Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts: Why Law Firm Marketing Requires All Hands
Guest writer and ILFM Member Rewards Partner, Lara Squires from Consortium, gives us her take on why it takes a whole team to market a law firm
Marketing is all about driving opportunities for your firm to grow, but in many firms, it happens in a vacuum. Traditionally it’s something that only select support staff must work on, but like providing a great client experience, marketing works best when the whole firm is behind it. After all, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
A Consistent Voice
Branding is so much more than the logo on your stationery and your firm’s website. Your firm’s brand identity encompasses the entire client experience from seeing adverts in your local paper to engaging your services and beyond. When a fee earner engages with a client they are speaking for the firm, with the “brand’s voice”. A strong brand is created by consistent messaging that conveys your firm’s expertise, vision and culture at every point where a client or prospect could come into contact with it. This means that whether they are aware of it or not, your fee earners are participating in creating and maintaining your firm’s brand.
It's important then, to have the whole firm engaged in the firm’s marketing, not just select support staff. This means that the marketing and positioning will be aligned with the work and values of the firm’s solicitors. Fee-earners are after all, the core of the client experience, and therefore central to the firm’s reputation and its brand. It is their expertise that clients are buying into. When your marketing and your solicitors speak with different voices, clients can tell and you risk disillusioning them with your service.
By involving lawyers in content creation, event speaking, client outreach and other marketing activities, firms create cohesion between branding and delivery. Your team will bring critical perspectives to light that will shape your marketing strategy, so your firm speaks with an authentic voice. When lawyers inform branding, and marketing informs work, the brand grows stronger. Clients will recognise consistent expertise and identity. A powerful brand comes from the entire firm living and sharing its unique values and strengths.
Cross-selling Across Departments
When we talk about creating opportunities for growth a lot of people assume we mean reeling in new clients, but that’s not the whole picture. Your existing clients are great resources and converting them into repeat customers is often more cost-effective than winning totally new clients. Cross-selling is a great example of this, where you can do additional work for a client you already have. Say you have a client who’s just finished moving house, your firm might recommend to them that they need to have their will updated.
Marketers can aid your firm with cross-selling through Keep in Touch campaigns, newsletters and social campaigns (just to name a few) but if you encourage your fee earners to take some ownership of the marketing of the firm, they’ll be in a much more advantageous position to identify these opportunities. An email campaign to clients who have recently passed through your conveyancing department is one thing, but a personal note from your solicitor is another.
Bringing your firm together with a great marketing strategy, it builds key relationships between departments. A lawyer who understands their litigation partner's speciality in employment law is better equipped to refer clients who could benefit from those services. Active involvement in marketing helps forge these crucial connections, driving referrals and cross-selling revenue.
Expanding Referral Channels
Of course, referrals go beyond your team referring clients to one another. Lawyers who are actively participating in the firm’s marketing are building the firm’s brand and their own. There are a number of ways that you and your team can contribute; speaking at events, networking, publishing articles and participating in pitches are just a few.
Let’s say a member of your Estates team co-authors an article for your local paper with a member of your litigation department. They gain an understanding of each other’s work, and how they can support clients with problems relating to each other’s field of expertise. They can refer each other to clients who need their support. The article is also a touchpoint that makes a client more likely to recommend the firm. It has exposed areas of expertise that your clients might not have known the firm possessed and wowed them with your team’s breadth of knowledge. Your team members are brand ambassadors - prospects will want to work with lawyers who can demonstrate their skills.
Being a brand ambassador doesn’t just mean appealing to potential clients. Employees who are engaged are a huge asset for recruitment. In the same way that prospects check reviews, there’s nothing more powerful in convincing a potential recruit to join your firm than an authentic voice that can speak to the firm’s culture. Meeting a lawyer at a networking event who can speak about the exciting work they do and the great working environment at your firm can be enough to convince people away from their current employers.
Marketing that has the same impact costs a fortune. Encouraging your team to be engaged in championing the firm and amplifying your message to prospective talent is a must for successful recruitment campaigns. An energised legal team unified behind strategy and positioning creates a magnet for new hires.
Law firms that silo marketing make client retention unnecessarily difficult. Ongoing communication of the firm's latest work and capabilities needs to involve lawyers in order to be meaningful to existing clients. Your fee earners understand their clients and their expertise makes for great content – a mix that marketing can leverage to build meaningful relationships.
Consistent content written by your team on topics like new case outcomes, industry trends and innovation and development in the law keeps clients engaged. When clients see names, they know and trust (because your team are delivering a great client experience) speaking with authority on a subject it deepens trust and builds loyalty to your firm’s brand.
When your whole team are involved with the marketing strategy, they’re equipped with the knowledge to identify opportunities and sticking points for clients that marketing may have an impact on. They can note clients who should be removed from certain email campaigns due to their individual circumstances, for example.
Pulling in the same direction
At the end of the day, marketing is most effective when not solely the domain of a firm's designated marketing team. Lawyers are the heart of a law firm's brand, expertise, and relationships. To fully capitalise on the investment you make in marketing, your firm needs all hands to be pulling in the same direction – towards growth.
Lara Squires created Consortium (“more than marketing”) in 2013 to offer good quality, flexible marketing at an affordable price, having recognised that many firms do not have the budget for their own marketing person. Consortium offer ILFM Members and their law firms get a 10% discount on retained services, and access to their training video library for free. Click here for access to codes within our Member Rewards’ page.
A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Chartered Marketer, Lara has over 20 years of experience in the professional services sector. She is an experienced sales professional who is inspired by helping companies achieve their business goals.