How to Develop a Client Persona
A version of this article first appeared in the May 2023 Magazine Issue of Legal Business World.
Law firm marketing in the digital age has become more competitive than ever before. As law firms increasingly move toward more specialized practice areas, their messaging needs to reach and speak to the needs of prospective clients who are inclined to engage their legal services. Trying to grow a client base through unfocused website content or a generalized social media presence is no more productive than shooting 100 arrows into the air hoping one will find the target.
Developing a “client persona” helps businesses understand and empathize with their consumers, enabling them to create more effective marketing strategies addressing their customers’ needs and preferences. Knowing your target audience is at the heart of successful law firm marketing and converting website visits and other connections into sales.
What are buyer personas and how do they inform marketing strategies?
A client persona is a fictional representation of your ideal client, identifying their key traits, priorities, pain points, and the solutions they need to address their pressing legal issues. This step-by-step exercise yields a surprisingly functional picture of the model client to whom your firm’s messaging should be directed.
A client persona typically includes demographic information such as age, gender, income, and education. It describes their goals, values, attitudes, challenges, sources of information, and even their preferred communication channels. By focusing on your model client’s specific needs and preferences, your firm can tailor its messaging and service offerings to that market’s needs. This process helps to increase customer loyalty and drive sales and revenue.
Why does a client persona improve your successful connections with real prospective clients? Because the persona you create will include details that define your specific audience. From there, your web content, social media posts, emails, and other marketing strategies will be molded to tell that client that you know who they are, what they’re trying to achieve, what problems they’re facing, and how you have the solution to those challenges.
How to set up a client persona
The process of creating a client persona is informed by your knowledge and experience with existing clients, data gathered from user research and website analytics, and the firm’s expertise in delivering particular legal services.
To guide you in constructing your ideal client’s persona, follow these steps:
1. Identify the client’s title or role in the company or organization. The person’s role or duties will be instrumental in either deciding to engage your firm’s legal services, or it will be someone who can influence that decision. Are they the GC or a deputy in charge of staffing? Or is it a VP or director?
2. List relevant personal features you know to be part of the person’s persona or that your research indicates this person possesses. Here’s an example:
- Demographics (40 – 49 years old, married, salary $100k+, large city)
- Career Drive (upper-level management, steady profitability with controlled risks)
- Key Adjective (loyal, relationship-oriented, risk-averse)
- Role at Target Company – (GC or deputy GC, or director)
- Purchasing or Decision-making Role / Autonomy (Decider, Buyer, and End User)
3. List the person’s priorities and professional values. What is the person seeking to accomplish?
- Attitudes (minimize litigation, prefers conciliation to preserve relationships)
- Values (professionalism, availability, punctuality, directness)
- Lifestyle (active outdoors, family-oriented, community involvement)
4. What are their pain points? Identify the client persona’s challenges, problems, or unresolved issues.
- Delinquent account collections
- Monitoring compliance with government regulations
- Back taxes
- Sexual harassment litigation against managers
- Litigation costs
5. Primary Information Sources. Where does the person go for business/professional information?
- Trade websites and magazines
- Online business and financial websites
- Professional association members
6. Preferred Method of Communication. Finally, what is the person’s favored means of communication? Many people have strong preferences for face-to-face meetings while others are comfortable with brief but productive telephone calls. Still, others want to interact through email or videoconferencing apps.
What’s the Benefit of Using Client Personas in Your Firm’s Marketing?
Practicing law in 2023 requires intense concentration on a wide range of dynamic information streams in increasingly focused legal specialties. Alerting your market to the value of your services means connecting with the clients who need what you excel at delivering.
No one likes to turn business away, but accepting work from those outside your client profile can end badly for the client and for your firm’s reputation. Unsatisfied clients tell more stories about their experiences than satisfied clients do. By focusing your marketing message on a specific type of client profile, you’re more likely to receive inquiries from individuals and businesses most in need of the services on which you built your brand.
Making your law firm marketing “client-centric” works because you will include in your website content, email campaigns, and social media posts the solutions your firm delivers that reduce the pain points your prospective clients deal with in their professional and personal lives.
You know how to resolve your client’s legal challenges. Knowing your audience is key to successful communication, whether you are speaking at a seminar or drafting your firm’s marketing material.