It’s often said that companies don’t hire law firms—they hire lawyers. By the same token, your clients and prospects aren’t just companies—they’re people.
And those people determine how an organization operates in the marketplace: how they approach problems, how they make purchasing decisions, who they are likely to turn to in a crisis, and what stakeholders they need to consider.
As such, your law firm’s website and your entire brand system have to put those people and their organizational personas at the center of your overall marketing strategy. Show your end user that you understand their needs by demonstrating empathy and providing solutions. Show them that you get them.
In a competitive B2B environment, it’s easy to overlook the fact that those Bs are run by Ps who have real-life challenges. Designing your law firm website and brand to address those people by their personas directly increases their engagement, establishes trust, and creates a more robust prospect pipeline. One that’s built to weather economic uncertainty.
Put People and Their Problems at the Forefront of Your Design
Most law firms organize their marketing strategy by segmenting their target companies according to industry vertical or revenue. But this oversimplified approach ignores the distinct differences in prospective clients’ buying behavior.
Each industry vertical or revenue level can contain a multitude of different personas, each with their own set of challenges, purchasing criteria and preferences. Their realities are far too disparate to give them all a singular experience with your law firm brand.
Instead, your prospects should clearly see themselves, their organization and their situation whenever they visit your website, read your thought leadership content, listen to your podcasts, or encounter your firm on social media.
But instead of tailoring your message to target consumer personas like Baby Boomers or Soccer Moms, you’re considering how to adjust it to land effectively with different business people within different businesses.
For example, when successfully using personas, you would address a tech startup COO quite differently than the General Counsel of a Fortune 500 company. For a startup audience, you might offer tool kits, instructional videos or worksheets—engaging content they can use to grow their business or launch their products. For a Fortune 500 company, they’re more likely to be interested in the impact of regulatory developments coming to their industry or global trends.
By showing your prospects that your firm has a deep understanding of their business and their needs, you are going beyond sharing your expertise. You know the issue they’re facing. And you’re demonstrating what it would be like for them if they hired you as their lawyer.
That can be powerfully persuasive.
A Persona Approach Makes You Stand Out From Peer Firms
You’ve seen enough other law firm websites and brands to know how few of them put prospects at the forefront of their design. More often than not, law firm websites and marketing materials are vehicles used to tout their latest accomplishments and accolades: big deals, big court victories, big clients and so on.
While that is impressive (especially to your peers), it’s like a one-way conversation on a date where the other person is only talking about themselves. Not exactly engaging.
Since that approach is the norm for so many law firms, bringing a persona-based approach to your firm’s design and brand strategy becomes a significant differentiator. Today’s business climate offers opportunities and prospects that are diverse, with increasingly complex matters.
When so few others make it a priority to see matters from their prospects’ perspective, your firm can stand apart from the competition.
Organizational Change Is a Primary Driver in Purchasing Decisions
Law firm clients are companies and individuals dealing with some kind of change.
Whether they’re a mid-cap company involved in a merger or acquisition, a multinational facing a class-action lawsuit, or a growing startup on the verge of a transformative financing round, your target prospects are encountering a change and need a lawyer to navigate it.
Remember, change is a major impetus for companies to make a purchase, whether for legal services or otherwise. A company’s new chief technology officer might be confronting matters around data security or intellectual property. A chief operating officer overseeing a merger with another firm might be exploring different real estate options.
In each instance, change is compelling someone within the organization to consider making some kind of an investment to manage that change.
By using personas to inform your design decisions and brand strategy, you can capitalize on change as a purchasing trigger. If you can show prospects that you know what they’re going through when facing all manner of change, you establish empathy and build trust and familiarity.
That familiarity encourages them to engage with your brand in an authentic way. When your prospects see themselves in your brand and understand how you would handle certain situations, they’re more likely to turn to you when it’s time to make a purchase.
But that process doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to develop that trust.
Engage Prospects by Providing Actionable Solutions
Nobody likes getting the hard sell. It’s a turnoff. And it’s also why designing your site and framing your brand around personas is so effective. It’s not even a soft sell approach; it’s about demonstrating your value by presenting your prospects with solutions that speak directly to them.
Look at this way: If a prospect wanted a consultation and called your firm to speak with a lawyer, that lawyer wouldn’t talk about their awards and recognitions, their hourly rate, or how they can offer a discount on a monthly retainer.
