Advice for solicitors on what to look for in your legal marketing endeavours.

I have been working in legal marketing for more than 12 years. Initially providing websites and singular campaigns, we moved to a retainer based offering in 2007.This allowed us to grow with the law firm we were working with and to ensure maximum return on investment for our clients.

In 2010 we started Marketing The Law – a highly specialist service that is rendered only by those with successful experience in marketing legal services. We have copywriters, developers and advertising managers that all specialise in marketing and promotions for law firms. I have been fortunate enough to project manage and build strategies working with some top firms and some top marketing talent.


This is my take on what we have learned over the years so far.

Brand, Urgency, Convenience, Specialisms:

These are the four key factors in any law firm regarding any digital marketing efforts – the pillars of successful overall campaigns.


Brand:

Especially important in commercial and public sector work as well as agent deals.

How the Brand is perceived at an individual level, how the law firm is thought of commercially and the firm’s reputation within the legal sector are paramount for word of mouth at the highest levels of commercial, public, international and private law.

These highest transaction value areas require more than just a pretty website to convince decision makers and stakeholders to enquire further.

Great results, high-altitude testimonials and recommendations and aggressively challenged & promoted achievements as well as individual talent presentation are the hallmarks of major success with branding a law firm.

Interestingly enough, outside of the top end of private law, the key aspect of Brand is that the consumer is not “put off” at any point along the engagement process. There is huge disparity between equity partners’ views of client loyalty and actual client loyalty in today’s cut throat commercial marketplace.

There is still a huge amount of room for individual branding however. Leading specialists in niche areas of law can really shine and command a surprisingly large percentage of the digital market. Champion your best people as individuals, not as just part of the firm as a whole.

Brand in 30 seconds – Marketing The Law Blueprint

Aggressively go after awards, achievements and comments of note and publish them well. Build expectation internally that your individual team members will obtain referrals for the firm through professionalism and proactive efforts. Combining a strong digital presence with offline word of mouth ensures growing commercial, public and top-end private sector departments within your firm.

With regards to the majority of private law, champion individuals within the firm and have them be approachable and digitally active. Top performers will always want to bring in more work than they can personally deal with – give them the opportunity to do so and reward them accordingly.

There is still a huge amount of room for individual branding however. Leading specialists in niche areas of law can really shine and command a surprisingly large percentage of the digital market. Champion your best people as individuals, not as just part of the firm as a whole.

Urgency:

Most new business points of entry for a law firm come in the guise of environmental change for the client. A personal injury claim after an accident, a contested will after a bereavement, a conveyancing requirement after finding the right new property.

The point here is, before today, the prospective client did not feel the need for a solicitor. The bulk of any digital budget for a law firm should be focused on being as visible (as that budget allows) to the newly prospective client and, once they have interacted with the firm by whatever means, for that law firm to have an seemingly almost ubiquitous presence to maximise the chances of client engagement.

The one caveat of this approach is that it needs to be intelligently applied to prevent budget waste and to strike a balance of volume with quality to bring about high percentage return on investment as well as high volume return on investment.

These objectives are best achieved in two ways combined with an overarching strategy to increase engagement.

  1. Paid advertising on search engines, social media and specialist sites all centred around a high likelihood of potential client presence and motivation.
  2. Sophisticated use of latest technologies to ensure a potential client is fully aware of the quality of service available by means of our “ostensible ubiquitousness” tactics involving remarketing and retargeting with display advertising.

The overarching strategy is to ensure no advertising visit (click) is wasted. This revolves around content quality. There are three main aspects to content quality – speed of content provision, quality of content presentation (across all devices) and the relevance/usefulness of the information itself.

Once you have content and visitors to test on, test out the balance between the comprehensiveness of your content (content weight) and “fueling the enquiry”.

Very little content with a call to action is not going to cut it, but at the same time you do not want to get the visitor bogged down in lofty legal jargon. Show you are an expert and fuel the enquiry offering an incremental increase in content weight as they scroll down the page and intersperse it at the right points with clear calls to action to enquire via telephone or an online form which is right there on the page. This caters for all types of visitor without alienating quick skimmers whilst stimulating in-depth readers.

