Creative Marketing Ideas for Law Firms
Examples and tactics for increasing referrals from allied professionals, local attorneys, and past clients, along with tools for converting more prospects
Lawyers have begun to embrace the marketing and referral tools long employed by effective digital marketers, but small law firms have a long way to go before they catch up, let alone begin to innovate.
To help you accelerate your adoption of proven marketing and referral techniques, we provide these examples of tools we have successfully implemented at a variety of law firms as part of our Legal Referral System.
We hope the examples inspire you to adopt similar tools at your firm, and that they work as well for you as they have for other small law firms.
I. For prospective clients
Most small-firm websites lack engagement devices and follow-up series, which means many of your website visitors don’t become prospects who otherwise could have, and many prospects who don’t immediately retain you never become clients.
The addition of any of the following six items will help plug these leaks of prospective new clients.
A. Book slide-in
The most effective way to engage website visitors is to offer a high-value lead magnet. A well-written book is the highest-value item you can provide. We use the following six books:
Your book can be offered as a fixed element on your website, or in more intrusive fashion. Generally the more intrusive the offer the higher the response rate. A slide-in at the bottom of your website that activates when exit intent is shown has proven highly effective. And a narrow bar across the top as pioneered by HelloBar also works well.
Or your book can be offered at the top of your website, as we do on JamesReferrals.com with our book How Small Law Firms Can Obtain More Referrals.
Website visitors who request your book should then be:
1. Asked a couple qualifying questions
2. Shown a thank you page offering your services with a link to set an appointment with you
3. Placed in a nurturing series
All three of these standard sales funnel components are explained and illustrated in the next section.
B. FAQ bar
A second type of lead magnet that will have broad appeal to your website visitors is a collection of answers to frequently-asked questions. Rather than providing each FAQ on your website as so many firms do, you are better off placing all of them in a PDF booklet and offering the booklet for download.
Why do it this way? So you can gather contact information from website visitors, ask them qualifying questions, and place them in a nurturing series.
If you instead display FAQs on your website with no contact information required to read them, you never learn who is taking the time to review your FAQs and your prospect list never grows.
Ideally, you will offer your FAQ booklet as the first step in a multi-level sales funnel. The prospect who wants your booklet will first be asked to provide name and email. Next will come:
1. Qualifying questions
We like to ask two questions, both multiple-choice. The first concerns the nature of the legal issue, and the second asks about urgency and interest in speaking with a lawyer.
The answers to these two questions allow you to rank the prospects and adjust the attention you subsequently provide according to the attractiveness of the prospect.
2. Thank you page.
After the qualifying questions, the next page the prospect sees should be one that:
– Says the FAQ booklet will appear in their email inbox shortly
– Provides some information about the lawyer, along with a photo
– Offers to provide information tailored to the prospect’s situation during a call
– Prominently displays the lawyer’s contact information alongside a response form that requests a call from the law firm
A percentage of prospects who download the FAQ booklet will call the law firm or submit the response form requesting a call.
3. Nurturing series
Every prospect who requests the FAQ booklet is automatically subscribed to a follow-up series of emails so that you remain top of mind.
Many prospective clients who visit your website are not yet ready to take action, but some of them will be ready in the weeks and months that follow. You want your name, contact information, and helpful content to be what they see at that time.
Texting has proven highly effective. If you want to insert an occasional SMS text message in your follow-up series, ask prospects for cell numbers.
Our follow-up series contain 15-30 letters with an educational focus that is designed to demonstrate the lawyer’s expertise. Some of the emailed letters are linked to educational booklets branded in the lawyer’s name.
C. Landing pages
Too many lawyers direct their pay-per-click ads to their home pages. Instead, you should link your ads to a simple landing page that offers only two choices – either accept or decline your offer.
Allowing only a yes/no decision … instead of permitting a responder to wander the many pages of your website … will materially boost the response from your pay-per-click ad.
We don’t build landing pages for law firms’ pay-per-click campaigns, and so don’t have one of our own to show you, but display a few good ones we found as examples. Whoever is managing your pay-per-click campaign should not only build you a landing page, but should be A/B testing variations to learn what works best for your particular ad campaign.
D. Niche booklets
We find a respectable number of general interest booklets and mini-books offered on the websites of small law firms, but what is still missing are booklets tightly aimed at a prospect’s particular problem.
Finding a booklet directly on point will halt most prospects’ search for a lawyer. They will assume that you, the author of the helpful information, has experience with their situation and so are the right lawyer to handle the problem.
