One Lawyer Does Not Fit All – Neither Does One Marketing Plan

ID-100173238In our complicated, multi-tasking world, there is an increasing desire to have “one thing” to satisfy multiple needs. The smart phone, for example, enables its user to text, call, email, take photos, download and listen to music, access GPS and more. But in the world of professional services, this trend tends to roll in the opposite direction. A savvy buyer of legal services wants a specialist – an attorney who understands his or her challenges and has the most relevant experience to deliver a successful outcome.

Carving Out Your Niche – Market Segmentation

Unless you’re a sole practitioner offering services in only one practice and for only one industry, you know the different practice areas within your law firm serve (and sometimes vastly) different clients and purposes. If your focus is in Estates & Trusts, you likely wouldn’t be expected to serve the business client looking to protect a patent. In much the same way, a single marketing plan for your firm doesn’t make much sense either.

Market segmentation is a marketing strategy that involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers who have common needs, and then designing and implementing strategies to target their needs and desires using media channels and other touch-points that best allow reaching them. It is sometimes referred to as “Target Marketing” or “Niche Marketing.” A law firm practicing market segmentation will usually have a marketing plan for each target market. While it may seem like more work, there are many reasons for having distinct plans, which include:

  • Messaging: The messaging used in segment marketing plans should emphasize “what’s most important” to a distinct target market. While a real estate attorney will be focused on ensuring buy/sell agreements are accurate, complete and don’t leave room for misinterpretation, a domestic relations attorney’s focus will likely include more attention to the emotions involved, ensuring a client’s safety, or looking out for the best interests of the child.
  • Methods: Buyers within the same market segment tend to favor certain methods of communication. For example, one market segment may rely heavily on printed trade magazines while another may turn to online content. A DUI client may be more likely to review drunk driving attorneys nearby in the printed or online phonebook, yet someone seeking digital forensics to back up a business fraud case may prefer to find an attorney who is published and an expert in the field.
  • Purchase Process: The decision-making process or sales cycle for purchasing legal services will be different depending on the market segment. The legal acumen of a business attorney may be highly publicized and desired for a copyright case, but the personal referral from a friend who was a previous client may be more desired when seeking a divorce lawyer.

Focus on Practice or Industry

Effective segment marketing plans deliver compelling messages using the most effective communication methods at appropriate points in the sales cycle. Full-service law firms often create plans by practice group and /or by industry segment. A boutique law firm, like one that only handles Intellectual Property matters, will usually create plans by industry. Which market segments a law firm selects to invest marketing resources in will depend on its depth of experience as well as a segment’s growth potential. Middle market and smaller law firms should be careful not to target too many segments or they will only skim the surface and never build penetration.

Won’t More Than One Marketing Plan Confuse the Message of the Firm?

In a word, “no.” The firm’s brand and visibility in general can still be a marketing plan. The commonalities in marketing that are used by all of the practices or industries served by the law firm may include the following in their own plan or section:

  • Visual brand and brand standards
  • Website
  • Weneral brochure
  • Promotional items
  • Trade show materials
  • Community outreach
  • General advertising
  • General Sponsorships
  • Contact management / marketing automation
  • E-mail templates
  • Overall newsletter
  • General public relations

The size of your firm may dictate the amount of marketing resources that should be put into the overall marketing plan and general tactics. Hence middle-market and small firms may have modest overall marketing plans, and instead should invest as much as possible into reaching their target market segments for the biggest impact.

You may already know what makes your law firm special, and the various strengths among practices and industries served. Why not allow your prospective clients to find you more easily, know where your focus is, and discover why you are the right firm for their needs. Whether you see it as several marketing plans, or one plan with special sections for each unique market segment, there is no one-size-fits-all plan.




**Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at

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Debra Andrews

About Debra Andrews

Debra Andrews is president and owner of Marketri LLC, a Doylestown, Pa.-based full-service professional services marketing firm specializing in inbound marketing solutions that focus on lead generation through integrating content marketing with social media and search engine optimization. Marketri provides results-driven marketing solutions for small to mid-size B2B and professional services companies, including law firms 2.

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