Elder law is an attractive and rewarding practice area for anyone passionate about helping people. And because it’s an area where there is seemingly unlimited potential for growth — with approximately 15 percent of the American population comprised of adults ages 65 and over — it can also be a very lucrative one.
Because of the widespread need for elder law and estate planning services, it’s easy for lawyers to become complacent when it comes to marketing and growing their business. In reality, even the most in-demand professional legal services require diligent and smart marketing efforts in order for an elder law practice to thrive.
Despite the large potential clientele, many new or transitioning attorneys still struggle to attract clients to their elder law practices. It’s important to understand the best ways to attract and retain elder law clients if you want to reap the maximum benefit from this profession.
Like any client-based business, elder law depends upon building relationships with your clients, and with other professionals in your community who can drive business to your practice and, conversely, serve other non-legal needs your clients may have. Word of mouth is one of your most powerful allies when it comes to gaining and keeping elder law clients. The better the service you provide, the more referrals you will get.
Communicating in the proper manner is one way to build a good reputation with your clients and reap the benefits of positive word of mouth. Addressing complex legal issues in a straightforward manner that’s easy for clients — and their family members — is one way to set your firm apart. By showing your clients that you are knowledgeable and easy to talk to, you can gain their trust and confidence, therefore increasing the chances they will refer others to your practice.
Building relationships with a professional network is also key to growing your business. By making a name for yourself in your community, you can gain referrals from other professionals with which you’ve aligned yourself, including fellow attorneys, CPAs, or insurance agents. These are the businesses who are most likely to come into contact with people in your community that need your services.
Marketing yourself to nursing homes
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are also an invaluable marketing target for your business. Building relationships with these facilities is one of the best ways to ensure a constant stream of business. You will need to develop a process for building and maintaining these connections. An Internet search can help you identify who and where these facilities are in your community and surrounding areas so that you can begin reaching out. Medicare.gov also offers a nursing home comparison tool that allows you to dig a little deeper by locating facilities based on zip code and comparing their quality ratings.
Once you determine which nursing homes you’d like to target, you can find information for administrators, and financial and social services liaisons that you’ll need to reach out to. Your goal should be to connect with the right person and then to schedule an in-person meeting in which you can communicate the value of these services and discuss your expertise.
While there is a definite need for elder law services in these facilities, most of these organizations don’t realize it or don’t know how to go about connecting residents with the legal professionals that can help them. Therefore, it’s up to you to communicate the importance of this mutually beneficial relationship. Doing so will provide great value to your business. If you were to build relationships with 10 nursing homes in your community, for example, and generated only a single referral from each at an average of even $1,000 (for a standard will, for example), that alone could amount to some $10,000 per year in additional revenue to your firm.
By partnering with the long-term care facilities in your community and providing your expertise, you are giving them a resource their residents would have likely not had access to otherwise, while growing your own business at the same time.
Market yourself to everyone
When you think about your client base, it’s common to think only about the 65-and-over segment and to focus solely on that demographic. But with the advent of social media and the fact that people of all ages are more connected than ever, it’s important to consider other groups to whom you’ll want to deliver a message about your services. Millennials — typically defined as those born between 1981 and 1996 — are one of the segments that you can afford to ignore with your marketing message.
First of all, they are among the largest consumers of social media, spending up to 18 hours a day consuming various types of media. Therefore you can meet them where they are with your message — through sites such as Facebook.
Millennials are also likely to talk with their parents or grandparents about planning, which means you can capture this group’s attention by providing valuable information and tips on encouraging their loved ones to plan. You should market to millennials in a manner that communicates the benefits of planning for their loved ones. Because they are also more money conscientious than previous generations, you can also use social media marketing to inform them that it’s never too early to start planning for themselves. With Baby Boomers — which represent the wealthiest generation — expected to transfer $30 trillion to millennials and Gen Xers in the coming decades, according to CNBC, it’s imperative that you elder law firm is poised to capture the business of those who stand to come into wealth.
When it comes to marketing yourself to those over 65, don’t discount social media either. While online media consumption is lower for seniors, it still represents an opportunity to deliver an effective message by meeting them where they are. Of course, more traditional marketing methods should still be part of your marketing strategy to those over 65. Consider advertising your services in local print media, as well as in the businesses with which you’ve forged networking relationships.
Tools to use
Thanks to the Internet and social media, your marketing efforts now have a much greater — and more measurable — reach. While marketing messages used to be relegated to print ads (with no guarantee that the prospective clients you were targeting would see them), they can now be targeted and measured to gauge penetration and efficacy.
The Internet offers a platform to market to your prospects in a less obtrusive way, by meeting them where they are. With more and more people using the Internet to research topics of interest, elder law attorneys can use their knowledge base to inform and educate those who are seeking information.
