Contrary to what many other marketing companies would have you believe, attracting clients to a personal injury law firm is much bigger than your search engine rank. Yes, law firms who attain high placements on SERPs have a great chance of getting more clients, but, as the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
The Personal Injury Client’s Journey – A Reality Check
Imagine that you are in a car accident that leaves you with moderate to severe injuries. You are in pain, your car is wrecked, and you must cancel all your plans for that day, or maybe even that month.
What do you think your next steps would be?
If you say, “search for an attorney and call them,” then you are probably wrong.
Let’s be honest, most people’s first reaction to a legal situation isn’t “call an attorney.” They may not know they need an attorney until after talking with the insurance company. In fact, most people who get serious injuries from an accident seek medical treatment, call their families and their employer, then talk about it with friends long before they start searching for personal injury attorneys.
Sure, a few people will proactively start their search, but they don’t just hire the lawyer that ranks at the top of Google. Before they even get to the internet, they get well-meaning advice from family and friends and even recommendations for attorneys.
Option #1 for Getting More Personal Injury Clients – Build a Personal Network
Even in the digital age, nothing tops a referral. If your friend recommends a movie, then you will most likely watch it. If your brother/sister/cousin recommends a restaurant, then you will most likely eat there. If a colleague recommends a chiropractor or massage therapist when you are in pain, then you are more likely to visit that provider.
Word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing. It’s more powerful than search engine rankings, cheaper than mass media, and has a higher ROI than print advertising. BUT… most personal injury lawyers fail to build word-of-mouth marketing. There are a few reasons for this, including:
- Word-of-mouth is difficult to quantify. With most types of marketing, you invest X dollars and see some kind of result. Word-of-mouth doesn’t lend itself to marketing tracking and data.
- For word-of-mouth to work within a year, you have to aggressively work at it. This requires someone dedicated to building relationships, which can sometimes seem like an odd investment for a small law firm.
- Your firm has to make a good impression. People don’t recommend services they wouldn’t use themselves. For word-of-mouth marketing to work, you have to ‘prove’ you are an attorney worth hiring.
Proving you are a great attorney is actually easier than it seems, but it’s not a step that can be skipped. The good news is that you can generate referrals from people who’ve never hired you as an attorney. There are many ways to build authority and goodwill to the point where someone wants to hire you. It’s all about positioning and teaching.
How to Build a Personal Network and Strong Word-of-Mouth Marketing
First, you need to identify a group that you already have strong ties with (or can build strong ties with). These will most likely be a local group where you can install yourself as part of the community, for example:
- Your church or religious group
- Local sports leagues
- Gyms or workout groups
- Small business masterminds
- Support groups
- Community centers
- Local colleges or private schools
- Special interest groups
I’m sure you may be able to think of other examples, but the point is to look for a social circle that you can join and make an impact. This does require that you show up to events and make in-person connections, which may be difficult for certain personality types. The key is authenticity and consistency; you have to put forth your true self, be more than “just an attorney,” and you have to show up to more than one meeting.
While the post-COVID default is to keep your social interactions on social media or online, please remember that online relationships don’t have the same potency as in-person connections. If you are unwilling to connect with people outside of social media, this strategy probably won’t work for you.
Option #2 for Getting More Personal Injury Clients – Become a Speaker
Let’s be honest, if you’ve cross-examined someone in a trial, then you are prepared to be a speaker. Even so, some attorneys are completely comfortable speaking in front of a judge and jury, but they shy away at the idea of speaking to an auditorium or small group of people.
If you are willing to speak on legal (or non-legal) topics, you can become a sought-after authoritative speaker. Attorneys who are willing to put themselves out there will usually find speaking engagements that put them in front of new people.
What is wonderful about this strategy is that you don’t have to speak on the law to build your authority! Attorneys who have special interests or hobbies can usually find an audience and casually mention their practice and what they do.
There are two key important factors to remember when using this strategy.
