In part two of this two part series, we finish our marketing tips for commercial law firms. These are designed to be minimal cost and simple to implement, but will help prevent the 'scatter gun' approach to marketing that many firms fall prey to.
While these ideas will be familiar to large firms with their own marketing and business development department, the tips may be useful for those firms without this advantage.
As a reminder, each tactic that is implemented will reinforce and support the others. To read part 1, please click here.
6. Leverage Your Assets
One of your biggest assets in your marketing is your upcoming lawyers.
Particularly if they are of the younger generation, many will have an intuitive understanding of how to use social media platforms and this native knowledge can be tapped into.
Also, they can save you time by writing first drafts of articles for your blog or eNewsletter, or to submit to relevant publications. They can also assist with drafting presentations.
COVID-19 has put a temporary stop to many networking events. However, once they are running again, by taking your upcoming lawyers along, and also introducing them to clients, you provide mentoring and are modelling necessary skills. In time they will be able to represent the firm or your practice on your behalf. This exponentially increases the amount of networking and client interaction your practice can achieve.
This early training will also help them build their own practice within the firm in time.
7. Culture is Your Brand
This is hardly a new concept, but it's another one that is rarely implemented well.
Everyone knows the famous saying, "Culture is what people say about you when you're not in the room,"1 but how is culture changed to improve the brand? Small changes can have a big impact as the examples below demonstrate.
I once worked for a local law firm that was growing very fast and has since become national. One of their rules, which was strictly enforced, was that a phone had to be answered within three rings. It didn't matter if the call was not for you or even for another practice, if you were the only person nearby when a phone was ringing then you picked up, regardless of your title.
Another example was their reception area. If a staff member walked through reception and saw someone there, they would always stop and ask if they had been attended to, even if the receptionists were present. Again, this included people from every department and type of role. It made clients and visitors feel important, respected and at home.
These are two very small and easy to implement examples that can have a dramatic impact on how valued your clients feel and hence enhance your brand.
8. Use KPIs as Motivation
When everyone is busy, it can be hard to carve out time for marketing. It can be difficult to stay motivated and keep marketing activities on track.
Implementing a marketing KPI program that is linked back to performance reviews is an effective way to communicate that the firm is serious about marketing and to set clear expectations.
There are a number of ways it can be managed. It can be measured by the number and type of activities or by the time spent on marketing, for example.
Of course, if marketing KPIs are implemented, then the lawyers also need to be empowered to implement marketing activities, particularly through access to a budget. Spending limits and the use of business cases for larger activities can be used to control spend.
It is reasonably easy to track marketing activity using practice management software, as hours spent marketing can be logged under a marketing code in the same way billable time is logged, including a description of the activities.
9. Use Gap Analysis to Identify New Business Opportunities
Every salesperson knows this concept and it isn't difficult to apply. It allows a firm to experience revenue growth from existing clients, which is easier and cheaper than attracting new clients.
A gap analysis is implemented on a firmwide level and assumes that your firm has multiple practices.
Starting with your top 20% of clients by revenue, look at the work the firm has done for each client broken down by work type. For example, a construction client may have used your Property practice for sales contracts and leasing, your Litigation practice for an adjudication and your Employment Law practice for an unfair dismissal matter.
The next stage is to simply identify the gaps between the services the clients are currently using and those that they could potentially be using. To use the example above, is there a reason why the client isn't using the Property practice for their procurement contracts or the Employment Law practice for staff employment contracts or workplace health & safety? Perhaps there is a practice they are not using at all such as Planning & Environment.
From there, it's easy to work out where clients need further education on your services or need to be introduced to partners in other practice areas.
Many firms do parts of this exercise informally and on an ad hoc basis, but a structured approach gives you a snapshot of the firm's opportunities and provides a ready made plan of action.
10. Play to your Strengths
Not every lawyer is good at every marketing activity and nor do they have to be. Some are brilliant presenters, but others at much better at networking. Some people have the knack for writing relevant and easy to understand articles on legal topics. Another may be a whizz on social media.
There is no point trying to force people to undertake tasks that they do not have the aptitude for. I have been witness to a junior lawyer being forced to present at a conference with over 150 people and being so nervous that her voice closed up and no-one could hear her. Needless to say, she got very bad feedback, her confidence was destroyed and it reflected badly on the firm. However, she was a brilliant researcher, could write excellent articles and could have been a real asset in that area.
Another young lawyer I worked with was considered too quiet and reserved to be a good networker. He was not being considered for promotion for this reason. However, when given the opportunity to represent the firm at a small regional conference, he proved to have excellent networking skills. When I reported this information back to the relevant partners, he was quickly promoted through the ranks and is doing very well.
Of course, skills take time to develop and everyone should be given ongoing training on skills such as presenting, writing for publications, networking and social media, etc. It will become obvious over time where people's strengths lie.
Most of the tips mentioned are able to be implemented in commercial practices of any size and many of them at little to no outlay.
As previously mentioned, they don't have to be started all at once. Firms could choose a number of the most relevant tactics and create a goal to have them implemented within 12 months. Set a timeframe and allocate people to be responsible and report back. Over time, it's surprising how much can be accomplished and the firm will be well on the way to developing a marketing culture.