It is an unfortunate reality that no matter how skilled the lawyers in your law firm are at your particular specialty, clients are unlikely to flock to you in droves without some concerted marketing efforts. Indeed, even the best law firms with the most highly credentialed lawyers have to pay attention to branding and marketing if they want to generate regular cash flow.
This is especially true today. The days of effective ¼ page Yellow Page ads, bus bench commercials, and freeway billboards are largely over. Nowadays, nearly every law firm has a website and the vast majority are competing for attention on social media forums.
If, however, you have spent any amount of time reviewing law firm websites (as we have), you may notice some overarching redundancies. For example, just about everyone has a list of attorneys with glossy headshots. Most try to explain their practice areas in simple, boring, and comprehensive ways. Others list a host of impressive-sounding awards – even if those “awards” are just paid promotions (you know the ones we’re talking about).
So, with all the clutter in law firm marketing in the age of the internet, how does a law firm set itself apart? In this two-part series, we’ll discuss ten of the best techniques law firms can use to market their services effectively.
#1: Build a brand
Admittedly, this tip is borne from personal experience. For around five years between the time I was a practicing California attorney and I founded ExAttorneys.com, I was fortunate enough to have been appointed National Marketing Director for an internationally distributed craft beer brand that was founded by the very same guys who built a company called Nike.
From those executives, I learned that your product or your service is really secondary to your brand. If you build a brand that is authentic and relatable, customers will follow. Every time. Unfortunately, most attorneys have not been educated in the concept of branding.
A brand, ultimately, is the expression of the personalities of the people behind the business. In order to discover your brand, you and your partners need to ask some critical questions: Who are you? Why did you choose the specialty you chose? What makes you uniquely qualified to handle those legal issues? What hiring practices do you employ that ensure your brand is carried forward? How do you communicate your core values to the world on a day-to-day basis?
If you can’t answer these questions quickly and succinctly as a group, then maybe it is time to back up and talk about your core mission before you undertake further marketing efforts. Do you need help or motivation in this regard? Consider reading the autobiography of Nike founder, Phil Knight, entitled “Shoe Dog.” It may just get you in the right mindset to build a brand and then begin marketing.
Another great resource for law firm–specific branding is found here.
#2: Embrace metrics
Once your firm understands its brand, it’s time to start marketing efforts. You’ll quickly learn, however, that marketing, without metrics, is an exercise in frustration. If you can’t tell the real-world ROI from your attention to marketing, you may quickly leave it behind. It’s a common mistake inside and outside the legal profession.
The first thing to do is understand what you can actually measure. Then, as you set up your various campaigns, you can work directly with website platforms like Laylytics.com that will keep track of the things law firms need to worry about. How do they do this? Well, they were founded by former attorneys and understand which marketing analytics are critical to your firm and which are not.
#3: Content still matters for law firms
Different industries have different content strategies. The importance of content to a law firm website cannot be understated. This is especially true when it comes to attracting new clients. Potential clients search for law firms because they have a particularized problem. Although the look and feel of your website is going to matter to them, your ability to position yourself as an expert within your given specialty will matter more. The best way to do this is through quality content.
Potential clients want to know that you’ve handled their issue before. They want to know that you’re well-versed on the issue. They want to know that you’re up to speed on caselaw. They also want to know that you’re a thought-leader on the topic. There’s one solid way to prove all of this to them – high-quality content.
#4: Consider video content
One growing trend in law firm marketing is the use of video content. There are a variety of ways to do this. Some firms create “whiteboard” videos that outline their services, strategies, and personnel. Others create video vignettes of firm partners explaining why they do what they do. Still, others have clients provide testimonials about their experiences with the firm.
All are good strategies as video content appears to be a growing trend for disseminating content. Indeed, not too long ago, the technology giant Cisco commissioned a white paper entitled “Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Trends, 2017–2022.” Within that report, they predicted that video internet traffic will increase fourfold between 2017 and 2022, ultimately comprising some 82% of all video traffic (the study included personal and business sites).
#5: Cultivate referrals
This is probably the most tried and true form of marketing for law firms. Indeed, notwithstanding the fact that we live in the age of the internet, referrals remain the #1 way lawyers get new clients. If your firm is made up of relatively new lawyers, however, building your business this way is tough. Nonetheless, it is a skill you’ll want to cultivate throughout your career. You can get started by reading up on the subject. This publication from the American Bar Association is a great place to get started.
Looking for even more marketing strategies? Check back next week for Part 2 of marketing for your law firm.