Succeeding online – what lawyers want to know

Posted by Chris Davidson, a director of Legal Futures Associate Moore Legal Technology

Davidson: don’t be afraid to tell the world how great you are

We were delighted to be asked to form part of a panel of legal sector business development experts at the recent Law Society Civil Litigation Autumn Conference, tasked with delivering some practical tactics that law firms can employ to win more business from new and existing clients.

As if speaking to a room full of lawyers isn’t nerve-wracking enough, we were on immediately after Lord Justice Jackson and Kerry Underwood, senior partner at Underwoods Solicitors, both discussing fixed recoverable costs in detail. Two more accomplished public speakers you will not find.

Undaunted, we delivered ‘10 top tips’ for marketing a law firm in the digital age and then answered questions, which were similar to what we are always asked by prospective clients. Such as:

How can you stand out from the crowd of law firms on the high street with a limited marketing budget? Is it necessary to spend ‘big-bucks’ to make an impact?

Before you spend any money, it’s vital that you understand where your audience is and what the most effective channels for reaching them are. No matter what your budget is, you want to make sure that you are using it smartly.

For sure, depending on your area of practice and location(s), the level of budget required to gain and maintain online prominence can vary quite dramatically, but in our experience, smaller firms can compete with their larger, more illustrious neighbours for prime online real estate by spending smarter.

To help you do this, if you are looking to outsource marketing support, finding a provider that understands the business of law is key.

What’s the starting point? How do I get to grips with our firm’s marketing strategy to make a difference?

The key word here is strategy. It’s vital that you have in place a marketing strategy that is aligned with your overarching business objectives before you start spending any money.

At the outset of any new project, we carry out what we call a ‘vision meeting’ with the clients. During this, we discuss how the firm views itself in terms of brand, its value proposition, tone of voice, target audience, areas of practice to prioritise, how enquiries and sales pipeline are handled, etc.

This allows us to build a clear picture of the firm in question. The outcome of this meeting is a project ‘bible’, which includes a defined plan, measurable KPIs and reporting parameters.

So, to begin with, make sure you have a plan to follow and a measurement framework in place so you know whether your activity/spend is indeed making a difference.

Is social media worth the effort and, if so, how would you recommend using it and which media would you recommend using?

In our experience, the most effective use of social media within the legal sector comes from individual fee-earners who have a real passion for their specialism and use appropriate platforms to debate issues and share their knowledge in a non-salesy, non-marketing way. This can be a great way to build a personal brand and well also enhance the firm’s brand over time.

The ‘big three’ platforms are the most obvious places to have a presence: LinkedIn (particularly if you are a B2B lawyer), Twitter and Facebook. We have seen some positive results with paid social, particularly with LinkedIn and Facebook. These types of campaigns are quick to set up, reasonably cheap to implement and you will very quickly get a feel for whether it’s working for you or not.

What are the components of an effective website?

Your law firm’s website should be an effective business development tool and not just an aesthetically pleasing online brochure. As the internet becomes increasingly integral to our daily lives, your website needs to offer a certain level of sophistication in design and user experience that users expect from a website in 2017.

When developing your law firm’s website, some key considerations should include:

  • How your site presents to search from a technical SEO perspective;
  • Developing in-depth, authoritative content;
  • Including prominent trust indicators (such as legal directories or awards badges) and appropriate calls to action;
  • Ensuring that your site is viewed as a work in progress that requires ongoing care and attention;
  • Ensuring that the mobile experience is positive;
  • Choosing a content management system that is flexible and scalable and that will allow your site to develop with your business; and
  • Underpinning your site with a measurement framework that will allow you to make decisions based on data.

How much promotion is too much promotion? Or is there something better we should be doing to attract clients?

Our Dave Kerr recently published a blog on Legal Futures about how UK solicitors could learn a thing or two from the way US attorneys market themselves. It was for the most part tongue in cheek. We’re not for one moment suggesting that you create a video of yourself chasing an ambulance down a street filmed in the style of the original Adam West Batman series, for example.

However, being a risk-averse bunch, there is still a general reluctance to shout from the rooftops about what a great job you do for your clients.

The internet is a great place to develop new business opportunities. Of course it is, or we wouldn’t have a business. However, we also work hard to develop and maintain relationships with a UK-wide intermediary network, attend relevant events, look for PR opportunities etc.

So, again, it’s about understanding where your audience is, and being there to greet them.

But don’t be afraid to tell the world how great you are.

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