Want to understand the value of your online reputation?
Imagine that you’re a legal consumer. You’re most likely over the age of 45 and you’re not in this situation by choice. You might be dealing with a legal issue for the first time in your life and as such, you don’t know what you don’t know. You need help. You’re emotional and if not afraid, you’re at least concerned.
Now, what do you want to feel when you’re looking for an attorney online? Confidence? Calm? Anxiety relief? All good answers. What do you need to see in order to feel that relief? Sometimes the answer is as simple as four little stars next to someone’s name.
Finding an attorney with a good reputation reassures legal consumers that they’re heading down the right path. Whether accurate or not, shoppers who choose highly-rated products or services begin to feel a whole lot better about their situation. Even before you’ve begun working, your positive reputation can start building loyalty with a potential client. As he or she learns more about you, it can start to feel like the solution to the problem at-hand is just a call or click away.
You know that legal matters aren’t always so cut and dried, but consumers’ minds work to your advantage sometimes. They want to believe their case will fall in their favor; that someone somewhere will come in and save the day. Right or wrong, many prospects will project that hero status onto you. Savvy marketers know how to make the most of that psychological behavior without being dishonest or unethical. They use their reputation to their advantage and build their businesses on a vision of what could be.
Automobile manufacturers do this all the time. Consider how many luxury cars are sold based on a reputation of performance and the subsequent vision of what could be. The cars are presented on beautiful winding roads and the viewer is allowed to imagine themselves in the driver’s seat. In the case of law firms, your reputation can contribute to a consumer’s vision of a normal life unburdened by the fear and uncertainty of legal issues. Making this happen is easier than most lawyers think.
Anecdotal Evidence and Social Proof
Sometimes, effectively leveraging your reputation means overcoming your own biases. Attorneys are trained to find concrete evidence to make their cases. But facts and emotions are different beasts. Despite our high opinions of ourselves, humans make decisions based on emotions most of the time.
- Facts: Your alma mater is highly accredited. You clerked with a nationally-renowned judge. You were a partner by age 30 at a top metro firm.
- Emotions: “I felt like my life was about to get torn apart by my ex-husband. Then I worked with Peter Kreig and he made everything better. I feel like my life is finally back on track.”
The rational response to that second bullet is, “Who cares? Look at those credentials right above that story.” The reality is, every single person who’s ever gone through a divorce feeling like they were out of control cares very much about the story told in that second bullet.
As I mentioned earlier, legal consumers are feeling some intense emotions and many of them aren’t positive. Resolving those needs something more than a dispassionate list of academic credentials and career milestones. You need the social proof of other people sending a positive message about your firm.
That social proof has always existed in the form of word-of-mouth referrals. The distinction today is that consumers across the board are willing to put their faith in the word of complete strangers. Take advantage of this trend and get your clients talking about your firm and how you helped put them at ease. You never know who could be listening.