LFMM 008 Transcript: Identifying Your Ideal Client

 Click here to go to the show notes from episode 8

Welcome to the Episode 8 of the Law Firm Marketing Mastery Podcast, where we get more clients, make more money, step-by-step. I’m your host, Christopher Small, and in this week’s episode’s featured segment I’m going to talk about the importance of identifying your ideal client.

And, in the tip of the week, we are going to talk about a major milestone for the podcast and how can you can apply that to your law firm marketing efforts.

Week in Review

So let’s get started. As usual we are going to start this podcast with a review of my week and we are going to talk about how some of the things that I learned you can apply to your firm.

So, the one thing I wanted to talk about this week that happened last week was that I met with another attorney, her name was Sara, and she was starting a law firm. She is also in the criminal defense arena. She also does some personal injury law from what I understand.

She was referred to me by another DUI attorney that I know who is kind of an old school guy. He is a really, really good attorney, and he suggested that she talk to me because I am a younger guy and he knew that I kind of came into the Seattle market and really kind of established a foothold pretty quickly.

So she reached out to me and we sat down for coffee and we talked for about an hour, talked about starting a law firm and some of the things that you can do to kind of jump start your practice, get off on the right foot, and I wanted to talk about that because it reminded me of where I used to be, and it also kind of reminded me of how much I’ve really learned in the past four years about starting and running a successful law firm, and I just wanted to talk about that here.

She is a smart woman and she knows her stuff when it comes to the law, and like a lot of us, you know, this whole business thing is kind of scary, definitely not something that we were prepared for in law school, and it was refreshing to talk to her and remember back to that time but it was also scary because I realized how much I didn’t know and how much I really had to learn.

And that’s one of the reasons the feature segment is about identifying your ideal client, because that’s one of the things that we talked about. And it’s one of the things that I think it’s a corner stone of your practice.

If you are not identifying your ideal client then you are not going to be able to get ahead. And a couple of the other things that I remember just briefly that we talked about and I think that are kind of important lessons that are easy to get to:.

First, don’t let that one case that you got fill up all your time and take you away from your marketing efforts. We talked about when I started I probably spent 80% of my time on my marketing and working on the business and 20% on the practice of law. Work that, if you only have one case, when the work is done put it aside and work on getting that next client, work on building up your business, work on your website, write a blog post, do anything you can except wasting time on that work that you don’t really need to do, that you are not going to get paid for, just so that you can feel like a lawyer and feel like you are doing something good.

Don’t waste your time on that stuff. Get down to business. Get to work on getting your next client, and pretty soon you will have plenty of legal work to do all the time. And you will actually be getting paid for every single bit of it.

So that’s one of the big things I did last week, and I just thought it was something that would be interesting to talk about, and like I said it really reminded me of where I was and how far we all have to go when we start out when it comes to learning the business, and how much you really have to dedicate yourself to learning and understanding how a business runs, how to market your business, and the things that you have to do if you want to succeed.

One other thing I remember that we talked about for quite a bit was making sure that you have processes and procedures in place to make everything run smoothly, particularly when it comes to signing up clients.

So you need to know exactly what you are going to say every time the phone rings. You need to know exactly what you are going to say when a potential client calls, what kind of information you want to get to them, from them, are you going to get their email address and send them an email immediately with some additional information or are you going to mail them a package, what are you going to do to get them to sign up with you.

Are you going to have them come into the office? Are you going to do a telephone consultation? When they get there, are you going to give them any more physical things to touch, any more pamphlets or anything like that?

If they sign up, do you have a figure ready? Are you going to take credit cards? Are you going to take payment immediately? Are you going to require something down? How much? What are you going to charge?

All that kind of stuff you need to think about all the way through for two reasons: first, it will help you have more confidence when you are in those meetings; and second, when you have all your ducks in a row you look like you know what you are doing, you look like you know what you are talking about, and that is something that potential clients really want to see.

So that’s just a couple of little things I remembered and some of the things I am always thinking about in my practice that I talked to Sara about and I am excited to see what she does with it.

Feature Segment: Identifying Your Ideal Client.

Okay, onto the feature segment of the week, which is the importance of identifying your ideal client.

I want to talk specifically about this because it’s really something that we talked a lot about, I talked about with Sara when we met, and, like I said, and it’s really the cornerstone of your entire marketing effort. Because, if you don’t know who your ideal client is, how do you know what marketing methods to use? How do you know where to put your message out to? How do you know… why having a marketing plan at all, right?