Blogs are a key tool you should be using to reach your target audience. Through content you can inform and educate the prospects who are searching for information about the services you provide. Dedicating a section of your website to content marketing via a blog allows you to publish information about your practice and information that appeals to the elder law community at large. Focus on content that is informative and beneficial to existing clients and prospects. Generating business is the goal of your content, but it should also be informative and not just promotional.
Decide who will create the content — will it be you or another knowledgeable and qualified member of your staff? Ultimately, the result needs to be content that is informative and educational, answering questions that prospects would likely be asking and researching on their own. If no one in your firm has the bandwidth, consider hiring a high-quality freelance writer to generate three to five pieces of informative content that you can post on your website to get you started. Then you can add more high-level content from there.
As mentioned, social media channels are an extremely effective place to market your practice — to both your traditional target audience and those prospects you may not otherwise reach with traditional marketing tactics. Consider who you want to target and which channels they might be on. Facebook is perhaps the social media platform that covers the widest demographical range. To that end, it is one of the first places you should focus your marketing efforts.
Beyond that, LinkedIn is a great place to reach professionals that are mindful of their own estate planning needs, as well as to reach people and businesses that can refer clients to your elder law firm. Other social media platforms should be considered on a case-by-case basis. For example, you may want to think about posting educational videos on YouTube, but you may realize that there is no benefit to spending money for advertising on Instagram or Pinterest.
A newsletter is a great tool to engage both current clients and prospects by sharing useful information and helpful tips. It’s also a good way to stay top of mind. You can use a newsletter to offer information on estate planning, tying it back to common questions as well as related current events, including tax law changes, etc. You can also offer seasonally relevant information that is both informative and fun.
For example, a December newsletter could include strategies for estate planning in the coming year as well as a fun holiday recipe or tips on how to manage holiday stress. Email newsletters can be generated using software that provides an easy-to-follow template. You might also consider the value of a printed newsletter sent via U.S. Postal Service, which can separate you and your services from the sea of emails that flood people’s inboxes on a daily basis.
SEO and analytics
Perhaps the greatest advantage of living in the information age when it comes to marketing is the ability to capitalize on tricks and tactics that generate leads and allow you to measure the efficacy of your efforts.
Any content you’re creating online should be optimized to get the most traction. Using basic search engine optimization (SEO) tools, such as Google Analytics can provide insights into target audiences and help to inform content decisions based on highly searchable terms and phrases within the elder law industry. That way, when prospective clients are searching for information, you will increase your chances of appearing in their search results. SEO strategies can be implemented into your blog content, website landing pages, and social media content and advertisements to help you better tailor all of your online and content marketing efforts.
While generating new business is a key focus of your marketing, it’s important to remember to continue to nurture the clients relationships you already have. You can do this through newsletters, which we touched on earlier, as well as through more personalized tactics, such as annual client appreciation or educational events. Consider organizing gatherings for existing clients where you can educate them on estate-planning topics while also having a little fun (think happy hours or client appreciation events).
Educational events are a great way to engage existing clients and drum up new business in the process. For example, you can host an in-person or online session where you address questions and encourage your clients to have a friend join them. If you set up an in-person event, be sure to sweeten the pot by offering appetizers or coffee and dessert. For client-appreciation events, consider having a raffle where you give away some nice gifts.
Finding the resources you need to succeed
At this point, you may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but I don’t have the time or resources to do one of these things let alone all of them.” If this rings true for you, you’re not alone. A lack of time and/or resources is chief among the complaints of just about any business owner when it comes to marketing their organization.
In reality, we often stay focused on the parts of our business where we can add the most value and the other things, such as marketing, take a back seat. This is especially true for smaller firms where there isn’t a large staff for delegating tasks. A number of elder law attorneys — especially newer ones — find themselves trying to do it all, with little or no time left to focus on how to best retain elder law clients and attract new ones.
Thankfully, there are resources available to help you with your marketing efforts. The right tools can help you to easily and effectively reach your clients and prospects. ElderCounsel’s Practice Enhancement Program (PEP) offers a customized, organized, and easy-to-use marketing system that also tracks your return on investment.
These resources will allow you to carry out many marketing initiatives more seamlessly, including easily creating effective blog content and newsletters with your firm’s unique branding, and to send content to your contacts. ElderCounsel’s PEP library allows you to browse topics and create fresh campaigns from within the system. These types of tools remove the marketing burden from your staff and they’re invaluable in elevating your brand presence and enhancing communication with your existing clients and new prospects.
No matter how you choose to approach it, a smart and effective marketing strategy must be a priority for your elder law practice to compete in an increasingly competitive market and ensure your firm’s success for the long term. If you’d like to learn more about how ElderCounsel can help you streamline your marketing efforts and generate results in the process, contact us today.