Updated: May 20
Marketing for Lawyers: Explaining What You Do
I have a friend who’s a neurologist. She gets cornered at wedding receptions all the time. People want her feedback on everything from joint pain to eczema. Her response? ”You should see a doctor.”
I swear, she needs a translator to walk around with her and explain what she actually does for a living.
It’s the same for lawyers too.
My attorney-clients are always getting trapped by Aunt Barbara at Thanksgiving, asking for advice or offering to make professional introductions. Half the holiday is just explaining - “that’s not really my job, Barb.”
Somewhere the story’s gone awry. Or maybe it never got going. I mean if Aunt Barb doesn’t understand what you do, maybe the general public doesn’t either.
Why is the message so lost?
Marketing for lawyers, and a lot of professionals who have super-specialized expertise, is tricky. You’re valued for a particular competence, but you can’t market lawyers with “lawyer speak'' or most people won’t understand your value.
You have to turn your legal marketing into storytelling to bridge that messaging gap.
And when I talk about marketing for lawyers - I don’t mean advertising. It’s a longer game than that. Marketing for lawyers is a deep and varied conversation that creates connection between you and the people who need you the most.
In this article, I want to talk to you about what story you are - or aren’t - telling in your legal marketing.
I also want to reveal to you who that story’s about.
Because marketing for lawyers isn’t about the lawyer.
Spoiler. It’s about your prospective client.
Niche It Waaaaaay Down
So I think we should consider getting really specific with your niche before we even think about what marketing for lawyers looks like.
I know. Developing a niche as a first step can feel backwards. The idea of narrowing your scope to grow your client base…it just seems so wrong. And maybe, if you lived in a tiny town in 1895, that would be true.
But when you approach legal marketing these days, you’re entering a giant, international, online ocean. Your widest offer is sent out into a whirlwind of other similar offers.
A loose niche makes you register - if you register at all - as just another lawyer. Just another annoying flash in the feed.
When you niche down…and then niche down a bit more - you’ll begin building a specific, nuanced, hyper-resonant language for your ideal client’s pain points.
You won’t just communicate expertise. You’ll communicate a deep understanding of what your new client is searching for - relief.
In other words, you won’t be some lawyer. You’ll be their lawyer.
So, Who Is Your Client? The Client Avatar
Niche marketing for lawyers isn’t just the subheading on your letterhead - Employment Law, Tax Law, Family Law. It’s drawing the clearest possible idea of who your client is before you even meet.
The best way to do that is a client avatar - sometimes called a “client persona.”
An avatar or persona is “a hypothetical person who has the same needs, aspirations, passions and wants as the customer you want to reach,” says Entrepreneur.com. “With a defined avatar, it's easier to create ad-hoc communication and marketing strategies for your customers.”
To create your legal marketing avatar, you need to get specific…really specific - vivid, real.
This isn’t just demographics. It’s more like an 8-season breakdown of a Netflix series.
Who is your ideal client? Make up a name. What’s their occupation, lifestyle, family, habits, and income?
What are they about? Talk about their values, wants, aspirations, and most of all…their worries.
What’s the problem that you can solve? Not just the main “on paper” issue. Define the underlying drivers - security, peace, revenge, comfort, justice, simplicity.
What is life like before you help them? After? How do you change their situation?
From then on, use this avatar in your marketing “conversation.”
For instance, if you make up a client avatar named Lucy Schuster who owns a successful catering business? Then talk directly to Lucy when you market.
Explain to Lucy what you do, how you can help, how she’s going to feel when she has you on her side.
It may feel dumb. But I promise you - I’ve seen a lot of marketing for lawyers with artificial and remote tones. If you're talking to faceless masses, your marketing can read like condescension or even a con.
But when you message around a “real” person the conversation gets intuitive, relatable, pertinent, and open.
It’s ironic, but when you’re marketing for lawyers creating a fictional avatar can make you seem a lot more real.
Your Website’s Not for You
An official website is such a business basic it barely registers as “marketing for lawyers.”
That being said, you might need to overhaul yours.
I read a lot of professional websites that have a vibe that’s too much about the speaker. Like they’re talking to themself. And yeah - it should match who you are in general, but unless you’re specifically pitching to other lawyers, don’t create a website that speaks like a lawyer.
Sure, communicate expertise, intelligence, and knowledge.
But when you’re marketing for lawyers it’s important to create a company website that’s about your client - their worries and relief. They should feel seen and understood by the site.
Think about it. Does your site:
Engage them with storytelling, not stats?
Use simple, lean, emotional language?
Avoid legalese or jargon?
Have a design that looks professional but pleasant? (Or does it look like a newspaper?)
Above all, does your site address their pain points with empathy? Does it tell them how you’ll help?
Take a moment to look at your site with your client avatar in mind.
How do you think Lucy Schuster will respond?
Storytelling and Social Media
It doesn’t matter if you’re marketing for lawyers, vegan bakers, or dog walking services - social media is going to be part of the plan.
Now don’t worry - you don’t need to cover every single media option.
Pick two. You can go through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. You can do livestreams, blogs, Q&As, or a newsletter.
The main thing is you want to tell the story of what you do. What problems you solve.
Too often marketing for lawyers looks like, “Buy this…because I’m selling it.” So help your client see a picture of what you do - simply, in a relatable way.
This is your chance to flesh out the gaps in your messaging, give samples of your good advice and clarify who you serve and why.
Be plain, be consistent, and use case studies when you legally can. Then when a potential client shows up at your virtual door, they’ll find a robust archive.
They’ll get a sample of your generous and compelling work ethic. They’ll get a vibe of someone they can imagine talking to.
The relationship will begin strong - even before the first email.
The Point Is…
The real point of all this? When you’re marketing for lawyers remember…you’re not marketing for lawyers.
It’s for the prospective client. For Lucy Schuster. So, be yourself, but talk to her.
Say things that let her know what you’re about. And that you’re here to help.
Will some people be turned off by this? Oh yeah. Definitely. Doesn’t matter if you’re the most interesting, competent lawyer in the world.
But that’s good too.
Targeted and authentic marketing for lawyers takes care of a lot of awkward time-sucks ahead of time. Now Thanksgiving can be about the turkey and your Aunt Barb’s new boyfriend.
Remember marketing for lawyers isn’t about getting the word out.
It’s about getting your message across.
It’s not just about being remembered. It’s about being significant to the person who needs you and your work.
Ready to get the right message across? We talk all about FINDING clients in my free coaching hour, Brave Biz Lab.