Marketing a niche law firm is a challenge to start with. But it gets easier when you build up momentum and do it the right way.
Capturing the interest of a wide array of new clients across practice areas takes time and a hefty budget.
But focusing on a single niche allows your firm to scale with the clients and services you care the most about. Niche firms concentrate their skills on one area of law and lean their marketing campaigns into that fact. Your firm becomes the obvious choice for clients with the problem you solve.
Your practice needs a clear legal marketing strategy to succeed. Follow this guide to make growing your niche law firm a reality.
Set a Winning Aspiration for Your Niche Firm
You need to define what winning looks like before you let the world know about the niche focus of your law practice.
An effective strategy starts with orienting yourself to the existing market.
This means setting a winning aspiration for your firm. Your winning aspiration acts as both a goal and a measuring stick. Use it to gauge whether your marketing efforts attract the cases you want within your niche.
There are two things that define a good winning aspiration. It needs to make it clear how you will win:
- In a specific market
- In a unique way
Figuring out what that means for your firm is a challenge in the abstract. But looking at other niche firms that have set clear winning aspirations will help you define your own. Two clear examples make good case studies for lawyers who want to niche down.
First, Cordell & Cordell.
Their winning aspiration is to give men an equal chance in divorce court and custody cases. Their message is that it is all too easy for the legal system to get stacked against men in divorce, so the entire practice focuses on serving this niche.
Cordell & Cordell has developed a strong reputation because of their clear focus and messaging. That’s made them a top choice for men in custody cases.
Second, check out Aaron Thomas of Prenups.com.
Thomas’ practice pivots away from the typical family law firm’s focus on divorce. His firm takes things back a step before marriage by branding himself as the premiere prenup lawyer in Georgia. He argues that good prenups can save marriages, but they also make divorce a lot easier if it ever comes to that.
Most lawyers in family law offer prenups as a side service. It’s something they'll take on and whip up fast. Thomas has turned this service into a full-blown pre-marital strategy session.
His content marketing efforts and testimonials show him as a knowledgeable niche expert, making it more likely that his ideal client will reach out.
Start by thinking about your ideal clients to create your own winning aspiration.
Think about the problems they face. Then determine how you can solve them instead of offering services and hoping there are enough problems to solve.
Validate Your Niche with Market Research
Having a hunch that a given niche is a ripe opportunity isn’t enough.
You have to dig deeper. Validate that there’s a strong market for your niche before you go all in. There are plenty of untapped niches, but sometimes there’s a reason no other lawyers go after the niche you like.
Some are too small, too price sensitive, or there’s some other red flag.
You need real data to indicate how many people have the legal issue you want to solve so you know it's viable. Market research tells you more about the size of your audience and clues you in on how to reach them.
A niched lawyer can't afford to skip out on market research.
You can find out this truth with either qualitative or quantitative data.
Quantitative research pulls on large quantities of numerical data through things like mass surveys to help you determine trends. Qualitative methods rely on things like one-on-one surveys and interviews.
Small firms that are just starting out should start with qualitative research and add quantitative studies down the road.
The data you collect will show you the types of clients, or segments, that exist in your niche.
For example, an estate planning lawyer offering end-of-life care might find potential clients in a few segments, like:
- People who have a serious illness and want to protect their finances and medical decisions before they lose capacity
- Adult children helping their elderly parents document their wishes and plan for Medicaid
- Older people who want to get their affairs in order
Finding these segments gives you a couple of choices.
Some lawyers choose to niche even further, planning to focus on only one segment, provided there's enough demand. Other lawyers choose one segment to focus on first and plan to target the other ones later.
Target Ideal Client Segments
Market research uncovers your audience segments. Now it’s time to choose one to target.
The way you talk to one segment differs from the way you would talk to another segment. This means choosing one segment at a time is important. Mastering your message to one segment creates a clear pathway to scaling your law firm through marketing.
There are two types of client targeting, and it's best to use a balance of both. You can target clients with either:
- Classical targeting
- Mass targeting.
In the classical approach, you focus on one segment in your legal niche. And you base your targeting on their demographics, geographics, psychographics, or firmographics (for lawyers who practice corporate law).
The mass targeting approach involves casting a wide net to spread your message to the widest market possible.
Mass targeting is not cheap. It’s all about making your firm’s name known to as many people as possible through brand awareness. The hope is that your message reaches enough people that someone remembers your name when they need legal help.
We recommend taking a hybrid approach.
Niche firms should start with classical targeting. Dig into your target segment’s unique characteristics and tailor your marketing to them. Shift your budget to mass targeting over time if you start to see diminishing returns with classical targeting.
Determine Your Positioning
Positioning is all about making it clear who and what your firm stands for. Targeting the right people with your marketing is useless if you haven’t made your positioning clear.
There are two ways to position your niche law firm:
- Operational efficiency
Differentiation involves setting yourself in a league of your own.
