Professional growth          Court news           Productivity           Technology          Wellness          Just for fun

How to identify – and land – your ideal client

Why bother identifying your ideal client? It seems like a lot of work, and if you’re a growing firm, you probably have times when you’re happy to take any business you can get.

The thing is, identifying your ideal client is not as optional as you might think. Without this critical insight, you’ll spend a lot of time and money on marketing and promotions that don’t bring in a single dollar of business.

At the end of the day, law firms need one thing to survive, right?

No, not coffee.


There is no law firm if there are no clients to serve.

In this article, we’ll look at a four-part process that lawyers can use to not only identify their ideal clients, but also sign them on the dotted line. This method can be summed up in four words:

  • Identify
  • Reach
  • Nurture
  • Excel


There’s a lot to cover here. Let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1: Identify

The first step in this process – identify – comes in two parts.

The first involves identifying who you are as a lawyer and as a marketer.

The second part is about identifying the individuals or businesses that are likely to become your client.

Part 1: Identify yourself

Before you are able to meaningfully communicate to potential clients, you need to take some time to be real with yourself about who you are both as a lawyer and — just as importantly — as a marketer.

What kind of lawyer are you?

Here, you need to identify key things about your practice that will impact your marketing messages. For example:

  • Are you a new lawyer, or do you have some experience under your belt?
  • Do you have a focused practice area, or are you more of a generalist?
  • Are you hands-on with your clients, or do you prefer to have your employees do most of the work?


There are a million questions you could ask here but the key is to really think about how you work as a lawyer so that later you can come up with marketing messages that highlight your particular strengths.

What kind of marketer are you?

Different lawyers have different comfort levels with three of the basic forms of marketing. Take a look at these descriptions and see if you relate to one or more of them.

  1. Relational: This type of lawyer is most comfortable marketing via relationships. They want to talk to people and get to know them. They want to personally understand their clients’ struggles and help because they truly care about people.
  2. Expert: These lawyers are most comfortable marketing their expertise. They like to talk and write about their specialty. They tend to have relatively focused practice areas, keep up with the latest developments within those areas, and are comfortable communicating their vast knowledge to others.
  3. Volume: These attorneys aren’t necessarily big on relationships. They want to reach a ton of paying clients, and they want those clients to sign quickly without a lot of personalized attention up front. Their practice is set up to efficiently handle volume, but things like a reputation for expertise and earning repeat business might not be top priorities.

Part 2: Identify your clients

Now that you understand yourself better, let’s take a look at your ideal clients.

Truly, I want you to envision them and write down their salient characteristics (for a more detailed treatment of this process, see our recent eBook, Masterclass on law firm marketing). For example:

If your clients are usually businesses:

  • What industries do they serve?
  • How many employees do they have?
  • What is their annual revenue?
  • Where are they located?
  • What legal problems can you solve for them?
  • What type of marketing will they respond to (Relational, Expert, Volume)?
  • What do they care about most when hiring outside counsel?


If your clients are usually individuals:

  • How old are they?
  • Are they male, female, other, or does it matter?
  • What is their net worth?
  • Are they blue collar or professionals?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • What are their hobbies, interests, and passions?
  • What legal problems can you solve for them?
  • What type of marketing will they respond to (Relational, Expert, Volume)?
  • What do they care about most when looking for a lawyer?


Get the free Masterclass on law firm marketing eBook here for more detailed reading:

Step 2: Reach

Congratulations! You know who you are and you know who your potential clients are.

Now, how are you going to reach them? This is where your marketing type really becomes important.

Relational Marketers:

In order to reach potential clients, relational markets will literally put themselves where those clients can be found.

For example, lawyers looking for small business clients may become active in the local Chamber of Commerce.

If you’re aiming to attract high net-worth individuals, you may join a country club or participate in golf tournaments.

To find clients who are middle-class individuals with family law problems, you may become active in church, join clubs in your community, or even coach your kids’ little league team.

Expert Marketers:

Expert marketers are looking for any opportunity to show off their expertise to potential clients.

If this is you, it’s a good idea to consider speaking gigs at industry-specific conventions, appearing on podcasts that your potential clients might listen to, or leading workshops that appeal to your ideal customers.

Make sure you build your reputation through your own media channels. It’s a good idea to add a blog to your website and update it regularly.

As you reach a broader audience through your expert outreach, build a database of emails to which you can send marketing materials later. Give people convenient ways to opt in so that they can tell you they’re interested.

