Trendy advertising and marketing is private

In the beginning, the law firm’s marketing departments had fewer employees than the post office. Fast forward 30 years: Today, the rule of thumb is one marketing specialist for every 20 to 25 lawyers. A law firm with 500 lawyers would have a marketing department with 20 to 25 specialists. Many companies also outsource specialized services such as digital marketing and database management.

If you are in a smaller company or practice by yourself, why do you care how big the marketing departments are in large companies? You take care of it because you too have to be visible to your prospects and colleagues and deal with your customers. We can reach out to the marketers in larger companies to gather key ideas that are relevant and appropriate for all practicing lawyers.

First, some definitions. Within the legal profession, marketing refers to activities that increase brand awareness, including content management activities online and in print. This includes brochures, newsletters, websites, videos, podcasts, other digital initiatives, database management, public relations, advertising, events, sponsorship, etc.

Activities related to finding, recruiting, attracting and serving customers fall under the heading “Business Development”. This includes studying specific customers, their industries and markets, building and following relationships, and preparing proposals and presentations. It also includes training and coaching for lawyers, support with marketing and business development strategy, and business development plans for individuals, practice groups and the firm itself.

Modern marketing departments strategically consider how they can relate their employees and services to defined customer clusters. To this end, according to a survey by Calibrate Legal among the marketing departments of North American law firms, there is an increased demand in larger law firms for:

  • Strategic business development initiatives
  • Digital marketing
  • Lead generation and tracking
  • Data analysis and content marketing.

Attendance at conferences, events, sponsorship, and directory / awards listing in 2021 is less popular. In-person events are also less emphasized in 2021: a third of responding companies plan to reduce them by 50% or more.[1]

Strategic foundations

The keyword for 21st century consumers is “I”, translated in marketing – speak of “personalization”. The onslaught of information available has forced people to triage. Any material sent to prospective clients or clients must match their interests, needs, opportunities, and pitfalls, otherwise they won’t look at it.

This means that you need to be clear about personalizing your own practice. Everything you write must reflect who you are – what your brand is. Your brand distills what makes you different and how that difference translates into what you do with and for your customers. It is your promise to them that sets their expectations about what it would be like to work with you.

To authentically relate to your customers, you need to know more about them than just their contact information and the current subject number. They really need to understand their work life, their personal life, their wants, needs, dreams, problems, opportunities, etc. They must be able to “walk a mile” in their shoes. This leads to a niche market focus, a subset of potential customers who can really benefit from your advice, expertise and experience.

Instead of finding a client who wants you, analyze what you enjoy doing and who is benefiting from your practice. Analyze your current customer base, going back several years, and outline the characteristics of your best customers – the ones you want to replicate. Then narrow your focus:

Combine all the characteristics of your ideal customer in a “customer personality”. The persona combines everything you need to know about your prospects and customers. These are the people you meet, learn, and want to incorporate into your work life over time as friends, colleagues, referral sources, resources, and customers.

Marketing initiatives

Once you know what you want to sell and who to sell it to, you need to create ways to connect either directly through the network or indirectly through your marketing materials and initiatives. Some suggestions that will still work in the COVID-19 environment:

  • Join organizations that you belong to online or in person. Join their professional, trade, or industry associations to learn what’s important to them and how they are addressing the issues.
  • Grow your brand online. Use your website and LinkedIn, of course, but also any other websites your customers prefer. Go where they are going and join their conversations.
  • Choose a marketing outreach tactic that is comfortable for you: newsletters, blogs, videos, podcasts, white papers. Make the content timely and relevant to your person. Consider working with clients or colleagues in this effort.
    • If you work for a company with a marketing department, use this one. If you don’t, then hire outside marketers and companies to help you and professionalize your efforts.
  • Maximize your online testimonials and reviews. “An estimated 75% of people looking for a lawyer use legal review websites, and 84% of those people trust reviews as well as personal recommendations.”[2]
  • Whenever you meet someone you want to get to know, regardless of your contact tactics, start a series of contacts with them. Set up one-on-one calls with the Zoom or the phone. Send them information related to your conversation and invite them to attend an online networking event or webinar.
    • Keep in mind that it takes an average of 8 to 12 personal “touches” to progress to friendship from that first meeting.
  • Don’t forget your current customers. People are concerned and concerned about what will happen in 2021. Be there as a soundboard for them. Call her to say, “How are you?” Listen to them and offer advice if they want to. Often customers are just happy to have an open ear.

Whether your company is big or small, or you work alone, you can ultimately adopt the mindset of those in large marketing departments. “Remember, business development is all about relationships. Relationships based on trust, empathy and a deep commitment to customer success. “[3] People hire people they like and trust, who have the experience and expertise they need to move forward. Think positively about further development, develop a brand that is in line with your market niche and make yourself relevant to it. Success will follow.

[1] Calibrate Legal, Law Firm Marketing / BD Department Size Study 2020, https://calibrate-legal.com/marketing-bd-survey-2020/.

[2] https://www.nivancontent.com/legal-marketing-statistics-2020

[3] Susanne Mandel, Chief Business Development and Marketing Officer at Lowndes, quoted in “New Strategies for Law Firm Growth Amid and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Strategies + Blog, Legal Marketing Association, September 4, 2020.

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