How Personas Impact Legal Marketing
Written by Kyle McCarthy
Lawyers are often so busy conducting the daily business of their firm that they sometimes tend to focus on attracting the most clients rather than their ideal clients. The thinking among many attorneys is that by broadly focusing their marketing efforts on the services and expertise that they provide, clients will magically appear on their doorstep en masse. Unfortunately, generating quality business isn’t that easy. However, developing useful and accurate personas can help attract more high-quality clients you and your firm are ideally suited to serve.
To those unfamiliar with the marketing usage of the term, a “persona” might sound stranger than fiction. In reality (and when developed correctly), a persona becomes the closest possible representation of a perfect client before they ever walk through the door, and it can be used to effectively focus your marketing strategy to reduce wasted spending, improve user experience on your website, and more.
What Is a Persona?
Simply put, a persona is a semi-fictional, highly accurate portrayal of who your ideal client is based on market research, empirical data, and experiential wisdom. The final, tangible result is a brief narrative and/or fact sheet about your perfect client or consumer that stands in for a unique blend of many different people, their characteristics, and their demographics.
According to Shlomo Goltz, Interaction Designer and User Researcher at Hearsay Social, “Each persona represents a significant portion of people in the real world,” which means that personas aren’t meant to pigeonhole you into choosing from a limited group of clients; rather, by examining former clients, individuals most likely to come to you for help, and proven trends within your industry, you can determine the right type of client for your firm and use them as a touchstone for your marketing efforts.
Some marketers dismiss the process of developing personas as a waste of time ― “a distraction from the real work at hand.” That attitude is based on the false perception that personas fail to live up to their promised value; however, the problem here isn’t with the practice itself, but with the practitioner.
A persona is more than just a one-page deliverable. It is the essence of a firm’s core audience that is developed to promote greater understanding and awareness among your staff, marketing partner, and other stakeholders. While the story the persona tells is the tangible result of in-depth research, the larger purpose of a persona is to completely understand your ideal clients and to share that information with your peers and colleagues.
This understanding then translates into marketers and stakeholders being able to effectively identify ideal clients and target them across all marketing channels, strategies, and tactics. This, in turn, will result in more — and higher quality — clients engaging with your firm online, calling your offices, and arriving on your doorstep.
Best Practices for Creating Personas
Before you can begin crafting accurate personas that represent your ideal client, you need to take an honest look at every aspect of your clients’ lives, including demographics, their legal circumstances, and whether or not you were able to achieve optimal recovery on their behalf.
Here are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when developing your personas:
- How do your ideal clients view themselves? What would your clients say is their prime identifier? Are they parents? Students? Career people? Determine the primary role(s) they have assumed in life and look for the frequency of those roles among your former ideal clients.
- Where do your clients live? Do most of your clients live in the city, or do they more commonly reside in rural areas? Do they live in the suburbs? Your clients’ environment can affect every aspect of their lives, from their occupations to their likelihood to be involved in legal issues.
- What’s the typical age range of your clients? Many times, the specific focus of your practice will be an important factor that affects the age of the individuals seeking your assistance. Older individuals are probably more interested in probate law than motorcycle accidents, for instance.
- Do your clients have similar career tracks? Discerning your clients’ commonalities extends to the industries in which they operate. Do they frequently work in healthcare? Heavy machinery? Do they have desk jobs or do they travel often? These are important questions that need to be answered before you can identify your ideal client with any degree of precision.
Once you have completed this research and compiled valuable data from a 3- to 5-year time period, you can cross-reference the connections you found with the types of cases you take and the success of those cases.
From there, you can begin to write the personas, which should be roughly one page in length and tell the most common narrative of your ideal clients, a story that should result in optimal recovery more often than not. By the time you are finished, your personas should tell a complete story ― one that describes the nature and circumstances of your ideal client based on observable, data-driven truths.
Remember, the goal here is to find the ideal client, not the type of client you are most comfortable with or the one whom you deal with the most frequently. So even if your most common clients is a middle-aged, married father of two working in sales and clearing a decent income, if that client isn’t achieving optimal return on investment for your firm, then you need to reconsider your target audience.
At the same time, a client for whom you were able to achieve an eight-figure settlement isn’t necessarily your ideal client if their case was an outlier from your traditional base.
Using a delicate balance of descriptive and prescriptive methodologies, strive to develop a balanced view of common characteristics, quantity of leads, client quality, etc. — and you should be well on your way toward crafting effective personas.
How Do Personas Influence Legal Marketing?
It’s important to remember the distinction between the tangible deliverable of a persona and the high-level, pragmatic function of a persona. Before you’ve even completed the written narratives of your ideal clients, you have already taken great pains to review your past work, look closely at your client base, research various demographic factors, and come to conclusions regarding the direction of your firm. You’ve already learned invaluable information about your audience before you’ve written a single word!
Once the written work is accomplished, however, these narratives will impact your holistic marketing efforts across the board in the following ways:
- Creating Universal Understanding: Once your personas are completed, everyone in your firm ― from file clerks to partners ― should have a concrete understanding of the ideal client base for you and your firm, making it easier for them to vet and service clients in the future.
- Prioritizing Resources: So many resources are wasted with non-targeted marketing efforts ― including time, man hours, and, ultimately, money ― that many firms are hesitant to invest too much in their marketing budgets. However, developing personas allows attorneys to discern their ideal clients, which, in turn, can more narrowly focus the direction and scope of their marketing campaigns and initiatives.
- Facilitating Campaign Segmentation: Your personas should reveal between 3 and 7 ideal client types, depending on the size and scope of your firm. From these three archetypes, you can then create individual campaigns that cater to their unique habits, both online and off. For instance, you can use your personas to create different ad groups within a PPC campaign that target specific segments with personalized ads.
- Optimizing Social Media: The great thing about social media for lawyers (and for any business segment, really) is that it allows you to more effectively communicate with your client base directly. By fully understanding who is on the receiving end of your status updates and messages, your communication will become more targeted, nuanced, and persuasive.
Contact LaFleur Legal Marketing Today!
The digital marketing experts at LaFleur Legal Marketing have years of experience researching relevant data, conducting interviews with appropriate stakeholders, and investigating industry trends to create personas that explode off the page with brilliant, engaging copy that communicates the firm’s ideal client with clarity and concision.
If you would like to learn more about personas, branding exercises as a whole, or any element of digital marketing strategy, please contact us today at (888) 222-1512 or by completing our brief and simple contact form. We can’t wait to hear from you, and we are excited to help bring the perfect client to life on your behalf!
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Goltz, S. (2014, August 6). A closer look at personas: What they are and how they work. Smashing Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/a-closer-look-at-personas-part-1/
Hendricks, D. (2014, December 23). Why your 2015 marketing strategy should include personas. Inc. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/drew-hendricks/why-your-2015-marketing-strategy-should-include-personas.html
Shelley, R. (2016, August 23). The human side to SEO: The power of personas. Search Engine Land. Retrieved from http://searchengineland.com/human-side-seo-power-personas-255747