Treating this strategy as an unattainable absolute – you can always work to improve the speed, quality and usefulness of every single web page at your disposal to generate more client engagement.

In my 17 years of digital marketing experience, this has been the most fruitful source of new business for professional services organisations, especially law firms provided budget levels match expectations.

There is a complimentary by-product of these types of campaigns – great website pages with specialist content naturally find their ways up to the top of search engines – you will find that your best content will not only provide new clients via advertising but also new clients who are doing more in depth research past normal advertising channels.

Urgency in 30 seconds – Marketing The Law Blueprint

By making your service offering very visible when people need it and “ostensibly ubiquitous” once they have interacted with you (providing your content is fast, high quality and relevant/useful) you are tapping into the ultimate source of potential new client engagement.

The only caveats to remember are that you need a budget to match expectations and you have to meticulously craft your campaigns to avoid wastage.


Convenience:

Often mistaken for brand in the legal marketing sector, convenience is a much better term for garnering repeat business from current, past and future clients.

Why not brand? The truth is, you have to market and promote yourself even to your most evangelical past clients to ensure you get repeat work. The bulk of society is clued up now that you do not have “a solicitor” but you get the right solicitor for the given situation you are running into. Law is too mature a service industry for you not to have to hustle to keep up.

By providing useful connection and engagement with your client base you give yourself the best chance of getting other work. 9 out of 10 times it will be an easier sell after you have provided good service in the past. Please note if your past client would grade your past performance any lower than “A-” it is probably easier to find new business than to convince that client to give you more.

You create convenience by very occasionally connecting with your client base. Fortunately this is a very low budget activity. By re-purposing Urgency type content and providing it to past and current clients via email and occasional social media you can increase past and current client engagement in the future by many times over.

As a note, this is a fantastic method of getting initial traction with recent acquisitions with decent sized past client bases.

Convenience in 30 seconds – Marketing The Law Blueprint

Re-purpose your best content as valuable reminders to your current and past clients that you have service offerings they should think of in the future if they require them.

Make it fun and very occasional so when they think they need a solicitor they think of you.

Just don’t bank on it – keep this aspect of your marketing budget low – the legal industry is too mature and client savvy is too high for prospects not to look elsewhere for more alluring service offerings.


Specialisms:

Specialisms are not really a separate category but instead a means of multiplying your ROI on your campaigns and to expand your firm modularly by department. It is also a fantastic means of accountability – give a marketing agency the job of increasing a niche specialism and monitor it on the smaller level – you can see if it is working or not within a few weeks. Scale up or cut your losses once you have seen (or have not seen) results.

Specialisms are best marketed when they are high single transaction value services rather than numbers game type services. Secondly, the more niche the specialism, normally, the greater the opportunity to expand market share regionally or further afield. Think Super-Niche and Super-Value-Transactions!

For example, let’s take internationally contested wills / probate, or commercial conveyancing in the City. Both are extremely niche and normally very high value services. A high value disputed probate case can accumulate £250,000 in (highly justifiable) costs whilst the sky’s the limit for top level London property purchased via international trusts or similar.

Perhaps there are only a few of these opportunities to procure in any given month in your area – but if you have been smart enough in your marketing and advertising you are at least in with a shot of getting that work.You will be visible enough for an initial interaction with a prospective client.

Also, with “ostensible ubiquitousness” through digital remarketing and retargeting (and if a past or current client, re-purposed content to suggest Convenience of repeat business) there is a good chance you will get the enquiry at which point marketing’s job is done, and the sales hat needs to be worn effectively.

Often a single case won through these means is enough to pay for further super-niche marketing for 1-2 years. There is a good chance of an incredible ROI on marketing and advertising budgets for Specialisms. Landing a £250k case should easily be able to pay for a £25k annual specialism marketing budget. In fact we have many firms working with us that follow this system and have several super-niches on the go and to great result.

Marketing The Law Blueprint – Specialisms in 30 seconds:

A means to exponentially increase ROI on any marketing and advertising campaign set. By being maximally visible in high transaction value “super-niches” of legal services, significant market shares can be enjoyed. Specialisms provide the highest potential levels of return. Big firms that can create specialist teams within departments and can really deliver the goods can become market leaders and reap those rewards as market leaders within a relatively short timeframe.

