By Duncan Shaw, Executive Creative Director, Living Group
We’re living in challenging times — for all of us as global citizens — and especially for those of us in marketing. With an unprecedented pandemic, volatile financial markets, empty calendars from cancelled live events and employees around the world still working from home for the foreseeable future, we face an uphill battle to keep our brands relevant and our messages engaging.
Without human interaction, a core component of any law firm’s brand, the visual and verbal components will need to go into overdrive to compensate.
What About Your Firm?
Where attorneys themselves often constitute a core part of the brand, what happens when they can’t meet with current or prospective clients or network in-person on a daily basis?
Telephone calls and video conferencing will help you address the tactical needs of your client relationship, but what about your brand building efforts? Being clear about who you are, what you do and why it matters to your target audiences is of paramount importance. Now more than ever.
It’s time to surface your firm’s intellectual capital. You can’t risk under-utilizing websites and social media channels, as these digital expressions of your brand are the platforms to communicate to your audiences. With clarity. With purpose. With a reason for them to care. Your brand and your people must come to the fore on these platforms, delivering an authentic and personable experience.
Where Do You Begin?
Now is the time to think about your clients. Providing them with relevant and useful content, published on the appropriate channels in a timely manner, will demonstrate you have their best interests at heart. Your tone of voice should be you-centric, not we, and you should surface humanity throughout these digital platforms in a variety of ways.
Take, for example, “people” landing pages on websites. Our latest Living Ratings research on law firms shows that 95% of the Global 100 deliver just a cold, impersonal search function devoid of messaging (lost opportunity) or brand personality (dire mistake). What does this tell a prospective client or lateral hire about your firm’s ethos, strengths or culture? For one thing, it screams silos, not one cohesive team.
At the very least, your firm should tell audiences about what unites and drives your business, and what clients can expect from your people, with a link to the culture section of your website. You do have a dedicated culture section, right?
Your people are your law firm. Once again, our research shows that well over half of law firms are failing to deliver authentic, good quality biographies. Great biographies should be modular and succinct, deliver related content and have links to other members of that person’s practice area or industry group. The attorney’s photo should also be up-to-date, and you should consider short videos in an effort to replace the current lost face-to-face interaction.
Biographies should also be written in a consistent style, preferably in the first person and aim to include content that makes attorneys appear human, approachable and knowledgeable.
Finally, you want to activate smart, targeted social media and digital advertising campaigns to support and highlight your messages, and most importantly, drive your audience to your website for an immersive brand experience. Against the current volatile financial backdrop and the omnipresent disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, you are compelled to share your voice — there is an audience eager to hear from you — provided you have relevant client-first and useful messaging.
Take these steps and the result will be the opportunity for you to effectively manage your online reputation, reinforce your value proposition and position your firm well for when the economy recovers.
Uncertainty provides opportunity. Seize this time to strengthen the human aspect of your brand messaging, your visual identity, your website, its content and your social channels. Be ready with campaigns to activate that empower your brand engagement with target audiences remotely, so you can accelerate out of the downturn.
The days of business-to-business marketing have moved on. Business-to-people is the new normal.
Duncan Shaw is the co-founder and executive creative director of Living Group, a full service brand and digital creative agency that specializes in creating difference for financial, professional services and technology firms. With over 25 years of experience, Duncan is the author of Living Ratings and works with law firms of all sizes across North America, helping them create engaging brands, disruptive digital experiences and integrated campaigns. He can be reached at email@example.com