Here are some sample niche titles to illustrate:
– Techniques for Avoiding Home Foreclosure
– When Medical Bills Become Overwhelming
– If Your Contract is Breached. Rights and Remedies
– When Your Business Partner No Longer Contributes
– Arrested for Assault? What You Need to Know
– Sexual Assault Charges: Penalties and Defenses
– Passing Your Business Onto the Next Generation
– When You Have a Problem Heir
– What Will Happen to Your Business if You Divorce?
– Fathers’ Custody Rights
– Evaluating Your Bicycle Accident Injury Claim
– Intersection Auto Accidents: Claims and Defenses
Social Security disability
– Claims for Mental Health Disorders
– How SSA Evaluates Back Injuries
If you develop a niche booklet, it should be offered using the same sales funnel described previously in section IB.
If you don’t have time to develop your own collection of niche booklets, know that we custom create them at no extra charge as part of our $495/month Legal Referral System. Details can be found at JamesReferrals.com.
E. Nurturing series
Every law firm should have at least one follow-up series of emailed letters for prospects who don’t immediately sign up. The sophisticated law firm will have one series for each of the following groups:
– Book or FAQ downloaders
– Pay-per-click responders
– Response form replies
– Appointment no-shows
– Appointments who don’t retain
Your letters should be educational, not salesy. Educational letters will demonstrate your expertise, provide needed guidance, and show you care. Here are a few examples:
F. Webinar funnel
A more advanced technique for attracting, engaging, and converting prospects is offering one or more on-demand webinars. They need not be long; you will obtain higher viewership producing several tightly-focused and short webinars than one or two longer ones.
Our webinars typically run 7-10 minutes and contain 10-12 slides.
As ours do, your webinar should offer a booklet or other lead magnet at the webinar’s end, the lead magnet’s thank you page containing your photo and contact information should note that you can provide a personalized assessment at no charge, and your webinar’s viewers should receive a follow-up nurturing series.
II. For past and current clients
B. Reassurance series
If you have a time gap between client signup and visible work from your firm, some of your new clients will grow concerned about the apparent lack of activity. You can keep those nervous clients happy with a series of emailed letters that explain:
– What is happening behind the scenes
– How the process will unfold
– When the client will hear from you or a team member
– Common questions that will arise along the way
– What the client should do or not do during the startup period
Your reassurance series will reduce the number of questions your team needs to answer, and minimize the number of calls and emails coming in from new clients.
Best of all, you can write the series once and use it over and over.
III. For referral sources
A. Allied professional solicitations
If you adopt a marketing recommendation from only one section in this mini-book, this is the one to implement.
Creating referral relationships with local professionals costs little-to-nothing monetarily, and if done using our content-based technique, takes much less time than the cold-calls and coffees recommended by legal management advisors.
Begin by compiling a contact list of related professionals with offices near yours. The more, the better. Here are examples of professionals who have overlapping clients or patients:
Bankruptcy — credit counselors, real estate agents
Business litigation — business brokers, CPAs, financial planners
Criminal — counseling agencies, rehab facilities
Drunk driving — mental health professionals, rehab facilities
Estates — CPA, financial advisors, insurance brokers
Family — financial counselors, marriage counselors
Injury — chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists
Social Security disability — mental health professionals, physical therapists
Next create a series of outreach letters proposing a referral relationship. Your letters should begin by detailing your lead and client flow so the recipients know you have the potential to send them referrals.
We strongly encourage you to include helpful content with your letters. Your response rate will materially improve, and equally important, your initial contact will be more positive if you have started out by assisting the letter recipient rather than requesting referrals.
Your content can help either (1) the professional or (2) his or her clients or patients. For the former we use marketing advice that comes in a private memo. We pass along proven tips for obtaining more clients or patients.
