Well, the good news is, there isn’t a magic bullet to marketing and advertising because if there were, everybody would be using it. Thusly, any “magic-bullet-marketing” tactic would cease to be magic because it would be commonplace. This fact brings us to the heart of what effective marketing and advertising mean for your law firm – the goal is to get noticed.
The bad news when it comes to choosing which marketing and advertising strategy is best for your law firm is, and I hear lawyers say this A LOT to their own clients, “it depends.”
As a former law firm marketing director, and now as a content strategist here at Consultwebs, I’ve experienced both sides of the legal marketing dilemma. Here are my five tips on building awareness for your law firm:
(1.) Discover what your brand is.
Everyone thinks they know what their law firm’s brand is, and I hate to tell you, you probably don’t. Your brand is not a logo. Your brand is not the slogans you came up with in a meeting with shareholders. Your brand isn’t based on your love of tigers, sharks, or bulldogs, and it isn’t what you “stand for.”
Your actual brand is defined by the client experience at your firm.
Your brand is what your clients say about your firm.
Every lawyer knows the importance of word-of-mouth referrals. Indeed, they are cited as the number one driver of new business.
However, very few lawyers do the necessary work to capture what those mouths are actually saying. Why did they refer you specifically? What was it about the experience at your firm in particular that made the referral feel necessary?
So the answer is easy – ask your clients what makes you special. You can use this handy survey we created for you.
And if you think gathering client insight and feedback is a waste of time because: a) clients don’t know good lawyering anyway, and/or b) other lawyers aren’t wasting time listening to their clients, you’re not alone.
Check out these polls our legal marketing podcast, LAWsome, asked of legal Twitter….
OK, so over 60% of lawyers polled are not asking for client feedback. This makes sense when you consider that the majority of lawyers don’t think clients know what “good lawyering” actually looks like.
So think about this:
If the majority of your clients don’t know what good lawyering is, how can “just doing good work” be the answer for increasing word-of-mouth referrals?
How could “good lawyering” be the cornerstone of your law firm’s brand, when clients don’t even know what that looks like?
The answer to this is simple – ask your clients what makes you unique, and that’s your brand. Your clients may not know what good lawyering is, but they know what good service is.
Collect information on firm experience and client perception, and build your brand off what attracted your current clients. You’ll be doing what your competitors aren’t, and thusly, you’ll be getting the client referrals that they are missing out on.
Once you have your brand defined from client experience, what do you do with it?
(2.) Use branding to create memorable and repeatable structures in the minds of your target audience.
Awareness isn’t something that happens overnight, although many digital marketing companies will sell you on the idea of quick, viral success. Say you do pay for traffic, you pay to get to the top of Google, what ad are you serving them? Is it unique to your firm? Does it stand out in a sea of distraction? Does it look like everyone else’s law firm ads?
The number one goal of advertising is to get noticed. But most lawyers and legal marketers think advertising is there to rationally explain why their law firm is the best. So they waste advertising resources on convincing audiences, rather than compelling them.
People are not waiting for an advertisement to show them the benefits of a product or service. They will do all their own research online. So the goal of advertising your law firm is to stand out, be noticed, and encapsulate, in a compelling and attention-grabbing fashion, the way your law firm delivers on its brand promise.
Apart from advertising, one great way to set your law firm apart from the competition online is to invest in Creative Assets for your website.
A video game about safe driving for your personal injury firm. A visually enhanced collection of highway safety statistics on trucking in you state. An interactive map of your city listing the locations of all the motor vehicle accidents by type. These are just a few of the creative assets we’ve launched for our law firm clients.
By providing unique and valuable experiences to users, creative assets draw an audience. More eyes on your law firm’s site means more brand awareness, more potential clients, and more authority for your firm. It separates your law firm from its competitors and helps establish your authority on a given topic. Your firm can become the “go-to” source for certain information.
So be bold. Be creative. And don’t look at your competition for inspiration. Awareness never came from being “industry standard.”
(3.) Be of the community, not blasting sales messages constantly toward it.
Awareness and trust of your law firm’s brand can come from good advertising, but then the hard work starts. How do you interact with your local community? Are you personable online? Does your social media reflect what makes your law firm experience unique? Are you bringing some humanity to your practice? Are you sharing staff anniversaries or celebrating milestones?
Awareness isn’t just about grabbing attention, it’s about holding on to it.
