We know this challenge so well. There is a massive shift outside your firm but the leadership team inside aren’t looking or lack the impetus to do something about it.
If you’re working in a law firm that is somewhat antiquated when it comes to brand, design, marketing and technology and you’re having no luck getting the topic on the agenda, don’t sweat, as in our experience you’re not alone.
Law firms typically are conservative. Their conservatism derives from the fact that the professional services industry historically has never had to consider itself through the lens of potential clients in a way that other industries have. In other words, awareness of your firm largely was predicated on doing good work, being physically visible in the community, particularly cultivating referral relationships and maybe, a splash in the newspaper every now and then, not to mention your ad in the yellow pages. It has of course changed. That’s not to say those ‘old-school’ ways no longer work, but rather potential clients can be influenced in so many new ways to reach out to your firm rather than a competitor.
So, What Do We Do About It?
Not to dwell on what your law firm needs to do, but rather, in the context of this article, let’s discuss some ways that we’ve seen work just to get the topic on the agenda at a partners meeting.
1. Know your objective.
In our experience in working with law firms for over the last 10 years, we have fielded plenty of calls from young partners who are wanting advice on where they start in engaging senior partners on the topic of marketing. The answer is, start very slowly and don’t be too ambitious with what you’re wanting sign-off on. Yes, we probably like you are fully abreast of the tectonic shift that is happening within the industry, coming from all directions, but it’s likely you’ll come to a full-stop if your proposition is too broad. In this context, start with something tangible, like your firm’s website. It’s more likely than not if your firm’s marketing has become staid, that your website needs help.
A new website is a great place to start to try and achieve traction. Because despite all the buzz of social, your website is fundamentally the most important marketing asset your firm has, and most importantly these days is not an online brochure.
Your law firm’s website if it’s to be effective derives from an understanding of your brand, how your firm is positioned in the market place, whether that positioning is true to where your firm is today and wants to be in the future, and it will open discussion about how you’re wanting to engage with potential clients. This is a covert way of getting to the real problem within your law firm. We talk a lot at Fast Firms about understanding the real problem and this article is a good start.
When discussion opens regarding a law firm’s website, invariably because it’s outward focussing, there will be plenty of talk about aesthetics, functionality, content etc. There’s a lot to the topic, and for this reason, having the leadership team in your firm to explore some of the possibilities is a great way to open other doors to topics that may require attention. However, be careful not to open Pandora’s box, because in our experience, it will become overwhelming and 6 months later nothing has progressed other than your frustration.
2. Small Wins
Quite apart from the necessary introspection about your law firm’s positioning a website discussion will draw, the likely consensus in a resistant legal practice group is the concession to do something. Grab the “something” promptly and consider it a small step towards something bigger. A small win simply may be to bring some core people within the firm to pull together some research to be later presented at the partners meeting.
3. Work with the Agency
Fundamentally important is that you work with an agency that understands both the broader objective and the small steps towards it. Obviously, we think we’re a great choice because all we do is work with law firms and we’re well aware of these nuances within a legal practice and how to work with it. But, that said, if you want to go it alone, or you’re not the right fit for us, clue the agency up on the dynamics. Because invariably for the agency if there is resistance it will permeate every step of the way, and getting sign-off for each design phase can be a real saga. Ensuring your agency has worked with law firms and can support the approach with relevant case studies will help.
4. Stay on Track
Depending on how hard the journey has been to get the website up, you may be inclined to not upset the apple cart any further. This is why it’s important that you have others that are onside with the broader objective and can assist in keeping the show on the road. If you have enough buy-in to instigate a law firm marketing strategy session, then it should galvanise key members and from there, the agency themselves may do the requisite follow up to keep it moving.
5. Congratulate Yourself
Regardless of the outcome, good on you for trying to get all this on the agenda. Sometimes a law firm is too stuck and despite the best efforts you can’t extricate some people from the “old ways of doing things.” We recall working with a practice group, facilitating a strategy session, got great buy-in by all, only to find that things came to a screaming halt for no apparent reason, at least to us. 3 years later when we visit their website, nothing has changed, they’re still antiquated, outranked by their competitors, lost market position and have ultimately positioned their practice in a perilous position. Sad to see!
What Your Law Firm Can Do Next?
If you think your law firm is at a point where there is an opportunity to discuss marketing, reach out to us for a chat!