Any partner will tell you their people is their firm’s most important asset. Clients, staff and the public are all sold legal services with permutations of ‘the best people, doing the best work, for the best clients’. Rockstar partners and their pet matters are trotted out for show at client beauty parades. Students at recruitment events are told that the firm’s people mean an “amazing culture” and “day one responsibility”. All firms – supposedly – are the best.
Here are our 3 suggestions as to how your firm’s marking strategy can improve. Part 1, which explains the background to this article, can be accessed here.
1. Talk up technology
I accept lawyers have an unusual relationship with technology. Most are confused by it. And all despise those inevitable IT difficulties and document crashes. But clients love it. Especially when it can save them money. I think all lawyers will find a way to love technology if it means winning more profitable work.
Marketing copy along the lines of ‘our technology-first approach means we can deliver this matter for 30% less than our competitors, hire us’ is vastly more compelling than ‘we have the best people, with the best experience, hire us’. Once your competitors actively promote themselves in a way like legal disruptors LegalVision, Lawyers on Demand and Complify do, how would your firm demonstrate value?
The Digital Lawyer has already featured many firms demonstrating how their adoption of technology is giving them a competitive advantage. Click through to read our features on Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Gilbert + Tobin, King & Wood Mallesons, Norton Rose Fulbright, DLA Piper, Hall & Wilcox, Hive Legal, Slaughter & May, Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Simmons & Simmons and Pinsent Masons, Bird & Bird, Ashurst, DLA Piper, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
2. Thought leadership
Many firms do a fantastic job of producing client updates about new legislation or cases. Unfortunately, so many firms produce exactly the same content. And it’s nearly always aimed at exactly the same client base. Whatever originality your content contains, I can guarantee it will be lost as more firms publish on the topic – especially when they ‘borrow’ the best bits from other firms’ updates.
Your updates need to stand out. Legal marketers extol ‘thinking pieces’ as the best way of building client engagement. I agree. But firms frequently fail to deliver pieces which demonstrate any real aspect of thought leadership. Many try to delegate business development to junior lawyers. Juniors can write excellent client updates. But real thought leadership takes a significant investment of time by experienced partners. Allens’ Unravelled series is an excellent example of thought leadership done uniquely well. Read one and you’ll see the enormous contribution of senior lawyers to making such a publication possible.
For those unable (or unwilling) to replicate the punchy style of Unravelled, here are a few ideas for helping your thought leadership rise above the background-noise of legal updates:
- Write about the future of the legal profession – and what your firm is doing to adapt. We’ve reviewed a number of books on the Future of the Legal Profession, Technology Tips for Lawyers, Artificial Intelligence and Technology and Business to help you get started.
- Report on overseas legal developments with a view to predicting domestic policy reforms. For example, a comparative approach to financial regulation in the US, UK, Singapore or Hong Kong might be useful content for making analogies with Australia.
- Engage with your clients to assist you in preparing a submission to government/law reform consultations within your specialty. Writing a submission and contributing to industry working groups is a vastly more sophisticated approach to legal marketing than simply preparing a client update on the fact the consultation is occurring.
3. Junior lawyers – your social media brand ambassadors
A view still prevalent in many firms is that junior lawyers should be seen and not heard. Fortunately, this view – much like the adage applying to children – is slowly falling out of favour.
Most firms struggle with social media. As millennial lawyers – part of the most technologically savvy generation ever – come through firm graduate programs, there’s enormous opportunity to leverage the extensive social networks of junior lawyers to further extend your firm’s marketing reach.
A simple (and uncontroversial) retweet or share will generate valuable marketing impressions for no additional cost. While there are plenty of issues to consider, many of which we've considered previously, there’s a largely untapped audience for your firm’s marketing content.
While lawyers might only just be discovering to content-driven marketing, there’s a wealth of resources for interested lawyers:
- Tim Prizeman, The Thought Leadership Manual, How to Grab Your Clients’ Attention with Powerful Ideas, 2015
- Ann Handley and Vahe Habeshian, Everybody Writes: Your Go-to-Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, 2014
- Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, 2014
- Joe Pulizzi, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter & Win More Customers by Marketing Less, 2013
- Meghan Casey, The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right, 2015
- Ann Rockley and Charles Cooper, Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy, 2012
The Digital Lawyer specialises in drafting compelling thought leadership, current awareness articles and website copy to showcase your firm’s adoption of legal technologies. Contact us to learn more.