At its core, optimising your marketing is very simple – the best marketing is that which delivers you ideal new clients for the lowest cost of acquisition.

In order to do this, you need to define two things:

  1. What an ideal client looks like
  2. Your current cost of acquisition for such a client

The majority of firms I talk to haven’t done either, so even this will give you an advantage.

Most small to mid-sized law firms marketing is made up of a website, some printed collateral and a heavy reliance on referrals. Besides networking, many have tried Adwords, SEO, social media, sponsorships, blogs or newsletters with limited success.

If your marketing efforts haven’t been as successful as expected, I’d suggest it isn’t the activities you’ve undertaken – it’s that you haven’t established what an ideal client looks like.

If everyone is your customer, then everyone is your competitor.

Today, successful marketing works best when it’s highly targeted. This presents challenges for generalist firms whose client base is essentially anyone with a chequebook.

From a marketing perspective, this means firing the shotgun and hoping you hit someone.

If you can narrow your focus then your marketing becomes much more effective. Not only by being more attractive to the target, but by reducing the amount of wastage.

This doesn’t mean that you only work with a specific type of client. It means that from an outbound marketing perspective you only target a specific type of client. Don’t think this will pigeon-hole your firm – digital channels ensure only the target will see you marketing, while everyone else is oblivious.

So how would this look in practice?

A simple example is a law firm that acts for both corporates and consumers.

It makes perfect sense to have two separate websites for these clients – they are two totally different audiences with completely different needs. A client looking for a divorce lawyer couldn’t care less that you are experts in commercial property.

And think who has a better value proposition to such a client: a firm who only dedicates one page to family law, or a firm with an entire family law website.

Ask yourself this – what’s the difference between having multiple office locations to service different geographical markets and having different websites to service different market segments? (It’s a hell of a lot cheaper)

How to beat everyone else to the jump

For a number of law firms, most marketing activity is targeted at the ‘ready to buy’ client. For example, an Adwords ad targeting someone searching ‘divorce lawyer’.

Clients go through a broad range of steps before they are ‘ready to buy’. Just think, how much googling did you do before you went on your last holiday?

This is called the buyer journey, which for a B2B transaction looks something like this:


Most firm’s marketing only addresses the vendor selection step via a website with a capability statement that is often very similar to everyone else.

By covering every aspect of the journey, particularly during the research phase (or even before they realise they have a problem), you’ll have a huge head start when it comes to the ‘ready to buy’ phase.

Now that’s smart!

The bottom line is to give your prospective client what they want before they are ready to buy. And that is education. Education is now your greatest marketing tool particularly if you’re selling expertise.

It takes some real grey matter but the key again is being highly targeted and understanding your customer and their buying journey.

One for you to ponder – with this article am I educating you or marketing to you?

Want to learn more? Download the NO BS Guide to Digital Marketing

About Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson is Director of Strategy at One Rabbit – a specialist marketing agency for professional service firms.