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Many lawyers already know they should incorporate legal marketing best practices into their marketing plans. However, if you are an estate planning or probate attorney looking for a few tips specifically for your practice area, this is the post for you.
Incorporating current legal marketing best practices is an important part of creating a well-rounded strategy designed for your law firm’s long-term growth and success. However, if you have read our previous Justia Onward posts for family lawyers and personal injury attorneys, you may have noticed a common trend – marketing is a little bit different in each practice area.
In this post, we are offering five marketing tips specifically for those of you practicing probate (or successions for all of my fellow Louisiana lawyers) and estate planning law.
What Sets Probate & Estate Planning Apart?
First, unlike many other areas of the law, estate planning and probate universally impact everyone. It is inevitable, though perhaps uncomfortable to consider, that all people will one day pass away. While this is a difficult thing to face, many, especially as they age, come to terms with this reality and need legal assistance to ensure they leave their affairs in proper order for their family members and loved ones.
Furthermore, most will, unfortunately, experience the loss of a close loved one at some point in their life. These people frequently need assistance navigating the legal implications of handling their loved one’s personal affairs.
However, despite the universal impacts of probate and estate planning on various groups of people, it is a sensitive area of the law. Many of your clients in the estate planning realm may be struggling to accept the uncomfortable realities of their mortality or may have reservations about the larger implications of their decisions throughout the estate planning process.
Likewise, your clients in the probate realm are often faced with difficult circumstances. Their loss may be fresh and difficult to manage. Even if some time has passed, the death of their loved ones may still be an understandably sensitive subject. Additionally, some probate matters become highly divisive and cause turmoil in family relationships where emotions are running high.
Therefore, it is clear that this is not an easy area of the law to be in when trying to manage client relationships and expectations. Marketing is no exception, as you want to be sensitive to all of your clients’ circumstances and avoid appearing opportunistic, while also remaining realistic about the importance of consulting with an attorney in probate and estate planning matters. All of this is important to remember when implementing your firm’s marketing strategies.
Tip 1: Take a Combined Content Approach
A combined content approach means using (and reusing) your content in different formats and across different channels. It is no secret that society has become increasingly digital. As such, you need to plan for this digital-first world. This means that you need a robust presence online through a combined approach that implements a strong website, lawyer and legal directory profiles, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, and more. However, you also need to remember your target audiences.
While law school teaches you that everyone needs a will regardless of age, this does not necessarily align with the reality of estate planning. According to Gallup, less than half of American adults report having a will – a number that has remained largely unchanged since 1990. Furthermore, younger individuals are less likely to have a will than older ones. For instance, just 20% of adults under 30 reported having a will in the Gallup poll, while Americans over 65 were much more likely to have one.
These statistics imply that, while you may indeed have some younger clients, much of your client base is going to middle-aged and older individuals. In our present society, these people may not be as digital-first as younger generations and may prefer traditional methods of consuming content, such as print.
Therefore, you should implement a combined approach to your marketing efforts. For example, if you are publishing content on a blog or sharing information through an email newsletter, you may want to consider also offering print versions. You could combine your blog posts into a nice resource you give to prospective clients. You could offer a mailed version of your regular email newsletter. You could implement PPC ads as part of your online campaigns, but also invest occasionally in print ads with the local newspaper. This combined approach allows you to effectively target clients with your message by using their preferred method.
Another great way to bridge the technological gap is by utilizing video on your website and through other platforms like YouTube. Many clients, regardless of age, will be interested in watching video content that explains a legal issue. As such, this can help you reach both older and younger clients with your message.
Tip 2: Focus on Accessibility
Web accessibility is the process of designing effective resources that can be used by anyone online, regardless of their individual abilities. The web accessibility movement allows people living with disabilities to enjoy the same access to digital resources as other individuals.
Accessibility is important and all lawyers should make it a priority. First and foremost, part of helping people through your practice is ensuring you can help all who need you. Additionally, the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to websites has increasingly been the subject of litigation, and some states, such as California, have enacted laws and regulations that incorporate web accessibility requirements.
