The future of legal marketing

Posted by Andrew Cullwick, head of marketing at Legal Futures Associate First4Lawyers

Online marketing: you must be mobile friendly

Online marketing: you must be mobile friendly

Within the next five years the world’s largest law firm won’t have any lawyers.

Here’s why: Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba/Amazon, the most valuable/largest retailers, have no shops. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

Something interesting is happening. So is it within the realms of possibility that there will be no lawyers in the world’s largest law firm? Of course, this firm will not be providing the legal services itself, but it could have a huge grip on the market.

Over in America, Avvo, the leading online legal marketplace connecting consumers and lawyers, recently secured a $71.5m investment, taking the total finance it has raised to $132m. More than 225,000 lawyers from around the country now participate on Avvo and it generates more than 650,000 contacts for them every month – double that of a year ago.

The reality is the landscape continues to get more competitive and to succeed lawyers need to keep on lawyering and leave the marketing to the experts.

Digital marketing will become an ever more significant part of the marketing mix and despite the many advantages it brings, it also requires a more intensive approach to mastering the art and standing out.

We would, of course, suggest leaving the marketing to companies like First4Lawyers – but not simply out of self-interest but because our history has proven that a model based on good, old-fashioned co-operative values works. Through our strength in numbers, we turn a small firm’s marketing budget into a multi-million pound above-the-line, full channel marketing campaign.

Firms will need to decide if they have the resource and ability to compete with this or branch out into niche sectors.

So, what will the marketing look like?

Think mobile or forget about competing EVER AGAIN

The internet is now accessed more frequently from a mobile device than a laptop. So everything a firm does needs to be catered to mobile first. This not only means thinking about the look and feel being right for mobile devices, but also means thinking about how consumers use these devices to personalise the relationship and customer journey they have.

Think like a manufacturer

Good law firms and brands will behave like product companies and not like service companies. While legal firms aim to create a happy customer and look forward to future work, product companies thrive on innovation. So, for brands of the future, customer satisfaction and retention will not be enough. They will need to innovate more efficiently to create more value for their customers. However, great service will NEVER go out of style.

Get the data right

Personalised, data-driven marketing will become more refined. There is a difference between data-driven marketing and intrusive marketing. While the former is based on relationship building, the latter is nothing but old-school push marketing wrapped in a new cover. The difference between these two formats will become even more prominent in future. Marketeers who focus on relationship building will be rewarded, while intruders will be shut out.

Better tools are needed to make the best of data, and so more accurate metrics will surface. What most brands do in the name of measuring marketing success is look at hollow ‘vanity’ metrics such as likes, shares, or tweets. Even in terms of data mining, more sophisticated means to capture the right data are still being developed. The future will witness the rise of better analytical tools to help marketeers gauge the success of their campaigns. As such marketeers are demanding more end-to-end measurable campaigns.

Content is king

The internet has changed altogether the way consumers are interacting with brands, products or services. In order to stand out, firms will need the right sort of quality content to be seen as relevant to the customer experience.

Customer generated and video will continue to play a key role in the development of any marketing plan. Consumers want visual content that is easy to digest and understand. Therefore the speed with which firms can create fantastic content will be integral to the success of their marketing.

Video kills the TV star?

Despite reducing TV spend by about 30%, we’ve seen a 50% increase in enquiries from our TV adverts. This success has come off the back of big data but you cannot escape the fact that people are consuming media and content in ways other than just the box in the corner of the room.

Therefore firms cannot think of TV, video and online in isolation from each other. And they cannot just produce any old video and expect instant success.

It’s not social media – it’s the customer experience

Social media is treated very differently to all other channels. People seem obsessed in measuring how many likes, retweets or mentions they get.

Social media needs to be seen as an integrated part of the customer experience. It is a way of communicating with prospective clients about what a firm does, delivering them the experience of the business and following up on feedback or complaints.

It’s then a route to using customers to become advocates about the organisation and brand.

Equally, within five years how many firms will actually ever meet or speak in person to a client? Social media channels will take over.

And for all those firms that go, “I’m a law firm we don’t operate like that”, be prepared to say: “Oh. Why don’t we have any customers anymore?”

Marketing will no longer exist!

Pass the P45s? Business has not reached that stage yet, but the marketing department that is still thinking about marketing in isolation, is doomed.

Marketing in its old-fashioned format is dead. Gone are the days the advertising department/agency came up with the creative, the marketing team/agency came up with the campaigns and the PR department/agency wooed the press.

The marketing department should be called the customer experience department and it should be have representation from all areas of a business. This is because it should be the marketing department, not the people in IT, who are working out what innovation is best for customers.

The marketing department should be working hand in hand with the operations team to ensure that customers are receiving the right brand experience. The marketing department should be working with finance to drive the right investments for the future of the business. The marketing department should be working with training to ensure the right message is being delivered to customers.

Brand is more than logo – it is about the entire customer experience. Someone needs to take ownership of it.

This blog was extracted from the First4Lawyers white paper, Speading the word – The changing face of personal injury marketing. Read the key findings here, while a link to full report is the bottom of this page

    Readers Comments

  • Tim Bishop, Bonallack & Bishop says:

    There’s some really good stuff in here, but some of it is pure hyperbole. For example, “within five years how many firms will actually ever meet or speak in person to a client? Social media channels will take over.” Really?

    That kind of wild speculation undermines the author’s credibility. Firstly social media is highly overrated when it comes to law firm marketing. Secondly, even if you believe that social media is at the heart of future law firm service delivery, replacing face-to-face contact in this way is not going to happen within five years. Both providers and consumers (ie law firms and clients) are remarkably both slow adopters. Finally, for the foreseeable future, if the high street law firm is going to survive, it’s not by providing mechanistic or call centre style legal service. It’s by going back to basics and providing a premium quality service at a premium quality price, which involves face-to-face meetings and direct interaction – not Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc

  • Kerry Wilson says:

    The legal fraternity is service driven and innovation is relatively new.

    It seems the customer experience has come full circle and reinvented itself in many industries. I suppose if we box clever we will avoid the mistakes and hit the right balance between innovation and service.

    Banking in particular shows a clear example where the tellers became unavailable in some organisations and customers voted with their feet changing banks once they were presented with marketing aimed at them seeing a friendly face again

    It seems to me that there will have to be diversity of marketing and servicing clientele depending on the age and area of consumer interest..

    Softer skills and meetings are a higher priority with vulnerable clients.

    Standardisation and innovation can fly in the commercial arena.

    Irrespective of age or area of law it seems we will have to cater our work, advice and availability for representation to a mobile device and the customers journey will have to be personalised to attract repeat business.

    Challenging times.

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