Developing Client Avatars for Law Firm Success
Aren’t avatars for video games and movies not law firms?
In life and in business, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not knowing what you want.
Yes everyone wants to be “happy”, “successful”, and “wealthy” while “giving back” and being in a”perfect relationship” with “the one” and having 2.5 perfect kids…but ask them to define happy or describe “the one” and watch them stutter and stammer as they have no idea.
Your business isn’t any different. If you don’t understand why you are in business or what your goals are you will never get there. You need to get specific about your revenue goals, why reaching them is critical, and what you will do with the money once you get it, or your brain won’t be able to help you reach them.
The same goes for finding your ideal clients and customers. If you don’t have a clear picture of who you want buying from you and who you want to work with, you will end up getting everyone and anyone walking through your door.
You may be thinking, “great! I want a line out the door!”, but if you are wasting all your time with crowd control, you aren’t spending time growing your business. You will get successful much faster wooing the ideal prospect over and over again than you will swimming through a sea of people mostly composed of prospects you would never want as customers.
There’s also an important psychological shift between choosing your clients and customers and hoping they will choose you. That difference in thought is the difference between success and misery for many business owners.
If you don’t have a very clear picture of what your ideal client looks like, and a list of those ideal clients in real life your brain will spend too much time focusing on the wrong things.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you now know that you get more of what you focus on, so focusing on the wrong things gets you more of, well, the wrong things. So stop that.
To get focused on the right things, we need to define what the right things are, so use this chapter as an opportunity to do a little work, put pen to paper(or keys to keyboard), and create an exact profile of your ideal client.
If you have been in business for a while this will be easy because you can literally model your favorite client, if you have not, you might have to use a little imagination or picture a competitors top client that you would love to have.
Just like every other thing we’ve worked on, getting it done is what is important, not getting it perfect.
Getting started creating the ideal client avatar for your law firm
The first part of creating your ideal client avatar is insanely easy if you have an actual persona in mind which is why having an actual person in mind is a great idea during this process.
If you can picture an ideal prospect, client, or customer from real life, this process will be quick and painless, as will trying to find more people just like them in real life.
Why? Because similar people have similar interests, spend time in similar places, do similar things, and have similar focuses.
So, let’s start with the basics:
How old your ideal prospect is can be a critical factor in figuring out where to market to them, what language and messaging to use, and what values to focus on.
Understanding that different generations have different values, grew up watching different tv shows, read different literature, hang out in different places, and currently have different goals is critical to your successful marketing plan.
If you are looking for retirement age prospects, marketing to them with Snapchat advertising using esports celebrities and talking about individualism and how important it is to feel good will likely do a really good job of wasting your marketing efforts, but not much else.
Keeping the age of your ideal prospect in mind and acting accordingly is critical to the success of your marketing program on every level.
Even though this is becoming a more complex subject to address in the modern world, gender norms are still a reality in most demographics. It might not be worth the risk of trying to leverage gender norms in your marketing depending on your demographic, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be aware of them.
If you are marketing to a primarily female demographic, consider that using only male perspectives and messaging very likely may cause you to miss the mark, and therefore miss the opportunity of connecting with that prospect.
Single, Married, Divorced, and not at all interested aren’t even all of the options for this category in the modern world which just goes to show how important it is to understand which your ideal prospect identifies with more.
Stability and security might not matter to your prospect if they think the idea of marriage and children is a control mechanism established by the man, which means you need another approach to sell them your financial planning services. Good thing annuities can be used to pay for travel, donating to your favorite crowdfunding campaigns, and staying off the grid too.
Considering your prospects plans for long-term relationships or lack thereof can play an important roll in creating messaging that resonates with them and gets them to act.
Do they have them? Do they want them? How old are they?
Kids can have a major impact on buying decisions, both future and present. Don’t believe me? Go look up the study on how much money Target spent figuring out women were pregnant before they even knew.
Kids will affect how people spend, how people save, what they buy, and what they absolutely won’t buy.
Understanding this and how it relates back to your product or service creates opportunities to connect with your ideal prospect at their most emotional level.
If selling on emotion is the key to success, then understanding where your client is investing their emotions is critical to identifying and reaching your ideal client or customer.
Obviously, if you are selling local or location-based services you need to know the location of your prospect. But what about selling other things like e-commerce or travel services, does it still matter then? Of course.
