The goal of every marketing message is to persuade prospective clients that your law firm is the best choice to meet their legal needs. So as legal marketers, we develop a lot of content to highlight your experience, results, honors and awards – we say whatever we can that ethically and accurately positions you as the best lawyer for your prospective clients. Sometimes lawyers write their own marketing messages – either directly, such as a bio or LinkedIn profile, but sometimes indirectly through articles or blog posts that display your knowledge or subject matter expertise. These are all good and necessary tactics in marketing yourself and your practice.
But don’t overlook the single most powerful marketing message your firm will ever have – client testimonials. When a prospective client reads what an existing client has to say about your work, that has immeasurably more impact than anything a lawyer or the law firm’s marketing department has to say about that lawyer. Let the clients do the talking – ask your best clients if they will share some information about their experience that might help others know if you are the right firm or attorney for them.
Feel awkward asking a client for a testimonial? Spin it as a request for feedback that will help you do a better job of meeting the needs of your clients. If you get rave reviews, thank your client profusely then segue into asking if you can use their incredibly generous comments in a testimonial. If you get lukewarm feedback, skip the testimonial and ask how you can improve your service.
Some testimonial tips:
- Make it easy for clients to provide a testimonial: Offer to have someone call and conduct a brief phone interview about their experience with your firm. Turn the interview notes into a testimonial that uses key words and phrases from the client’s interview, but that simplifies and clarifies the most salient points.
- Send clients a satisfaction survey: Create a simple survey using one of the popular online survey tools and send it to clients after every case or matter. Include an option to write a short testimonial with a checkbox to confirm that you have permission to use it on your website or marketing materials.
- Post an online feedback survey: Put the survey on your website and include a link to it from your email signature line. Disclaim on the survey that all comments may be used in firm marketing.
- Turn spontaneous praise into a testimonial. If a client ever calls or emails a lawyer just to say thank you for a job well done, that’s the very best time to say, “Wow, thanks, I really enjoyed working with you on your case and I’m so glad you’re pleased. I’m really focused on growing my practice right now and doing good work for every client is a high priority for me. I would love to share your feedback on our website to let others know what they can expect from our firm – would that be ok with you? I think it might help me find more clients just like you.” If a lawyer can find the right way to ask, the client will be flattered and happy to help.
- Use Chambers testimonials. If your firm or lawyers are ranked in a Chambers Guide, they will often include snippets of quotes provided by the clients they interview in their research process. You can republish these snippets on lawyer bios, with attribution to the Chambers Guide and a link to the Chambers profile. This has the added benefit of displaying a nice client testimonial and touting an impressive ranking.
As you collect great testimonials from clients, add them to website bios and maybe even excerpt them in the Summary section of LinkedIn profiles. Put them on display so prospective clients see them when they are vetting lawyers – they will absolutely make a difference. If the firm or clients are sensitive about displaying the names of the clients, you can describe clients with as much anonymity as needed. A description such as “In-house counsel for a national retailer” will work fine, or even just “A client” if that is what feels most comfortable for the firm, the lawyer or the client.
Don’t forget testimonials require State Bar approval in Texas: Send testimonials to the Advertising Review Department with each client’s name and contact information. You can use the testimonial without the client’s name, but the Texas State Bar wants the name for their records. Check your State Bar rules in your state to make sure you are in compliance where your firm or practice is located.
Keep an eye on testimonials over the years to make sure they remain relevant and replace or update them as needed. If a lawyer evolves away from a practice area or service mentioned in a testimonial, it’s fine to make minor changes to the content of a quote without asking for permission. For example, if a client has said a lawyer did a great job on a “securities litigation case” but is now focusing more on general litigation, you can delete the word “securities” without altering the meaning or intent of the client’s testimonial. If the changes needed are more substantial, propose the edits and email the client for permission to publish them.
Remember, testimonials can be powerful for developing new business, but they are also great for strengthening existing client relationships. It is important to know how clients really feel about lawyers and their work. Don’t assume you already know and don’t be afraid to ask. The result of that conversation just might be the most powerful marketing message you can have.