When people are seeking an Attorney, they go through several stages before they actually hire one. Knowing what you can provide to them at each stage will give you an obvious advantage in your law firm marketing if you meet their expectations. Be aware that there are many ways to do this but knowing what they need and especially where they are in the hiring process is the key to being in the right place at the right time and working your way toward having them as your client. Let’s discuss the first of these four stages of the Attorney hiring process.
STAGE #1 – THE INFORMATION GATHERING STAGE
The advantage of the online world of 2015 is that when someone has a legal problem, or any problem, what’s the first thing they do? They go online to seek information about the nature of their problem and what might be the best option to solve that problem.
In other words, they are gathering information about their specific situation and they are trying to find out all they can about the nature of their legal problem, how others have resolved a similar problem, and finding answers to specific questions they might have learned to ask, as they learned more about their legal problem through this initial research phase.
There was a time when you had to spend hours, days or weeks manually researching legal issues (remember libraries?) or just go see an Attorney (the Keeper of the Legal Knowledge) who was recommended to you by a friend, family member or by general reputation in your community. Today, it is a Google search query away and off they go to get a massive amount of information right at their fingertips. I remember when Lawyers had an information monopoly…ah, the good old days.
At the information gathering stage, the resources used by a legal consumer to find and gather that information about their legal problem breaks down as follows, in order of importance:
Online Search Engines
Friend and Family Advice
Online Legal Advice Forums
Law Firm Websites
Social Media Sites
So what does this mean? It means you need to be found in all these places with good content that provides answers on specific topics in your area of practice. If people see that you are everywhere they search at this initial gathering stage, they see that you know what you are talking about and you must understand that they are not only are gathering information about their problem; they are already forming an opinion as to who the real “players” are. If you create and publish good quality content that addresses the legal problem they are researching, you are tapping into some very powerful human triggers: Authority and Social Proof.
This type of content creation is not easy. It is a time consuming process and requires research but there are ways that it can be done effectively. The key is to do it better than your competitors so that you stand out as the “trusted source” or the “authority” on your area of legal practice. That will help you greatly in the later stages of the hiring process.
It is important to note that advice from friends and family is actually equal to the reliance on online search engine queries when people begin to research and gather information about their legal problem. As we should know, most people confide in those closest to them, but what is surprising is that it is equal to the weight they put on search engine results at this important initial stage of the Attorney hiring process.
Even though friends and family members may not be the most reliable source of information, unless they have experienced a similar legal problem, legal service consumers turn to them anyway and seek their advice and counsel on their legal issue.
One key psychological takeaway to consider is that everyone likes to appear to be “in the know” and to be an “expert” on a variety of topics. Don’t we all like to appear smart to our friends and family? So…if your content is everywhere and unavoidable, friends and family will reiterate your content that they have seen (possibly on social media) when their advice is sought by the legal consumer they know and care about when asked by them. (Oh, you definitely want to go see so and so in Orlando…he knows his stuff and is the go to guy for that!)
So the key is to create informative content and share it, so others can step into your shoes and use that content to advise their friends and family members, like they are in the know. This is where social media becomes a big part of your successful Attorney marketing strategy.