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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.