Differentiation requires a unique selling proposition. The key to differentiation is to think of the things you can do that your competitors can’t or won’t do. Your potential clients will be certain you're the right team to work with because you offer the exact solution to their problem.
Operational efficiency involves focusing on serving target client needs more efficiently than competitors.
Firms that choose operational efficiency use things like streamlined processes and automation to reduce prices. Marketing on operational efficiency is something that generic commodity firms do. They offer better prices to potential clients and try to win on volume.
Most niche lawyers should focus on differentiation.
Working the same cases every day will make you more operationally efficient. But marketing on that fact dilutes the message you need to send to your niche clients.
Define Your Service
Defining your service takes things one step further from outlining your positioning. You know what your firm stands for, so now it’s time to lay out the service you provide.
How you explain your service is critical.
The words you use to package it up are key for making a connection with your prospective client. Your clients don’t think in legal terms. Using legalese will turn them away from your firm.
Use language familiar to your clients, such as:
- "Divorce" not "dissolution of marriage"
- "Accident" not "negligent action"
- "Alimony" not "spousal support"
Talking to your clients the way they speak isn’t talking down to them. Instead, it allows you to reach them with relatable terms they’re comfortable with.
Set Your Pricing
Lawyers must set prices based on data, not gut instinct.
Too many lawyers just go with the flow when it comes to pricing. They look at what their competitors are doing or pick a random number that seems fair.
But these lawyers lose out on profitability.
Take a strategic approach instead. One way to accomplish this is by using the Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM.)
This tool lets you use some simple questions and a spreadsheet to find the right price for your legal services.
Start by running a survey to people in your target audience. You can do this with a Google Form and Survey Monkey. Ask them a few questions about pricing, like:
- When would this service be so expensive that you wouldn't consider purchasing it at all?
- At what point would the price be so low that you'd be really concerned about quality?
- At what price would you see the price as on the upper end, requiring you some time to think about whether it's the right investment?
- At what point would you find the cost to be a real bargain?
Place their answers in a spreadsheet to create a graph that shows you the:
- Point of marginal cheapness
- Point of marginal expensive
- Optimum price point
- Indifference price point
Set your price at the optimum price point to begin charging what the market is willing to pay. You can always move your pricing around within the acceptable price range if your survey data was a little off.
Select the Right Promotion Tactics
Now that you know where you want to price your service, you need a plan to market it. It's time to choose your promotion tactics.
This is where you pick both the channels and tactics you’ll use to reach clients.
Marketing channels can include online and offline options. Online options include things like:
Offline marketing channels include things like:
Narrow down the channels and tactics you should use by looking for the ones your market research supports. Look for places where your potential clients search for solutions to problems.
But just because a certain marketing channel is where your clients hang out doesn't make it the right one for you.
For example, lawyers who are uncomfortable on camera or who can’t commit to a consistent video release schedule shouldn’t sign up for TikTok. There’s bound to be a better channel where you can find your clients while fitting your personal style.
Dial In Your Client Experience
Some people don’t think about client experience as marketing. Those people are wrong. How you treat existing customers plays a role in how many more you'll get in the future. Referrals and word of mouth are a huge deal the smaller your niche is.
Your client experience starts before someone in your target segment even reaches out to you. The way you market to them plays an obvious role in this, but there are other factors, too.
Make it easy for them to find. Focus on making it easy to get in touch with you and set up a consultation. Have a plan to react as soon as possible when they show you they’re interested in your services.
Maintain communication and offer regular updates once they come on board. Work on building positive interactions and touch points during the entire process.
All of this increases the chances that they'll send you referrals once their case is over.
Create an Enabling Management System to Keep Things Running
Your niche practice isn’t complete until you’ve built an enabling management system.
An enabling management system is a tool that supports your law firm's marketing and operations. It ensures that you’re following through on the things that make you unique. The actions you take to reinforce your winning aspiration make up your enabling management system.
Niche law firms need an EMS that supports their differentiation.
For example, niche PI firms can make asymmetric resource investments into client services and support.
It takes more work upfront to build a high level of connection over the course of a case, but it will pay off. Happy clients leave reviews, are open to filming a testimonial, and are happy to refer others to you. The asymmetric investment makes finding and closing more clients a smoother process.
Master Niche Marketing
Narrowing down into a niche makes you the obvious choice for people with problems you want to solve. You'll stand out immediately when someone's looking for a lawyer compared with generalist law firms.
But choosing a niche requires careful thought and data.
Taking the time to do market research will show you if there’s a chance to thrive within a niche. Knowing who you want to target, how you want to talk to them, and where you want to reach them is critical. And topping it all off is an enabling management system that reinforces every other step.
Implementing these steps is a challenge, but it pays off when you stick to it.
Working with a law firm marketing expert will help you define the right strategy if you’re struggling to nail everything down. The team at Rankings.io has a deep understanding of what it takes for niche attorneys to win. Contact us today to see how we can help you.