How to Build a Cult Following for Your Law Firm
9–12 minutes to read
Cults get a bad rep.
But let’s think about it for a second. Are they really all that bad? Don’t we have modern day cults of a different kind?
While you might be picturing some “classic” cult behavior such as Charles Manson and his determined devotees, David Koresh and his Waco wackies, or Beyonce and her BeyHive bandits, that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re not talking about this type of cult:
We’re talking about this type of cult:
Take a look at Apple, for instance. People sleep overnight in the rain, snow, sleet, and hail, just for the chance at grabbing the latest iPhone before anyone else has a chance to. Is this just a phone?
Or what about IKEA? This is a furniture store where people go for dinner, specifically for the meatballs. Quality family time and memories are made in the cafeteria of this furniture showroom.
And one of the greatest cults of all: sports. Head to Athens, Georgia on gameday and you’ll find plenty of grown men screaming at one another with their heads painted in true UGA Bulldog fashion.
What do all of these different entities have in common?
Bingo: people know them and they have a following.
Law firms around the country have created the same type of brand — the kind people choose as their party theme, Halloween costumes, and hot sauce of choice.
Wake up, people. It’s time to build a cult for your law firm.
We don’t believe in anyone drinking the literal Kool-Aid, but we do believe in finding your perfect, ideal audience and building and representing that community so faithfully that your followers don’t ever want to use resources from any other firm.
It’s not enough anymore to have an audience, or even a community. A cult following is the only way to accelerate your business to something you’ve never thought possible. How do you do this? Three simple steps:
Develop Your Dogma
A quick vocabulary lesson for those who haven’t had to study for the SAT in a few years: DOGMA (n.) is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
Basically, the dogma of your brand represents everything in which you believe. Since your brand is a part of you, it must be authentic. Adopt principles that you live by even when you’re not working with clients.
And make sure they are truly unique.
There are 1.33 million lawyers in the United States. That figure equates to 1 lawyer for every 250 people. If you come back and read this article again in another three months, that number will likely increase once more.
Guess what? You’re competing with every single one of them — not to mention the millions of household names that are also vying for consumer attention.
How do you stand out?
Let’s take a look at competing companies in other industries:
- Whole Foods vs. Safeway: Whole Foods has made a commitment to selling healthy, organic items. Safeway has not.
- Delta vs. Frontier: Delta has won pretty much every award available for airlines. Frontier… not so much.
- Apple vs. Microsoft: Shall we revisit the devotees who sleep outside the night before huge tech drops at Apple? People physically can’t even do that with Microsoft since they had to close all of their store’s doors.
The theme here is that the more successful businesses have taken a stand. They have created a common enemy that their followers can rally behind. This is what you must do to create the cult following you desire.
Studies show that 77 percent of consumers buy from companies that share the same values as they do.
So what makes you unique? What do you stand for?
Think back to when you decided to become a lawyer. There are plenty of other professions out there that could have brought you happiness, and probably at much lower stakes. Did you do it because you witnessed injustice as a child and now want to rid the world of evil (Batman style)? Or did you do it because of a natural calling to help people live better lives?
Whatever your reason, it informs the values you live by and the one-of-a-kind experience you bring to the clients you represent. We call this magic combination your Unique Value Proposition. Own it. Become it. Tell that story to your clients and show them why they should choose you to help them solve their problems over any other lawyer on the Internet.
To do this, you must determine your values. Ask yourself:
- What problem do I solve?
- What annoys and frustrates me?
- What breaks my heart and makes me sad?
- Why should someone choose me?
The legal landscape is always changing. The playing field has never been more crowded, making it even harder to stand out. You must differentiate and show your value and purpose to clients. Connect with them in a way no one else can. Share your story and why your firm is the obvious choice for their needs.
Take Joe Fried, for example. 15 years ago, Joe realized that there wasn’t a specific category for truck injury law, but these cases were completely unique and catastrophic. The industry needed an expert — so he became one himself.
Joe made a commitment to learning more about trucking than anyone else in the industry, and has since reaped the benefits. He has litigated cases in more than 35 states, giving him an unmatched perspective, and his leadership in the field of truck crash law and trucking safety is second to none.
People know Joe. People trust Joe. Joe is the trucking accident lawyer.
Joe created a following — that’s obvious. But where did he get this following? It’s not like it just happened overnight, right?
He did what a lot of lawyers miss out on doing.
Find Your Followers
Whether or not you’d like to admit it, your followers are on social media.
While you might be thinking, “But I don’t cater to millennials. My clients aren’t on social media!” Think again — the data proves it.
