When it comes to making decisions about advertising and marketing in a small community, branding and brand management becomes even more important than it is for attorneys in the big cities. Good branding doesn’t mean you have to have a slick logo or a flashy commercial. Instead, your location gives you unique challenges such as making yourself seem as powerful as the big law firms with the six figure advertising budgets, and valuable opportunities such as the astonishing power of word-of-mouth.
Here are six important ways to market your law firm in a small or medium-sized community.
1. Customer Service
The number one thing you can do to build a positive brand in your community is, of course, to provide excellent customer service. Always be focused on making the client not just satisified, but happy. Good service builds good feedback. When people ask their friends for advice on finding an attorney, your former clients will say “I had a great experience with…”
Even though it may seem like there’s no need to use the internet to market in a small town, the tendency to research and find attorneys online is universal. You don’t want your next potential client skipping you just because the other attorney in town happens to have a positive review on Google Places. So use that good customer service karma and ask your clients to leave a review on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and so on.
3. Website and SEO
As your potential clients realize they need an attorney, they’re most likely going to ask friends and go online to decide who to work with. If you’re the only attorney for 200 miles in any direction, you might be ok to skip developing a website. If, however, your client pool watches TV and sees the ads there by the big shots in the big cities, your business is at risk. Do what it takes to have a classy website, comparable to the big law firms, and make sure that when locals search for attorneys they find you at the top of the list.
4. Marketing groups
I was privileged to watch a master marketer in a small community. He built a fairly large business for himself in investments (in a town of only 15,000 people!) and was passionate about increasing his market share till he “owned the town.” His solution was not to simply *join* a marketing group, but to *create* one. He spoke with some of his professional clients and started organizing. Within a few months he had about a dozen participants, each pitching in about 500 dollars for an annual “membership.” With that membership money he organized charitable events and client appreciation events for the group. He continued to build on this success with discount cards, online promotions, and more. The members of the group became famous in the community.
5. Event Marketing
Doing events in the community builds recognition and prestige. It can also be an opportunity to bring people into your office. For example: imagine organizing a “fun run” for a local charity. Put an announcement in the local news outlets that participants can pick up tickets at your office. Mention details can be found on your website, or your facebook page, etc. Better yet, partner with another well-known and trusted business in town and have them announce to their clients that tickets are available in your office.
6. Billboards and Ads
Studies have shown that advertisements make little difference for local businesses. Especially billboards. The exception to that rule is in small towns. For some reason, billboards *can* be an effective advertising option in the small community setting. If you choose to try this route, be cautious and hire a professional since you don’t want to be known as the attorney who was too stingy to hire a designer. The other local advertising option worth considering is the phone book. Consider the demographics of your community before shelling out the cash, though. In communities with a solid over-50 population, you should probably give it a shot. If the community is “young,” and thus more likely to use Google, you may want to just get a small listing rather than spring for the full-page ad.
Becoming famous in your community is essential for any attorney, whether in a small town or a big city. The methodology changes a bit, and priorities may shift, but the essential truth is that if you don’t manage your brand, you will not be able to compete with the big law firms, and you will not thrive. Become well-known and well-loved, though, and it won’t matter how much your competitors spend on advertising – they’ll never beat you.