Brian Major* Law firms face an increasingly intense competition in the marketplace. The COVID pandemic has only added to the increased competition that has emerged in recent year and the need for market advice has never been more important.
This year a report on the state of competition in the law market Report on the State of the Legal Market, produced by Georgetown University and Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute looked at the changes in the legal market that were increasingly placing pressure on law firms.
The report showed that a new, ‘highly disruptive model’ is shaking up the legal market and transforming the way in which legal services are delivered, noting –
While the previous law firm-centric model where firms decide how services are priced and delivered has been “remarkably resilient” and moderately successful in recent years, clients have now taken “decisive control” of the market and are demanding improved efficiency, predictability and cost-effectiveness.
These changes have served to place far greater need for law firms to respond to the growing competitiveness and client demand factors by ensuring they have the marketing tools and practices to let them survive and thrive in the new law market.
We looked at some of the key tools available in 2020 – and beyond – that will let law firms market themselves effectively and easily with a ‘fast start’ strategy that can let you begin an effective marketing strategy that will work for your firm.
1. Understand Your Market & Build Your Brand
Before even thinking about marketing your law firm, you need to understand what sort of law firm you have – or want to have. Building your law firm brand – once you understand what it is – will help you really develop your marketing strategies.
Branding is one of the key factors in achieving law firm marketing success. It embraces the need to deliver high-value, trusted and honest service and content, but using a brand is something Google love and so too
Your brand is the face of your firm. It doesn’t have to necessarily be the type of law that you focus on but should tie in with a clear mission statement and develop your authenticity and voice. Building a brand helps step you apart from your competition and get you noticed more.
Knowing the sort of clients you want is something that precedes any marketing initiative, rather than simply drifting into a particular niche through circumstance. The ‘tone’ of your law firm marketing message will be different. If you’re a commercial lawyer you will be putting out a different set of messages than if you are a personal injury attorney, for instance.
Think hard about the message you’re sending and how it should be delivered.
It will permeate not only your law firm marketing content and material, but also your branding generally.
2. The Law Firm Blog
Blogging for lawyers has always held a firm place in the law marketing universe.
Blogs are an excellent marketing tool for companies of any type, and law firms are no exception. They offer a way for a business to go into more detail on a subject and to help establish trust and authenticity with the prospective audience. When people Google keywords on a topic they need help with, your blog could come up and provide valuable information.
Avoid getting caught up in need of constantly producing and uploading content. Your focus should always be on providing quality, including answering key questions, identifying issues that may arise in your areas of specialty and the like. Although you do want to upload regularly, it shouldn’t come at the cost of the quality of the work. It’s easy to lose followers if the quality just isn’t there.
Whether it be a blog post, YouTube video, or a new Instagram post, high-quality content is going to gain you more traction. You want to show that you are a company worth the viewers’ time and that you have something valuable to offer them with genuinely useful, informational content.
A blog is also an excellent way to post on social media and direct them back to your website and then with appropriate queries and content and a great call to action you can have them develop knowledge and interest about your firm.
3. Have Great SEO
There are any number of law firm SEO firms out there, some better than others but they all promise great search engine optimization.
However for the smaller firm, there is a good deal of SEO work that can be done that will pay off for your effort. To increase your search presence, you need to commit to a multi-faceted plan that meets Google’s objectives and permits you to properly deliver your great content – remember your blog and other content should be great. Don’t put out hohum material that doesn’t actually provide value (see below for a great technique for doing this) and make sure you are happy to provide something that doesn’t just stuff keywords, but rather works hard to deliver value.
More than ever, Google is focused on user experience and your website is the major front door to new clients. Make sure it is open and welcoming and not providing a raft of same-same content like every other law firm.
Make sure your content and your SEO efforts actually deliver the goods in terms of content, good keyword usage, user experience (like page navigation and page speed) and good linking practices to inbound and outbound sources.
4. Think About Flyers
You may be thinking that flyers are so old school as to have no place in a law firm marketing in 2020 article. Certainly they are (generally) not going to be used by the Big Law firms who handle M&A work and the like, but for those smaller law firms focused on local practice areas they are a potentially top tool and often completely under-rated.
A well designed brochure can still grab the attention of those flipping through their mail, particularly if it is well designed and delivered to a good demographic likely to be interested in your legal services.
You can use flyer templates to get you started and by adding the essential information, but the simple flyer can be a low-cost addition to the local lawyer’s arsenal, particularly when married to a good distribution plan that will ensure it adds some interest. For instance, we have examples of lawyers who will provide bonuses and movie tickets to generate leads for those who may have an interest in trust or family law issues, estate or injury law queries.
The key here is to use some imagination to actually help build up a sense of community presence for your firm by being seen as friendly and helpful, rather than just promotional.
5. Use Video
Video growth online is massive and Google-owned YouTube is a simple, effective and powerful way to get to your audience. We have previously written extensively on video and other online marketing for law firms, but it is a powerful addition you must consider. Plus, it has one other major advantage – it’s cheap.
You need to develop some strategy to use video in your law firm marketing. A local search of those law firms in your locality that have reached page one on Google will show that video is a large part of the reason for that success.
They are an easy way to reach your market and the intimidation factor should be case aside because they are simple and easy to produce and provide huge social media exposure, particularly if you use appropriate SEO, of which there is a large number of article (or YouTube videos) describing how to get top-ranked videos.
6. Add Reviews
The value of honest reviews cannot be over estimated. They are trusted and golden in terms of generating a connection between your firm and your online marketing efforts. There is no question that good reviews can make or break a website’s success and the difference between a site with good reviews and one without is vast.
Ask your previous clients to submit a review about their recent experience. Upload them to your website so new prospects can get a feel of what to expect from you. Reviews are a powerful tool to gain the client’s trust and are a key essential in developing great traction online and also creating the trust that is so important for law firms in particular.
There is much to learn about law firm branding and marketing, SEO and blogging, but the key is to develop your law marketing strategy and know exactly how and what you are delivering for your law audience. Whatever you do, don’t spend a lot of time with self promotional material, which occupies content of so many law firms.
Obviously it’s good to know you have won a case, done some good community deeds, elevated a gender diverse partner, achieved a good AV rating from Martindale Hubbell, but no constant bragging. Focus on content delivery, quality content and good SEO and your law marketing efforts will not go unrewarded.
Brian Major is a freelance SEO and marketing writer who has written regularly for marketing sites, magazines and advised on marketing issues for business enterprises.