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Posted by Nick Salloway on 10 May 2016

Find out how your Legal firm can use digital marketing to your best advantage

I bumped into a solicitor friend of mine recently. She had just been made a partner and we were chatting about the extra pressure she could expect as a result of her new position in the law firm. It was clear the thought was a daunting prospect. She told me, “I’m just not clear where to start, the sector seems swamped with competitors and it’s getting harder to stand out from the crowd?” Sound familiar?

In 2007/08 business was hit hard by the global financial crisis and law firms were no exception. Uniquely, however, business development in the sector was hit with a double-whammy in the form of the Legal Services Act 2007, which “Seeks to liberalise and regulate the market for legal services in England and Wales, to encourage more competition”.

At a stroke, the legal market was opened up to a raft of, non-legal, brands who could exploit their already established brand names and reputation. Marketing legal services just got a whole lot harder, and business development in the legal sector became increasingly problematic.

A single example of the scale and impact of this increased competition is demonstrated by the dramatic rise in fortunes upon entering the market of Co-operative Legal Services, a licensed body formed in 2006 with the express purpose of taking advantage of the newly opened legal market. Marketing only unreserved legal services in employment and will writing, “The company had a reported turnover of £20m” by 2010, putting it in the top 5% of law firms, by turnover (LSB Report-Market Impacts of the LSA 2007). Maybe my newly promoted solicitor friend really does have something to worry about.

So, is it all over for law firms? Is it time to consider a career change? Is your law firm doomed? Well, I don’t think so. In fact, I believe there are significant opportunities to;

  • Clearly differentiate your product and service offering
  • Improve the quality and quantity of business you attract
  • Become more focused on the ‘right’ client for your firm
  • Delight and nurture current and prospective clients, making them active advocates for your firm
  • Significantly improve the effectiveness of your marketing spend
  • Improve recruitment and retention of key staff, by demonstrating that you are a modern, thriving, ambitious firm

 One of the more positive changes to have taken place, and that could help ambitious legal firms, particularly, to fight back against the competition, is the rise in importance and effectiveness of digital and social marketing strategies; I stress ‘particularly for law firms’ because despite more than 80% of firms seeing “A clear digital strategy as critical for the future”, only 23% of the respondents had actually done anything about it (2015 PwC Law Firms Survey).

So there is a clear disconnect between ambitions and actions, which means there’s a clear opportunity, for savvy law firms, to establish a lead over the laggards, i.e. your competitors.

In its practice notes on the subject of the use of digital marketing for law firms, the Law Society concludes, “Social media is an increasingly popular and growing area. As such, it is important for the profession to keep up to date with developments in social media which present real opportunities if harnessed effectively”. Furthermore, they insightfully suggest that, “The growth of the use of social media by clients may result in a corresponding expectation that the legal profession should also embrace it as part of its working practices”. The specific advice regarding, ‘the growth in use of social media by clients’, is highly significant, and should be a major driver in your decision to build an effective digital marketing element into your overall business objectives.

Our experience in this area demonstrates the value in improving communications with existing and prospective new clients. They value and appreciate the online-content you provide them and also the freedom to choose how, when and where they can access it. Whether it’s a blog, a responsive website, or strong (and relevant to them) social media communications, it creates trust with today’s purchasers of legal services significantly more effectively than any ‘old-fashioned’, intrusive, irrelevant traditional advertising ever did.

How do you get started?

To help, we've put together some basic first-steps that will get you up and running with digital marketing for your law firm, putting you on the path to significantly helping your law firm stand out online;

  1. Decide, in detail, what your ideal client looks like and, importantly what is important to them when engaging a legal firm. What solutions to their real problems do you solve?  Carry out research with existing clients to help in the process.
Based on this research, create useful, interesting, informative content that contains relevant keywords and gets your marketing message across in a conversational way, with no legal jargon. Encourage two-way conversations with existing and new clients. Consider using a variety of content types, including video, images, infographics, blogs and downloads.

  3. Decide where your great content is going to be seen. There are lots of platforms to choose from, such as; your website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc... - it’s important to get this content strategy right, so do ask for advice if you’re unsure.

  4. Monitor what people are saying about your content, which in reality means what they’re saying about your firm. This ‘listening’ will inform you about what customer’s really want, and help you engage further with them.

  5. Finally, find ways to encourage clients, new and existing, to engage more fully with you. Build and nurture your relationship with them. Encourage them to sign up for blogs, white-papers, possibly even basic legal advice online or through a chat facility.

So, far from the prospects in the crowded legal marketplace being bleak, I believe they’re really quite bright. Digital marketing, with a focus specifically on content marketing, and the increasing importance of social marketing, offer ambitious, open-minded, modern legal firms a significant business opportunity, and the ability to stand out from the crowd.

Don’t wait for this digital space to become overcrowded like the traditional market did. Take action now - you won't regret it!     

And if you have any thoughts about the points covered we’d love to hear them in the comments below. Or drop us a line if you would like to chat further about how we can work with your law firm in creating an effective digital marketing strategy. 


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