Consumer companies create dozens of consumer personas to sell products. Anybody who sells anything has likely labeled you, your needs, and your interests. Does the necessity to create client personas apply to law firms? Absolutely. You are selling a product--legal services--and you need to figure out who's in your market.
Sample Sally doesn't sell seashells by the seashore.
A client persona is a detailed description of the targeted buyer. It drives all marketing efforts, content, and business development. Here’s how to make it work for your law firm.
Some firms sell themselves by saying they are among the best in their fields, deliver excellent service, etc. That’s like saying your dish soap cleans dishes.
Most firms and practice groups work with a certain type of client. Talk to the lawyers at your firm. What clients seem to be the best fit? What clinched the deal for the last three clients you brought on? What are the attributes of those hiring you, and of their companies?
Using this information, you can create very nuanced client personas. Depending on your specializations, you may need several. As an example, let’s flesh out this persona of a potential client who, in addition to his day job in legal for a private tech company, serves on the board of a local non-profit. You’ve heard that the non-profit is looking for outside counsel and want to push harder on cross-selling the firm’s IP group, while closing the nonprofit board work. Consider this persona:
Shaun, 44, head of licensing at a five-year-old private tech company with several hundred million dollars in sales
Family Unit: Married. Spouse works in government or social services. Three children who attend public school.
Transportation: Rides bike to work. Family car is a late-model Volvo station wagon.
Personal Community Involvement: Would like to be more active in children’s public school, but commits to chaperoning one field trip for each child each year.
Work-Life Balance: One or both parents took parental leave to care for their children, and have worked part-time or flextime when family needs required it.
Professional Community Involvement: Serves on a community nonprofit board.
Workplace Philosophy: Truly enjoys co-workers and takes an interest in their personal lives. Takes a team-of-equals approach, even if they are the team leader.
Off-The-Clock Activities: Takes family vacations that are as much off-the-grid as possible, to give them time to really focus on the family.
Personal Characteristics: Likes to joke around in the office and has quirky things on the desk.
Technology Needs: Doesn’t need the latest mobile phone, iPad, or virtual reality appliance. Limits children’s online time.
Pedigree and Branding: Went to a Top 30 law school Doesn’t care too much where someone went to university or law school. Is confident enough to hire a firm or attorney without unimpeachable blue-chip credentials.
By paying attention to these criteria, and adding others as your market necessitates and knowledge allows, you have a very sophisticated picture of a persona who wants to hire your firm. And there are likely others.
Look at your firm. Does this persona reflect your values or your firm’s values? If so, your marketing materials need to target these sensibilities.
Next, list what clinches the hiring decision for these personas? Does it come down to price? Flat fee or fixed? The partner/associate ratio of fee-earners on the project? The diversity of the team? The length of the relationship with the firm? The firm’s billing transparency and project management prowess? Fit with personality and culture?
Then, merge this list with the personas. That should give you a very detailed picture of the ideal target client and their objective. That allows you to specifically tailor your pitch and materials.
In my next post, I’ll address creating a persona for your own firm or practice. This allows you to craft the all-important sales narrative and personal brand that every firm and attorney needs. Stay tuned.