- Engage an audience on a subject where you are an authority (legal or non-legal). People respect an authoritative speaker. When someone has the courage to stand on stage and speak to an audience, they demonstrate courage, knowledge, and caring. The people in the audience have more respect for the person when their presentation was through, even when the presentation didn’t go as well as the speaker hoped (we often underestimate our own speaking abilities).
- Talk about who you are and how you apply what you are teaching to how you practice law. At the beginning of a presentation, you are going to introduce yourself. This is a natural place to mention that you are a personal injury attorney. However, take this a step further by looping back to what you do several times during your presentation. Referencing your practice does not need to sound forced. If you have a teaching point in your presentation, mention how you use that in your real life and your practice. Or, reference the experience of your clients (without naming names or specifics, of course). Multiple references to your practice will help your audience remember who you are and what you do.
How (and Where) Attorneys Can Find Speaking Opportunities
If you don’t fear the stage, the biggest obstacle to using this strategy is finding places where you can share your knowledge. Fortunately, it is ridiculously easy to find local speaking opportunities!
- Follow the RSS Feeds of Organizations You Want to Speak For
RSS is a web feed that follows a certain website. You can configure RSS feeds to email you when a site creates a new blog post or article, which can be great sources of information for upcoming events or calls for speakers.
- Hire a PR Agent (of sorts)
You can easily hire an agent to find speaking engagements for you, but you don’t need to shell out big bucks to an agency. Really, you can hire a marketing intern, freelancer, or temporary assistant to chase down local opportunities for you to speak.
- Create Your Own Speaking Opportunities
If all else fails, you can simply create your own events to speak at! These don’t need to be elaborate, even simple webinars will do the trick. You can advertise these webinars to your community using a platform like Facebook or Instagram and get a broad, diverse audience to attend (and hopefully refer you cases).
Option #3 for Getting More Personal Injury Clients – Multimedia
Excellent attorney marketing focuses on creating omnipresence across many marketing channels. In simple terms, this means showing up everywhere a potential client may look for an attorney.
A “marketing channel” is any major medium that a person may see or use. The major marketing channels include:
- Organic search
- Paid search
- Print marketing (mailers and print ads)
- Mass media (broadcast TV and cable)
- Social media
- Mass print/broadcast (billboards, bus ads, sporting arena ads, etc.)
Each of these marketing channels are trackable and profitable, provided you know how to communicate effectively in each medium. However, like every marketing strategy, their effectiveness depends on the details of your practice. Personal injury attorneys can (and have) used each of the marketing channels above with great success.
While it takes a massive budget to show up everywhere (particularly billboards and paid search), omnipresence should be your goal if you want to generate seven or eight figures in revenue. For law firms on a budget, here are the places you can get started and still keep your costs low.
- Paid Search – Paid search includes pay per click and local service ads. While both of these mediums represent a not-insignificant investment, they can be configured to be highly targeted and highly profitable. Google Local Service Ads can deliver immediate return on investment for most attorneys, but budgets can be as high as $1500 weekly.
- Organic (a.k.a Local) search – You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that organic search and SEO go hand-in-hand. However, we’re not specifically talking about SEO in this section. Instead of focusing on your website, focus on your reviews. Most attorneys increase their firm's visibility just by increasing their reviews by 25% (or more).
- Print marketing – You don’t need to send a mailer to every person in your zip code, but you can send a mailer to every person who has worked with you as a client or referring attorney. In fact, newsletter marketing does wonders to increase referrals and word-of-mouth, and it is much more targeted and much less expensive than traditional print marketing.
Why Personal Injury Attorneys Should Scale their Marketing with their Revenue
When you look at the history of the highest performing personal injury firms, you will notice that the biggest firms increased their marketing budget year over year until they dominate the market.
The story of Cellino & Barnes is a great illustration of this point. As soon as they won a case, they reinvested some of their profits into more marketing. Eventually, their firm reached a point where their ads were universally known in Buffalo and New York as a whole.In our experience working with many high-performing law firms throughout the country, the law firms who broke the seven-figure revenue barrier were the types who always invested in marketing and made bigger investments each time.