Once you have your audience’s attention, how can you hold on to it? How can you turn attention into a relationship?
This is the real key to successful legal marketing. It’s backed up by actual humans and it runs on people power, so it’s attractive to other people.
So when it comes to gaining awareness for your law firm: Be responsive, be personable, and be human.
(4.) Consistency is key.
Advertising and awareness is a game of repetition. In most marketing departments today, people want to move on to the next cool thing, they get tired of old colors, everyone wants a rebrand. But really, staying “up-to-date” and fresh and relevant is not the goal of advertising. The goal is to build and refresh memory structures to keep the brand in the heads of all potential buyers.
Think of all the classic taglines and ads that are in your head right now.
Got Milk? National Dairy Council has been going strong with this ad campaign for over 20 years.
Just Do It. Nike has been rolling with that since 1988.
Wheaties has been calling itself “The Breakfast of Champions” for 89 years.
The Cadbury Bunny Audition Commercial. They are still running that Cadbury Bunny audition TV spot, where all the different animals want to be the bunny. It’s not HD. The sound is bad. But Cadbury knows it’s more than an ad. The spot is a part of people’s lives, it means Easter, it means something to the audience, and more importantly, it means sales.
The secret to these successful branding elements is not that they are amazing, genius, untouchable manna from marketing heaven. No. It’s that these brands know repetition is the key to building awareness.
Chances are you’re tired of your ads. You’re tired of your marketing. You think it’s old and drab and uninspiring. But the truth is … you’ve seen it a million times and most of your potential clients haven’t even seen it once.
Don’t count chickens before they hatch – advertising, establishing a memorable brand, and bringing lasting awareness to your firm takes time, and it’s always worth it. Growing a brand is a marathon, not a race. And what do you think your law firm competitors think?
(5.) Measure what can be measured, and accept what can’t.
It’s a hard truth in the advertising and marketing world that sometimes the ROI is not 100% clear. Raising awareness for your firm may include advertising, organic posts, marketing, social outreach, podcasts, networking, tweets, staff meetings, surveys, videos, newsletters, strategies, campaigns, seminars, and significant investments of time, money, sweat, and tears.
So what’s the ROI on all that?
Shouldn’t you be able to draw a clear line from marketing efforts to revenue? And if you can’t, doesn’t that mean it doesn’t work?
Charles Gaudet, from Predictable Profits, has a wonderful video in which he explains that solid marketing strategies contain 80% measurable activities, (things that are direct response, strong CTAs, trackable, and scalable) and 20% non-measurable activities, (things that ensure awareness, strengthen relationships, or help to establish your brand over time).
Measuring marketing’s effectiveness is an essential aspect of success, but knowing what to measure, and what can’t be measured, is the secret to staying in the game.
Increase your law firm’s brand awareness: In conclusion
Law firms need to know that awareness for their firms is not an overnight flight of fancy.
You need to research the client experience at your firm and define your law firm’s brand through the lens of client experience. You need to build and create memorable brand assets that are unique and stand out. Your brand messaging needs to feel human and natural and supportive of your community. You need to recognize repetition is the key to raising awareness and commit to effective frequency in every ad campaign. Finally, you need to know which marketing activities are measurable and which are non-measurable.
If you can apply these tips at your law firm, you will be light-years ahead of your competitors and well on your way to growing a successful practice and establishing your law firm’s brand.
About the author
Tanner Jones frequently shares his insights on online marketing with the legal community. In addition to serving as a regular speaker at PILMMA and M&L conferences held throughout the country, he has spoken at the Attorney Breakfast Club (Miami-Dade Chapter and Broward County Chapter) and co-hosted webinars with Avvo, LawMarketing.com Editor-in-Chief Cindy Greenway and Raleigh attorney/PILMMA founder Ken Hardison. He also has been featured numerous times in Lawyers Weekly newspapers as well as Attorney at Law Magazine. Tanner is regular contributor to the Consultwebs online legal marketing blog. A native of Waynesville, North Carolina, Tanner earned a degree in Business Management (with a minor in Economics) from Berea College in 2008. He recently moved back to the mountains of North Carolina with his wife, daughter and son and enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, golfing and playing “any other competitive sport available” in his free time. Learn more about Tanner Jones here. Want more content on law firm marketing? Sign up for the Consultwebs newsletter, follow them on social media, and subscribe to the LAWsome Podcast.