Business and marketing expert and host of the renowned Akimbo podcast shares compelling marketing tips for lawyers looking to make a difference in people’s lives.
Lawyers, in particular plaintiffs lawyers, owe legal industry SEO expert Chris Dreyer a debt of gratitude because he just got you a 30-minute custom coaching session from arguably the best marketing mind in a generation…for free.
In August 2020, Chris and The Rankings Podcast interviewed marketing genius Seth Godin, the best-selling author of 19 books and host of the renowned Akimbo podcast. Like he does in all his books and podcasts, Seth delivered specific and actionable advice that was “outside the box” of traditional thinking.
As a huge fan of Seth (and Chris), I was glued to my speakers furiously trying to absorb the golden nuggets of marketing and business advice, which, in Seth’s case, is rarely specific to the legal profession. For fellow marketing junkies, it was truly the rarest of opportunities.
Chris’ company’ Rankings.io is focused on SEO for the plaintiff’s lawyers, so the content of the conversation was focused on this practice area. But for the most part, much of the advice Seth gives is applicable to any practice area.
Here are Seth Godin’s top seven marketing tips for lawyers (in his own words), starting with my absolute favorite:
1. The pursuit of justice, creating restoration in clients’ lives and referrals.
If you could figure out what justice even looks like, because justice is not about cash, justice is about a whole complicated set of expectations and dignity and respect. And creating restoration for people is so vitally important…It could be your job to say, “How am I going to treat the clients who I’ve achieved something for? And how am I going to create a relationship with them going forward where maybe I’m not enriched in the short run, but if I can create restoration in their life?” The referrals alone will pay for it.
2. The art (and importance) of being remarkable.
Remarkable simply means “worth making a remark about.” And it’s misunderstood because it’s not a gimmick. And it’s misunderstood because it’s not selfish. Lots and lots of hard-working entities and individuals believe they deserve to be talked about. And they can’t figure out why they’re not getting referrals and they can’t figure out why people aren’t rewarding their effort by talking about them. But that misses the whole point. People don’t talk about what you want them to talk [about.] They talk about what they want to talk about. And in the case of PI, it’s tricky, because almost nobody wakes up in the morning saying, I wish I could hire a personal injury lawyer today. And so it’s not like you’re selling chocolate or something that is regularly consumed. And that’s fine because you don’t need everyone to need a PI. You just need a couple of people. And that would be plenty. The challenge that you have is the thing that you might think people want to talk about when they talk about what you do is probably not the thing they actually want to talk about.”
3. Clients don’t want to feel stupid, your marketing should meet them where they are at.
People are acutely aware of who they’re affiliated with and very aware of what their status is. And people fall into lots of different buckets. So why is it, for example, that most promotion and marketing for personal injury lawyers seem so much more low-brow than the work patent lawyers do or the work that M&A lawyers do?
It’s not because personal injury lawyers don’t work as hard or they’re not as smart. It’s because the client doesn’t want to feel stupid. And so when the client sees that that person on the billboard is marketing themselves the way they would market themselves, there is this sense of affiliation. Or it could very easily be. And we see this in Texas a lot. If the lawyer is a superhero master the universe bone crusher? Well, at least they’re my bone Crusher, at least they’re my superhero.
4. Client skepticism and marketing fails.
Because we’ve been trained to be skeptical. We’ve been training not to believe boldface claims and even if your claims are true if the person doesn’t believe them, it’s worse than if you made them at all.
5. Rethink making prospective clients feel “alone” in your marketing.
Often the victim of a personal injury is made to feel alone. They are separated from the people in their immediate circle who were not injured, but they’re also separated from other people who have been injured because that is the mindset of the legal system.
So one of the things I would consider doing, if I was a personal injury lawyer, I would regularly run classes and seminars to teach people everything I know. Not to close a sale, but to teach them everything I know about a topic. Because if I’m surrounded by other people, I feel safer. I feel seen. And I am more likely to want to avenge what happened to all of us because people like to be part of a circle and [the people] organizing those circles. And one of the things an ethical attorney can do is organize those circles, not because it’s going to get more clients, but because it’s going to help the people get organized.
6. Why lawyers are afraid to focus their practice on a niche market
Geography is less important than ever before. The more specific the thing the person is searching for is, the more likely it is you will win. And so what you want to do is create a reputation around a very specific thing, because that makes you more remarkable.
I think the real reason that people seek bigger markets is that it lets them off the hook. If you say I do this, I do this, I do this, I do this and if any of one of them doesn’t work, you still got the other ones.
But if you burn your boats if you said, you know, I am the best J-17 sailboat skipper in the United States, and that’s all I know how to sail — that boat — well, then you better be good at sailing that boat. And so the thing is, what does it even mean to be good at it?
Let’s just pick one off the top of my head – helping people who have had a leg amputated from diabetes. We don’t do arms. We don’t do anything else, just legs.
It doesn’t mean you get the maximum reward every time. It means you know how to speak with confidence and authority to someone who’s in enormous amounts of emotional pain. That is why they came to you. And the money is just a symptom that they were heard.
7. If the voice in your head sabotages you, none of Seth’s tactics will help.
[W]hat I have found is it doesn’t matter how many tactics I teach people, if the voice in their head sabotages them, they’re never going to do the thing they know they want to do. And the practice is about doing the thing you know you want to do. It’s about shipping creative work. It’s about saying, Yeah, I know that I’ve been following the leader for a long time. And I know what it was like to be a lawyer in 2010 or 2015. But someone’s going to invent what it’s going to be a lawyer now. I’m going to do that work.