiBe to offer self-serve functionality.

Tip #5: Use Social Media the Right Way

Lawyers are often slow to integrate social media into their business and marketing mix. But social media can work if you do it right.

First, start a TikTok account. Then …

(Just kidding.)

In reality, you’re going to want to create consistency in your channels. Make sure your corporate accounts are professionally branded and typo-free. And try to keep firm descriptions similar (if not identical) for all attorneys and support staff.

Beyond that, focus on sharing relevant information. Nobody follows accounts to be advertised to. Be a human, and share the kind of things you’d tell a client in public. Are there new regulations in the offing dealing with your practice area? What about big events coming up?

If you’re valuable, you’ll show up in potential clients’ social feeds. If you show up in potential clients’ social feeds, you might be top of mind when they have a need. Remember: You’re selling yourself, and your smarts. Let them shine!

Tip #6: Use Targeted Advertising

Digital advertising is a mix of science and art – in that order. Done right, it lets you reach difficult-to-address audiences in a cost-effective fashion. Done wrong, it’s a money pit.

In particular, this is true of Google search advertising – often styled “PPC,” for pay-per-click. When someone needs a particular type of lawyer, they often turn to the search engine. Being at the top of the rankings – what PPC offers – is great! But it can be expensive. Law firm competition around “mesothelioma” has driven the cost of an ad click to $75 or more. A single click.

So, how do you get digital advertising right?

First, do your research. Identify the key terms and phrases prospective clients use when searching for services like yours. Then run them through a tool like Semrush or Google’s Keyword Planner to see what they might cost to bid on.

Pay close attention to your ad content and landing pages. This is another of those topics we could write a book on. The short of it: Keep your ad relevant to the user’s query, and your landing page relevant to the ad.

Finally, give the user an obvious action. If you want them to call you, make your phone number obvious. If you want them to fill out a form, put it at the top of the page. Users are busy – they want a solution fast. Be the one to offer it.

Lawyer Marketing Tips: The Bottom Line

Lawyers need more than referrals and gala sponsorships. Today’s attorney marketing strategies require a comprehensive, integrated – and very digital – approach. But it’s not about perfection. Figuring out what your prospective clients respond to best is a process of trial and error. These tips will help you navigate it.

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.