How to determine who your clients are… and to get more people like them by creating client personas.
When you know who it is that you are marketing to, especially if you’re spending significant marketing and/or advertising dollars, you can more successfully target your marketing to those people. You can start the process of identifying your target market of clients by figuring who you currently attract. Whether or not you want those type of clients is yet to be determined, but that’s a good exercise to practice once you’ve identified your current clientele.
What is a client persona or a buyer persona?
It’s an outline of a real client that could exist and you can point to many real clients who fit that profile.
Lawyerist has a great post that details the pros and cons of creating client personas and utilizing client-centered marketing.
Let’s look at a couple of examples. They are each current clients for your small business law firm, where you help with everything from contracts to minor HR disputes to real estate. Your clients are typically from referrals or networking, but you’ve started to see an influx of people coming through organic search results and your recent paid social media ads.
This persona isn’t enough. There are so many “Lucy’s” in your 5-mile radius that you would have no idea how to target this person with ad copy, blog posts or any other means with any meaningful outcome.
This is a much more robust persona:
What’s the difference and why does it matter? The difference is that one person took the time to think about who their clients are as people, not just as demographics. You want to curate as much identifiable information about your potential client base as possible to help determine how you can tweak marketing efforts to attract more people like them. If you prefer working with “Ben” as a client, think about why. Was it because you always knew you could get a few laughs with your lame dad jokes? Well, try incorporating those into ad copy or YouTube videos.
How to determine your client personas:
- Use your practice management software or CRM (client relationship manager) to look at who your clients are. Look at the genders, ages, locations, and any other identifying information of your clients. Are 70% of your client’s women, families, or couples? Are they typically high-income or single-income families? You can second these findings by taking a look at your Google Analytics to see who is visiting your website. (Side note, this could also help you figure out if you’re pushing a particular type of client away, by seeing if females under 35 tend to bounce from your site quickly, for example).
- Do you have other employees in the firm? Ask them what who they think your clients are. Maybe your secretary or assistant know that your clients tend to work odd hours or that they often take public transportation because they’re answering the phone every day.
- How did your clients find you? This is another question to ask when looking at personas. If your clients are mostly through referrals, the chances are high that your clientele falls into a similar bucket, or if a portion of your clients are mostly from Facebook advertisements, you know they must be people who are active on that social media platform.
- Why did they choose you? Maybe you’re a flat-free firm and your clients are price conscious or just distrusting of lawyers and the billable hour. Do you often hear that someone liked your website bio or a particular blog post you wrote? Use these details and actual facts to compile what is important to your potential clients. I knew a divorce lawyer who realized his clients were mostly suburban women with high-incomes and started to target that clientele specifically. As a result, he snagged an appearance on a national daytime show where he spoke about female breadwinners and how to protect your income during a divorce.
- What do they want? This could range from how do they want to be contacted and how often to settlement sizes, but thinking about their desired outcome as a result of working with your law firm will help you curate a better picture of the persona. Ask your clients or review your CRM for individual contact preferences. Think about your current client load: what outcome did they come to you for? Were they engaging your services to avoid conflict or to create it? There are a variety of want categories you can narrow down to come up with 2-3 main outcomes a particular persona is looking for.
How many personas should you have?
Three to five is ideal. In reality, we know that every person coming into your firm should be treated as an individual, but you will probably notice a pattern of the kinds of people your firm attracts.
What do personas allow you to do?
Target your marketing, find your ideal client, and tune into who your clients are. Personas allow you to build marketing for specific messaging that is more likely to resonate with your potential clients. If you are a personal injury attorney and identify that your clients tend to be low to middle income, urban, single mothers with more than 2 children, are social justice warriors, and have a history of suing people for a variety of reasons, this gives you a better idea of the type of content they may want to see. You could try writing posts about how to overcome injustice or how to manage your childcare when dealing with a lawsuit.
On the flip side, personas can also be limiting if you let yourself believe that a primarily-female clientele means you can’t work with men. If you have one client who is a “Ben” and 50 “Lucy’s,” but you’d prefer to work with more Ben’s, take this information and tweak your marketing and advertising to capture those clients.
Build your personas, check to make sure they’re reflective of actual data, and make adjustments as you get new information. The act of building out a client persona could change your overall marketing strategy, so think about personas as one tool on part of a larger toolkit, not as the only thing you need for success.