Awareness + Attention + Authority = Audience
A beautiful woman just moved in to the house down the street. You saw the woman twice as the woman was unloading boxes from a moving truck. You even waved 'hello' in a neighbourly fashion and you received a smile back from the woman. Accordingly, now is the time to put on a nice pair of pants, a collared shirt, grab your Mom's old engagement ring that Mom gave you for just this sort of occasion and head on down to knock on the door of the new woman in town ready to make your marriage proposal, correct? Okay, maybe this strategy is a little too forward and quite likely to scare the woman away - after all, you are still without a name and are still refering to 'the new woman down the street'. It is quite likely as well that the cops will be paying you a visit - or perhaps even a mental health doctor.
So, here is the point of the little story above, framed within a rhetorical question; if the above proposal would be premature, then why would you attempt the same with prospective clients?
Now, when it comes to marketing and sales, there are some products and services that are, essentially, sold in the manner described above. After all, the new woman in town will need groceries and will quite likely be willing to head into the nearest grocery store and make an immediate purchase without expecting the grocery store owner to take the woman out on a few dates first; however, the woman likely views buying groceries much different than buying legal services - and it is still quite likely that the woman bought groceries of only recognizable and trusted brand names and from a recognizable and trusted store within a chain of grocery stores rather than unknown items from an unknown person on a street corner.
Customer Acquisition Journeys, steps to sales
Step One, Awareness
Here is where you make your introduction. Just as you would with the new woman down the street (or for the ladies, just as you would with the new man down the street), a friendly wave from time-to-time, a passing hello, and other polite and courteous interactions that create an awareness is all that is 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; quite simply, if an introduction occurs, the introduction will be prompted by the potential client (or woman in keeping with our above analogy).
So, taking the Step One process from the 'meeting the woman' 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 reassurance and comfortableness. Potential clients, as always; and yet perhaps more than ever, 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! The potential client for legal services is buying a little understood service which thereby creates a buyer that is much less comfortable than if the buyer were shopping for a car or smart-phone or something that most people generally understand. Accordingly, promoting legal services should be done in a manner that is much different than if advertising a smart-phone. Returning to our 'meeting the woman' analogy, the woman 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 inexpensively. The easiest and least expensive way is to freely blog 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 woman' analogy, you want to make a favourable first impression or you may be left without a second chance.
What makes a good blog? Firstly, a 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 woman' by showing up for the very first time and trying to propose marriage; accordingly, cool your jets! Instead, use a Hook, Line, and Linker!
Start with a catchy Hook phrase. A Hook is something like, 'What Do You Think?' or 'You Be The Judge!' or '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 title to your blog that is devoid of any attempt to direct or instruct. 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 of the like. 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, "WHAT DO YOU THINK?". Another common Hook used by Marketing.Legal is the phrase, "TIPS & BITS". Over time, the repeated use of each Hook becomes familiar and will help to garner the Attention as will be discussed below in Step Two. Again, review this example of a Hook:
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
This Hook is innocuous and sterile of a selling pitch or sniff of an advertisement; and accordingly, this Hook is without any sense of intrusion. Additionally, whereas most people tend to, even subconsciously, shirk away from messages that 'tell', this Hook is a question and simply asks a person, being prospective clients, about the thoughts of the prospective client - and a prospective client is without any reason to feel disturbed or intruded upon by an inquiry. Remember, when you inquire about thought, you merely inspire thought. As the only thought put forward will be the thought of the prospective client, the thought will be a safe zone for the prospective client.
Next, share a short blurb that is intriguing, informative, or entertaining - and even better, a short blurb that is all three! The term 'blurb' is used here instead of blog whereas a blog is generally understood as being the complete message. Instead, per Hook, Line, and Linker, you will find that the complete blog is broken into three separate parts - the Hook, Line, and Linker! Just like 'meeting the woman', the Line should contain more than just the Hook. The Hook would be the equivalent of saying, "Hello" to the woman. 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 active engagement or participation; however, just like in social situations, the Line is without a requirement to do so; and accordingly, the Line should avoid demanding engagement or participation. The Line seeks engagement or participation without intrusively doing so. If engagement or participation happens, then great; however, and remember, this is still only Step One.
An example of the Line process as used by Marketing.Legal when promoting the quality of library articles available for website purchasers would be:
Bob lives next door to Joe.
Bob has a large tree.
Two years ago, Joe had an arborist doing some work.
While the arborist was doing work for Joe, the arborist noticed, and told Joe, that a tree on Bob's property showed obvious signs of posing a danger.
Joe sent an email to Bob.
The email warned Bob about the fears of the arborist.
Bob ignored the email.
Yesterday, during the windstorm, the tree that the arborist warned about fell.
The tree struck Joe's house.
Joe wants to sue for the damage (or $10,000 of an insurance deductible).
Can Bob be held liable?
As you may observe, the Line used by Marketing.Legal involves a few elements within the overall technique. The results from using this technique over many years shows that this technique leads to success - so much so, that Marketing.Legal uses the technique. The elements involve characters, being Bob and Joe, that are relatable and help to paint a picture within the minds of prospective clients. The elements also involve a closed-ended question that will, per the Linker below, be answerable in the context of a quiz or survey such as the answer option choices of A, B, C, and D (see the Linker below).
The reason for the Line ending with closed-ended possibilities rather than open-ended possibilities is to help keep the query posed by the Line within a simple context and to avoid appearing as requiring an essay in response that may be graded by a stern college professor.
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 engagement or participation by the prospective client; however, the Linker is also 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 engage or 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, the closed-ended query strategy used by Marketing.Legal simply provides the answer possibilities along with a weblink to the Marketing.Legal webpage where, if a prospective client is so inclined, deeper information - and perhaps the actual legal answer, may be found.
A. No, a windstorm is an Act of God.
B. Yes, the neglect was an act of human.
C. No, falling trees are the same as falling meteors.
D. Yes, trees are subject to strict liability (the rule in Ryland v. Fletcher).
Are you curious to find the answer or wanting to know more about laws relating to trees:
At this point, if a prospective client actively engages, either by providing an answer of either A, B, C, or D, such becomes involvement or participation and confirms that the mind of the prospective client is turned to a level of Awareness. Of course, some prospective clients may refrain from 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 referal link to the webpage realy necessary? Well, the webpage referral is actually multi-purpose. Firstly, different prospective clients will be at a different level of engagement. Some may wish to simply observe - and thus you will be completely oblivious to the observation only engagement; 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 blogs are doing. A ten (10%) percent engagement is very good and anything beyond is great. If you find some blogs to attract twenty-five (25%) percent engagement, 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 blogs that follow the same timing, structure, and format. Within the Marketing.Legal effort of promoting sales of websites, among other things, the Marketing.Legal team uses the Hook, Line, and Linker technique described in Step One and does so with a consistent Hook ("WHAT DO YOU THINK?" or "TIPS & BITS") and does so almost every day - and at about the same time of day.
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 needs 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, 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 seemingly 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. Quite possibly, and hopefully so, those who are engaging your blogs feel that you are a friend 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 services availability inquiry, you are now ready to close a sale by asking the client to retain your services. This is an entirely different topic, and Marketing.Legal may be available to offer consultation services for assistance.