Top Ten marketing methods for law firms

In part three of my “hot topic” (hear Alan Partridge style reverberating sound effect when you read that) on marketing at law firms, I am looking at the top ten best-known marketing methods for law firms, starting in the usual manner from number 10.

Anyone for a chat with people you don't know at 8am?
Anyone for a chat with people you don’t know at 8am?

 10. Business networking breakfast

AVOID! Everyone is there to sell their product, not to be sold anything, so you will be talked over and counter-sold something you don’t want, usually insurance. Also, you’ll be tired all day due to the early start. Unless you host (and therefore control) a legal issue themed breakfast for your clients/potential clients?

 

 9. A free legal advice surgery

I often got landed with this duty as a trainee solicitor. May be popular but tend to be attended by people (like me) who are very attracted to the word “free”, so doesn’t usually convert to paid work.  Also a liability nightmare, as its very difficult to not give legal advice to someone who is understandably expecting you to give them legal advice. But – perhaps gives off a good welcoming public image for the firm? Incredibly, 300 UK law firms offer free initial advice – but what’s our position on liability/insurance when giving free advice to clients?

8. Lengthy write ups on legal developments or cases

If these have been written by a lawyer like myself, they will most likely be too long and either go over client’s heads, or will not be relevant enough to them or their business. But could be well received by some clients?

7. Newsletters/blog

Does anyone read these? But surely a good way to give out a bit more information for people who want to find out a bit more about your firm or law that is relevant to them, so long as you don’t commit the mistake at number 8 above. Could be a great way of discovering your firm by someone who stumbles across your unique write up on an issue they are researching on google. Make sure you draft using good SEO principles (tags, keywords, etc) so they can be understood by google’s ‘bots.

6. Legal Directories

A great way to get a write up on your firm and lawyers that is visible on google, but not a significant direct source of work in my experience. This wonderful scathing assessment of legal directories is worth a read.

5. Website

Very often used by clients just for getting your firm’s contact details. They can look great, but its important to check on google analytics just how much your firm’s web site is being viewed and for how long, rather than being lead from your or management’s opinion on how important it is and how great your website looks – you may be surprised! If its quiet or visitors aren’t sticking around, seek some advice. I love Joe Reevy’s LinkedIn post on this subject.

4.5 LinkedIn

Can be a great way for relationship building and maintaining with customers and other professionals, but ineffective if just used as a way of advertising services or giving out information. I’ve seen some lawyers and partners use LinkedIn very effectively – who says Partners aren’t great marketers? Make the most of it before Microsoft mess it up?

Obviously not quite the sign you need, but you get the idea...
Obviously not quite the sign you need, but you get the idea…

4. A folding sign outside the front door

Simple, but very effective if you are in a busy High Street right location – SO many High Street law firm premises look dark, unchanged since 1899, and unwelcoming to the public. Marketing tip – this might just give off a “we’re too busy to help/unaware of the modern world” message.

3.5. Talks

Such as turning up at a meeting for local landlords and talking about a legal issue or development that affects them. Very effective if kept up on a regular basis and you stick around to chat afterwards? Especially where there is a legal development that can cause panic and confusion, and you are there to dole out some calm advice on practical steps. Beware of using the word “loop-hole” as this can cause hysteria. Also good for building relations with other professionals – see 1.

3. Local advertising

Could work great if they are done well and not too expensive? i.e. a bit more than “X solicitors can help you with your Will, family issues, conveyancing” – something attention grabbing might work well, such as a fixed fee/limited time offer? We all live and breath advertising, but I doubt many of us could knock up a great advertisement in-house. Tips on less well known effective places to advertise would be welcome, and recommended graphic designers.

2. Customer referrals

The “method” here is simply making sure you provide an outstanding service to clients. Most definitely a fantastic and regular way of getting work – which is why the customer satisfaction surveys are so important, and making sure you do the obvious things clients expect, such as sticking to fee estimates and not doing your own thing –  find out what the client’s specific expectations are, and meet them.

