Three Elements to a Successful Marketing Program
Successful law firms build and maintain a robust marketing program, complete with a credible digital presence bolstered by thought leadership content and continuous visibility within the sector whether through events, speaking engagements, sponsorships or media relations. When executed properly, marketing results in sustained reputation building, lasting relationships with clients and referral sources and continuous opportunities to pitch prospects and attract new talent.
Large law firms have the luxury of deep marketing and business development benches, but small and midsize firms — often working with a skeleton crew or one administrator wearing many hats — must balance billable hours with ambitious marketing goals.
Without a strategic plan and dedicated internal resources, smaller law firms often resort to “random acts of marketing” — occasionally publicizing news, client victories and related content or spending sponsorship dollars without specific direction or defined goals. These actions cost the industry millions of dollars annually and result in minimal traction toward the name recognition or revenue growth law firms desire.
As the legal industry continues to evolve, law firms must be adaptable in marketing their services. Likewise, law firms must think strategically about their business plans in both years of profit and periods of market contraction, which may require leveraging new technologies, platforms or communication channels that can help advance their marketing efforts.
To position your firm favorably in the legal field, it is imperative to understand how to utilize these three key components of legal marketing:
- Digital Presence
- Thought Leadership
- Market Visibility
Here we elaborate on each of these three elements.
As law firms continue to embrace new technology to replace outdated marketing tools and processes, creating a branded digital presence is vital to positioning your firm and attorneys as market leaders.
This is especially important to midsize firms that may have received feedback that they do not have a deep enough bench for certain types of work. By upleveling its digital brand, a law firm can look as coordinated and sophisticated as a much larger firm. A good first step is to conduct an audit of places the firm’s logo appears, including its website, social platforms, Google, on sponsorships and in print materials. When a firm’s logo and related visual elements are modern, clean and consistent, it is much easier to tell the story of efficiency and scalability.
Beyond imagery, one way to solidify the digital presence you created is by consistently publishing relevant and timely news to the firm’s website and actively utilizing social media networks, particularly LinkedIn, to amplify that news. This constant drip of useful content is critical to maintaining a law firm’s digital presence, allowing potential clients to learn more about the firm, its attorneys and service offerings.
- Recent client case wins
- Key takeaways from marquis events
- Key legislative changes and industry updates
- Firm news including office openings and attorney matriculations
- Firm and attorney industry and community recognition and awards
- Civic engagement and professional development activities
Since attorneys are already involved in these happenings, spreading the word about this content does not require additional investment of their time — just enough to share the relevant information and key takeaways — and the marketing team can create the magic from there.
Not only will an improved digital presence attract potential clients, but it is a vital tool to engage existing clients, reinforce your brand and recruit talent. Consider deploying simple methods to revamp the firm’s digital presence by redesigning and modernizing key website and social media elements and by sharing thought leadership, wins and other news with the firm’s owned channels.
Publicizing attorneys’ thought leadership is an excellent way to showcase a lawyer’s knowledge of the law, while at the same time underscoring the firm’s breadth of experience and client success stories. Perhaps more important, thought leadership content provides substantial value to your clients and prospects by interpreting current events or new case law, explaining how they are relevant to your audience and discussing why it matters now.
The good news is many attorneys at your firm are likely already thinking about producing thought leadership content but have not yet cracked the code on putting pen to paper. One way to get attorneys to write is to suggest repurposing what they are already doing, like speaking at a conference, giving an interview to a media outlet or providing a client a case analysis. Each of those are great starting places for a ready-made piece of thought leadership.
The following questions are also effective thought-starters for content generation:
- What keeps your clients up at night?
- What question(s) are you getting from multiple clients, demonstrating a pattern?
- What new or changing laws do your clients need to know 3, 6, 12 months from now?
- What is something the media is missing that is important for clients to be aware of?
Maximize the return on this content by promoting across all your digital channels, like the website, social media, eblasts, newsletters and internal platforms, and by encouraging other attorneys at the firm to share the content with their networks.
These steps allow firms to create numerous touchpoints from a single piece of content and fully leverage the marketing and business development work attorneys are already doing.
A law firm’s visibility is vital for attracting and retaining clients and talent in a competitive market. Put simply, having strong visibility means people can find you, they know who you are and understand what you do.
But unless you build it, they won’t come.
The best way to increase your firm’s visibility is by consistently using multiple methods to reach clients where they spend their time with the information they need. This includes publishing thought leadership pieces on the firm’s website and subsequently promoting them on social media, utilizing dynamic linking and cross-links, seeking speaking opportunities on hot topics —and publicizing those opportunities — pursuing worthwhile legal awards and recognitions and engaging with strategic organizations and associations.
Visibility cannot be achieved solely by efforts from the name partners. Lawyers at every level of the firm need to be actively engaged in marketing for the firm to see a true return on investment. In fact, new associates often think outside the box and are enthusiastic about marketing.
When done well, effective legal marketing makes it easier for individuals and businesses seeking legal services to find the lawyers they need to manage their work. To set the stage for a successful marketing program, a law firm needs a strong digital presence, marketing engine and thought leadership program. These elements, paired with the ability to identify the needs of existing and prospective clients and address them through these channels, will have opportunity knocking at your door.
Ready to take your law firm marketing to the next level? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.