Companies spend a lot of resources on acquiring new customers. In fact, the client acquisition process has evolved into a targeted activity that has been the subject of a growing body of research. Recent reports indicate that client acquisition is 60% more costly today.
So if you want to get more clients for your business, you’re going to need a bigger budget. The market is very competitive after all, and your rivals will also be spending every penny to get a piece of the pie.
Law firms are no exception to this trend.
In service-based industries, you will have to do more than launch a fancy product to attract clients. It takes trust and customer confidence in your ability to deliver services to win customers and carve out a niche.
The good news is that there are several channels for client acquisition, and digital channels are currently among the most widely used acquisition platforms today. In this article, we’ll give some tips on building an effective client acquisition strategy and how to turn prospective customers into repeat customers.
Understand the Difference Between Client Acquisition vs. Marketing
A common misconception while approaching customer acquisition is that it covers the entirety of marketing activities. While client acquisition includes sales activities that bring more business for your firm, it is a subset of marketing activities that is specific to bringing in new customers. Client acquisition involves specialists who understand how the customer journey works.
Marketing, on the other hand, covers different aspects of your business, such as branding, research, promotion, and even customer relationship management. By understanding the difference, you can allocate the right amount of resources for client acquisition, and save marketing costs.
Create an Effective Client Acquisition Plan
The first thing you need to do to acquire customers is to have a plan in place. This allows you to repeatedly approach new prospects and successfully bring them to your firm. Here are the key steps you should take to create and implement a viable client acquisition plan.
1. Define Your Target Audience
The first thing you should understand is your target market’s needs and characteristics. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your ideal client?
- Who is your team prepared to serve?
- If a clientis not your target, do you have a plan for the future?
For a law firm, the target audience will obviously comprise potential clients seeking legal counsel or associated services. However, every law firm has its own specialty, from corporate law to criminal law to personal law, etc. For example, if you are a firm that deals in family law, you will want to look for someone who needs a divorce lawyer.
Standard marketing practice is to group your customers into ‘personas’ with defined traits and requirements. Additionally, you can also identify potential competitors who approach and serve the target audience of your interest.
2. Set Your Acquisition Goals
An essential part of any strategy is setting targets. Having a set of goals allows you to set the right expectations for your customer acquisition strategy and implementation. Your goals will serve as a benchmark to check the performance of your project. If things don’t work as planned, you will know that you need to change your tactics.
Any goal, whether qualitative or quantitative, should be driven by data and market insights. Then, you can rely on the evidence you find instead of assumptions.
Your goals should always be SMART:
- Specific: Goals should narrowly define your requirements. For a law firm, a goal like “bring more clients” is too broad. Instead, a goal like “increase the number of new clients serviced by compared to the previous year” is a more specific goal.
- Measurable: Your goal needs to be driven by data that can be quantified. You can use numbers to measure the effectiveness of your campaign (more on this later). In the example above, your goals could be framed as, “increase the number of new clients served compared to last year by 10%, which equals to an increase of 5% (assuming 50 clients served in the previous year)”.
- Achievable: Make sure that your goals are realistic. This is important on motivational and strategic levels. You will be incentivized to work towards a target you can achieve. And if your target is too easy to achieve or exceed, then you can consider revising it. This can prompt you to improve your customer acquisition strategy.
- Relevant: Goals need to be aligned with your firm’s overall client acquisition strategy. For instance, your firm needs an increase in new clients. A goal like “increasing brand awareness” may indirectly bring in new clients, but it’s not specific to client acquisition.
- Time-Bound: Goals are not challenging enough without a timeframe attached to them. Time is also a quantifiable dimension that can allow you to set different performance bars. The example above is also time-bound, but you can change the period according to your requirements. As you’ve heard many times, ‘time is money’, so you should treat it as a valuable resource.
3. Start a Referral Program
It’s no secret that word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to market your brand and increase your customer base. For law firms, that means recommendations from satisfied clients.
Starting a referral program that offers discounts to clients who have been referred by your existing clients or contacts. You can also incentivize referrers to boost your recommendations with perks.
Of course, you might not be able to convert every referral, but an increase in prospects is better than having none. Remember to follow up as quickly as possible through email and personal correspondence. A personalized message will go a long way to building good relationships that may lead to meaningful interactions.
4. Consider a CRM Software
Although we all know the importance of computerized information systems, many firms like to use computers the old way, where they keep simple spreadsheets that require manual work to maintain.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software automates many of your customer acquisition processes by centralizing your client details (personal information, emails, a record of payments) and quickly generating reports at the press of a button. A CRM system will also inform you about the acquisition stage of a client, allowing your team to give them the appropriate level of service.
As a result, your firm can deliver excellent customer service to clients at any stage and nurture positive relationships that encourage positive word-of-mouth referrals.
4. Evaluate Your Program’s Performance
Finally, you need to monitor how well your client acquisition program (and by extension, your strategy) is working. Here are some factors that will help you to evaluate your program.
- Comprehensive Analytics: If you can collect data that can be measured and added to a chart, track and analyze it. Data at a granular level can help you check every process involved in your client acquisition. CRM software is valuable here.
- Use the Power of Visualizations: Detailed and informative visualizations can tell a story in a snapshot. You’ll gain critical and actionable insights for quick decision-making.
- Set Multiple Benchmarks: This allows you to check if your program is performing at, above, or below your expectations. From a strategic point of view, you will be able to understand how well your acquisition strategy is working
Customer Acquisition Is a Long-Term Strategy
Client acquisition is an ongoing process that helps your firm build a solid client list over time. As long as your law firm is in business, you will always need to understand and find ways to get more clients. It takes experience to master the process. But with careful planning and execution, you can start implementing your acquisition program and grow your business.