Awareness + Attention + Authority =
How Can a Law Firm Better Use Social Media to Gain Clients?
The Exact Way That Google Indexes and Ranks Websites Is a Secret and Likely Uses So Many Factors Within a Mathematical Formula That Make a Full Understanding Almost Incomprehensible. However, It Is Known That Proof of Human Interest Via Measure of Quality Visits Is a Strong Factor That Can Be Influenced.
A person just moved into the house down the street. You saw the person twice during the unloading of boxes from a moving truck. You even waved 'hello' in a neighbourly fashion and you received a smile in return. With this return smile, some people may perceive that the time is now to head on over to make an introduction and marriage proposal. Of course, this suggestion is facetious and it would surely be taken as inappropriate for a person to attempt a marriage proposal so prematurely; however, this is the type of premature solicitation conduct that many business people, including legal professionals, will attempt within marketing campaigns.
When it comes to marketing and sales, there are some products and services that are marketed and sold in the manner described above, such as products and services that are common use commodities or impulse buys; however, the purchase of legal services is rarely viewed as an everyday commodity and rarely treated as an impulse buy. Accordingly, the potential client, must be wooed slowly and progressed through a series of steps.
Customer Acquisition Journeys, steps to sales
Step One, Awareness
Here is where you make a proper introduction. Just as you would with the new person down the street, simply use a kind friendly wave from time-to-time, a passing hello, and other reasonable interactions to create an awareness of your existence is all that should be intended to happen in Step One. Step One refrains from requesting an introduction; of course, Step One does so without stating or implying that an introduction is unwelcomed; and accordingly, if an introduction occurs, the introduction is prompted by the potential client (as the new person down the street using the above analogy).
So, taking the Step One process from the 'meeting the person' analogy and into the developing a client relationship context requires a simple understanding of the psychology of prospects as potential clients within the business world of today. Firstly, potential clients today have access to many sources of information. Potential clients are also seeking a sense reassurance and comfortableness when making important choices; especially the choice of legal representation. Potential clients, and reasonably so, require a sense of value and trust - especially in matters of legal representation where the potential client is usually without the capacity to fully know and understand what is being bought.
Think about that for a moment. The potential client for legal services is buying a little understood service which, generally, makes the buyer much less comfortable than if the buyer were shopping for a car or smart-phone or something that most people understand. Accordingly, promoting legal services should be done in a manner that is much different than the advertising of a smart-phone. Returning to our 'meeting the person' analogy, the person will be unlikely to value, respect, and trust, someone at the first 'Hello'; and accordingly, Step One as the awareness or introduction stage is merely that - only to create an awareness.
Creating awareness using digital marketing methods is actually quite simple and can be done easily and inexpensively. The easiest and least expensive way is to use social media technology to blog and freely share helpful information. However, while creating awareness can be done with a good blog, it is absolutely necessary that such actually be a 'good blog'. Remember, at Step One you are creating first impressions - and just like the 'meeting the person' analogy, you want to make a favourable first impression or you may be left without a second chance.
What makes a good blog? Well, a good blog requires more than just a post on Facebook or LinkedIn or tweet on Twitter that says, "Call me for legal help." Again, that type of approach is the 'meeting the person' by showing up for the very first time and trying to propose marriage; accordingly, cool your jets! Instead, try using a Hook, Line, and Linker.
Start with an attention grabber by using a catchy Hook phrase. A Hook is something like, 'What Do You Think?' or 'You Be The Judge.' or even as simple as 'True or False?'. Note that the Hook is innocuous. The Hook avoids saying, 'Call Me Now' or 'Let Me Tell You' or anything else that attempts to intrude and impose a request for contact or push of information. The Hook is simply a recognizable, and in time memorable, title to your blog that is devoid of any attempt to direct or instruct or solicit. The Hook should be without a call to action. Repeat that! The Hook should be without a call to action, meaning something other than, "For Legal Help, Call Now", or anything similar. The closest a Hook comes to calling for action is the posing of a question rather than making a statement. Think about it - if you ran up to a stranger and asked, "Do you have the time?", the person will likely tell you the time; however, if you ran up to a stranger and said, "Hey, do you want to buy a watch?", the reaction will be much different.
Those familiar with blogs published by Marketing.Legal will be familiar with the Hook commonly used being the phrase, "TIPS & BITS". Over time, the repeated use of this Hook becomes familiar and garners Attention as will be discussed below in Step Two. Again, review this example of a Hook:
TIPS & BITS
This Hook is innocuous and sterile of a selling pitch or sniff of an advertisement; and in fact, this Hook literally conveys the message of a sharing of information for which you will want to avoid missing out; and accordingly, this Hook is without any sense of intrusion and perhaps even creates an air of an exclusive club wherein special secrets are shared.
