Personas have arguably become the backbone of any digital marketing, content marketing, and inbound marketing strategy for law firms. Great legal marketing begins when you understand and are confident about who you are trying to attract. It stands to reason that the more information you have about your ideal clients and target audience, the better you can craft your marketing strategy and messaging to serve them. Building out a persona takes time and effort. You need to do your homework and that includes research, surveys, and interviews, not guesses and assumptions.
But, when working with law firms and attorneys, I often get push-back. I hear things like: “Why are we spending time on this?” or “I’ve been a lawyer for 25 years; don’t you think I know who my clients are?” Ask a family law attorney who her ideal client is and she’ll tell you someone getting a divorce. Ask a personal injury attorney, and he’ll say it’s someone who’s been in a car accident. These are very vague, broad business descriptions. What is missing is the personal connection that is so integral to a successful marketing strategy… a real understanding of the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your prospective client.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a composite sketch of a real ideal client that will help you visualize their wants, needs, pain points, goals and, most importantly, how your law firm can help them solve their problem. Each law firm persona will help you develop a marketing strategy that engages a potential client with the appropriate information that they are seeking. Use your firm’s best clients as a starting point. Your goal is to flesh out a strong understanding of who each ideal client or persona is. Once you’ve developed a solid understanding, your firm can effectively use the right tactics and activities to engage potential clients researching law firms and looking for information and help. Before you start developing your marketing strategy, do your research. At a minimum, you need to be able to understand the following about each persona.
- Demographic information…how old is your ideal client, married or single, children, education, occupation, salary range, where do they live, own or rent, hobbies and other activities in which they participate...?
- What are these potential clients’ goals, challenges and pain points?
- Where do they get their information from?
- Who influences your ideal clients’ content consumption?
- What legal topics are they interested in reading and learning about and why?
- How often are they looking online for relevant information?
- What kind of legal help do they need?
- When is your ideal client most likely to research legal issues?
- At what point in the process are they most likely to contact a law firm or attorney?
- What latest trends or news will affect your potential client?
- What content formats interest them…blogs, videos, eBooks, infographics, memes, etc.?
- Which social platforms or channels do they use to get online information…Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, forums, legal sites, etc.?
It's important to remember that the Internet is filled with potential clients looking for answers to their questions and tons and tons of helpful content out there that might address these concerns. It you don’t know who you’re speaking to and how and when they want to hear it, you can post content until the end of time and accomplish very little.
What are the benefits of creating buyer personas?
The majority of consumers, today, are doing their research online. The decision making process is well underway before they ever pick up the phone and speak to an attorney or law firm. Valuable, relevant content is the best opportunity you have to introduce yourself, engage, and build trust and credibility by showing your expertise and knowledge to prospective clients. Law firms that understand the benefits of identifying and creating quality personas will leave their competition in the digital dust.
So what does a fully realized persona add to your marketing strategy?
- Gives you a framework to have informed discussions about who your customers are, their attributes, motivations, challenges, behaviors and concerns.
- Puts everyone in the firm on the same page when it comes to messaging and communication with potential clients.
- Gives you the information you need to be able to make objective decisions about how to craft your marketing message.
- Adds focus to your marketing strategy and messaging.
- Takes raw information and data and puts a human face on it.
- Enables you to create compelling and engaging messaging targeted to specific potential clients that speaks directly to their needs, challenges, goals, and concerns.
- Helps you understand your prospective client’s pain points, customize your messaging, and be better prepared to overcome potential objections.
- Helps you decide which platforms and media you should use to broadcast your message to reach prospective clients.
- Allows you to speak to potential clients about their pain points in language they’ll understand.
- Helps you understand your ideal clients buying behaviors.
- Gives insight into how to encourage interaction with your law firm and attorneys.
- Enables your firm to segment your marketing campaigns and send personalized, targeted content to the right potential client at the right time.
- Allows you to develop the most effective marketing strategy based on how prospective clients are most likely to act.
- Lets you tailor your messaging to get the best possible response at every point of the buying cycle.
- Enables your firm to identify “negative” personas…clients you are NOT targeting, so that you don’t spend time and resources chasing down the wrong leads.
Don't forget to be human!
Marketing success depends on how well law firms can target and build relationships with the right prospects. Strong, fully realized buyer personas will help you develop messaging and content that differentiates your law firm from your competitors. Be authentic. Be original. And most importantly, be human. Remember, you're writing for potential clients, not search engines, and not your peers. Great content, targeted to your ideal client is the best formula to engage prospective clients who will then engage with you. Personas are the foundation for any law firm that relies on client acquisition and retention…which, of course, is every firm.
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