Acquiring Foreign-Born Clients: Marketing Legal Services to a Growing Niche
Copyright © by Nina Ivanichvili, CEO, All Language Alliance, Inc.
Hold a Focus Group
No law firm can understand everything about the niche market it is trying to reach. When marketing to the foreign born, it helps to look at things from a prospective client's perspective. The law firm may assume that foreign-born individuals, when faced with a legal problem, are likely to look through advertisements in a newspaper or in the Yellow Pages, or simply enter the first building they see with a "Law Office" sign. However, a faulty marketing hypothesis could lead to financial disaster if a law firm relies on a wrong assumption. Therefore, it may be expedient to hold a focus group prior to finalizing such important business decisions as opening a new office in a prospective niche market's locale, hiring bilingual staff, or launching a new multilingual marketing campaign. Always think, "Is this something our clients want?"
A focus group panel should comprise eight to fifteen individuals with demographic characteristics identical to those of the law firm's niche market. During a controlled discussion, the focus group participants can shed priceless insights into the target audience's "hot buttons," as well as their thought and emotional processes. For example, they can explain such concepts as the loss of face in their culture, why some members of that culture may self-medicate work-related injuries instead of seeking medical attention, what constitutes a ground for divorce, how alimony arrangements are handled, how banking is done, and whether intoxication is a rite of passage.
The panel also can review and help refine the law firm's marketing materials, attempting to make sure the target audience would understand the law firm's marketing message the way it was intended and would not be inadvertently offended by its form or content. Finally, the panel can advise the law firm regarding specific cultural responses to such things as color in the law firm's marketing materials and on the law firm's website. In Japan, for example, black and white banners are used during funerals. Also in Japan, cheap and discounted products have red price tags attached to them. Therefore, too much of the color black or red in a professional services brochure may not bring up appropriate associations for a person from that culture.