Market segmentation and buyer personas help attorneys and firms to identify target segments and ideal clients. In getting these factors right, your law firm can influence client attitudes about your brand. Also with this knowledge, your law firm can determine which marketing activities are most effective and enable more efficient use of marketing time and money .
Benefits of segmentation and buyer personas for law firms and attorneys
The benefits of market segmentation and buyer personas can be explained with two principles. The first one is a classic marketing model called AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). which essentially describes the function of all marketing activities. For this process to work, the marketing mix of activities needs to appeal to the right client population; those who are qualified to engage your legal services.
Activities like newsletters, blogs, event attendance, video content, etc. can raise Attention and increase Interest in your firm’s practice (brand). As these activities stimulate the legal consumers’ brand awareness and perception, potential clients might develop a Desire and hire you (Action) when they need legal assistance.
The second principle focuses on marketing reliability and validity. To advertise and market your practice in the most efficient and effective manner, your activities need to target the right client segment with the right message. Your firm’s marketing efforts are more reliable and efficient when you take the time to define the right target segment.
Additionally, when your firm focuses on creating the right message, the validity or effectiveness of a particular marketing activity is significantly enhanced.
When developing a mix of marketing activities or tools, such as social media, newsletters, networking or entertainment, it is important to make sure that these activities are both reliable (efficient) and valid (effective).
Choosing the Right Marketing Activities/Channels: EXAMPLES
As an example, let’s consider implementing a blog as part of your marketing plan. First, you should carefully consider whether a blog is the right channel to market your practice to potential clients. Does your target audience actually read blogs and gather information from them?
If a blog is a good way to reach your target audience, you need to consider the best content (valid/effective) for the blog. Articles should provide relevant information to your readers and also hold their interest. In showing that you understand the legal challenges and issues of a target audience, you will be considered a trusted expert who receives their trust and, hopefully, their business!
Another example would be event attendance. Before planning to attend an event, you should find out whether members of your target audience will be present at the event and if there are good opportunities at the event to talk to potential clients (reliable/ efficient). If so, you should consider your talking points (valid/effective) that convey the idea that .your legal services can help them.
To be clear, the message you deliver through posting blog articles or speaking to target clients at events can be conveyed in an explicit or implicit manner. In other words, you can explicitly state how you can help with legal issues brought up in the blog article or you can rely on the quality of your blog articles to give readers the impression that you are an expert on the topic.
To sum up the second principle which focuses on marketing reliability and validity:
Whether you post a blog piece or network at an event, it is important to choose the right activities or channels that will deliver your brand or marketing message to the clients that you can help (targeted segment). Messages should convey the benefits of your legal services and, if applicable, what differentiates you or your firm.
Application to the legal industry and to your practice
To define your particular target segment(s), you should first collect data to analyze the four characteristics: demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral segmentation. Start by reviewing your current client base and identify trends and similarities regarding their characteristics.
Client interviews and reviewing notes from consultations can provide additional data. We recommend performing an opportunity analysis when meeting with potential clients or during initial consultations. Find a tool to help you conduct this type of analysis in our article Opportunity Analysis: An Advanced Legal Marketing Tool and Process. A contact management system can also be a helpful tool in defining target segments We like cloud-based applications that provide an organized, structured, and secured storage of information about clients and other contacts. This is further explained in our article 3 Phases of Law Firm Marketing System Adoption .
Since it is a challenge to accurately define the personalities of clients and target clients, we recommend using personality type and trait theories to guide your development of these definitions. As previously mentioned, we think David Merrill’s Social Styles theory is a good model for describing client personalities.
A google search for “consumer personalities/ personality types/ personality traits” provides a rich list of sites and articles with helpful consumer personality definitions and categorizations that can be applied in the case of legal clients.
Finally, Hubspot also published a useful article that describes various social styles and how to sell effectively using these categorizations. Here is a link to that article: Link
(Other theories include the five-factor model of psychological traits and Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. These psychological definitions in combination with lifestyle descriptions are helpful indicators for understanding who your clients are and how to appeal to them.)
Typically, you should aim for the definition of one target segment per practice area.
Developing buyer personas will improve your understanding of your target client population. In addition to identifying your ideal client type, buyer personas can also guide the development of the messages that guide your marketing activities.
- If you can identify more than one buyer persona within your target segment, you should identify the one lead persona most beneficial to your practice.
- To help develop your marketing message we suggest defining a mission for your individual or firm practice, and the top five services and benefits you provide within each practice area.
- Insert your brand message in your marketing channels (activities) to guide content development, as well as networking and relationship building activities like event attendance and organizational memberships.
In the end, both segmentation and buyer personas can increase the reliability of your marketing activities. They can help you understand which activities are efficient to reach your targeted client segment, as well as how to appeal to those likely to benefit from your legal services.
After all, the concepts of segmentation and buyer persona development allow for a narrower and accurate approach for the marketing mix development, which ultimately allows for the determination of more accurate marketing budgets, enables more efficient use of marketing time and money and increases the marketing return on investment.
Using market segmentation and buyer personas allows for more efficient use of marketing time and money.
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