One of the first decisions you must make in determining a branding and marketing strategy is identifying your target audience. This first step is as important for law firms as it is for any other kind of business. If, for example, you are a small law firm that works on family law cases, who is going to read your blog posts, your email newsletters, and the online reviews of your business? Is it people whose spouse wants a divorce, and now they are frantically trying to protect their hard-earned money and their relationship with their children? Is it happily married people who know that half of marriages end in divorce, who want information about family law for reasons not directly connected to their own marriage? Is it people who pride themselves on being frugal and independent who are determined to take a “do it yourself” approach to everything, including their own divorce? Those three descriptions might apply to the same person at different times in their life. The customer value journey is a template for marketing to your target audience at various points in their relationship to your law firm.
By now, most professionals in charge of marketing strategy for their companies have heard of the sales funnel; this post is not the place to debate the extent to which the sales funnel concept applies to law firms. The customer value journey is a less cynical cousin to the sales funnel; it focuses on how thoroughly the customer has decided to engage the services of the business, but it is more focused on providing value to all your audience members, including the ones who become paying clients and the ones who do not.
The Digital Marketer blog identifies the eight steps of the Customer Value Journey as follows:
To do these things successfully, you must have detailed knowledge of how your target audience thinks and works. Fortunately, you can do this by brainstorming with your colleagues; it does not require great expense or questionable research into people’s online behavior. Instead, you should create a user persona, a composite of actual clients who have hired you as their lawyer. It helps to think of the user persona as one person, though so many companies name their user persona. (A classic example is Becky, a 40-year-old, coupon-clipping, math-phobic soccer mom; Contemporary Christian radio stations choose their music and advertisements with her in mind.) Where does your target audience become aware of businesses? For example, is it on Facebook, YouTube, or print ads that arrive in the mail? Where do they share their views online? In other words, do they write Yelp reviews, tweet on Twitter, or send mass emails to all their friends? All of these details of your user persona will inform the various steps of your customer value journey.
Like sales funnels and user personas, the customer value journey originated as a strategy for selling widgets, not providing legal representation. Despite this, it is a helpful lens through which to view law firm marketing. Unless you are an estate planning lawyer (everyone needs an estate plan), you don’t really want everyone in your city to need your services. You do not want more people to get injured or go through a divorce. You do, however, want the whole community to be informed about the laws related to your practice area. Therefore, gear the early steps of the customer value journey to as broad an audience as possible, your user persona and everyone else. Focus more narrowly on your user persona in the later steps of the journey.
The customer value journey can help you view your marketing efforts in a unified way. This way, whether you are simply making the public aware of your brand or you are engaging with people who have already shown interest in your law firm, your focus will be on providing the greatest benefit to the client.