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Marketing Tips for Estate Lawyers | Explore Law Firms and Legal Advice

“The biggest challenge is that the entire world is a prospective client if you’re an estate planning lawyer,” says Sally Schmidt, president of Schmidt Marketing Inc. and one of the founders of the Legal Marketing Association.

Although nearly everyone needs a will, few have them. According to one 2023 survey of more than 2,400 people, about 66% of American adults don’t have a will. However, the sheer size of the potential client base – i.e., the majority of Americans – may overwhelm wills and trust attorneys, which is why marketing experts’ insights can be crucial in helping wills and trust attorneys thrive.

Marketing Starts by Having a Business Development Plan 

Begin each year by making a business development plan, then create a marketing plan customized to meet the new business development goals.

While the plans should be flexible enough to accommodate any specifics that need to change, overall, attorneys should stick to it for the year and resist the temptation to chase after opportunity, says Sarah Ryan, director of marketing and business development for the law firm Stark & Stark.

Develop the Marketing Plan 

To develop a marketing plan, Peter Boyd, CEO of PaperStreet Web Design, begins with a tree analogy.

The base of your marketing is your website. It should explain an attorney’s pedigree and why clients should choose them instead of another attorney, Boyd says.

From there, build a branch for social media, one for paid ad campaigns, another for events and so on. The branches expand the attorney’s reach while still being connected and consistent with the base.

Choose a Niche Category of Clients 

Pursue a particular clientele, such as airline pilots, doctors, medical administrators or families with children who have special needs. The people within that niche will look for an attorney who specializes in helping their community, and they’ll know similarly situated clients who need an attorney, too, Schmidt says.

Be Intentional About Marketing 

Block off a time on the calendar – say, every Tuesday afternoon – for marketing and business development. Post a blog, send marketing emails and plan next steps. Otherwise, “work gets busy, and you’re going to be working in your business instead of working on your business,” Ryan says.

Hire Marketing Experts, But Retain Control 

Just as estate attorneys hire experts to appraise clients’ assets, they should hire experts for website design, client email templates and other marketing tasks.

Keep the message – and budget – under control by connecting all efforts to the right audience and the business plan, Schmidt advises.

Always Be Marketing (Even When You’re Swamped)

“We have had clients who are killing it, with lots of leads coming in, and they call us to say, ‘We can’t handle it’ and literally tell us to stop,’” Boyd says. But every client who does so later regrets their decision, he says. That’s because they can’t always regain momentum.

It’s better to keep going, rather than stop and start.

Talk About How You Serve Clients

Marketing should be less about what services estate lawyers provide and more about how they provide them. It should tell clients about the experience they’ll have when working with you, Schmidt explains.

So detail the white-glove treatment you give high-net-worth individuals or assure budget clients they’ll get solid plans for a great rate.

Direct Marketing to the People Your Clients Listen To

Understand who is the ideal client, but also keep in mind who influences a client’s decision-making, Ryan says.

For example, an entire family may have opinions on how their parents’ estate should be handled. Therefore, marketing to their adult children may be more effective than pitching to the clients.

Market to the Professionals Your Ideal Clients Already Trust

One way to establish trust with clients is to build relationships with other professionals the clients already rely on, so market to bank trust officers, accountants and corporate lawyers. Then they will recommend you to their clients, Schmidt says.

Create Quality Content

The days of stuffing websites with meaningless content and keywords are over, according to Boyd.

Search engines don’t highlight the 200- or 500-word articles that worked years ago. Now, search engines promote in-depth articles in the range of 1,500 to 2,000 words. Lists do well. Use subheads – that’s where keywords go.

In articles, demonstrate competency, but don’t give them so much information they think they can handle a will on their own, Boyd says.

Tailor the Media and Message for Each Audience

Customize marketing for each audience. A Facebook ad campaign might reach some over-55 clients, but to reach Gen Z family members, look to Instagram. And craft a different message for that younger audience, such as, “This is about protecting your parent,” or “Did you know there are tax implications for your parents’ estate?” Ryan explains.

Increase Visibility and Rankings Website Content 

To improve search results, update website articles every year and confirm that sites are optimized and formatted for mobile devices. And since estate lawyers serve older clients, make websites easy to read, with larger fonts and screen reader accessibility, Boyd says.

Be mindful of backlinks – other sites that link to you – and work to increase bounce rates, how much someone clicks through various parts of your website, he says.

Think Local

Geotarget advertising by using Google’s Business Profile and local service ads on online platforms, so when people search, they find you, Ryan explains.

Prioritize the Ideal Clients 

Offer additional services for ideal clients. Prioritize them to keep them and motivate them for referrals, Schmidt says.

Maintain Relationships With Existing Clients

Communicate with existing clients. Send newsletters or personal notes. Introduce them to attorneys at the firm who provide other services. Remind them to return to you when they need additional work and to recommend you to friends and colleagues, Ryan says.

Don’t Be Afraid of Video

Videos have surprising staying power, Boyd says.

With an hour to spare, interview yourself on video about estate planning and cut the comments into 30-second to one-minute-long clips to post on YouTube or TikTok, other social media and the firm’s website. If you have the budget, consider hiring a company that can quickly help you shoot and edit as many as 100 videos, he explains.

Say Thank You

Respond to every review. Send thank yous to those who refer you or post a recommendation, Schmidt says. Communicate that, while you provided them with a valuable service, you value your clients just as much.

Sarah Goldberg
Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a seasoned financial market expert with a decade of experience. She's known for her analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to communicate complex financial concepts. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance, is a licensed financial advisor, and enjoys reading and traveling in her free time.

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