1. Referrals from other professionals

The overall winner! This can be up to 70 to 90% of many firm’s source of new work – so the methodology here is to keep up good relations with your colleagues, friends  and network of professional contacts through meeting/speaking with them, using social media, etc.

Also, for an overview of marketing basics for lawyers, this article from the American Bar Association is worth reading – its aimed at young lawyers, but we can all loose our way with marketing and forget the basics.

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Ben

I set up Law Practice Manager because I enjoy sharing fresh and original opinions and posts on law management issues. Facebook and Twitter: @LawManager1 LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8538343

4 thoughts on “Top Ten marketing methods for law firms

  • June 19, 2016 at 9:32 am
    Permalink

    Good stuff (and thanks for the mention), but I’d argue a lot about 2 things in particular:
    1. The order – properly trained (that is crucial), networking events are great ways to acquire business and build relationships (which is the best way to acquire business long term, as evidence by the 2 referral categories being 1 and 2), but in the short run they are very expensive, since the most expensive cost a firm has it the cost of the people. We rarely use this method, though I did in practice.

    Websites, in most instances are far weaker than e-newsletters, which used properly. There are some corking ones out there – big firms to small (happy to send a list of the best we see)…and a good e-newsletter is MUCH less expensive than sending just 1 fee earner to a networking event. E-newsletters are better than blogs if done properly because they are much cheaper and can be easily targeted. It is far more important for a blog to be ‘in the right place’ and appropriately circulated/repeated (Buffer/Hootsuite) than try to set it up for SEO…
    Our e-newsletter generates again about 1/3rd of our business. we don’t use SEO at all (do the maths!), although for some law niches, it clearly can work.

    LinkedIn – again, used properly- (we’d be happy to reccommend trainers) is very powerful indeed and highly cost-effective medium-term source. We us LI heavily and it generates about 1/3rd of our business.

    2. The list omits content sharing and brand leveraging, which have the advantage of having a zero marginal cost and being able to target constituencies quite precisely and make use of the value of the connected ‘brand’ (you are known by the company you keep). Again, we use this and it produces about 10% of our business…at zero cost.

    The balance of our business comes from referrals, and referrals come from the relationships built using other methods.

    One really interesting thing here (to be, at least) is that when i see this order, it tells me that the measures used are biased towards short-term measures. This is one of my bugbears and I see it everywhere. There’s a heavy bias towards what can be seen to be working right now. However, look at the order…the most cost-effective things in the LONG RUN are not those which produce the bigger bang now.

    The reason is simple: things which concentrate on right now will collect the enquiries from people who have a need now. However, things that build relationships will produce the enquiries again and again as the (future) need arises. The first produces income now. The second income in the future, probably over and over again.

    I want to add one small comment about websites – relating to a conversation I had with an SEO-obsessed web designer recently. He wanted to know why we produce content 200-400 words, not the 600+ that Google says is ‘quality’ for SEO purposes. leaving aside the technical bit (Google doesn’t see our service content for SEO), there’s a simple reason. Very few people read 600+ word content about law. They want material that is short and accessible. The first sort produces great stats (longer time on site etc) and fewer phone calls to make an appointment.
    Which do you want?

    Reply
  • June 19, 2016 at 9:34 am
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    Sorry about typos. BTW using signage, placed in the right place is also really strong. The key is the positioning and the message. Have seen some brilliant examples.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2016 at 9:40 am
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    Following last week’s Gazette item about social media, I thought I’d say nowt about that: works if used really intelligently…rarely is.

    Reply
    • Martyn
      June 19, 2016 at 8:03 pm
      Permalink

      Joe, this is really great stuff thanks. The ranking and commentary in my post was made for the purpose of debate rather than being in any way authoritative, objective or complete, which it very obviously is not – so thanks for gracing it with some truly expert knowledge! I’m going to have to encourage you to turn this comment into a separate post please Joe!

      Reply

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