And most of us, when we think about marketing a law firm and things like that, getting business, we want to think about SEO. We want to talk about Facebook and Twitter and radio, direct mail. All of those things: advertising in a newspaper; bar journals; whatever it might be we all want to talk about those tactics and doing those things and then we always wonder why no one is calling us.

But if you don’t know who your ideal client is you could be doing all of those things wonderfully, right by the book, but you are not doing them in a way that allows your ideal client to find you, and so no one is hearing your message that is actually looking for what you are providing.

Does that make sense?

For example, let’s say you are in estate planning or something. If your ideal client is someone that is over the age of 50, if you are marketing to the retirement crowd, if that’s your ideal client is, your marketing message is going to be a lot different than if your ideal client is someone that is 35 or younger.

If you are marketing your estate planning services to the crowd with the new baby, for example. So that’s two lawyers practicing the same thing, estate planning, that would have widely different marketing plans for their ideal clients.

And that’s important, if you haven’t done that yet, you need to do it. We are going to talk about how to do it now and we are going to talk about giving some more reasons why it’s important.

And, by the way, before we even get going any further, when you are thinking about who your ideal client is, if your answer is, “everyone is my ideal client,” then you are wrong, okay?

Let me put it another way: you cannot have everyone as your ideal client, there have got to be some limiting factors, or again, you are not going to be able to identify where you should direct your message so that the right people find it, okay?

Not everybody wants your services. Think about it like this: even as a traffic attorney, not everyone is my client, right? There are people that do not drive. There are people that do not see the value of spending money to get a traffic ticket off of their record. There are people that don’t like attorneys.

All of those people are not my ideal clients because they are not looking for my services. So even though it seems like, “hey, anybody could get a traffic ticket.”

“Anybody could get a DUI, right?”

“Everybody needs an estate plan.”

That is not good enough.

Even if you are a divorce lawyer, everybody that needs a divorce is not your ideal client. And we are going to dive into that a little bit further pretty soon and you will understand where I am coming from when it comes to identifying your ideal client.

And here is the thing too: you need to think about, when you are marketing your firm, you don’t need a million clients, right? You need… think about how great your life and your practice would be if you were getting ten new clients a month. Or even five new clients a month.

That’s the kind of numbers that you are talking about to make some good money. That means you can really whittle down your ideal client. You can be very, very specific about who your ideal client is, and then you can highly target those people so that they can sign up with you.

You know there is this book, I think it’s called The Long Tail or something like that. And it really takes about the… you know if you imagine a graph with a big spike which is where the majority is, imagine a bestseller book on Amazon would be the spike and then all of the other thousands and thousands of books that exist on Amazon would trail out into a very, very long tail on that graph.

And we are kind of in the business of a long tail. You don’t need the big spike. You need the long tail. You need to identify your specific clients in that long tail and then you need to go get them.

How to Identify Your Ideal Client: A Five Step Process

Okay, so how do you identify your ideal client? It’s a really five-step process, and it doesn’t take very long to do either. It just takes maybe 30 minutes to an hour at the most.

So step one? Get a piece of paper. Got it? Okay.

Step two? Get a pen. Okay, easy.

Step three? Start writing down as many characteristics of your ideal client as you can. Whatever identifying information about them you can find, okay?

And I guess there are only four steps because my step four here is just a list of some of the things that I came up with off the top of my head that may help you identify your ideal client. So, we have:

  • age
  • sex
  • race

And in parenthesis I have “potentially,” because when you are making this list, this list is not about political correctness. It’s not about stereotyping either, necessarily. It’s about identifying the people that need your services, right?

So, for me, as a DUI attorney, someone that would likely need my services is someone that has a problem with alcohol. It’s just a fact.

When I talk about race, though, this is really something that you may identify with specifically or that you may have some connection with.

So, for example, are you fluent in a foreign language? Do you have a special relationship with a specific group of people?

I knew this girl… well she is not a girl, she is a lady, and when I did my mastermind in San Francisco she was part of the mastermind group… and she was Korean. And one of the things that we talked about in her mastermind session, when it came to marketing her law firm, was that because of her specific circumstances, not just because she was Korean, but because of her ties to the community she had a very special relationship with the Korean leaders in and around the city that she worked – she had some relationships with them – and we talked about using that as a real tool to promote her services to people that would want and need her work.

People in that community would feel a specific connection to her because of her ties. And that is something that, if you have, can be a great asset.

I don’t have that, for example. That is not part of my ideal client, a specific race. It just doesn’t work in my specific circumstances.

  • Foreign language.