For the latter — helping clients or patients, we provide booklets like those listed in section IIC. Here are two more examples in each specialty from our booklet library:
– 9 Mistakes to Avoid When You Are Having Money Problems (4 pages)
– FAQs and Tips on Settlement, an Alternative to Bankruptcy (5 pages)
– 93 Frequently Asked Questions About Contract Disputes (58 pages)
– Is Arbitration the Best Way to Resolve Your Contract Dispute? (5 pages)
– What to Expect When Visiting a Loved One in Jail (4 pages)
– FAQs: Dealing with the Criminal Justice System (24 pages)
– Quiz: Should I Fight My Drunk Driving Charge? (12 pages)
– 99 Drunk (or Drugged) Driving FAQs (56 pages)
– Estate Planning FAQs (41 pages)
– Defining Your Estate Planning Goals (7 pages)
– Minimizing Turmoil During Your Divorce (6 pages)
– Finding Hidden Assets in Divorce Cases (39 pages)
– 11 Factors that Impact the Value of Your Personal Injury Case (7 pages)
– Common Insurance Adjuster Ploys (3 pages)
Social Security disability
– Quiz: Will You Qualify for SSD Benefits? (10 pages)
– Can My Doctor Help Me with My Claim? (4 pages)
A series of outreach letters will receive a better response than one letter, for building trust and demonstrating expertise take time. After you have generated both, you may receive a response like this one sent to our Referral System subscriber that we slightly redacted:
Subject: Re: 12 Tips for Successful Post-Divorce Co-Parenting
I received your newsletter on post-divorce co-parenting and I LOVE it.
I have a private practice as a Child and Family Therapist in _________ providing play therapy to kids and parent coaching to their parents, including co-parenting with separating and/or divorced couples. Bio and website here at ________. I’d love to connect with you soon so that we may be a resource for one another.
Back to the newsletter … I find myself wanting to give the first four pages to my parents as they navigate this divorce and co-parenting process. First, with your permission, I would love to have the option to disseminate these tips to my families – of course including your name and business as authors and as a resource. Might you have a stand alone document that I can post for families that provides only the tips?
Let’s get together! Please send me some times and/or dates that work for you. Mornings work best for me 🙂
Grateful for you!
B. Webinar funnel
This proven response-generator is used by many businesses, large and small, but few law firms. In fact, we have never seen a complete one on a law firm’s website … whether aimed at prospective clients or prospective professional referral sources.
The description and examples that follow are for webinar funnels aimed at the latter. We find webinar funnels especially helpful there, as we are attracting sophisticated practice owners who have likely been approached before about referral relationships.
We aim at a particular problem encountered by the practitioner’s patients or clients, and delve into it deeply, working hard to provide value the practitioner can use. That value is delivered both in the webinar and the booklet(s) offered. All are branded with the host attorney’s photo and contact information.
When the webinar is watched, name and email are obtained. When the booklet is downloaded, a phone number is collected. Equally valuable, answers to qualifying questions are gathered, with one of the answers providing a gradation of interest in establishing a referral relationship. This allows you to focus your time on the most interested prospective referral sources.
Whether you or a team member follow up with the responder or not, he or she will receive a series of follow-up emails providing more helpful information and keeping you top of mind.
Here are a couple examples of webinar funnels we have created in cooperation with two of our Referral System clients. We charge nothing extra for either our development work or the attorney’s use of these funnels.
An easy-to-produce variation of the webinar funnel is placing a video on your landing page. Seeing and hearing you establishes familiarity and build trust. And if you answer a few commonly-asked questions, you demonstrate expertise. All are critically important when you are creating referral relationships.
Whether you opt to develop a complete webinar funnel or simply add an on-demand video aimed at your target lay or professional prospect, we encourage you to test the technique.
C. Booklet funnel
If you prefer writing to speaking when creating marketing pieces, you might choose a booklet funnel over a webinar funnel. Both work, whether used to solicit prospective professional referral sources or prospective clients.
A booklet funnel as we create them merely substitutes a written product for the webinar described in the immediately-preceding section. Qualifying questions, thank you page proposing a referral relationship, and a follow-up series are still included.
Sophisticated legal marketers will pursue professional referral sources with both the booklet and webinar approaches because different prospects will respond to different appeals.
Your booklet funnel can be promoted multiple ways – postal letter to local professional referral sources, eblast to your list, using a referral web page on your website (see section IIIE), in a flyer distributed at one of your talks, in a guest post, or _________. The promotion possibilities are numerous.
Here is an example of a booklet funnel we created at no charge for a personal injury Referral System subscriber who wants to establish more referral relationships with local chiropractors.
D. Referral web page
A simple but important foundational element in all your referral relationship creation efforts is a web page that emphasizes how you treat referred clients as VIPs.