Instead, that lawyer is going to ask a lot of questions, discover what issue that prospect is facing, and discuss some possible solutions. They are going to spend time getting to know them, diagnosing their problem and prescribing some potential answers.
Your website and your entire brand needs to take that same tack.
Prospects need to see themselves wherever they encounter your firm. They need to see their circumstance represented in long-form thought leadership. They need to hear a familiar refrain in your videos and podcasts. They need to spot their challenges on your service pages and in your webinars, client alerts, and social media accounts.
Each of these encounters is an opportunity for you to show your prospects how you do exactly the kind of work they need done right now.
Purchasing Decisions Are Often Made By Committee
Hiring a law firm for a long-term engagement or even simply a one-off transaction is no small matter for most companies, so the decision to hire a law firm is rarely left to a single individual.
Instead, there might be an entire team making a group decision about which firm to select. Your messaging needs to account for that group dynamic and identify the personas in play.
A 2021 Gartner study found that 72 percent of companies preferred to make a purchase entirely without a sales rep. That indicates that most of those companies are comfortable with doing their own online research.
Having said that, Gartner’s same study found “B2B buyers struggle to make high-quality purchases due to factors such as environmental uncertainty, organizational change, fractured group buying dynamics, and exposure to conflicting information.”
If you can identify the right personas and target them, you can overcome those factors that block companies from making those purchasing decisions. Are they innovators? Are they traditionalists? Are they risk averse?
Using the answers to those questions to develop your messaging will increase your engagement with those potential customers.
How Personas Can Target 3 Different Types of Companies
Put into practice, a persona-based approach means tailoring your messaging to reflect the needs and expectations of prospects within different kinds of companies.
Let’s look at how you can use personas for three common types of companies:
An Established Fortune 500 Company
When adjusting your messaging to target an established Fortune 500 company, consider the age and collective experience of such a company. They have worked with dozens of other law firms, whether in litigation or transactional representation.
As a result, they are going to expect regular touches from your attorneys, like client alerts and email newsletters. Keep your communications frequent and formal with the latest information and advice.
More traditional marketing is what they have come to expect from their law firms. They’re more likely to be dismissive of anything too flashy or that talks down to them as if they haven’t been around the block before
A Growing Mid-Cap Healthcare Company
This company may be fully formed and profitable with some impressive accomplishments, but it’s likely still undergoing some transformation and facing market headwinds.
You want to let them know you have your finger on the pulse of their industry by regularly putting out thought leadership and hosting webinars that help them see around corners. Your website content for this company should show that you have deep experience in the healthcare field and have proven solutions.
An Innovative FinTech Startup
This company is just getting its legs underneath it. It has developed their minimum viable product and are plotting their next big move.
They have a small group of talented founders and a handful of employees. They still don’t know what they don’t know. Your marketing messaging and content for them should be supportive, encouraging and prescriptive.
Help them find their footing by providing things like:
- templates for foundational documents they need
- guidance on intellectual property protection
- a capital calculator or a liquidation calculator
- hiring best practices
Startups typically don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer in their early stages, so the more DIY material you can provide the better. If they go on to become a successful enterprise, they won’t forget who gave them critical information when they were getting started.
Deploy Persona-Based Design Throughout Your Brand
Every law firm is interested in customer acquisition and retention. And since all of them operate in a multichannel environment where their prospects are being bombarded with marketing and content every day, you need your own firm’s messaging to hit those prospects on the most meaningful level possible.
Law firms need to target personas so that they see themselves in everything you do, creating engagement over the long haul. Examine every entry point and ask whether you’re addressing the targeted personas effectively.
And you need to make sure that you have the supporting infrastructure in place, including design guidelines and brand systems, so that users can find the information they need quickly and consistently.
The ultimate goal of designing with personas in mind isn’t about drawing more users to your website, attracting more followers on social media or improving the open rate on your client alerts. It’s about designing your brand system to provide important information to the right people at the right moment to drive genuine engagement. That engagement allows your prospects to develop trust in your firm and to know that you are the right choice when they need to hire legal counsel.
Once that happens and it’s time to step into a boardroom and pitch your services, everything is primed for you to seal the deal.