Weather, terrain, seasonality, regional belief systems, access to infrastructure like airports and shipping, and even high-speed internet can all affect your ability to make a sale or acquire a client.
Not being aware of these issues or limitations will restrict your ability to connect and/or relate to your prospect, reducing trust, and therefore reducing your ability to create a positive relationship.
Conversely if you can speak the local language and relate to local issues your prospect is intimately familiar with, you will build instant rapport and accelerate the relationship in a way an “outsider” never could.
Favorite Advice or Life Quote
This might seem random, but people’s belief systems control more of their actions than nearly anything else. People start wars every day just to prove their beliefs are right.
“Hard work is the key to success” or “Live every day like it’s your last” aren’t just cliches, they are keys to identifying the core beliefs of the person who says them.
If you can call out, connect with, and appeal to someone’s core beliefs, you will build an instant connection, get their attention, and be much closer to getting their trust.
Give your avatar a quote and give yourself a strong reminder of what is most important to them.
This one might seem self-explanatory, but identifying your prospects occupation is about more than just giving them a job.
If I tell you that I’m a banker do you instantly get a picture in your mind? Computer programmer? Athlete?
There is a reason it’s so easy for us to picture people based on their occupation, it’s because like everything else, occupations tend to attract similar people and give them similar behaviors, beliefs, incomes, educations, and goals.
Understanding those factors that are likely true about your ideal prospect because of their occupation gives you another advantage when it comes to marketing to them.
Income not only gives you insight as to whether they can even afford your product or service, but also helps determine what some of their other buying habits might be, where they might be hanging out, and whether they are a good candidate for additional sales and continuation programs.
Most business owners only think in terms of income determining whether they can afford the product or not. Remembering that income can also determine a lot of other behaviors can be a real advantage when targeting your ideal prospect as well.
Things like country club memberships, elite vacation destinations, luxury stores and car dealerships, and even professional organizations with high membership costs can help you target and reach your ideal clients in ways traditional marketing cannot.
The inverse is also true. Don’t let a media buyer sell you on placement in front of the “best buyers we have” if the best buyers wouldn’t even consider buying your lower tiered product. Product to market match is a critical component of any marketing campaign and understanding income demographics can be an important tool for success.
Level of education
Identifying your ideal prospect’s level of education gives you a lot of insight. From the obvious of whether they think formal education is important, to the less thought of things like school loan obligations, likely loyalties to school-related programs, and ties to organizations and companies that recruit heavily from similar institutions.
All of these things give you a level of insight rarely considered by professional marketers let alone business owners like you just trying to get an edge.
If you completed higher education think of all the ways it affected you. Bonding over late night study groups, fierce competition among rivals, clubs and organizations you joined, the un-ending calls for alumni support, homecoming, everyone’s favorite place for pizza, and the place everyone avoided eating at all offer opportunities to connect with your prospect on a unique level.
Taking a deeper dive
For many of you just covering the basics gave you a level of insight into your ideal customer or client that you never considered before. Now that you’ve written all that out(of course you did) let’s move on to some additional characteristics that can open up even more opportunities to find and connect with the people you want to do business with most.
Goals And Values
Understanding the goals and values of your ideal client is important for marketing to them, but also for making sure what you are offering is structured in a way to help them reach those goals while being in alignment with those values.
If your product or service cannot help them achieve their goals while staying in alignment with their values then they are not your ideal client.
That means you have two options, get a new product or offering, or get a new ideal client.
Trying to sell a product that is out of alignment with your prospects values will be nearly impossible.
As we discussed earlier people will start wars and die to prove that their values are right.
Getting them to a buy a product that goes against that will be much more challenging than it’s worth.
If your product or service can get someone closer to their goals but only by violating their values it’s going to be necessary to make adjustments.
For example, if you have a weight loss product that guarantees people will reach their weight loss goals, but is made with the souls of puppies and kittens, there is a certain segment of the population that will never buy that product no matter how much they believe it will help them lose weight.
In that situation, you can either change your key ingredient or start marketing to people that love cheeseburgers AND hate cute furry pets. Spending your marketing dollars trying to convince animal lovers that puppies don’t have souls or that it’s ok because you only use the bad puppies will not be worth the effort.
Similarly, if the reason your prospect wants to lose weight is that they want tons of energy to play with their kids and your diet product has the side effect of making you sleep 23 hours a day, you are going to have an issue making that sale.
