Law firms have moved on from asking whether or not they should be marketing. They are marketing. Today, law firms have websites, blogs, social media pages, brochures, newsletters and more. Some even have formal logos and taglines.
But they're not all enjoying the success that they are seeking.
So, the question has changed from should I market my law firm to how can I better market my law firm?
As part of an ongoing exploration of the answer to this question, here is the second installment of our law firm marketing video series, . In this video, Garry J. Wise, of Wise Law Office, Wise Law Blog and SlawTips, asks about what's involved in professional marketing, from a lawyer's perspective. And he asks some good questions... goes with the territory of being a litigator I guess!
Here's a summary of some of key discussion points:
How do law firms figure out what their marketing message should be?
To develop truly compelling marketing messages, you need to understand your firm's strengths. Unfortunately, most law firms (and professional practices, generally) don't go beyond the superficial level with this exercise. In fact, if you look at what any five firms in the same area are saying about themselves, you will likely find that they are saying almost exactly the same thing. It's because their marketing messages are based on what they believe their clients want to hear.
Instead, an introspective marketing exercise that assesses the true character of a firm will leave you with a message that's more specific and authentic. The prospective client will know that they can trust you because there’s a consistency and depth with each experience they have with your firm.
I have clients that call me their business therapist because we go very deep with this process.
What about when partners have polar opposite personalities? How do you handle their firm's marketing messages?
This is controversial.
Some marketers believe law firms should just focus their marketing on the individuals and and their areas of practice. I believe that you will get more out of your marketing if there's a flagship message about the firm, something that ties it all together. Some of our clients do in fact have individuals that land at opposite ends of the spectrum, in terms of personality. But we always find that gold nugget - the reason why they chose to practice together - and it’s always a strong one.
Firm level messaging can also be supplemented with marketing that’s individual specific, especially when the individuals work in different areas of practice. This works as long as there is a consistent hierarchy to the firm's communication materials.
When not everyone is on board with taking a modern approach to marketing, how do you get everyone on the same page?
Law firms think of marketing as an outward exercise but that’s only half the battle, the other half is inward. Once you're clear on what you’re doing with your marketing, you need to launch it internally. The principals of the firm need to be clear about what's driving the process:
- What is the vision?
- Why are we doing this?
- What are our values?
- How is the marketing plan relevant to everyone in the room?
- What is the role each individual will play and why?
How well does traditional marketing translate to law firms?
Marketing professional practices is different than marketing packaged goods or other types of businesses. There are sensitivities and obligations to professional bodies, that need to be carried through to biographies, promises on website. This approach needs to be ingrained in those contributing to the marketing plan eg if anyone is going to be blogging, speaking or tweeting...
Depending on their culture, some firms will go beyond their professional obligations. Particularly in a Canadian context, marketing for law firms needs to shed a positive light on the firm and, beyond that, the profession.
Some of the resistance that lawyers have had, and continue to have, to marketing is that the content won't meet the same standards as the rest of the firm. But maybe that's just a good reason for working with professionals.
Related videos: 5 Things law firms need to know about marketing
- Sandra Bekhor, Toronto
President, Bekhor Management
Small to mid-sized law firms are invited to learn more about our Toronto-based, law firm marketing and legal business development services.