In this detailed guide, respected Family Attorney and Client Acquisition Expert, Maxwell Hills shows you how to build a client acquisition strategy that works. It’s a collector’s item!
Client acquisition is a big part of marketing, but it’s becoming more difficult. In recent years, the cost of client acquisition increased by 60 percent.
Marketing is more expensive and more challenging, due to customers becoming increasingly distrusting of brands. With so much information available online, customers are savvier and wary of traditional marketing tactics.
No matter what type of business you’re in, whether it’s retail or service-based like law firms and hair salons, you need to attract and retain clients to survive in this ultra-competitive business landscape.
Client acquisition is an essential part of generating new business and maintaining a competitive edge, but it’s difficult to get it right.
Service-based businesses aren’t separate from this competitive market – if anything, they need to work even harder to attract clients and keep them.
Fortunately, an effective client acquisition strategy is intended to do just that.
The Client Acquisition Funnel
Most marketers are familiar with the sales funnel, the proverbial “funnel” that drives customers from awareness to conversion. The client acquisition funnel is similar, but its main goal is to guide the prospect through the onboarding process to become a paying client.
Like the sales funnel, the client acquisition funnel needs to be strategic and well designed to bring prospects through each stage smoothly to the ultimate decision stage.
These are the stages of the client acquisition funnel:
- The Awareness Stage: The client recognizes a pain point or need and begins to search for solutions. This is an opportunity for a brand to promote themselves and provide valuable content, bringing the client into the funnel.
- The Interest Stage: The client is looking for more specific solutions to the pain point or need identified in the first stage. Messaging should be focused on the real-world benefits of the product or service and how it can be a solution to the problem.
- The Consideration Stage: The client is considering all the options and evaluating them to choose the right product or brand for their needs. Content at this stage should focus on providing deep insights and context for products and services that can help with the decision process, such as client testimonials or case studies.
- The Intent Stage: The client has made a decision and is looking to make a purchase or sign on to a service. This is when free consultations, case reviews, and similar offerings can be used to illuminate how the brand can benefit the client.
- The Evaluation Stage: The client wants to complete the process, but they may need a subtle nudge in the right direction. During this stage, incentives like free trials and discounts can sway them in a brand’s direction.
- The Purchase Stage: The client has chosen the brand or product they want and they’re prepared to take the next steps, which may be completing the purchase or signing up for a service or subscription.
These phases all have content and marketing strategies that deliver exactly what the client wants or needs at the precise time, bringing the client closer to signing on without blowing the marketing budget.
How to Build a Client Acquisition Strategy
Here’s what you need to create a robust client acquisition plan that maximizes results while minimizing your marketing spend.
Ideal Audience and Segments
All marketing starts with a defined target audience. Even with the best marketing campaign in the world, you won’t get anywhere if you’re not directing your efforts at the right people – the people who actually want what you have to offer.
Service-based businesses can find this challenging, since the audiences may be hyper segmented, broad, vague, or diverse. When this happens, creating highly targeted messaging that resonates is nearly impossible.
That is, unless you can segment your audiences effectively and speak to what makes them unique. You have numerous options for how to segment your audiences, such as by interest, occupation, geographic location, age, purchasing behaviors, and more.
With a law firm, the segmentation may be guided by the different practice areas. For example, some law firms practice multiple types of law, such as personal injury law, divorce law, and family law.
These clients are all looking for something different from a law firm and a lawyer, so they need different messaging to connect. Once the audience is segmented, you can ensure that you’re only delivering the most targeted messaging to each of them. From there, you can segment your audiences further and include more granular details, such as their gender, age, or psychographic information.
While segmentation takes a lot of upfront work, it’s worth the effort. Otherwise, you could waste a lot of time, energy, and money on vague marketing campaigns that don’t yield any positive results.
Goals and Objectives
Goals should form the foundation of any marketing strategy. Without goals, you won’t know if you’re achieving what you set out to do or what you can improve for better results.
All client acquisition strategy has the overarching goal of getting more clients, but your goals should be more specific and drilled down within the strategy. You should also use SMART goals, which are:
Specific: The goal to “bring in more clients” is obvious, but it’s not measurable or testable. You should begin with a target number of clients, whether for the whole business or for a particular department or service, and the time period you hope to have them by.
Measurable: Goals should ALWAYS be measurable to track whether you can meet them. For example, if you set a goal to acquire 100 clients within one quarter, you can check your progress after the first month. If you’ve acquired 50 clients, you’re likely to meet or exceed that 100 by the end of the quarter. If you only acquired five clients, it’s possible that your goal was too ambitious and needs to be reevaluated.
Achievable: Along the lines of goals being too ambitious, achievable goals are goals that you can reasonably expect to meet or exceed. You’re not going to bring in 100 clients in a week, but you may be able to in a month, or three months, or six months, depending on your business. If you try to set such lofty goals from the start, you’re only setting yourself up for failure and discouragement. Likewise, avoid making your goals so easy that you’re not challenging yourself. If you average 10 clients a month without any strategy in place, setting a goal for 10 clients a month isn’t testing the effectiveness of your campaigns or challenging you.
Relevant: Goals should always be relevant to your larger business goals. In this case, the overarching goal is client acquisition. Though other goals are part of that, such as boosting revenue or generating more brand awareness or engagement on social media, they’re not the specific goal of your client acquisition strategy. Keep it focused.
Time-Bound: All goals need a time frame in which to achieve them, otherwise you’re not challenging yourself. Your time frame needs to be realistic, however, so that you’re neither discouraged nor taking it too easy. Determine a time frame that pushes you a little without making it impossible to reach your goal.
Content marketing is a key component of client acquisition. With valuable content, you can draw in organic traffic and clients that will come to see your brand as an authority and a source of answers and information, which keeps you front-of-mind for when they need your services.
Client acquisition content is slightly different from general content strategy, however. The goal with content may be to attract organic traffic and leads, but with client acquisition content, it’s always intended to convert a prospect into a paying client.
Fortunately, you have plenty of options for content that can be used to draw in clients. Infographics, blog posts, podcasts, webinars, video marketing, ebooks, case studies, and whitepapers all have a place in your client acquisition strategy. When you create content, be sure to share it wherever you can to hit different audiences and segments, including your social channels, email lists, and your website.
Targeted Marketing Channels
Service-based businesses like law firms have broad audiences, so marketing can be diverse and varied. On top of that, digital marketing has so many channels that you can use to interact with your audience.
If you try to include all the marketing channels and all your audiences with every campaign, you’ll merely blow through your marketing budget and waste a lot of time and effort.
It’s important to start small. Choose the most effective channels for your campaigns to start – the ones that have the largest portion of your audience. If you get good results, then you can scale and you won’t have wasted a lot of your time or money on campaigns that flopped.
A combination of inbound marketing and outbound marketing is usually the most effective for service-based businesses. Inbound marketing usually includes paid advertising and content marketing, while outbound marketing includes cold pitching and networking. Both have their place in your client acquisition strategy.
Goals are necessary to test your progress, and you must use data analytics to track, test, evaluate, and refine your campaigns and strategy. Analytics can show you if you’re on track to meet your goals, falling behind, or surging ahead, so you can adjust accordingly.
Harness the Power of Client Acquisition Strategy
No business can survive without a steady influx of clients, no matter how essential. Client acquisition is crucial to the success of service-based businesses, but few put a lot of time and resources into it.
If you want to see growth, loyal clients, and long-term results, however, you need to develop a solid client acquisition strategy that keeps the clients coming in.