Next, as a Line, pose a short blurb of a question that presents in a manner that will likely be intriguing, informative, or entertaining - and even better, a short blurb question that is all three, and that is relevant to the target audience! Returning to the 'meeting the person' analogy, the Line should contain more than just the Hook. The Hook would be the equivalent of saying, "Hello" to the new person down the street. The Line is analgamous to then saying, "And how are you today" following the polite, "Hello". The Line is intended to encourage some form of acknowledgement, passive interaction, or even active participation; however, just like in social situations, the Line is without a requirement to do so; and accordingly, the Line should avoid a request for interaction or participation. The Line simply seeks interaction or participation without intrusively doing so. If the intereaction or participation happens, then great; however, and remember, this is still only Step One.
An example of the Line process as used by a legal professional seeking to promote personal injury services involving snow and ice slip and fall situations could be:
How Long After a Snowfall Must a Parking Lot Be Plowed and Salted If a Property Owner Is to Avoid Liability For a Slip and Fall Injury to a Pedestrian?
As you may observe, this Line is unintrusive yet curiousity inspiring for those within the general public of whom some may be of the target market (people with injuries). Additionally, whereas most people tend to, even subconsciously, shirk away from messages that 'tell', the Line simply poses a short question that triggers thoughts within the mind of the prospective client - and a prospective client is without any reason to feel disturbed, uncomfortable, or intruded upon by such an innocuous and curiousity inspiring question. Remember, when you inquire - you inspire, and people, such as prospective clients are kept comfortable as the only thought pushed forward will be the own thought of the prospective client, and that own the thought will be a safe zone for the prospective client.
The concept of Hook and Line should now be known and understood. Now we get to the end of Step One with the Linker. The Linker involves the goal of actual intereaction or participation by the prospective client; however, the Linker also occurs with appreciation that, like the sport of fishing, the lure may need casting many times before a fish is caught. Accordingly, avoid expecting every prospective client to interact and participate. Appreciate that Step One is primarily focused on creating Awareness and that even those fish that fail to bite on the first cast of the lure may begin watching and will better recognize the lure (the Hook and the Line) during the next cast (as explained further below).
Furthermore, the Linker serves more than one purpose. Sure, it is wonderful if the Linker converts a prospective client immediately into a retained client; however, the main focus of the Linker in Step One is to start moving the prospective client from a level of Awareness to a level of Attention, and if done well, also to the level of Authority. Indeed, the Attention and Authority phases of promotion, as discussed below, can both be accomplished at the same time with a good Hook, Line, and Linker - meaning the process of the Hook, Line, and Linker, as well as high quality within the content or substance of the Hook, Line, and Linker.
As for the Linker, by posing a closed-ended Line question, multiple choice answers can be suggested as potential answer possibilities and these potential answers can then be followed with a weblink to the webpage where, if a prospective client is so inclined, deeper information - and perhaps the actual legal answer, may be found. For example:
A. Within six (6) hours.
B. Within twelve (12) hours.
C. Within twenty-four (24) hours.
D. Within a reasonable time depending on the circumstances.
Are you unsure? Find the answer here:
At this point, if a person, who is a potential client or otherwise, actively engages by providing an answer of either A, B, C, or D, such becomes interaction or participation and confirms that the mind of the person is turned to a level of Awareness. Of course, some people may refrain from interaction and participation and choose simply to observe with intrigue; however, Awareness will still exist.
You may ask if it is really necessary to refer the prospective client to a website; after all, if the goal is simply Awareness, is the referral link to the webpage really necessary? Well, the webpage referral is actually multi-purpose. Firstly, different people, including prospective clients, will be at a different level of curiousity, interest, and engagement. Some may wish to simply observe - and thus you will be completely oblivious to the observation; however, for those who participate by answering A, B, C, or D, you will be aware of the engagement - and by using the statistic analysis features offered by Facebook, you can track how well particular Hook, Line, and Linker, blogs are doing. A five (5%) percent engagement is very good and anything beyond is great. If you find some blogs to attract ten (10%) percent engagement, then you are doing awesome! Anyway, as mentioned, there is a second purpose ot the webpage referral link and that is to provide prospective clients with an opportunity to learn more about the subject within your Linker content. If the prospective client is inspired enough by the Linker to seek more information, the webpage referral link may fulfill that inspiration and provide an opportunity for the prospective client to review your information showcase which then, likely subconsciously, instills an appreciation for your expertise and the extent and complexities within the law. With a qualitative showcase of available information, the prospective client may be moved forward to Step Two, Attention and Awareness. Lastly, the webpage referral link also poses as an opportunity to create curious traffic to your website and thereby to gain the 'Social Proof' that helps your website rank higher with search engines such as Google.