Change your market to the couch surfing living in mom’s basement crowd, change your ingredients, or add an upsell that creates unending energy or you will never find the success you want.
Either way, know your prospect’s goals and values and get aligned with them or face unending frustration trying to grow your law firm…or diet pill business.
Challenges and Pain Points
Luckily in legal practice, the challenges and pain points of your prospective clients are pretty obvious.
They are coming to you for help solving a problem, many times an urgent one.
Which is why identifying the core pain point that isn’t as obvious is even more important than you might think if you want to stand out from the competition.
If a prospect comes to you for estate planning the obvious pain points are peace of mind that their life is organized enough for end of life.
Less obvious pain points may be concerns over an irresponsible heir, being afraid the government will waste their money, or being forgotten after they are gone.
If you can address these issues in addition to the obvious ones you will reach, connect with, and acquire more of the people concerned with them as clients.
People like to do business with those that understand their issues at the deepest levels. People also prefer not to expose their more selfish or embarrassing concerns.
Create a business that handles both of those concerns and you can celebrate your understanding all the way to the bank.
Fail to understand your prospects true pain points and watch them walk over to the less qualified practice down the street just because they feel more connected to them.
Prove to people you understand and can address their challenges and pain points and they will get out their checkbooks.
Who do they listen to, read, and trust?
Figuring out who your prospective clients listen to and get their information gives you so many insights into how to reach them, and how not to reach them, that we won’t even be able to cover them all.
This one piece of your client avatar alone will give you so much insight into where and how to reach your law firm’s ideal clients that your law firm marketing will become immensely more successful from figuring out just this piece.
Since we can’t cover every potential source of information, let’s at least cover the big ones.
Who do they read?
Entrepreneurs do a lot of reading. Successful entrepreneurs do A LOT of reading. There is little that influences the beliefs and actions of the average successful entrepreneur more than who’s books they are reading.
That provides a lot of opportunity for you.
People that read books also read blogs. People that read books also listen to podcasts. People that read books, would read your book if it was marketed well.
Perhaps most importantly, people that read books usually buy books from Amazon, and Amazon has A LOT of data you can use to find out more about them.
Figure out the one book all of your clients are reading, and Amazon will tell you the other books they are probably reading.
Figure out several of the books they are already reading and Amazon will give you information about the authors, what other authors people typically follow, and let you see the initial content in their books.
Want to know what’s most important to your potential clients?
Figure out what books they are reading, and then look at the table of contents for those books. You will literally have an organized breakdown of the topics your prospects are giving their attention to.
If they are investing their time, money, and attention in those topics, you can bet they matter to them.
Books also give you great ideas for where to reach your ideal prospects.
Where are those authors advertising? Where are the people selling the most related books and products according to Amazon or eBay advertising? Can you target people who follow those authors with your advertising(the answer is probably yes).
Can you interview those authors for a blog, podcast or video podcast to create great content your ideal prospects will love while also gaining the benefit of the social proof that being associated with those authors create? (that answer is more likely yes than you think also)
In other words, if you can figure out who your ideal prospect is reading, you can figure out where to reach them, what to say to them, and how to say it with just a little research on one or two sites.
That’s the true power of the information age.
Magazines offer a lot of the same potential benefits as books.
The one benefit to magazines is that they are topical, so if you know the focus of your prospect’s attention but nothing else, you can start there and find out who the content producers are on that topic.
Magazines also offer insight into what topics are most relevant.
As locations where magazines are typically displayed becomes more expensive and less common(airports, train stations, book stores, etc.), any magazines you see in those areas are sure to be about highly relevant and popular topics to people with money, or they wouldn’t be worth the investment in the space.
Magazines also need content, creating opportunities for you to create relevance and authority for yourself by producing writing for those magazines.
So, to summarize, magazines offer all of the benefits of books, with an added bonus of relevance indicators, more topical focuses, and easier opportunities to get yourself in front of your target audience than publishing and marketing your own book.
Online Content: Blogs, Websites, Podcasts, and Videos
The double-edged sword of online content is that it’s prolific in volume and variable in quality.
Pick any topic and you will find hundreds of websites, thousands of videos, and a new podcast every day.
That means you have to be a little smarter with your online research.
The top website and video results on Google and Youtube might just be really good at SEO and/or online marketing, not necessarily good at writing great content that people love and resonate with.
Online content is a lot like the concept of McDonalds, just because you see them everywhere and they have the most customers doesn’t mean they are making the best hamburgers.