Regardless, accessibility is exceptionally important in the estate planning and probate practice areas because the client base is aging and more likely to require accommodations and use assistive technology online.
For example, many older persons have visual impairments that make it difficult to read ordinary print or that may require them to use devices, such as a screen reader. When you ensure your digital presence is accessible, you are allowing these people to access and use your digital content in user-friendly ways and are also ensuring you do not miss clients that need your assistance simply because they could not navigate your site.
Tip 3: Remember You Have Multiple Audiences
It is also important to remember that you have multiple different audiences if you practice both estate planning and probate law. With estate planning, your client base is quite literally in the planning stage. While the topic may be somewhat sensitive for people who struggle with facing their mortality, the reality is that most of the clients walking through your door for estate planning services have accepted this eventuality and are eager to plan their affairs. These people in the planning stage are often motivated by ensuring their wishes are honored after death and want to smooth the path for their loved ones.
However, these are not your only clients in the estate planning business. You may also be approached by families who want to help an aging or ill family member with their affairs, even if that person is less eager to participate in the estate planning process. You do not want to alienate these people throughout your marketing efforts.
You also have a second, separate book of business for your probate services. Though there are exceptions, this clientele is largely made of loved ones in various stages of grief following a loss. You want to reach them where they are in a compassionate, helpful manner. You do not want to market to these individuals while they are at funeral homes and paying their respects. However, you can mindfully market to this group of clients by sharing helpful content, primarily online, about the steps to take after someone has passed away and what to expect in the legal process.
As a final note, it is important to think of these audiences separately. Estate planning may very well help you increase your probate business. However, it would be inaccurate to assume that all estate planning matters will eventually turn into probate business.
Tip 4: Share Your Knowledge
Given the unique (and sometimes sensitive) nature of the issues that arise in an estate planning and probate practice, one of your best marketing tools is sharing your knowledge through readily available resources. Offer your own talks, webinars, and question and answer sessions, like the Ettinger Law Firm in New York, or partner with other groups that help people with estate planning needs. Churches, retirement homes, and other organizations in your community may already have these types of programs, and volunteering a little bit of free knowledge could go a long way in helping you earn estate planning clients.
You should also create a blog online. Write about the questions you frequently receive and the issues that frequently arise in both your estate planning and probate cases. Share breaking legal news. If you want to increase your leads, you may want to consider creating gated, downloadable content that requires someone to provide their contact information and indicate whether they are looking for a lawyer before they can access your resource. In keeping with a dual content approach, you can offer these as printed resources as well.
You can also answer FAQs for your potential clients. These should be available on your website and also have the bonus of making great starting points for longer blog posts. You can also turn these FAQs into Q&A videos.
Finally, answer questions in online forums, such as those offered by Justia Ask A Lawyer, Avvo, and Quora. Through these platforms, you can not only reach people who have relevant questions now but also leverage opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge for potential clients well into the future.
Tip 5: Leverage Social Proof
Many people value others’ experiences with attorneys in all practice areas, but this is especially true for estate planning and probate attorneys. In that regard, reputation is everything.
People want to ensure they receive competent representation that will make the legal aspects of the trying times after someone’s passing flow more easily. Traditional word-of-mouth advertising is very helpful in this regard. However, you can leverage digital social proof as well.
You should incorporate reviews and testimonials into your marketing efforts, especially on your website. You will want to encourage clients to leave you reviews on Google My Business, the Justia Lawyer Directory, and other similar platforms. Finally, you should proactively use social media, as permitted by your bar association’s guidelines, to create an online community that also leverages extended digital networks to advertise your firm. If you are worried about the reputational aspects of social media, check out this post from Justia Onward.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
It is important to consider the nuances of your practice area(s) when developing legal marketing strategies for your firm. You want to use universal strategies and best practices, while also implementing targeted tactics to reach your ideal clients. When you use these focused strategies, you can better allocate your marketing resources and time.
If you are looking for more marketing strategies tailored to your practice, check out the digital marketing services available through Justia Marketing Solutions, or contact us today for a free consultation.