August 14, 2014
That’s the in-your-face tone law firms typically adopt in their TV ads, selling themselves as tireless advocates for their clients, fighting fearlessly to get them what’s rightfully theirs. It goes without saying that these firms are also using the ads to get something for themselves: market share.
Long gone are the days when the promotional efforts of most law firms landed in the marketplace once a year with a resounding thud… in the new edition of the Yellow Pages. Nowadays such no-tech tactics aren’t often enough for even a small firm to successfully square off against its competitors. And those rivals aren’t just other law firms; they also include do-it-yourself online services such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer.
Today’s congested legal marketplace means that even smaller law firms need integrated marketing plans. Their marketing portfolio should probably include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and both pay-per-click and display advertising. Firms may also want to boost their presence by buying ads in a directory, such as FindLaw’s Lawyers Directory. But no matter what channels they use to reach potential clients, law firms can be sure that those methods will evolve. The value of SEO, for example, shifts with every update of an algorithm. While it was once possible for firms to generate results from a website that had relatively thin content and lower quality inbound links, the search engines’ continuing push toward quality now rewards richer, higher quality content that directly addresses the needs of users.
But before deciding on the vessels they want to use to carry their marketing message, firms need to settle on a consistent branding message that will serve as cargo. One solo practitioner, eager to flag down clients for his traffic-related practice, uses his earlier career as a state trooper to convey that he understands the system from both sides. He’s posted a photo of himself in uniform on his website. Another firm strongly identifies itself with a gender-based vertical; representing men in divorces, custody cases and other family battles. One of its TV ads kicks off with a man cheering his divorce loudly.
If that image is hard for viewers to shake… well, it’s served its purpose. Law firms need branding that not only highlights their expertise but also taps into deep, primitive motivators that will move people to pick up the phone and call.
A firm focused on employment law, for instance, might mold its messaging around helping clients maintain core aspects of their status, such as their ability to generate income.
If cost is a primary driver for its client segment, a firm may want to tout the value it offers: $300 flat for an uncontested divorce.
Someone who has been arrested for drunk driving will want to know: Do I have to go to court? If I lose my driver’s license, how long will it last? Blogs posted on the firm’s website can anticipate and address (in layman’s terms) some of these common questions.
A firm’s message can also be promoted using social media or via syndicated content, such as downloadable infographics. It all depends on a firm’s core goals and what sort of client it’s targeting. But first a firm must figure out what image it wants to project and use that to inform the design of its integrated marketing plan. All decisions about marketing should spring from that: the firm’s identity.
An effective marketing campaign is as intricate as a sound financial plan; it demands the constant monitoring and measuring of a portfolio of investments. Funds need to be redirected to where they can generate the best return. Most lawyers, understandably, would rather focus on practicing law. In our experience, they’re happy to have another party handle the task of optimizing the plan’s effectiveness, making the decisions that will lower cost per lead, raise the rate at which interested prospects are converted to paying clients, and maximizing the overall return on the firm’s marketing investment.
Really, when it comes to running a modern marketing program, what law firms really need is- as those TV ads often put it–someone who is on their side, a tireless advocate, fighting for their success.
Without that someone, you may already be costing yourself untold dollars!