This is done through using the principles of Brand, Urgency and Convenience but on a microscopic level. Very few firms are taking advantage of these opportunities which makes it easier to get in first and hold a leading position in a legal niche from the outset. Refine, market and advertise your specialism service offerings (and create as many specialism channels that you can) for the best results in digital.


One Minute Summary:

Most marketing agencies do not understand the intricacies of legal marketing, especially digital. However, if you love your current service provider help them to service you better on each of these four areas.

Brand, Urgency, Convenience and Specialisms are the pillars to your law firm’s digital success in today’s mentally tough and mature legal industry.

Although “SEO” has its virtues, the percentage of total work available from it is small compared to the full digital spectrum. A very well done paid advertising campaign will bleed into SEO without additional costs as a pleasant by-product.

Put your advertising budget into Urgency and your PR budget into Brand. Multiply it by promoting high transaction value Specialisms. Repurpose work done in these areas to build and capitalise on your Convenience channel – this channel will eat the least of your budget. You will not build your firm digitally with the Convenience channel alone, so don’t skimp on Brand, Urgency and Specialisms.

Each area can be worked on, but it is important you do it for the right reasons, do not try to push your brand to garner repeat business, do not market your firm generically for “solicitor” or “legal” services and expect niche Specialism work, be precise in your product offerings and position your firm as competent, successful, relevant, competitive and highly caring. Spend money on advertising and content and let SEO work naturally for you.

Magnify your successes and return on marketing and advertising investments by promoting high transaction value highly niche legal Specialisms and do it well – do not be afraid to offer your services further afield than before as very few firms have cottoned on to these advanced methods of client procurement – get in there first and become the market leader. If you have been a market leader or are currently, you better hustle on these avenues before an underdog takes business from right under your nose.


12 steps In plain, (although understandably high-level) English:

  1. Work your Brand for achievements and very high transaction work that comes via a combination of online and offline promotion. This is commercial, public sector and high net worth private law generally. Crown you individuals as the experts in their fields that they are.
  2. Become visible at all points of urgency for your main client types through intelligent use of paid advertising.
  3. Ensure there is little wastage in advertising budget.
  4. The landing pages for your ads needs to be highly engaging. Check all pages for speed of loading, quality of presentation (across all devices) and relevance/usefulness.
  5. Test content comprehensiveness for the right balance of content weight and “fuelling the enquiry”.
  6. Engage all visitor types by having the landing page content get heavier and more in depth as the visitor scrolls down the page, intersperse with clear calls to action so that when the visitor is convinced they can enquire.
  7. Have the phone number clearly visible at each point where there is a call to action and also provide an online form right there on the web page.
  8. Once a potential new client has interacted with you be maximally visible to them to increase the chance of future engagement – be “ostensibly ubiquitous” in their eyes.
  9. If they just visited (without filling in a form or calling, etc.) retarget them with display advertising on search engines, social media sites and specialist sites where a prospective client may visit looking for answers. Don’t be creepy about it, just enough to make you seem everywhere that matters.
  10. If they enquired get sales on to it, pronto. Keep in coordination so that further remarketing can be done until that client is engaged.
  11. Do not rely on the fact a client has used you before to get repeat business. Repurpose your Brand and Urgency content to keep your client base thinking of you. Don’t bank on it though, it should be your smallest marketing and advertising budget investment and it is a bonus if it gives you a lot of business.
  12. Multiply all gains across the pillars of your firm’s digital marketing success: Brand, Urgency and Convenience by developing and promoting your Specialisms. Take them further afield and be first in your areas. A lot of firms have not spotted this opportunity and misestimate the maturity of consumers and businesses in this sector. You have to hustle to get the work! So hustle smart! Show yourselves as the specialists you are in as many super-niche legal Specialisms as you can and watch you departments and firm grow with the times.

I trust this is useful to you and your firm. You can be working on this yourself or with your current marketing and advertising providers. If you can think of areas in your firm where we can help. Get in touch and we’ll see what we can do!


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