The good news is that you can research who your ideal prospect gives their attention to online directly and then go from there.
Use the real person or people you built the avatar of your ideal client off of and get to cyberstalking. Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and LinkedIn will let you see who people like and follow without even being connected to them in most cases.
The great thing about that is that it will also show you who else is giving their attention to(following) the same people. In cases of celebrities these follower lists can be too voluminous and full of bots to provide value, but if you are looking at more specialized or niched industry “rockstars” you might find a treasure trove of ideal prospects to connect with.
Just like magazines, reaching out to connect with these “rockstars” for guest blog posting, podcast interviews, or other content producing activities will frequently get you instant credibility with your ideal target audience.
Conferences and Professional Events
Much like the other areas of focus, conferences and professional events give you insight into what topics are important, who the influencers are, and where to find your ideal clients(at least a few days a year)
Search for the main conferences for the industries your ideal prospects work in and look at the event overview to see what topics speakers are presenting on, who the speakers are, and what kind of venue the event is being held out to learn a ton of information you can use for your marketing in one neat little package.
After gathering intel from the event, use the information about speakers, influencers and topics to connect with those influencers and create content that resonates with your audience.
You can use that intel if you attend the event in some capacity to directly call out and connect with influencers to try to make in-person connections while they are all in one place.
#protip conferences provide an ideal environment to record quick social proof style interviews with influencers, and event recaps and notes make for great marketing content for your brand.
Certain events also offer you the opportunity to attend, sponsor, or be a vendor so you can market directly to your ideal prospects in person surrounded by their peers and authority figures.
If you do attend, prepare ahead of time by getting apps that support collecting and organizing information like business cards quickly and effectively, as well as something to follow up quickly with the contacts you make.
There are several apps available that will send emails, texts, and video messages for you automatically after uploading contact information or scanning a business card, assuring that you follow up with leads in a unique way.
#protip you can run online ads directly at specific locations so if you can’t attend an event, you can still reach your prospects with your message. Call out the fact that they are at the event in your ad to get more attention and be more effective with your ad.
Role in The Sales Process
You’ve done a great job now figuring out how to reach your ideal prospect and how to get their attention.
Now you need to figure out what role they play in the process of doing business with them.
If your ideal client is the owner of his company, he may or may not be the one who ultimately signs the contract and writes the check depending on the size of the company.
Depending on the structure of the company he may not even be able to make the decision on his own.
Depending on your product or service, there may be a department head or executive with the authority to make the decision in his stead or in addition to him offering you an additional way in if you hit roadblocks.
You’ve figured out how to find and reach your ideal prospect, now you need to figure out the process to do business with them.
If you are already doing business with the person you modeled your avatar after, this will be easy, because it will be the same process it took to do business with their company.
If you don’t have access to your ideal client it will take a bit more research.
Luckily, people are more helpful than you would expect in many cases, and a simple call to the company asking what the process is for getting approved as a vendor will in many cases get you the answers you need.
If you find out that there are regularly multiple players in getting the kind of client you want, it might be worth making another ideal client avatar for the secondary decision maker, especially if they are a different personality and authority type.
Objections to the Sale
Preparing for objections should already be part of your sales process, but this is still worth noting.
Now that you understand the values, goals, and focuses of your ideal client, you can approach objections on a much deeper level.
Could they have objections about price or money? What do their favorite authors and influencers say about investing in themselves and their business?
Objections about time, trust, execution, and even methodology can all be addressed in a way that aligns with their beliefs once you understand them on a deep personal level like you do now.
You know, you’re right, it’s a lot of money, but *insert guru name here* says *insert cliche here* so I stopped doubting my ability to invest a long time ago, will frequently lead to, “I love him/her/them too! and you are right! Let’s do this”.
Ok, maybe it won’t be quite that easy, but it’s a good way to turn around an objection I promise.
Get The Idea
Understanding your ideal client on a deep level means understanding where there attention is, how to get it, and how to communicate them better than anyone else.
People want to feel understood and connected and speaking their language in their world is the ideal way to do that.
If you approach your marketing from your own perspective you will bring your own biases, wants and desires to the messaging, which frequently will not align with theirs, and you will lose.
Take the time to research your prospects using the tools mentioned above, write out their profile, and use that information every time you invest in prospecting or marketing of any kind and you will reap the rewards that only preparation and understanding can provide.