In part one of this two part series, we look at five marketing tips for commercial law firms that are minimal cost and simple to implement, but will help prevent the 'scatter gun' approach to marketing that many firms fall prey to.
For the global and large national firms with their own marketing department and army of business development professionals, these ideas and concepts will already be familiar.
However, for those firms without this advantage, these tips may assist in navigating the current buyer's market for legal services.
It's difficult to order these by importance, as each tactic that is implemented will reinforce and support the others. However, the tips that are easier to put in place have been listed first.
1. Concentrate on the 20%
This has been said many times before, but is rarely implemented properly - concentrate on the 20% of your clients that bring in 80% of your revenue. Obviously, exact percentages will vary from practice to practice and firm to firm, but the principle remains. These are the clients who should be offered your added value services such as seminars and training or access to discounted rates based on spend, etc. If you entertain clients, this is where your spend should be going.
For prospective clients, a business case should be prepared on potential revenue and assessed before proceeding with any spend.
2. Establish Credibility
A lawyer can have the best website and the slickest social media campaigns, but if they are not considered credible by their peers and potential clients, they will not have a successful practice.
Obviously, credibility can be established via word of mouth by performing well on a clients' matters, but this can be a slow way to grow a practice if growth is your goal.
One of the best ways to establish and maintain credibility with potential referrers is through thought leadership, either through speaking at industry events or submitting articles to industry publications.
Depending on your budget, sponsorship of a relevant industry association can open the door to speaking and publishing opportunities. Also, being involved in their committees.
Simply submitting articles to the Editor of relevant publications can be effective, as long as your article follows their editorial style and is pertinent to their readers.
3. Be Visible
It's great to have credibility, but there is little point if only a few people know who you are.
The internet and social media has made it easier to be visible and have a profile in the virtual world, but you need to be visible within your local network as well. One is not a substitute for the other. It's still important to attend the social and educational events of your local law society and network with relevant industry associations by attending their events.
Obviously, COVID-19 has temporarily shut down this networking activity, but it should still be part of your longer term plan.
On LinkedIn, ensure you follow your top 20% of clients, both the organisation page and your contacts at the organisation at the very least. Also, ask everyone in your firm to like and share your firm's posts. Over time, this will significantly increase the followers for your company page as your clients' followers see your firm's posts. Of course, you need to post regularly for this to work.
In terms of what should be posted, technical articles about the law that are relevant to your clients are great, but clients also like human interest stories. Posts about what your firm is doing in the community (e.g. fundraising or volunteering) or staff achievements (e.g. winning an award or being admitted) often get a better response than the legal articles.
These posts can also go on the blog and/or news page of your website which will help increase traffic and improve your Google ranking.
4. Invest in a Range of Activities / Tactics
Often, people are looking for a single marketing solution to help grow their practice. They want to just do some short term advertising or only focus on social media. Some put their entire budget into client entertaining or building an amazing website and others only network through industry associations, etc.
The best way to steadily grow your practice over time is to invest in a range of activities, obviously choosing those that prove to be most effective and that also play to your personal strengths.
Not every marketing activity or tactic works for every practice. For example, a maritime practice will likely benefit from having a well-ranking website page and being a thought leader for relevant industry associations. A commercial litigation practice could be expected to have success with running CPD seminars for in-house clients and having a blog and/or newsletter.
5. Be Consistent
In terms of growing a practice, being consistent with your marketing activities over time will have an impact on how effective they ultimately are.
For example, if you decide to create a blog or send an eNewsletter, it should be updated or sent out on a regular schedule (the minimum would be monthly) rather than randomly. Marketing activities gain momentum and build an audience over time. If you're inconsistent, you will lose the momentum and potential audience.
Likewise, a website must be maintained and updated with new information to remain relevant and rank well. Social media posts should frequent enough to keep followers (minimum of weekly). If you want to publish articles, set a goal of submitting something once a month.
If you're building a profile through sponsorship, work with carefully chosen partners over time rather than doing one-off events with many different organisations. Your partner will be more willing to be flexible with your requests if you have a long term relationship.
Next month we will publish another 5 tips.