Marketing keeps businesses in business, and law firms are no exception. It drives sales, enables growth, and builds an organization’s reputation and community. But the best marketing tactics benefit your client as much as they do your bottom line.
That’s why marketing basics revolve around communication. The first goal is to find clients and to help them find you. Then the objective is to form relationships and maintain them over the long term.
Think about marketing as a three-step process through which you want to take potential clients:
Awareness. You have high-quality services to offer. Let people know about them and your law firm. Become a possible resource for clients.
Connection. Stay in their lives and their minds. Become a part of their network and make them a part of yours.
Support. Keep them happy by continuing to offer help, encouragement, and community. Become their partner in the projects that matter to them and make them a partner in your continued success.
When done well, these steps should overlap and even repeat themselves. For instance, old relationships can fade into the background, requiring you to reignite a client’s awareness.
The fundamental importance of a law firm’s marketing strategy may not be hard to grasp. However, there are several factors that play a role in legal marketing as well as a potentially overwhelming amount of options.
This article on legal marketing basics will break down major aspects of marketing and give you a sense of where to focus your attention and resources.
Traditional vs. Online Marketing
What’s the difference? Digital or online marketing takes place online through digital channels. It includes your websites, online listings, emails, and social media accounts as well as paid online advertisements. This category also contains everything you do to support your reputation online such as review management and content that you publish on other websites.
Traditional marketing takes place offline. It includes older forms of media such as print, television, and radio. It also includes forms of direct communication such as snail mail, promotional products, and telemarketing. Mobile, text-based communication, however, has started to blur the line between traditional and digital phone marketing.
Digital marketing offers certain advantages that traditional marketing can’t. It’s often cheaper and easier both to track and to tweak to measure and increase success.
Which Is Right For You?
Most law firms combine the two. Even ecommerce companies often use branded packaging or include something like a flyer or a sticker with invoices. And local businesses often benefit from distributing printed promotions around the neighborhood.
In other words, the “vs.” in “traditional vs. online marketing” is just a matter of definition. Develop your digital strategy and tools, but don’t wholly neglect old-school marketing techniques. And you should never stop doing something that’s working for you already.
In some ways, branding is the most fundamental of marketing basics. It's so ingrained that it almost doesn't seem like marketing at all.
Branding is also one of the hardest concepts to pin down. It combines both traditional and online marketing with the very identity of your business — your personality, practices, location, image, and name.
Your law firm encompasses all the ways that you represent your firm and all of the things that people associate with it.
Think of Nike. Any of the following words or images might pop into your mind:
- “Just Do It!”
All of the above are a part of the company’s brand. In addition, there’s a sense of classic nostalgia that reminds customers of happy times.
Almost sixty years ago, Nike got its name from Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Since then, Nike has become one of the most popular sports shoes, even beating out Adidas. They are a clear example of how strong branding can place your brand at the forefront of clients’ minds.
How to Build Your Brand
First, you’ll need to define the image of your law firm. Identify a few keywords that describe the knowledge of your firm and how you want others to view it. If stuck, you can ask current clients for input or use a word bank of potential adjectives. Outline your target audience as well since it will contribute to your communication strategy.
Once you have your core characteristics in place, you can start to flesh it out. Develop aspects of your identity, then create a set of brand guidelines to which you can refer and that you can share with clients and potential partners.
Vision and Values
What’s the history of your law firm? What’s your mission statement? Do you have a slogan that sums up the attitude you bring to day-to-day operations or the philosophy you want to inspire in others?
Define who you are, the values you uphold, and the greater story that your business seeks to live and to tell others. Clients should know what they can expect from you at every level.
Make sure that every message about or from your firm fits into this greater narrative. Branding revolves around consistency. When it comes to vision and values, that consistency is inseparable from integrity. Guidelines in this area help a business stay true to itself no matter what challenges arise.
Visuals and Voice
There are multiple ways that a person might come into contact with your law firm. They might come to your website or your physical location. They might see a flyer or read an article written by an employee.
This set of "v’s" covers the look and sound of your law firm.