At this point you have completed a blog that contains a Hook, Line, and Linker and you are ready to move forward to Step Two.
Step Two, Attention and Authority
If you are doing Step One well, the only lesson required for Step Two is repeat! Step Two is simply about consistently repeating Step One with fresh Hook, Line, and Linker blogs. For a proven successful effort, use the Hook, Line, and Linker technique described in Step One in a consistent fashion by using the same timing, same structure, and same format regularly. By being consistent, the people who view your social media posts will inherently come to recognize that you are predictable and dependable - two confidence inspiring qualities.
By repeat of the Hook, Line, and Linker method of gaining Awareness, prospective clients, quickly or over time, will transform from simple Awareness, into actual Attention. The difference between the Step One level of Awareness and the Step Two level of Attention is that with Attention, the prospective client, consciously or subconsciously, engaging or without engaging, is becoming quite familiar with you and perhaps is even desiring to know you better. This is especially important in the marketing of legal services as, typically, prospective clients are without constant need of legal services. Remember, a key appreciation in the marketing of a legal business is recognizing that many people are without need of legal help; however, being at the top of mind in people is the goal. When a person does need legal help, or hears of someone else needing legal help, you want that person to think immediately, and highly, of you.
Furthermore, if you are using a link to an informative webpage containing qualitative supporting authorities to the query posed within your Linker question, those whose Attention you have garnered will coincidingly begin to perceive you as an Authority. Additionally, if you are responsive to those who engage with your blog, such as saying, "Congratulations." to those who engage and answer accurately, or by encouragingly those who answer inaccurately while showing appreciation for the participation, the sense of Authority will germinate. Remember, and this is key, it is unnecessary that you actually 'be' an ultimate Authority figure - as legal practitioners are without Chief Justice of the Supreme Court status; however, demonstrating that, as a practitioner, you have access to the supporting Authority information conveys or projects Authority in the sense that you are recognizable as a practition who is well prepared to support a legal position. For the sophisticated prospective clients, those people who understand how our system of statutes and precedents works, demonstrating strong expertise in accessing 'authorities' is imperative in garnering the level of trust and value that the prospective client will seek. For the less sophisticated prospective clients, where your information may be 'over the head', the gaining Authority process still works by demonstrating expertise and knowledge that is foreign and perhaps even seems mysterious.
Step Three, Audience
By now you are accomplished with the Hook, Line, and Linker blog technique and you have garnered Attention and Awareness. You quite likely are responding to those followers that regularly engage with your blogs, being those who answer A, B, C, or D, or even strike up dialogue on the subject. At this point, those who are engaging your blogs may feel like a friend that you are yet to meet. Accordingly, ask for the meeting. In the social media realm, the 'meeting' occurs in the virtual sense of asking the informal follower to Like your Facebook page and thereby become a formal follower. Of course, if the person is influential in some way, such as a community leader or in a business where that person comes into contact with other people who may need your services, take the extra effort to actually meet for a cup of coffee or lunch. Remember, marketing is about much more than just seeking to retain clients; in fact, good marketing seeks to create a team of supporters amongst influential people who will refer you. If your marketing efforts retain a client, that is great; however, if your marketing efforts obtain an influencer, who will refer to you ten people that you retain as clients, that is awesome.
Of course, Step One through Step Three only works well when the legal practitioner knows the appropriate 'target market' within which to seek the prospective client. Selecting an appropriate target market and initiating blogs within forums populated by the target market requires some quality brainstorming. Often the target market is obvious; however, if troubled by this, Marketing.Legal may be available for consultation services.
Step Four, Acquisition
When the marketing effort results in a potential client making contact with a services availability inquiry, you are now ready to close a sale by asking the prospective client to retain your services and then handling any objections expressed by the prospective client. As such then becomes the topic of sales, this is an entirely different subject beyond the topic of this particular article; however, the Marketing.Legal team may be available to offer consultation services for further assistance in this area.
For more about how to acquire clients using the 'Hook, Line, and Linker' digital marketing strategy and for help developing and launching a target marketing action plan including a dynamic content generating website, contact the Marketing.Legal team.