Referral sources want to know that the clients or patients they send your way will come away satisfied. Since few clients can accurately gauge the quality of the lawyering that your provide, you can create this satisfied feeling by going over the top in ways that any layperson can judge:
– Next day appointment availability
– Warm greeting using name by front desk person
– No waiting before meeting with the attorney
– Attorney lets the referred prospect know that referrals from ______ receive VIP treatment
– Post-meeting, a handwritten thank you card is mailed to referred prospect, perhaps with movie tickets included
– Extra communication is provided throughout representation
– At conclusion of the matter, another handwritten thank you card is sent, maybe with a gift basket of some type
Similarly, the referring source should also receive special handling. A handwritten thank you card should be mailed asap after the referral is received. Upon retention, an email can be sent that provides status and maybe a few sentences about what will transpire next.
What is important with both the referred prospect and the referral source is that you stand out as someone who cares deeply about referrals and takes good care of them.
E. Local attorney solicitations
Depending on your specialty, establishing referral relationships with local attorneys can be as productive as relationships with local non-attorney professionals. For example, the following specialties can be fruitful referral sources:
Your specialty — Referring specialty
Bankruptcy — Divorce
Criminal — Bankruptcy, business divorce
Estates — Business transaction, business litigation
Family — Bankruptcy, business, criminal
Injury — DUI, Social Security disability
Social Security disability — Injury
Our favorite attraction technique, due to its wide appeal to the type of attorneys who will be interested in referral relationships, is to offer marketing information tailored to small law firms. We do this three ways:
1. Private marketing memos
After building a list of local attorneys in the right specialties, we send a series of 3 letters inquiring about interest in a referral relationship and accompanied by a several-page memo containing marketing tips tailored to small-firm attorneys in consumer specialties.
2. Marketing mini-book funnel
Using the same booklet funnel technique previously described in section IIIC, we offer a lengthy mini-book branded in the Referral System subscriber’s name.
As with that funnel, our marketing book funnel includes a solicitation eblast, landing page, lead magnet, qualifying questions, thank you page proposing a referral relationship, and follow-up series.
We send the solicitation eblast to both the list of local attorneys that we compiled, plus any names the Referral System subscribing attorney has.
3. Marketing newsletters
Referral relationships take time to establish and enlarge. You have to obtain that first referral and do a great job with it, and then continue the cultivation to obtain another referral and increase the monthly and annual volume from each source.
Just as staying in touch with past clients using a newsletter helps generate referrals, so does a newsletter tailored to professional referral sources.
Your newsletter can take a variety of forms. It can be a tips letter focused on providing marketing advice, since that may be how you first attracted the referral source. Here is an example of a marketing newsletter we use:
Or your newsletter can provide information in your specialty that helps the referral source with his or her clients or patients. A few examples of those types of topics are:
Bankruptcy — For credit counselors: Tips for Rebounding from a Financial Setback
Business litigation — For CPAs: Advice for Business Owners Considering or Facing a Contract Lawsuit
Criminal — For mental health professionals: When Your Patients Get Into Trouble with the Law
Estates — For financial advisors: How to Help Clients Facing a Financial Reversal
Family — For marriage counselors: 10 Steps for Rebuilding Your Marriage, My Advice for Married Couples After Handling Umpteen Divorces
Injury — For chiropractors: Advice for Injured People Considering Filing an Insurance Claim
Social Security disability — For physical therapists: Tips for Injured People Considering Filing a Social Security Disability Claim
If time and money for marketing are in short supply at your law firm, focus on generating more referrals. Referrals are nearly free, bring in high-quality prospects, and can flow readily when a few of the right relationships are established and cultivated. And prospect lists and solicitation letters do not take much time to create.
On the other hand, if you have a marketing person whose time you can direct, have them implement our “build once, use for years” marketing ideas like landing pages, nurturing series, and webinar funnels.
If you don’t have time for either, consider outsourcing the work to us. Our done-for-you Legal Referral System costs $595/month, and you can inexpensively test its effectiveness with a risk-free trial. The System includes:
1. Referral Outreach
– Prospect lists and appointment setting
– Preparation and reminders
– Booklet sharing
– Regular check-ins
– Follow-up by us
2. Prospect Conversion
– Website lead magnet
– Sales funnel
– Immediate telephone follow-up
– Immediate text and email
– Shock-and-awe package
– Nurturing series
3. Client Communication
– Welcome kit for new clients
– Reassurance series for new clients
– Digital newsletter for past clients
– Shared-booklet emails to past clients
– Feedback surveys to past clients
– Review requests to past clients
– Printed booklet library
– Printed 100-300 page book
– All-in-one software
Build A Referral-Based Law Firm
145 pages of proven, use-them-today, tips and tools