Volume Marketers:

Volume marketers are more likely to make use of technology at this stage.

Paid advertising is the main way that you’ll find your potential clients. Explore ads on social media platforms, Google pay-per-click advertising, display ad platforms, and other digital channels that are likely to get in front of your ideal clients.

If you’re targeting a geographic location and the cost makes sense, you might also consider traditional advertising options like billboards, radio ads, and even television commercials.

This strategy is most successful when you have some way to collect potential client information to continue marketing in a more direct way. Email opt-ins are great, and you can also use retargeting tools to make sure that people who visit your website or click on one of your ads continue to see more targeted messaging.

Step 3: Nurture

The prior step is about introducing yourself to potential clients so they know that you and your services are a possibility for them.

In this nurturing step, each type of marketer must now make themselves attractive to those potential clients. Here’s how:

Relational Marketers:

Relational marketers are not about the hard sell.

The potential clients they’ve met in the community are aware that they are lawyers, but nobody has talked about doing business together yet. It’s more important to build a positive, no-pressure relationship than it is to push the business objective.

In this stage, you seek more quality time with potential clients. This might mean lunches out together or invitations for potential clients to attend law firm open houses and the like.

Slowly, you will begin showing potential clients that you hold value for them.

Of course, if the topic comes up organically, you’ll have no problem articulating exactly why you’re the right attorney for the job. Since you’ve invested time and effort into building the relationship, you’ve got a lot more credibility when you talk about your business.

Expert Marketers:

During the nurture stage, expert marketers continue to create specialized content that is highly targeted to potential clients.

In this stage, you’ll begin to use the email database you’ve developed to send your content to specific people via personalized emails that say things like: “Hey Bob, It was nice to meet you at the airline industry convention. I thought you might find this blog interesting. Let me know your thoughts.”

You can automate some of this by sending out new blog posts to your email list, creating segmented lists based on specific interests or needs, and writing a regular newsletter that combines useful information for your audience with news about your business.

Volume Marketers:

Volume marketers aren’t big on individualized nurturing, but they are big on mass communications as a nurture strategy.

Digital retargeting is an important strategy for you. Based on the website pages or ads someone has interacted with, you can serve them more personalized advertising that is focused on topics they’re more likely to find interesting. For example, if someone visited a page on your website about traffic tickets, you can follow up with ads on that same topic.

At this point, you can also email to people who have reached out via the “Contact Us” portals.

This will likely be a large list that you contact regularly, so it’s not practical to spend extra time personalizing every message. Think of it more like a newsletter.

Each email should end with a call to action inviting the recipient to set up a free consultation.

Step 4: Excel

This last step in the process is the same no matter what type of marketer you are.

Ultimately, all successful lawyers must excel at what they do. There are a million reasons for this, but one is particularly important here: happy clients bring repeat customers and refer you to others.

If you’re a small firm, you might ask your clients personally for referrals. For larger firms, you can send out automated satisfaction surveys that ask for referrals at the end. It doesn’t really matter how you ask as long as you get in the habit of requesting referrals from all your satisfied clients.

The truth is, repeat business and personal referrals are worth more than anything else you do from a marketing standpoint.

What if you don’t have a long list of satisfied clients?

In that case, you probably need to take a look at your business practices and ask yourself if you really are excelling at your job. Remember that negative word-of-mouth is a possibility, too.

One last note about this step:

Lots of law firms believe that if they are good enough at serving their clients, they don’t need to do any other marketing at all because their reputation will do all the work for them.

That’s not correct, unfortunately.

Building your reputation is important. But you also have to put in some marketing work to see any results. Your positive reputation will make marketing easier, but not irrelevant.

Dig deeper into law firm marketing

Your marketing strategy is probably more complex than a single blog post can cover. Ready to dive in and start building a more complete approach?

The Masterclass in law firm marketing eBook is a great starting point for your growing firm’s marketing. You’ll learn about creating your brand, figuring out your market positioning, and even how to build a successful marketing team within your budget.

Get your free eBook here.


  • Jennifer Anderson

    Jennifer Anderson is the founder of Attorney To Author, where she helps legal professionals bring their book projects to life. She was a California attorney for nearly two decades before becoming a freelance writer, marketing/branding consultant, ghostwriter, and writing coach. Her upcoming book, Breaking Out of Writer's Block, Exercises and inspirations for getting the words out of your head and onto the page, is due out in September 2023.

    View all posts

Our recommendations

Follow InfoTrack