It can do something that could do that for you too, right? If you are fluent in Spanish, if you are fluent in Russian, if you are fluent in anything you have a specific skillset that a lot of other people don’t and you should be specifically reaching out to that type of person because you have a unique ability to capture their attention and let them know that you are available to help them.

  • Sexual orientation.

I know a guy here in Seattle who is gay and he markets his services to the gay community. He has a special connection there. He is active in that community, he takes that opportunity to reach out to those people and let them know that he is available to help them.

  • Economic status;
  • Specific occupations;
  • Income level;
  • Organizations they belong to, beliefs that they might hold that might make a difference on where they live, where they live their lives, what they participate in;
  • Marital status
  • Whether or not they have children;
  • What they do for fun;
  • What they care about most deeply.

All of these things, all these characteristics that you identify with your ideal client are going to give you some insight not only into the message that you should craft but also into the places that you should advertise your services to your specific clients.

I mean if, for example, my ideal client… one thing about my ideal client is I want them to be able to pay. I want them to be able to pay for my services, and I try to do things that… my message is crafted towards someone that can pay, you know?

I talk about, especially with my DUI services, how it can affect your reputation, how it can affect your economic opportunities in the future, how it can affect your family, how it can affect your job. All those things are typically felt by people that have something to lose economically, right? That means I also tend to craft my message for people that fall under that category, generally.

Those are the things that I just described to help me craft my message and help me decide, for example, with my radio advertising, what radio station do I want to advertise on? Because there are specific demographics that listen to specific radio stations, and if I want to hit my demographic I need to make sure I tell the radio advertising people who my ideal client is so that they can target that person with my advertising message, okay?

Once you have written down that entire list you are not done yet. You are close.

What I do then is I give that ideal client a name, a physical name: George; Joe; Fred; and Nancy; whatever. If you cater to men and women like I do then you want to have a name for each.

And these two people that you create are going to be your ideal clients. Then you need to picture… I kind of picture them like avatars, like they are actual real people. So when I am crafting my ad copy, when I am thinking about where I might want to advertise, where I might want to put my message out, I imagine if these people are going to be where I am pointing my message, and then I am also trying to imagine how they would react to the actual message that I am presenting to them, right?

Because they are my ideal clients, they are the exact kind of person that I would want to call me to help them with their problems. And if I don’t see my message being well-received, or if I don’t see them in that location to be open to receiving my message, then I think twice about putting that message out and I think twice about putting my message out in that specific medium or location.

Okay, and like I said, one of the things you can do now that you have got this avatar or these avatars is you can identify specially where they are going to be. You may be able to identify a list that already exists that would give you your ideal clients or would give you a great place to start to identify ideal clients.

And one of the things that I thought about when it comes to something like this would be… let’s say we are talking about the estate planning example again, and we are talking about the estate planning attorney that wants to market their services to new families, right?

People have just had a baby, they need to have a will, they need to make decisions about what happens to their child if both of the parents are killed for whatever reason – there are a whole slew of issues that come up; I am not an estate planning attorney so I don’t know, but I can imagine.

And one thing you may be able to get your hands on is a list of new parents that are in your city, or in your geographic area. And I feel like this is probably the case because when we recently had our baby – I have a 12 week old kid – we started getting all kinds of advertising from all kinds of baby things.

All kinds of stuff, we started getting advertising from there, so there must be a list out there that we found ourselves on that we were then marketed to, and as an attorney you can do the same thing too.

Why wouldn’t you want to put together a package for new parents? You send it to them, you say, “Look, I am an attorney. I understand you just had a new baby, and here are some things you need to think about… And if you would like us to help you deal with them please call us and set up a free consultation to come in and talk to us.”

That’s a great way right there to make some serious cash, and if I was in estate planning, that would probably be one of the first things that I would do, if that was my ideal client.

Now, if it wasn’t, if I was on the other end of this spectrum, I would think about some other kind of list that I could get, maybe all of the members of the AARP in the area or something like that.

You know there is all kinds of information out there that is just ready for you to go and get, but you’ve got to know what you are asking for, right?

That’s what identifying what your ideal client can do. It will open so many doors for you. Even though it feels like when you start you are going to be leaving some people out, a strong message is strongly received, a weak message is ignored. And identifying and really figuring out who your ideal client is is going to make a big difference in the way your marketing efforts move forward for your law firm, and is going to make a huge difference.

Tip of the Week

Okay, that’s it for the featured segment of the week. Now I want to move on to the tip of the week. But, before I do that I want to give a couple of shout outs here on the podcast.

It’s the first time I’ve ever done this and I am really excited about being able to do it.