Digital media usage is accelerating every year. Even firms who specialize in elder law: the Baby Boomer children of your elderly clients are on social media, and their grandchildren are even more so. You can still reach your desired audience.
If you’ve made a Facebook Business Page and hoped for the best, you likely haven’t seen much of anything come from that. This is because organic reach is dead. You’ve got to pay to play.
Even if you’re starting from scratch, you need to pay to reach specific audiences. Even if the word “pay” frightens you, just remember that paying for ads to find your ideal clients is considerably more cost effective than sticking to old school organic reach.
Let’s take a look at the way we advertised for the Game Changers Summit 3 for a moment. Just in the last year, we generated over 2 billion impressions, almost 800 million views, and over 8 million clicks. Those are some pretty serious numbers, and they wouldn’t be anywhere near that high if it weren’t for paid ads and finding our followers.
It’s no secret that video significantly outperforms every other type of ad on social media. One step that many advertisers are forgetting to take, though, is formatting their video content properly. A video on Facebook that has a specific length and dimensions won’t look the same as it would on Instagram or LinkedIn or YouTube.
For this reason, you must format your content for the platforms you want to advertise on in order to maximize your reach. It might need to be broken down into a 30 second video, or 15, or even a 6 second bumper ad for YouTube — not to mention some platforms require either a rectangle or square orientation.
All of these factors should be taken into consideration.
Spread Your Gospel
Effective frequency is a phrase you need to incorporate into your vocabulary. It’s the number of times a consumer needs to be exposed to an ad message before the advertiser gets the desired response.
Though you’d probably appreciate a set answer to said number, in reality it takes what it takes.
The path it takes for a consumer to become one of your clients is much more complex than it used to be. In today’s day and age, it goes more like like this:
- They see your ad on Facebook
- They see another one on YouTube
- They drive by your billboard
- They hear your ad on the radio
- One day, they have a legal need and remember your name
- They Google your brand
- THEN they become your client
The truth is that only about 3 percent of your target market are prepared to hire you on the spot. Most people go that twisty, turny route and then eventually look you up when they one day need an attorney. But if they never hear of you, you never connect with them, they never come to identify with your firm’s values…how will they know who to call when they finally have a legal need one day?
If you believe in the work you do and are committed to positively impacting as many people as possible, then it is your duty to advertise everywhere you can relentlessly.
If you think you’re doing too much when it comes to advertising, you aren’t doing enough.
It’s time to shift your mindset when it comes to social media and advertising in general. The wrong thing to think is, “I hope this place gets me leads.” It won’t. You have to put in the work in order to make it happen.
What you need to be thinking is, “I hope my content is helpful to my ideal client and they’ll remember me down the road when the need arises.”
Your content needs to be everywhere. You want people to dream about your business while they sleep so that the second a need for a lawyer arises, you’re the first person that comes to mind. Don’t even let them attempt the Google search for anyone other than you.
If you have a clear vision and a way to bring it to life, why wouldn’t you be advertising everywhere under the sun? Do it the right way by being relentless with your approach, and your followers will come.
The Next Level: Your Client Experience
The difference between any old cult and the kind they make documentaries on is all about the experience the members have. When you put this in terms of your law firm, your client experience is everything.
Crisp was nothing until we became obsessed with building the perfect experience for our clients. Once we made our partnership something law firm owners knew they couldn’t live without, they naturally became ambassadors and evangelists for us. They believed in our vision so strongly that there was nothing anyone else could do to convince them otherwise.
The worst experience they could possibly have is the same experience they would get in any other cult.
When you see people wearing T-shirts and babies in onesies that have a brand name or phrase plastered all over it, why do you think that is? Are they doing that simply because they like the shirt? Maybe, but more importantly they align with the values of the organization. If you took the same shirt but put the name of a business/person/place that they can’t stand, they almost certainly wouldn’t wear it.
No one said building your cult following would be fast or easy — but isn’t that why people build them in the first place? The leaders had a vision for making the world a better place, wanted to get people on board, probably got laughed at in the beginning, but stuck with it and eventually got the outcome they wanted.
The only difference here is that with your law firm’s cult following, you’re going to change their lives for good.
Become an organization that someone would be proud to tell a friend about. Convince them that there simply is no other option for all of their legal needs unless they work with you and only you.
Once you get your followers to identify with your values, you have officially indoctrinated them with your message and inducted them into your cult.
When you develop your dogma by taking a stand and articulating your UVP, find your followers by meeting them where they are, and spread your gospel by building trust and obsessing over their experience, you will finally be able to create the cult following your brand has been missing.
Maybe this really is about building a lovable brand after all.