April 30, 2010 – Your clients are consumers, customers shopping around for their legal representation. While no two clients are alike in their process for hiring an attorney, they do share some common stages of necessity:
Stage 1 – Curiosity
Most people aren’t just researching lawyers for fun when they have no need for one at the time. At this stage, your marketing needs to pop in their minds and form a recognizable message. They don’t need you now, but they may need you in the future, and you want your name to come to mind when they think “lawyer”
Stage 2 – Learning
Your client is curious if they need a lawyer now or not, so they’re going to learn about their situation and make that decision. Here’s where you get a big chance for your attorney marketing to hook those new clients. Instead of just telling them your services, offer to help them with more information. Offer them as much information as you can, through your content relevant to their case, free information like guides or e-books, and then offer your free consultation.
Stage 3 – Browsing
Now they’re convinced: they need a lawyer. Most clients aren’t going to hire the first lawyer they see, and if they are, they’re not a very smart client. Comparison shopping has been made much easier with the Internet, especially when so many search sites allow for user reviews and comments to be posted. Your attorney marketing needs to identify how you are there to help them, what you can offer, and how to get in contact with you.
Stage 4 – Buying
Your client is ready to hire their lawyer, and that lawyer should be you. If they’ve got your information package sitting on their desk, exchanged e-mails with your firm, and maybe even come in for a free consultation, you’re in a great position to be their top choice. You’ve already established a helpful relationship with them and shown you’re interested in their case. If you’ve effectively shown them that you’re their ideal attorney, it’s only a matter of signing the contract.
Stage 5 – Desperation
Clients in this stage are in emergency need of legal representation and in some cases the first lawyer name that pops up will do. This can be both a good and a bad thing, depending on the type of client you want to represent. If your firm makes a living off of small, easy to close cases, then this client stage may be important to you. Attorney marketing here is pretty straight forward: tell them simply what you do and how to get in contact.
If you’re not looking for new, one-time desperate clients, this still may be a stage of opportunity for you if they’re a past client. If you’ve made a good impression in their minds with your previous service and continued attorney marketing, they’ll remember your name in their time of legal need.
The common thread through these 5 stages of client needs is that your attorney marketing has to be versatile enough to grab them at any stage. The best way to grab the attention of a potential client is to offer them help, not a sales pitch. As consumers, we’re used to being sold to at every turn, from our TV to billboards to Internet banners, advertising is everywhere. Clients can get sick of constantly being sold to; it’s great to be the first lawyer to offer them information first, and then let them know if they’re ready, you’re there for them.
Companies are now finding more success in getting new, happy clients by giving them information and advice, rather than selling them a product or service. A good example is with Best Buy’s Geek Squad, their technology repair and service division. While their main game is selling their services for electronic repair and home install service, they’ve started offering free how-to videos on YouTube to give consumers a chance at doing things on their own. When it’s too complicated, the customer knows to call Geek Squad to get it done right.
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