Applying contemporary marketing methods to one of the oldest professions can often confound the modern marketer. Creating a marketing strategy for law firms, not usually known for their tech-savvy, is even more challenging when you take into consideration that they do not follow a typical B2C or B2B sales model. Unlike in many other industries, the person who provides the service also plays a large role in the sales process. Crafting the brand of a law firm can be a delicate process. Creating a strong company brand has the potential to overshadow the biggest sales draw, the attorneys themselves. We have developed five strategies to employ when building a strong legal brand.
Develop a story
Begin thinking about your brand story. Whether you are in trusts & estates, contract or IP law, it is important to remember how your work impacts people and clients. Focus on language that explains complex topics in a simple way. Even if your target audience is a corporation, having a direct and simple brand message is important in building trust. Your firm’s differential factors should be easily understood by everyone, not just your competitors. When it comes to your brand story make sure it is professional, concise, and people focused.
Promote your values
Your core firm values need to be an external as well as an internal guiding force. Depending on your practice type these values can be related to the work you do, your pro bono initiatives, your client relations philosophy, etc. Value statements highlighting your firm’s history of social justice work or commitment to diversity, will say far more about your brand as a whole, than examples of an individual lawyer’s niche expertise. It is likely that you will have some values in common with your competitors, which is a good thing. You want to have integrity and client service, but what can you add that will set you apart? Innovation? Curiosity? Passion?
Empower your people
From the prominence of staff bios on law firm websites, to the very names of the firms themselves– the legal profession more than any other, is about the people that work in it. While it is important to create a strong corporate brand, the brand should strengthen, not diminish the people in it. In your marketing strategy it is important to turn attorneys into brand ambassadors. Arm your attorneys with PR talking points and training to bring to their next bar association event. Empower your people, by identifying industry experts, and having them comment on legal issues they are passionate about. In order to spread your brand identity, you need to take contemporary marketing, and apply it to the oldest marketing tactic there is, face to face.
Content is king
Gone is the time of using boilerplate websites with the same neutral corporate color scheme and filling it with your staff bios. A thorough legal marketing strategy needs webinars, social media, white papers and more. When creating your content make sure you are incorporating your values and thinking about your different target audiences. Approach creating a white paper with the “explain like I’m five technique”- taking complex issues and explaining them in simplistic and clear terms. Today’s audience wants to learn and connect, rather than be bombarded with jargon.
Social media is also important. According to our recent survey 54% of consumers are very likely or extremely likely to look at a company’s social presence while researching a product, and this includes law firms. In addition to keeping your company’s social media up to date, you should also be making sure your attorneys are active on social media. Make sure to hold social media and PR brown bag lunches to train your brand ambassadors.
We know that creating all this content can be taxing. Maximize your attorneys’ time by having them create content and then have your marketing team repurpose and repackage it. No marketers should ever view their content as siloed pieces, but as integrated components of a larger value-based system.
Find your digital excellence
Lastly it is important to use digital to your advantage. While the legal industry is more face to face sales focused than most, you still need to use every tool at your disposal to amplify your attorneys and your brand. It is vital that you include search engine optimization in your web content. This is especially crucial when you are creating evergreen content, as you will likely be repurposing it for other mediums.
It is also important to make your website user friendly. One way to do this is by implementing usability testing, to make sure you are driving your audience to act. Usability testing should aim to answer these questions:
- Did the user accomplish the task easily?
- Did they understand the content and labels?
- Was it easy to navigate?
- Was content where it was expected to be or was information hard to find?
- Were the calls to action in the right place?
Most importantly make sure your digital strategy is more than a “set it and forget it” activity. Digital excellence is an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring, strategizing, and analyzing.
Creating a people focused brand identity
A strong legal brand shouldn’t deemphasize the role of the attorney, but rather encourage lawyers to be brand ambassadors and content cultivators, that will propel your values through a fine-tuned digital machine.