As you may know, customer reviews are hugely important for any law firm’s marketing strategy. With consistently good reviews posted on the top sites, you can drive more potential clients to your firm. But if you’re looking for other ways to communicate your effectiveness as an attorney, you might want to think about obtaining testimonials from your happy clients that you can use on your website and other marketing efforts.
When it comes to testimonials, there are a few things to consider. For one, it’s important to know the difference between testimonials and celebrity (non-client) endorsements. Second, you want to be crystal clear about the ethical rules of your state’s bar. If you inadvertently violate one of these rules, you could face unwanted consequences. Third, it’s important to find an effective method of requesting testimonials that doesn’t alienate former clients. We will touch on each of these below.
Testimonials vs. Endorsements
To begin with, testimonials refer to statements given by former clients who found your services highly effective. The client’s testimonial – which may appear on your website, on a commercial or perhaps on your Google My Business page – attests to your adeptness and skill as a lawyer as well as how you were able to build rapport with your client. Thus, it serves to attract new clients seeking an attorney they can trust. When done right, testimonials can be incredibly powerful.
Celebrity endorsements, by contrast, refer to statements given by well-known figures (local or national) who, by dint of their fame, are able to attract new clients to your firm. For an endorsement to be effective, the celebrity should probably have some type of relationship to the service – but this is not always the case. As pointed out by Kevin Harrington on Forbes, having a celebrity attached to your brand comes with as many risks as it does benefits.
“The overall message to marketers is be careful, because all of us, celebrities or not, have positives and negatives to our personalities, and those negatives can easily transfer to a brand,” said Margaret C. Campbell, a researcher at University of Boulder who conducted a study on celebrity endorsements. In the end, endorsements may be more trouble than they’re worth, especially if you have limited resources to spend on such advertisements.
Whether you choose testimonials or endorsements, there are ethical concerns you have to consider. Of course, every state has its own version of the Rules of Professional Conduct, but there are commonalities across the board, as many states have taken on the ABA model as the standard.
According to Rule 7.1 of this boilerplate model, “A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.” Interestingly, the rule says nothing of testimonials, so the key is this: testimonials are perfectly permissible; they just can’t be false or misleading.
That being said, it’s advisable to attach a disclaimer to your testimonial, so you can avoid any icky grey area. In fact, some states have particular requirements regarding disclaimers, and the ABA has its own comment attached to Rule 7.1 that suggests disclaimers.
How do you request a testimonial? First of all, it’s important to target your testimonial requests to a few hand-selected individuals, rather than send an email blast to everybody in your contacts. Sending a spammy email can alienate people and reduce your chances of getting meaningful testimonies from former clients. It’s better to handcraft some emails that apply specifically to each recipient.
As you’re writing your emails, it’s a good idea to start by focusing on them and offering your thanks for their commitment to the case. After that, you can politely request a testimonial. The bottom line: be humble and polite, and the former client will be more likely to respond with a truthful statement.
Of course, you may choose to request testimonials through Avvo or Google. As you ask for testimonials on different sites, be sure not to send duplicate requests. This can be a turn-off for former clients.
In the end, testimonials can be a great way to get the word out about your firm and build trust with potential clients. Just be sure to research the ethical rules in your state, and to tailor your emails to each recipient, while being kind and respectful.
For help with generating more testimonials and online reviews for your law firm, please contact us today for a free consultation.