You want to establish a uniform — or at least a harmonious — style. Each brand element should coordinate with the next and be internally consistent. Consider the following:
- Physical premises
- Web design
- Tone of voice
- Level of sophistication
- Conventions for capitalization, citation, spelling, and grammar
Create a coherent design and a persona that is so well-defined that anyone in your business can assume it.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the actions that you can take to improve your ranking in organic search results. In other words, it’s the art of appearing on the first page of Google when people search for your law firm or for the services you offer.
The higher your ranking, the more likely that people are to click on the link taking them to your website or an online listing. In fact, there’s an old joke: the best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google.
So what makes Google rank one website higher than another? It wants to give searchers results that are relevant, popular, and high quality.
The location also matters. If Google determines that a search has “local intent” — that someone wants to find a nearby law firm— its results change in two important ways. The first is that it ranks closer businesses more highly. The second is that instead of legal websites, it places a map with several Google listings at the top of the page.
This example from Google’s own support page shows the small “Ad” designation that accompanies search ads.
Google allows you to bid for these ads, paying either each time a browser clicks on them or per thousand impressions. Different keywords are more or less expensive depending on how competitive they are.
Google’s keyword planner will also suggest related keywords, some of which may be less expensive. It’s a great tool to use when planning your content marketing as well as your digital advertising.
The other kind of Google ad is a display ad. Instead of showing up in search results, Google places these on other websites depending on either the website’s content or the viewer’s search history. They’re like hyperlinked billboards or posters.
Social Media Marketing (Paid)
In addition to Google ads, you might also invest in social media advertising. Facebook and Instagram ads target your imagined ideal client rather than a search. They then show up in those viewers’ feeds.
Social media platforms also distinguish between ads and organic posts, but they can still be very effective. There are 2.91 billion Facebook users across the globe, and Facebook allows you to refine your audience based on their location.
Local businesses rely on loyal client bases, and law firms need to focus on client retention as well as the attraction of new clients. Besides, the two go together. Happy clients become your law firm’s best advocates. Unhappy clients can become obstacles.
These days, almost 90% of people consult online reviews, especially when it comes to law firms. People look to them for advice on who the top lawyers in the area are and how others’ experiences with them have been. And while people don’t believe everything that they read, they do tend to give them some credit — particularly when trends emerge.
There are three challenges in review management:
How to Get Reviews
Reviews are one area where quantity matters as much as quality. On most sites, people instantly see two numbers associated with a business’s reviews — the average rating and the number of ratings.
You want both of these numbers to be high. Clients are more inclined to give your business a try if you have a long, proven history of client satisfaction.
In this set of local listings for Los Angeles law firms, you can see the ratings just below the business names. The average rating comes before the stars, and the number of ratings comes after.
The number one thing you can do to get more reviews? Ask for them. Put up a small sign in your office directing clients to your review site of choice. Include a request in follow-up emails.
Above all, deliver exceptional service that makes people want to honor that request.
How to Respond to Reviews
Your clients are speaking; you should listen and respond. Even positive reviews require a response. People took some of their valuable time to endorse your business. Thank them.
You need a way to keep track of reviews, no matter where they’re posted. Review management tools collect reviews from across the web and allow you to respond from a central hub.
Encourage people to use the site of your choice — such as Google, Yelp, or Facebook — but be prepared for them to leave them elsewhere. There are a huge number of review sites, and people will have their own favorites.
When it comes to negative reviews, stay positive, polite, and professional. Reach out to the dissatisfied client, but try to take the conversation offline and handle the issue directly.
How to Use Reviews
If a client has a complaint, address it in your firm’s practices rather than just in your text. Reviews are free sources of feedback about ways that you can improve.
Moreover, nothing turns an unhappy client into a happy one faster than seeing their concerns addressed. You might even invite them to return to see how you’ve handled the issue. Many clients are also willing to write follow-ups to negative reviews, crediting the business for fixing an issue.
Your Best Marketing Strategy
Sometimes it seems as though legal marketing requires advanced degrees in sales, digital media, and content creation. But the right tools help level the playing field. You don’t need to know how to program something like Google’s keyword planner to use it.
If you want to make the most of your potential, you might also consider the right partner. In addition to the best technology around, Scorpion also offers custom strategies tailored to the needs of your law firm. Schedule your free consultation, and let’s discuss how we can achieve your most ambitious goals.
Keep your focus on advocating for your clients and their needs. Our team of experts will take care of the rest.