Despite the perception that a large marketing budget is required to effectively grow a law firm, attorneys who may be cash strapped but marketing savvy are instead investing their time rather than money to increase their visibility and develop new business in the highly competitive industry of legal practice. In fact, there are numerous ways that law firms of all sizes can increase their visibility and strengthen their brands that require little to no cost, ranging from effectively managing your online visibility to being actively involved with your local bar association to encouraging referrals.
The following is a list of simple activities and strategies that can you can implement to help your attorneys stand shoulder to shoulder with their largest competition by marketing their practice in ways that can lead to business development.
In legal marketing, demonstrating thought leadership by publishing articles on topics that are important to clients’ business continues to be a unique and effective way to demonstrate the attorney’s expertise and industry awareness.
This form of content marketing involves a bit more work than creating messaging for your website or firm brochure, but the time is well spent considering the return on investment. In addition to increasing the firm’s visibility among a publication’s audience of thousands of readers, a published article can be leveraged to work double-time as a business development tool within an attorney’s network of connections, clients and existing marketing materials.
Third-party endorsements, rankings and awards can be a subtle yet powerful factor when individuals and companies are evaluating attorneys for hire. For example, borrowing from the automotive and health care industries, which commonly run advertisements featuring five-star ratings or top hospital honors, lawyers can participate in a number of zero-cost rankings and awards processes that can result in valuable third-party endorsements for the firm.
Professional and Trade Association Involvements
In addition to membership in a local bar association, lawyers should consider trade associations and membership with a local chamber of commerce as ways to grow new relationships with decision-makers in their respective fields. Membership alone, however, is not going to do the trick in terms of converting the opportunity into new business. Instead, attorneys should take advantage of all the opportunities that exist with these types of affiliations, i.e. network at events, join committees and even look for ways to earn a leadership position within the organization. In addition to providing an opportunity to establish new relationships, many trade associations invite members to be authors in their newsletters and speakers at their events, which are altogether different and valuable ways to make a positive impression.
There are many ways to produce marketing material at minimal or no cost that can bring regular and positive visibility within your desired audience. Among these are e-alert options that are available online for free and can provide the polished look of your larger competitors. Similar to blogging, an e-alert provides the opportunity to share interesting news to your own audience of connections and create top-of-mind awareness with potential clients who may be in need of advice or counsel.
Despite an abundance of options for free websites, amazingly, there are still solo practitioners who do not have websites. However, gone are the days when your shingle is hung on the downtown square — your website is your new storefront and without one, clients are much harder pressed to find you, let alone confirm what they may have heard from a referral source.
It is critical for lawyers and law firms to be actively involved with social media platforms as an increasing number of consumers and business executives factor in social media when making buying decisions.
J.D. Power and Associates’ recent finding that “the relationship between a positive social media experience and consumer purchase intent” only adds to the argument that all lawyers who are targeting consumers should be actively involved in this way. On the flip side of the coin, if you are a corporate lawyer, GreenTarget recently found that “the largest concentration of lawyers anywhere on the social web today” is found on LinkedIn, and a separate Regalix study found that 91 percent of business-to-business marketing executives agreed that LinkedIn was their top choice for social media marketing.
With this in mind, lawyers should consider ways to increase the value of the content they offer through social media platforms, which involves more than creating an online profile but using it. Here are a few, easy ways to get started:
- Share links to industry media reporting that you would consider “can’t-miss” news for clients.
- Post expert articles that members/partners have published in trade journals and magazines that speak to important issues to clients’ business.
- Use social media to make updates to clients on important changes in law and/or other regulatory decisions that might impact their businesses.
- Keep clients up to speed on important changes to the service the firm provides.
- Convert other valuable content your firm might have available, i.e. newsletters and client alerts, to blog posts to reach clients in a new way.
Too often, lawyers lose sleep at night concerned about whether they have adequately invested in marketing and business development to support their pipeline of business for the coming years. Thankfully, there are several effective ways to market a practice that require little to no cost and minimal time. These simple strategies can help ensure that your attorney’s existing and potential clients keep your firm top-of-mind — a critical business development component — when it comes time for them to retain counsel.
Burton Taylor is founder of Proventus Consulting, a Kansas City-based marketing and public relations agency that focuses on law firms ranging in size from boutiques to some of the largest in the country. Burton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-812-7135.