Why 90% of Law Firm Marketing Doesn’t Work (And How To Fix It)
Me. Me. Me.
This is the template to most marketing done by attorneys today.
Me. Me. Me. Me.
“Most awarded and prestigious law firm in the city!”
“Top family law firm for your divorce.”
“Injured? Get the Gorilla!”
“Insurance companies shake in their boots when we call!”
Or my personal favorite…
“Billy McDougal. Attorney at Law.” (I am convinced! Let me call immediately and retain you!)
These are all prime examples of what is call “Me Marketing”. It is a murderer of advertising budgets everywhere (no, I am not being dramatic). And frankly, to potential clients, it is all white noise.
Think about it for a minute… When was the last time you bought something from a company because you were so impressed with who they are as people? Did the awards convince you? Did the fact that the founder attended an Ivy League school push you over the edge and get you to open your wallet?
Of course not. And why should it?
We (as consumers) are inherently selfish. We want to find the right services and products for US. And for US specifically. This is the age of personalization and professional services are no different.
Consumers want to feel as if your solution fits their problem perfectly. The ME in marketing should be the person your advertising is targeting. The alternative? White noise that is targeted at everyone (i.e. targeted at no one).
And let us not forget the “next level of marketing” your services. (Video Below, “The Texas Law Hawk”)
Whether advertising like this works or not (it definitely entertains) remains to be seen. However, 99.9% of attorneys are not comfortable doing anything close to “The Texas Law Hawk”.
So where does that leave you?
I can almost hear it now… “Mike, I am not going to blow up fireworks and scream at the camera, but I get your point. My marketing shouldn’t be all about me. So how do I fix it, smart guy?”
The great news is that this isn’t as hard as most attorneys think. Marketing, at its core, is about three things:
Let’s address the media first. One of the most common questions I get is about media. After all, it is the only thing that has really changed in the last 120 years. First radio, then TV, and now the digital age with Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Media is where everyone focuses their attention because it seems like “new” things are coming out all of the time.
The hard truth is that media is the least important part of the equation. Does your market have to be using the chosen advertising medium? Of course. However, 70%+ of the world uses Google and Facebook just passed 2 BILLION users. So it is safe to say that your market is online and available through online advertising media.
The market in this equation is who you are trying to reach. Most divorce attorneys don’t want to target 18-24 because this age group doesn’t represent the primary customer segment for divorce or other family law matters.
Business attorneys setting up LLCs and drafting contracts are looking for a specific slice of the population as well. There are not an abundance of senior citizens starting businesses and therefore a print ad in AARP Magazine wouldn’t make much sense.
Most attorneys understand (at least at a demographic level) who their potential clients are and who they are not. Just make sure you aren’t defining your market as “anyone with a pulse”. (See earlier comment about how targeting everyone really means you are not targeting anyone).
So this leaves the message. And this is where things get hard for most attorneys (all business owners really, but attorneys seem to really struggle here).
The message is unequivocally the most important part of marketing.
Think about it critically. You can have a well-defined market and put your advertising on the perfect media, but if all you say is “Attorney at Law” or “We are the best!” does that really reach anyone?
And when I say “reach anyone” I don’t mean that they see the same billboard on their way to work every day for a month. I don’t mean that they can’t escape your advertising because you dump tens of thousands per month into your local market.
I mean are they really being impacted by the message you are sharing? Does it meet them where they are in their journey to purchase professional services?
In marketing lingo, this is the copy in your ads. Great copy should use the words that the potential client is using and identify with their situation. Emotional words are crucial in the game of advertising copy.
- Etc, etc
Words like these elicit an emotional reaction.
What is that you say?
“But Mike, how emotional are people really getting about a business contract?”
Probably very little. And if all you are selling as a business attorney is simply a piece of paper with some words on it, then you are probably having your lunch eaten by every internet startup with a database of template contracts.
However… What if you started advertising and selling what people really want?
Let’s take the case of a business owner looking for a contract.
How much of his blood, sweat, and tears are tied up in his business?
How many plays, t-ball games, and recitals did he miss while building his company?
What kind of sacrifices did they make to build what they have built?
With that in mind, he goes off in search of an attorney to help protect all of that through a contract.
See the difference?
The attorney selling a piece of paper with some words on it only talks about how many contracts he has written, and the awards he won for writing similar contracts, and did I mention the professional associations to which he claims membership? (re: Me, me, me, me. Oh and don’t forget about me.)
(Edit: Yes, I get it, it isn’t just words on a paper. It is customized and the contract found on the internet wouldn’t hold up, but do you really expect the laymen to understand the difference?).
The attorney who understands MESSAGE appreciates and speaks to the sacrifices made by the business owner, and offers to help him protect what he has built.
