There is a lot of web chatter about the value of brands in legal services and there are ongoing attempts to build national legal brands, so it is clear that there is fairly widespread acceptance that there is some ‘brand value’ in law.
There is brand value in quite a few areas, of course. Think about the property agents you know, or the accountants. It is clear in an instant that there are some who carry more cachet than others – and that is a manifestation of their brand value.
There’s a bigger point here. When I asked you to think in the paragraph above, you thought about firms in your area, didn’t you? No surprise there. They are the ones you deal with, the ones people in your area know, the ones that have a ‘local brand’. They have influence and – crucially – are the organisations (and there are others, such as your chamber of trade, local schools, your major clients and so on) that have a whole sphere of influence that includes many potential clients and are local. Google has told us that 86% of searches for legal services carry a geographical search term.
You can grow your practice fast and stay local. You don’t need a national presence (except in niche markets)
Now imagine that you had access to their connections. How much good would that do for you? And them? Most of your clients do not use them, and vice versa. Their clients would be good clients for you and vice versa.
How do you get in front of them? This is really easy. There are a number of ways you can do this (such as content sharing, which, as I blogged last month , is hugely effective), but the easiest way is co-branding.
A simple example would be to agree that when you send out your next client e-newsletter, you put a banner in it from a firm and perhaps take some content from them. For example, if you do a commercial property newsletter, get a local property agent to contribute something on the state of the local market and a local accountant to contribute something on capital allowances on commercial property. Add their branding (even banners if you wish).
The quid pro quo is that you get the same rights and co-branding when they send a newsletter out.
It doesn’t have to be a co-op. If you have the technology, you can lend it to (say) a large client and send their e-newsletter with your co-branding. So you could distribute a newsletter for a golf club or school for free, adding your branding and some (non-advertorial) content as well.
The same principles work equally well in niche markets: we have several law firm clients pursuing this strategy. Just substitute ‘niche’ for ‘local’ – it works just as well.
You can do exactly the same things (content sharing/co-branding) with mobile websites. With the right technology, all of this takes only seconds to do.
The big benefit is that you are getting your brand in front of local people, benefiting from an association with a valued local brand.
Being seen in the right company builds confidence in your brand
The crucial plus is that most advice is bought locally. If you can build local presence and influence, you can grow your practice quickly and at minimal cost, far less than any SEO campaign.
The technology to do this exists and can be mastered and deployed in minutes and virtually runs itself. Get on it.
Here’s a real life example. We have a deal with Manchester Law Society to provide our content/social networking management, e-newsletter generator and mobile site generator, and they’ll be using it to send approximately 120,000 enewsletters to their members in 2014. We get co-branding on the newsletters, website and mobile sites they build. They get advanced technology free and we’ll be spending nothing at all on advertising in the North West next year. (We’ll do the same for your law society if they ask).
Joe Reevy is the managing director of www.legalrss.co.uk  and has more than 30 years’ experience in marketing professional services at equity partner level.
Links http://uk.linkedin.com/in/joereevy