Making Your Legal Marketing Work (For Everyone)
The goal of marketing is obviously to reach your target market, and convince them to hire your firm. However, oftentimes lawyers and law firms alienate certain target groups by failing to make their marketing materials accessible to everyone. It pays to invest in market research companies regardless of what your business sells, as they can really help you to make sure you’re making the most of every potential customer. In the following excerpt from Market Me: How Marketing Is Changing and Why You Should Too, I cover who some target marketing groups may be, and a few of the considerations you need to keep in mind when crafting your marketing materials to reach these groups.
My first summer after college, I was working with a company that provided job-seeking assistance to persons with disabilities. They needed a new website, and as I considered how to design a site that met the needs of their target market, I discovered a huge problem: most online content is not easily accessible to visually-impaired, and in some cases, hearing-impaired, users. This isn’t something a lot of designers think about, and I’ll admit, up until I worked on this particular website, it had never crossed my mind. I knew that visually-impaired users utilized screen readers to access the web, but didn’t know much about how this technology worked (or, as is true in many cases, didn’t work)
Screen readers are designed to read the text on a page, but as website designs become more complex, it is becoming more difficult for them to do that. Some of the problems with screen readers include reading too fast, skipping punctuation or symbols, missing important interactive elements on a page, attempting to pronounce acronyms and abbreviations, and many other issues. The few designers and content writers who do think about web accessibility usually just accept that screen readers are flawed and don’t go out of their way to make sites tailored to the technology, which is understandable, but there are a few things that you can quite easily do to make your site more accessible.
Screen readers read content linearly, and don’t always allow users to get a feel for the whole layout of the page. Understand that when you design a website or online ad, there are users who are only going to get the text portion. Make sure your point comes across in your text – without infographics, images, and videos that you use to supplement your text content. This isn’t just a good idea for accessibility; great content makes a point quickly and precisely.
Screen readers also allow users to jump through content to the next link, heading, or paragraph, and it is much easier for visually-impaired users to understand your content if your page and link structure makes sense. You shouldn’t need to change your strategy to make this a reality, since organizing your links, keeping paragraphs short, and writing clear headers are already key to producing great content. For some sites, however, it simply isn’t possible to give screen-reader users the full experience you want, which is the issue I encountered when working on this initial accessible website. I instead developed an internal screenreader system so that I could be sure every user was able to experience the page as it was intended to be experienced. I created a replica of each page that featured large, high contrast text, along with an autoplay audio option for visually-impaired users. The text and audio on these versions of each page also explained images, video elements, and infographics for users. It might sound complex, but it wasn’t all that difficult to put in place, and it allowed a unique portion of a target market to fully enjoy the online experience.
I also mentioned earlier that in some cases, websites need to make adjustments for hearing impaired users. If you have audio or video on your site, it isn’t too difficult to add a link to a text transcript, so that hearing-impaired users can still utilize every aspect of your site. Simply being aware of some of these things when you are building a site or adding content is often the most challenging part of making your site accessible – once you are familiar with some of the issues persons with disabilities face you can quite easily change certain aspects of your site to make it more accessible.
Accessible marketing isn’t solely an issue for visually-impaired and hearing impaired users, however. Anytime you market to thousands of people, you have to recognize that your site is going to be viewed in a number of languages. While online translators have improved significantly, you should still have a native speaker review all your content, especially if your target market includes those who primarily speak another language. If you’re running an advertisement in areas where English isn’t the native language, run it through a number of online translators or, if you can afford to, hire a freelancer to make sure you are saying exactly what you want to say. The same applies to print marketing.
For lawyers I have worked with in America, making sites accessible for Spanish-language users is critical. You can easily hire a translator to rewrite your content, or at the very least to ensure it is understandable, and can even record alternate versions of audio and video elements so that everyone who comes to your page can understand who you are, what you do, and how they may be able to benefit from working with you.
The point of marketing is to reach people, so it is critical that you don’t neglect portions of the market, especially when it is relatively easy to adapt your marketing strategies to make your online and offline marketing accessible to everyone. Part of becoming a marketing leader in your industry is finding creative ways to reach new
markets, and disability and language accessibility is one of the more impactful changes you can make when you modernize your marketing strategies. Reaching more people with your marketing campaigns is never a bad thing – be aware of the breadth of the market you serve when marketing your company.
About the Author
Nic Mayne is the founder and principal of Mayne Marketing, a full-service agency specializing in small to mid-size business marketing, and law firm marketing. Mayne Marketing currently serves clients in Canada, the USA, SE Asia, and Europe. Born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, he now resides in Santa Clarita, California, where he is finishing a degree in Politics while also working with clients around the globe. You can find him online at www.maynemarketing.com, or@maynemarketing on Twitter.
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