After all, isn’t a contract a form of protection? Doesn’t it help guarantee that all of the sacrifice in time, money, and effort isn’t taken away in an afternoon at the courthouse?
As an added bonus, re-framing what you bring to your clients builds a moat around your practice. An internet startup doesn’t have the ability to make a personal connection with the audience. They are stuck with their market position as low cost providers of fill-in-the-blank legal services.
What about a family law firm?
What family attorneys are competing with is do-it-yourself or the local flat rate divorce shop that is willing to run clients through the divorce drive through for the low, low price of only $159. Call today and get your next divorce free!
Your turn. Take a minute to think about how to connect with someone who is going through a divorce (even if this isn’t the type of law you practice, the exercise is good for you).
Ok, pencils down, time is up!
How did you do?
Hopefully you came up with something that recognized the client’s pain points. Here is what I came up with:
“Feel like you don’t have anyone on your side? Get premium representation to fight alongside you.”
“Confused about what the next step is in your case? Get clarity from an expert with XX+ years of experience.”
“Is this situation weighing you down every day? We can help you get your life back to normal.”
(NOTE: The above is real copy currently being used in a real advertising campaign. Over the last 90 days, 27.87% of potential clients who landed on the web page where we are using this copy chose to get in touch for a family law consultation, producing 158 new leads. This really works.)
A note on the proper use of ME
I don’t want to give you the impression that we never talk about our clients qualifications in the advertising campaigns we manage. Qualifications do matter, as well as things like social proof (testimonials), awards, case win percentages, etc.
The problem usually lies in how they are used.
If we put ourselves into the potential client’s shoes, it becomes apparent where all of the attorney’s qualifications should come into play.
In the example above, we asked questions that resonated with the client and then answered them with a qualification (i.e. “XX+ years of experience.”).
When used in this manner, your qualifications sound informative and relieving, an answer to a problem, instead of boastful noise.
It makes all the difference. The client only wants to hear about you once you have assured them that the solution you are presenting (in the advertisement) is appropriate for them.
This one principle accounts for 70%+ of the success our clients experience in their campaigns.
Let’s take Google AdWords as an example. If you are not familiar, Google AdWords is Google’s advertising platform responsible for the ads you see when you search for something on Google.
This is a phenomenal platform for attorneys because you can show advertising on Google search (the media) to the right market (people searching for an attorney). It easily solves the media and market portions of our advertising equation.
What is that you say?
“If it is so easy, why hasn’t it worked for me? I know attorneys who have spent thousands on Google and don’t get a return.”
Well, if I had to take an educated guess, I would venture to say that the message is the issue. When the potential client is taken to a page that only talks about the law firm, they leave the site, never to return (ok, not all of them, but enough to make your lead costs astronomical).
So how do we consistently beat the averages on Google AdWords? (Seriously, one of our Google reps recently said she couldn’t believe that the account was for a law firm because the cost per lead was so low. Not bragging. Just trying to convey the power of message.)
We use messaging on Google AdWords in two specific ways:
- Write better ads that pre-screen people before they click (and before you pay for the click).
- Write better pages so that when they see the web page, they feel like their problem can be solved.
Result? They reach out for a consultation.
And in the end, isn’t that why you are advertising?
“This sounds like a lot of work… Doesn’t all advertising help at least a little, regardless of the message?”
David Ogilvy, one of the greatest marketers of the 20th century, recounted this story in his book, “Ogilvy on Advertising”:
“The wrong advertising can actually reduce the sales of a product. I am told that George Hay Brown, at one time head of marketing research at Ford, inserted advertisements in every other copy of the Reader’s Digest. At the end of the year, the people who had not been exposed to the advertising had bought more Fords than those who had.”
To answer your question, yes, it does take effort to produce advertising that will actually sell potential clients on the initial consultation. And no, just throwing money at the problem doesn’t help.
The effort includes the following:
- Demanding more from your current marketing efforts
- Always ask “Is this advertisement more about me or about my potential client?”
- Do I have a market-message-media match?
Doing these three things, along with educating yourself on what effective advertising looks like, will allow you to build a predictable, profitable advertising system that brings in new leads and new clients.
“Ok, I am sold on the importance of message. What now?”
First, go look at your current advertising and apply these fundamentals.
Second, if you want to learn a lot more about how this all works together, sign up for my free video training course, where we show you how to get at least 20% more leads with your current advertising budget.
The course shows you how to effectively direct the strategy for Google AdWords campaigns, whether you are currently using it or would like to start.
You can find the course at the link below:
Found this article helpful? Please share it or tag someone who could use the information. Help me rid the world of “ME” marketing once and for all (and get a better return on your advertising at the same time).