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3 Steps to Building Your Ideal Client Base

Dana Moran

Written by

Dana Moran


March 25, 2022

3 Steps to Building Your Ideal Client Base

If you’re in the business of offering products or services to your clients, you need to know how to comfortably build your client base to keep growing. But, as an attorney, it can be difficult to strike a balance between serving current clients and bringing in new ones. 

So, how can you bring in a larger caseload while maintaining trust with your current client base and staying on top of your day-to-day responsibilities? 

Define Your Target Market

The type of law you practicefamily law, litigation, corporate law, etc.generally dictates what types of client base you ultimately will work with. That being said, it’s important to take your definition a step further to build not just a client base, but an ideal one. 

To define your target client base, ask yourself:

  • What types of clients have I worked with thus far?
  • What types of clients have I successfully served? Unsuccessfully?
  • What clients have I had a hard time reaching? Why?
  • What types of clients do I enjoy working with overall?

Understand your current demographics:

Look at your current makeup of clients to understand who you’ve worked with and why. Have you worked with more males? More clients over 50? Children? What about the personalities of these clients? 

This data is all readily available through Smokeball’s Law Firm Insights. Because every detail of every case you work is tied to the related Smokeball matter, Law Firm Insights allow you to crunch all your numbers to determine your most frequent client type—and which clients are the most profitable. (They may not be the same group.) This information is crucial to determine your path forward a solid client base.

Think about what YOU want:

Sometimes, firms focus on the clients they feel they should be working with, instead of those they want to work with. Both types of clients can prove rewarding and valuable for different reasons, and it’s OK to define your target client base not just by what’s worked in the past, but who you hope to work with in the future. 

Of course, if you work with a team or your partner, be sure to include them in the conversation. Are younger attorneys looking for a challenge? Are your staff exhausted after a business boom during COVID-19 and seeking a steady course? You might be surprised what they’ll bring to the conversation. 

Say it out loud:

Now that you’ve added both data and the human perspective to the equation, it’s time to actually define your client base (or bases). Try to fit the description into a specific, simple sentence that anyone in your firm can verbalize.

For example:

“Our target clients are single mothers with school-age children, who themselves are enrolled in continuing education and whose values are similar to our own.”

Determine the Right Mix of Referrals & Marketing

Have you tried to reach a new target audience or focus on your perceived target audience, but aren’t experiencing your desired growth? It’s time to examine your past efforts. It could be possible the audience you’re attracting isn’t made up of people who need your services, or vice versa.

Or, it could be a case of going back to the drawing board and doubling down on your referrals and marketing efforts that were successful. 

How to build your client base with referrals:

  • Get back in touch with old clients or cold clients to see if they could still use your services.
  • Reach out to contacts in your address book/network. You never know who might be looking for someone!
  • Ask your current clients to refer you to people in their network if they were happy with your services. 
  • Get involved with various organizations and communities—both online and offline—to expand your network and become a familiar face. 

Remember that inbound marketing and word-of-mouth marketing (referral marketing) often go hand-in-hand. You might find that reaching out to your network requires some solid email marketing tactics, which you can build and automate using Smokeball’s Leads Management tools and Integrations to grow your client base in your sleep. 

How to build your client base with marketing strategies:

  • Check that your website is in tip-top shape. This might require hiring a designer to freshen things up. You’ll also want to ensure all your content is updated.
  • Digital marketing strategies are great, but don’t forget to do things the old-fashioned way. Billboard ads and direct mail marketing are still effective. You can also buy bench ads, mailers or even throw a business card in a local coffee shop. 
  • Publish valuable content for your target audience. Use SEO strategies to lead searchers directly to your content—and your legal services.
  • Get creative with other forms of content production. Are you good at video? Podcasts? It doesn’t hurt to publish yourself on other platforms. You can even consider being a guest on someone else’s. Think—traditional PR strategies!
  • Make sure you can be found locally on Google. While it’s good to extend your reach, your target audience could be right under your nose! SocialMediaToday reports that 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information, whereas 97% of search engine users sought a local business.
  • Get involved on social media. You’ll have to consider where your target audience exists, but even just sharing content (and, not just your own content, but valuable content from others) can help get your name out there. 
  • Prioritize how you’re going about marketing tasks. According to the ABA’s Techreport 2020: 2020 Websites & Marketing, “Overall, 13% of respondents still say ‘no one’ is responsible for marketing in their firms, including 32% of solos. Most solos (66%) do their own marketing, and over 73% of attorneys from firms of 2-8 and 10-49 lawyers say lawyers perform marketing tasks.”

Remember that building your ideal client base won’t happen overnight. It requires patience, multiple tactics and dedication. But with Smokeball, you’ll always have the most up-to-date information on both prospective and current clients at your fingertips, streamlining your day so nothing falls through the cracks.

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