First I want to give a shootout to my brother, David Small. He called me this week to let me know that he was listening to the podcast. He just gave me some words of encouragement and he said I was doing a good job, which was good to hear because, honestly, until that time I really hadn’t heard much feedback from anyone about whether or not they liked the podcast.

I can see how many people are listening to it – those numbers are nice and they make me feel good, but I really want to do a good job here and I want you to be able to walk away from every single one of these podcasts with some nugget of information that you can use to make your law firm better, I want you to be able to do that every single time. And if I am not doing that I hope that you will let me know and I also hope that when I am doing a good job you also would let me know.

This brings me to a second shout out. I want to give this to barty84, who is the first person to leave me a review on iTunes. I have been asking for these reviews for a while. I had a couple of people leave me five star reviews, which are also awesome, but no one had yet let me a written review. Barty84 was the first person to do that.

I call them barty84 because they didn’t leave their name and their didn’t leave their website address so I don’t know who they are, but I really appreciate their review, and I am going to read it out here because I am so pumped about it.

They said:

I first came across the author from the Starting a Law Firm blog, which I also highly recommend. These podcasts are perfect for the average attorney. They are under one hour and I usually just listen them during my lunch or my commute. I never thought about opening my own firm but Chris makes it seem very accessible. He gives down to earth practical advice and speaks from experience. What he teaches is what they don’t teach in law school: how to run a business. He gives good solid tips on how to market your firm, meet new clients and set achievable goals. His advice is always up to date taking into account social media. I would recommend this even if you are part of a firm to see what you are missing out on.

So thanks barty84. I think the only thing missing from this review… really if you don’t want to give your name, is the website. One of the ways that I can repay you for leaving a review, or one of the ways I can say thank you is to mention you here on the podcast which then gives you a link back from the lawfirmmarketingmatery.com website.

Those links are really good for your search engine placement, and I would love to give you one, to anyone who leaves me a review.

Then, third and finally, I want to thank Dale Savage dalesavage.com. He was the second person to leave me a review, but I wanted to give him a special shout out too because I actually spoke to him last week. He gave me a call and he asked some questions about a blog that he was starting, and I just wanted to thank him for trusting me enough to give me a call and let me help him out. I wanted to just wish him well and let him know that I think he is on the right track and I can’t wait to see how things go for him.

And so those thank you’s kind of transition into my Tip of the Week which is not a service or anything specific, it’s really just to remind everyone how helpful participating in the things that interest you can be, right?

And I am my own worst enemy as well when it comes to this kind of stuff. When you are involved in marketing your law firm, starting your law firm, your practice area, you are going to get so much more out of the learning that you do and the people that you meet if you participate and open yourself up, talk about your own experiences and really dive in and open yourself up and give into the process and just go for it.

And so these people have all taken the opportunity to do that, and I would welcome you all to do that. I have been doing it more myself, and a lot of the blogs and the podcasts and things like that that I listen to and that I participate in, I have been making an effort to really participate more. Not just be a listener, but really be a doer and ask questions and think about what comes next for me. And I hope all of you do that because if you do that you are going to see the success of your law firm really jump in a big way. And so I hope you all do that.

That’s pretty much it for this week. I really want to try to keep it right around thirty minutes. I have been going kind of long the last couple of times and it looks like we are thirty minutes in now, so I am going to just wrap this up by reminding you that if you do like the podcast you can subscribe at iTunes and you can leave me a review, you can go to… just search Law Firm Marketing on iTunes. This is the Law Firm Marketing Mastery Podcast, you can search for that and it will pop up.

And then I also want to remind you that if you go to the website there is information there that is not in this podcast and that’s lawfirmmarktingmastery.com. When you get there, there will be a space for you to sign up for my newsletter which is a great tool for the people that get it, it will give you a lot of inside information, not just about marketing your law firm, but also about my own firm, including the monthly income and expense numbers I have each month and some other things that I don’t talk about here or on the blog, I put those in my newsletter.

I use that newsletter to kind of show you all that I don’t just talk about this stuff, I practice it too. I am in the game just like you are. And finally, before I let you go I want to remind you all that you can find me on Facebook if you just go and search Law Firm Marketing Mastery, you can find me there, and on Twitter @csmall.

So I can’t wait to talk to you, again I would love for you to give me a shootout on any of those places, stop by and say: “Hi”, send me an email: chris@lawfirmmarketingmastery.com, say “hi” on Twitter, Facebook, on the blog, you can leave a comment, whatever you want, I would love to hear from you and until next week, bye bye!