Every law firm wants to be top of mind when someone is looking to refer legal work. But how do you make potential clients and peers think of your law firm first?
This is where legal marketing comes into play – a powerful way of raising awareness about your firm and its capabilities. The consistent use of a mix of legal marketing techniques can achieve the recognition you need so that the next time someone is looking for services like yours, they turn to you first.
And although each law firm is unique and calls for a tailored legal marketing approach, there are 5 legal marketing essentials that can apply universally.
1. Content creation
Creating content is one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness. Whether it’s writing, speaking at events, making videos or podcasts, content helps you achieve three key goals:
Add value for existing and potential clients
Display your knowledge and industry insight, as well as your familiarity with the latest legal and business trends – all of which shows you are on top of your game
Introduce your audience to your work culture and values
Clearly, these are some important competitive advantages, which are instrumental in raising brand awareness and ultimately – in making you a first choice for clients and referrers.
That said, to accomplish the goals of content creation, you need to apply a client-centric approach. This means every piece of content should be tailored to clients’ needs and interests. You need to be able to answer the question How does this article/video/post/podcast or else, help my clients?
Speaking of client-centric, the language of your content should also be targeted to the specific audience. Communicating in digestible terms is a broadly appreciated quality in lawyers, as evident from legal directory client testimonials.
If you are not sure where to start with content creation, here are some ideas:
- Articles about legal topics and changes that affect your clients
- Podcast or video series
- In-person events and speaking opportunities
- Brand awareness pieces (firm news, spotlight on individuals and practice areas): tread carefully with these as, depending on how they are executed, they can be interesting and make you stand out, or end up being a fluff piece nobody needs.
2. Digital presence
Being digitally present is crucial and tightly related to content creation. You need the right content so you can establish your online presence. Remember that probably everyone looking to retain your services will firstly check you up online. We all do that, be it to search for a restaurant’s reviews or for a law firm’s reputation. In this sense, you want all the right content to show up when someone searches for your law firm online.
The three main pillars of your online presence, which are entirely in your control are:
- social media channels
- email marketing
We can’t stress enough just how important a website is. You’ve probably heard this many times before, but we won’t get tired of repeating it – a website is like a shop’s display window, it’s the very first impression you leave on prospects. It can literally make or break the deal. Which is why you want it to be:
- user-friendly and intuitive
- properly reflecting the values you want to project on the world
To achieve this, you don’t necessarily need tons of money. But you do need good user experience design and decent programming. It is crucial to define your website’s user personas, chart their customer journey and build the layout around these parameters. Guaranteeing proper speed and no glitches is also essential.
For a while, law firms and lawyers were reluctant to be on social media. And although attitudes have been changing, using social networks as part of the marketing and communication strategies of law firms is still relatively underdeveloped in comparison with other industries.
A law firm doesn’t need to be on all channels. In fact, picking your social networks should be aligned with your business development goals. You want to reach your target audiences so you have to consider which channels they are mostly present on. That said, and regardless of the specifics of your law firm, you need to be on LinkedIn. This is firstly because most people are there as well. Especially if you’re a business law firm, chances are your prospects use LinkedIn.
The second reason has to do with your discoverability on the web. LinkedIn has a high domain authority, which means that search engines such as Google, will index results from LinkedIn with priority. So if you want to increase your chances of being discovered, either organically or because someone is specifically looking for your firm, you need to have a LinkedIn company page.
You can share all your content there, including by using the Newsletter option. It basically allows you to generate a newsletter entirely within LinkedIn and distribute it among your subscribers.
In addition to a company page, it’s really helpful if lawyers maintain their personal profiles, share firm content and build a network. Having them do so on a regular basis may require additional training.
Depending on your target audience, you may find it useful to be on Instagram and Twitter as well. Instagram is a great place if you are looking to engage younger audiences and recruit talent, as well as if you want to introduce your team and culture in a more approachable way. Twitter is great for sharing articles, firm news and client alerts. If you produce podcasts and videos, you might want to check Spotify and YouTube respectively.
2.3 Email Marketing
Let’s not forget about good old email marketing. A newsletter, if done right, is a great tool for touching base with existing and potential clients. You can send out a digest of recent articles with links to your website. This is convenient for the reader, as well as for you in terms of driving traffic to your website. Other things you can share in newsletters are legal updates, firm news and client successes, community and pro bono work.
3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO can easily go under digital presence, but we think it’s so important, yet frequently neglected, that it deserves its own place. Good SEO can help your law firm in two substantial ways:
If someone is looking for a law firm on Google, you would appear before your competitors and in high quality search results.
If someone is specifically looking for your law firm, search results would include all the right content (practice areas and team details, contacts, your articles and thought leadership, etc.)
Focusing on SEO means auditing your website and making sure it’s optimized. This includes looking at:
- Language – keywords are critical in order to appear in results for specific searches
- Correct coding (title and paragraph tags)
- Internal linking (links from one page on your website to another)
- Backlinks (links from other websites to a page on your website)
- Google Business and Maps
Find out more about good SEO practices in our series of articles How to do SEO?.
For many law firms, referrals are still the best way to gain new clients. And the key to having referrals is networking. Back in the days, networking mostly took place in conference halls in the context of seminars and other professional events.
The good news is, networking today happens online as well. Over the past years, LinkedIn has become a major platform for legal professionals to interact with each other and touch base. Mostly pushed forward by the pandemic, networking in the legal industry has extended even more to the virtual space.
There are so many webinars and other types of online events by professional organizations such as the International Bar Association (IBA). This switch to online has made the whole networking process much more accessible. Nowadays, it’s not just senior partners from major law firms that can attend international events and engage with colleagues. Junior lawyers, BD and marketing staff from small and mid-size firms can also be part of the equation.
When considering events, be it online or in person, make sure to be proactive about speaking opportunities. Attending is great, but speaking and paving your way as a thought leader is even better.
Referral networks are another trend on the rise. Especially for smaller firms, being in a network with international partners may prove useful. However, it’s really about weighing in the pros and cons and seeing how your business goals and corporate culture align with those of a given network.
Lawyer and bar associations have always provided for a good networking ecosystem. Interacting within the IBA or the AIJA, for instance, can be beneficial, but it requires resources. Same goes for trade associations. The bottom line is assessing whether referrals from such organizations bring more revenue than costs.
Thinking a bit outside the box, it may be worth it to engage with non-profits and other non-commercial entities. Besides doing community work, such collaborations can help you reach new audiences in a sleeker and less “salesy” way.
5. Legal directories
Legal directories are not a purely marketing tool. They depend on your firm’s overall client work and entail so much more than any of the previously mentioned marketing essentials. However, because legal directories are so instrumental for law firms, we can’t help but mention them as a pillar of legal marketing. Check out our previous pieces Intro to Legal Directories, 5 Ways to Improve Your Legal Directory Submissions and The New Chambers Profile Platform, to learn more about legal directories and how to make the most of them.
2.2 Social Media