You simply cannot create demand for your own legal services. And, on the flip side, because of ethics rules in most states, you can’t directly solicit clients even where demand already exists.
The demand is out there, though. Plenty of people in your area need legal representation and advice. But for the most part, they have to be the ones to find you.
The process by which they (A) come into need for legal representation, (B) search for such representation, and (C) hire a lawyer is what we call The Client Journey.
If you want to be a part of that journey, then your firm needs to be visible at every step along the way. After all, people want to find a good lawyer, but they’ll only invest so much effort in the hunt.
The law firms they see during commercial breaks on the day they’re injured, or on the billboard overlooking their accident, or on the very first page of Google results — those are the firms they’re most likely to consider and hire.
In other words, you need to be where your prospective clients are — at each stage and step along the way. So where are they? The Client Journey is your map, and it should guide your attorney advertising strategy.
The Client Journey is evolving all the time. Today’s journey looks different than it did ten years ago. Technology forges new paths for accident victims and other prospective clients.
Below, we walk through The Client Journey as it looks today, and we consider what it means for the law firm looking to compete in a crowded legal advertising space.
Before They’re Ever Injured – Top of the Funnel
Consider a hypothetical in which 27-year-old Annie is severely injured on December 1st by someone texting while driving in your town, where she’s grown up. Annie has never needed a lawyer before, nor has she ever given them much thought. But she’s been hearing the names of local law firms her whole life. She’s caught their ads on TV, heard them on the radio, and seen their logo on banners at community events (as recently as November!). Now that she needs a lawyer, those handful of firms are the first ones that spring to mind. Next, she’ll head to the internet to search for them and give one a call.
Annie’s story perfectly illustrates the first step of The Client Journey: life before injury. Even there, before she becomes an accident victim or a prospective client, you need to speak to her (and people like her).
In the advertising world, this is what we call the top of mind awareness. It’s broad familiarity of your brand across multiple platforms and throughout the community.
Top-of-funnel touchpoints include:
- Law firm television commercials
- Digital marketing
- Radio spots
- Outdoor signage in visible areas
- Event sponsorships
- Community involvement
- Coverage in local news
- Publishing blogs and/or editorials on topics of local interest
The goal is to create content that engages people at whichever step of their journey they happen to be on. Here, at the first step, the best content will engage even those who aren’t yet injured and don’t currently need a lawyer.
The Next Step: “I Need a Lawyer, But Which One?” – Middle of the Funnel
This is the middle of the funnel, or the evaluation phase. You have two goals here. First, you need to be among the law firms selected for evaluation. Second, you need to survive the process of elimination.
A well-timed television ad remains the single most powerful and effective way to grab a prospective client’s attention. The modern trend is for an accident victim to see an impressive law firm TV commercial shortly after their accident, to then search for the law firm online, and finally to make contact if they like what they find online.
Of course, many people will simply run a Google search for attorneys in their area, using a variety of potential keywords, which is why you have to be easy to find online.
The overwhelming majority of search users will never click past Page One, so you are automatically out of the evaluation phase unless your digital marketing and SEO strategy is firing on all cylinders.
Sealing the Deal
Having evaluated a handful of law firms, the prospective client now moves to the bottom of the funnel, which you might think of as the moment of truth.
Here’s where they make contact with your firm. That can happen in any number of ways:
- Calling your office
- Coming by your office in person
- Sending you an email
- Using the contact form on your website
- Chatting with a representative of your firm using your site’s online chat box
- Sending you a text message (if you have a “text to contact” feature on your site, which you should)
- Very rarely, by sending a letter in the mail
Perhaps surprisingly, given digital trends, studies show that most clients ultimately make a phone call before hiring a lawyer. That call may come after other kinds of contact (chat, email, text, etc.), but it’s extremely important that your firm be prepared to covert the client over the phone.
We’ve written extensively about the many ways law firms struggle with client intake and conversion. Don’t neglect this step. It’s a crucial part of The Client Journey, and if the client feels inadequately nurtured — because they were put on hold for too long, didn’t get a call back, didn’t have their questions answered, were treated rudely, didn’t feel like the firm really cared, etc. — they will go back to their evaluation phase and contact one of your competitors instead.
Tip: even if the case isn’t right for your firm, you can still capitalize on contacts at the bottom of the funnel by referring them to other firms.
Let Us Help You Make The Client Journey Work for You
Strategic marketing at each step of The Client Journey is a practical and effective way of competing against the other law firms in your area. The most successful firms engage the public at every stage.
Network Affiliates can help you do the same. We are a team of legal marketing experts with more than 35 years of experience in this field. We specialize in cost-effective marketing for attorneys, from television to digital and beyond. To learn more, call 877.709.0633 or contact us online.