Estate-planning services are essential, but the field can be crowded. Effectively marketing your services can separate your offering from other estate-planning attorneys and make the difference in growing your practice and revenue. Unfortunately, many attorneys don’t know where to start; even fewer know how to execute.
Taking a few simple steps can make a significant positive impact on your practice. Thinking strategically about who you’re targeting and meeting those targets where they are is a critical part of the process. Here are five smart ways to market your estate-planning services and grow your practice.
Marketing your practice the smart way
1. Identify your target audience
The first step is to figure out who your target audience is and create a persona for that demographic. What do these people look like? What is important to them? What are their pain points? What are their questions? Defining this will help you focus your budget and time on messaging that connects with specific people rather than trying to reach everyone. As an example, young to middle-aged couples with children and a home are more likely to be a good client fit than single 20-somethings fresh out of college.
2. Stay on message
Focus your messaging on topics that apply to your target audience. For example, the estate-tax exemption has increased significantly in the last 20 years. In fact, only two out of every 1,000 estates are subject to estate taxes under the current exemption. Unless you’re exclusively marketing to the high-net-worth demographic, talking about the estate tax has little value to your prospects. Instead, craft your message around the universal, non-tax benefits of estate planning, such as:
- Designating a guardian for children
- Ensuring homes are transferred to designated beneficiaries in the event of death
- Keeping a business in family hands throughout generations
- Protecting your family assets in the case of future divorce
- Avoiding probate
- Maintaining privacy of assets since trusts are not public records
3. Rethink direct-to-client marketing
You might be considering a traditional approach to estate-planning marketing with a phonebook listing and hosting dinner seminars. Those tactics alone aren’t enough in today’s market of clients who consume content through a variety of digital channels. Your target demographic simply doesn’t want to spend an evening eating rubber chicken and watching a slideshow. They’re much more likely to watch a YouTube video, read blogs, check social media profiles, and talk with friends, family, and colleagues.
Luckily, new methods of client marketing are more effective—and more affordable—than ever. The digital age has opened up new channels that allow you to reach a larger audience.
Social media can be extremely effective for keeping in touch with existing clients, reaching new ones and expanding your referral network. That said, it’s important to choose the right social media channel(s). While Snapchat is popular with the large millennial demographic, it’s probably not the most effective social media channel for estate planners. It makes more sense to connect with millennials through Twitter, where you can share content you’ve created on other channels or quickly share thoughts.
LinkedIn remains the most useful channel for estate planners. LinkedIn users tend to be professional, more established and more highly educated, so it makes sense to have a presence on this site with its 500 million members. Create a LinkedIn Premium account, and post regularly on LinkedIn about the value of estate planning and how you can help. Additionally, you can post about the latest news, like celebrities dying without a will or new legislation. Regular posts will help you establish yourself as an estate-planning expert and help you reach more potential clients.
4. Differentiate yourself from the competition
The estate-planning market is more competitive than ever, and the competition isn’t only from other estate planners. Accountants, financial planners and paralegals have all encroached on the estate-planning market. You need to market your expertise and unique skill set in order to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Your education, experience, knowledge and services can all separate you from your competitors. Consider the specific assets you possess, and use your marketing to call attention to what makes your practice unique and how you can add value. Estate planning can be a very emotional and personal topic, so make sure you craft a personal and authentic message that connects with your audience.
5. Execute your marketing plan
Many attorneys struggle to develop a marketing plan, and those who manage to develop one struggle to execute it. Their excuses often include financial and time constraints, but lack of confidence is the most common reason for not executing a marketing plan.
Some attorneys don’t know where to start. Others don’t know how to take action on their plan. For example, an attorney might want to produce a video but not have the technical know-how or might be afraid of producing a low-quality product. Another attorney might want to create a webinar but not know how to create the slides and upload the content to do so.
If you don’t know where to start, estate-planning marketing resources and courses can help. Reputable marketing programs provide turnkey presentations with slides and scripts that can help overcome the time, financial and technical constraints associated with marketing. Other resources include client communication tools, articles, newsletter content, how-to's to support your marketing efforts and blog content on topics of concern to clients.
Thinking strategically about how you’re marketing your estate-planning practice, rather than simply adopting the historically popular techniques can yield significant benefits, especially if your competition is stuck hosting dinner seminars and listing in the yellow pages. Take time to consider what marketing techniques you’re currently using, what’s working and what isn’t. Then, readdress how you can improve your strategy to help build your client base.