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Most of a client’s journey is BEFORE they ever need you.

Whether you’re a personal injury attorney, family lawyer, or handle criminal defense, people spend the vast majority of their life not needing you.

(I’m going to speak primarily to personal injury lawyers, however, this is relevant to other practice areas, too.)

In marketing, we often use the phrase “funnel” to describe where people are in relationship to needing your services or being ready to take action.

At the top of the funnel, you have everyone. These people don’t have any current claims. They don’t need an injury lawyer. At the bottom of the funnel, you have people who have been injured, have a claim, and haven’t hired a law firm yet.

Most attorney advertising focuses on bottom-of-the-funnel advertising. That’s the most expensive prospect because EVERYONE is competing for these AND everyone looks and sounds the same. 

You’re aiming to catch people in the tiny moment of need.

There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s just really important to recognize that when you advertise for people who are at the bottom of the funnel, you’re taking the most expensive path to get a client. You can build your entire business on this.

Alternatively, you can do both.

Bottom-of-the-funnel advertising is great for getting cases in the door this month and next month. This is how you will drive immediate results. It’s also easier to judge the success more quickly.

However, there is another way to market yourself and that’s to go for people at the top of the funnel. These are the people who don’t need you. They might not ever need you. And they’re the least targeted group, meaning you can build a relationship with them before other lawyers do. It’s a lot easier to build a relationship with someone in this category because they’re not being inundated with lawyers trying to get a retainer signed.

What does top-of-the-funnel marketing look like?

One method is a print newsletter. I know multiple lawyers who have built their book of business around a print newsletter. However, it might take them 3-4 years to realize the full benefits. Sure, some lawyers give it a shot for a few months. Few take a multi-year approach to really build the relationship with their readers. Of the folks I’ve met, everyone who took the multi-year approach is reaping the rewards.

Top-of-the-funnel marketing can be associating yourself with local sports teams. It’s showing up at volunteer events. It’s sponsoring meaningful community groups. You’re showing up because you care. However, these activities are a bit harder to scale because it requires someone to be present.

Another top-of-the-funnel approach is to offer people something useful to their daily life. For example, we work with PI attorneys to promote materials about motorcycle safety and mistakes not to make if you are injured. This type of information is valuable to the reader today.

Instead of just telling people, “Injured? I can help,” you’re saying, “Hey, you’re a biker and I have some useful information for you.”

Tactically, this looks like promoting useful information in exchange for people’s contact info. This way, you can stay in touch with people over time. When you stay in front of people with quality messages that are genuinely useful to their daily life, you are able to forge a relationship. And you can do this through retargeting advertising and email marketing.

When you take the approach of targeting people who are at the top of the funnel, you’re able to create your own ecosystem of communication. And guess what? Your competition isn’t competing in the same space.

Top-of-the-funnel marketing is how you build a pipeline of future cases. This is how you set up your practice for 2023, 2024, and beyond. 

Keep doing your bottom-of-the-funnel advertising to drive cases short-term. Just also do top-of-the-funnel advertising because you’ll see everything rise. You’re now taking a holistic approach.

You’re also continuing to stay in front of people AFTER they needed an attorney.

People spend the majority of their lives not needing your services. People assume they’ll never even be in an accident. People aren’t thinking, “It would be good to know a quality personal injury attorney.”

Thus, when someone is injured, they fall into this tiny, tiny window of their life (the bottom of the funnel). It’s this brief period following the accident where they realize they want an attorney before they hire one.

It is a lot easier to build relationships with people before they need you than at that moment after the accident.


  1. Most attorney marketing is targeted toward people at the bottom of the funnel which makes them the most expensive clients to acquire.
  2. Top-of-the-funnel advertising is about being relevant today even if people haven’t been injured.
  3. You can create your own ecosystem where your competitors are less relevant because you’ve forged a relationship with people.
  4. Have a marketing strategy that combines both bottom-of-the-funnel and top-of-the-funnel so you can get the cases you need today as well as build a pipeline of future clients.