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Should I charge for consultations? Should I build a new website? Do I need an SEO firm? Should I advertise on Facebook or Google? Is an answering service okay for my prospective clients? Should I get a chatbot for my website to greet visitors? Should I say things this way or that way?
When lawyers ask me these questions, I say vague things like “It depends on your practice area and your market.” They look at me with unbridled contempt.
They want a “yes” or a “no.”
“Just answer my question,” they want to scream.
There is someone who knows the answers
There is a person who can give you not just an answer, but the correct answer every single time.
This person knows what it takes to get your ideal client to hire you. They understand the emotional impact your marketing decisions have on the conversion process. They understand what it takes to encourage the client to make a decision. They know how much you can charge, and how often to follow up.
This person even knows exactly what you should say to get the ideal client to hand over a credit card.
The person who knows is your ideal client.
That’s the person who should be deciding for you. That person knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing. They know how well your marketing works, because the ideal client is the person on the other end of the message.
Meet my answer person
My ideal client was always a guy named Bob. Bob lives in Cary, North Carolina. He’s 42 (and amazingly, he never ages–ideal clients live very long lives). He owns a home, has two kids, and he’s been married for more than a decade. Bob is a software engineer working in a large company. He’s a nice guy, liked by his neighbors, and he gets along with everyone, except for his wife.
Actually, Bob’s wife isn’t angry with him. She accepts that he’s emotionally distant. He just doesn’t have the people skills required for her to feel connected and loved. She needs more; she’s sorry that Bob can’t deliver, but she has reached her limit. She announced that the marriage is over. Bob was stunned.
Bob is my guy. He’s spending considerable time on the internet looking for answers. He immediately found my website because I wrote it specifically for him. I had a picture of him taped to my computer so I could think of him as I wrote the articles. I wrote each and every word with Bob firmly in my mind.
Bob knows the answers to my marketing questions.
You have to decide who your ideal client is
It’s scary to pick an ideal client. It’s nerve-racking, because we hate to limit our options.
Picking Bob means turning our back on Sarah. We’d like to have Bob and Sarah as our clients. But making a choice is essential. Marketing to everybody is the equivalent of marketing to nobody.
Speaking clearly to somebody in particular has the unintended impact of building connection to others outside of our target audience. When we speak clearly to Bob, demonstrating that we understand him, accept him, care for him, and are expecting him to call, we demonstrate our empathetic skills. Often that draws in folks like Sarah, even though we meant to speak only to Bob. Sarah may, while reading our marketing aimed at Bob, see something in us that makes her want in as well.
But even when we know that speaking to the ideal client is powerful and effective, it’s still hard to let go of folks like Sarah. We hesitate to commit to one prospective client when it means giving up on another. Instead of grabbing one prospective client with both hands, we grab two at once, and oftentimes both get away. We want it all and we usually choose an approach that’s impotent and ineffective. We speak in vague generalities, we use broad strokes, and we fail to connect with anyone. Bob finds someone with whom he better connects and so does Sarah.
Then go to them for answers
Once you pick an ideal client you know where to find the answers. You can turn to the deep knowledge you possess about your Bob.
Knowing you’re directing your marketing to one person changes everything.
Instead of wondering whether to offer free consults, you simply ask yourself how that decision will play with the ideal client. Now, instead of trying to apply your decision-making to everyone in the marketplace, you’ll apply your decision-making only to the ideal client you hold in your mind. It’s dramatically easier to contemplate the answers to questions when you’re not worrying about what other attorneys are doing, or the varied concerns of every type of person who might possibly walk through the door.
You only have to think about connecting with your single ideal client.
Should you hire an SEO firm? Should you build that chatbot? Should you go to lunch with the CPA next door?
The answers are all rooted in the relationship between you and your ideal client. SEO? How will the ideal client hunt you down? Will the search engines be part of that equation? What about the chatbot? Will your ideal client find that technology helpful, useful, and appealing? The answer comes from the ideal client–not from you, and not from vague generalizations about the entire marketplace.
Even the answer to the question of whether to take the CPA to lunch comes from the ideal client. Does the ideal client trust his CPA? Will the ideal client approach the CPA for a referral? Suddenly the potential lunch date is surrounded by clarity rather than uncertainty. Instead of chit-chatting about the weather, you know where the conversation is going and what’s at stake.
There’s certainty in knowing the answers
Knowing who you’re aiming your marketing toward clarifies all of your marketing decisions. When you fully flesh out your understanding of your ideal client, then all of your marketing questions practically answer themselves.
Should you put your face on bus benches? Which should you sponsor, the local symphony or the Little League team? Should you run ads on LinkedIn?
All of these previously frustrating questions can be answered with ease when you truly know the person you’re trying to reach, impact, and motivate. Knowing the ideal client changes everything.
Now when you ask me a marketing question, and I respond with “It depends on your practice area and your market,” you’ll understand why I can’t answer the question for you. Only your ideal client knows. That’s the person you should ask.
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