Law firms when considering their brand, design, marketing or technology often get off on the wrong foot! They identify the wrong problem!
There is little doubt that positioning and growing your law firm has become incredibly complex. So complex, law firms often come to us because they simply can’t see the forest for the trees! We prefer them in this position as opposed to being definitive in what they want because experience informs us that most times they’re wrong.
What! Lawyers are Wrong!
Yes! But it isn’t completely their fault. It’s hard to find a solution when the problem isn’t well understood and this lack of understanding simply derives from limited knowledge of what we do at Fast Firms in totality. In other words, a firm that is completely clear that the number one objective to better position and grow their practice will be a new website are dead-set wrong! In the early days of Fast Firms, we entertained any firm, as you do when you start a business, and those firms in those early days who demanded a website ready for the waiting masses of clients found that no-one came! Why? Because in of itself a website is a static medium out there in the ether that sure, when done well, will convert, but getting people to it, has and always will be the problem.
So, How Do We Better Understand the Problem?
Let’s look at it through the lens of how we work at Fast Firms. We demarcate 4 distinctive functions. Brand, Design, Marketing, Technology. These functions, of course, don’t work in isolation, they’re interconnected with each other.
So, What’s a Brand Problem?
A brand problem usually derives from a positioning problem. In other words, how your firm is currently positioned no longer accords with either those in the firm or everyone outside it (existing and potential clients). The former usually occurs when there is the exodus of managing or senior partners, or whoever holds significant influence. Those remaining, more than likely have become increasingly introspective about whether the firm was well hinged to grow, be it through leveraging new markets, technology or new business models and consequently, they’re ready to think repositioning!
The latter derives from market shifts! It can be anything from an influx of competitors, diminishing market share, low-price newcomers or an array of firms with unique and often, price-driven value propositions.
What’s a Design Problem?
Of course, a design problem can manifest from a brand problem, but it’s secondary! A design problem invariably is when the aesthetics of your touchpoints throughout the firm have become outdated, antiquated or no longer fit the positioning of the firm.
What we typically see is that key brand marks no longer personify the firm well or as the firm has evolved, its design collateral has become sprawled with little or no synergy between any of it. It’s commonplace with plenty of firms who grew and their design collateral just didn’t grow with them.
What is a Marketing Problem?
A marketing problem usually has symptoms of business slowing! It also needs to be considered in the context of the other problems above. Law firms typically will think their issue is a marketing problem, when in fact, its secondary to a brand problem.
Be that as it may, the best time to consider a marketing problem is when its not a problem, or should we say when business is good! All law firms, like all businesses, have ebbs and flows, but it’s during the flow when marketing should be considered.
It usually is solely a marketing problem when the firm has its brand and design nailed, but they just can’t get traffic. Traffic may be online, but also can be offline as well. Have there been any changes to BD processes or requirements in the firm that have slowed your lawyers pounding the pavement? In the context of online, has traffic to the website stalled, have conversions dropped, what was working and why isn’t it any longer?
Firms that are savvy watching their analytics and data sets generally, will have some clues as to where the leakage is. Those that aren’t, are completely lost. Both cohorts can if they’re not careful be stricken down with analysis paralysis, spending too long being introspective about the issue rather than iterating potential solutions. We say “iterating” because even the best marketing matures and delivers results over time, rarely is it “bang-on” in the early stages!
What is a Technology Problem?
This problem can be simple or incredibly complex to properly define. A firm wants a chatbot to nurture leads through to an appointment setting sequence! Simple! But what is the real problem the technology is trying to solve? In this case, the firm may have plenty of traffic and they want to test an assumption that a chatbot will lead to better conversions than the contact form on their website. Perfect! Problem defined!
But what we’re seeing is law firms in a state of hysteria, (ok that might be overstating it), but they’ve heard and read about the promise of AI, automation, chatbots, bitcoin etc and they’re feeling like they have to get to the party before it’s all over! So, their technology problem really isn’t a technology problem, but rather it’s one that derives from the syndrome commonly described as the “fear of missing out (FOMO).”
Technology problems that are in fact technology problems have a clear business case and they are linked to a primary problem. The firm says, “we have a problem of which technology has the solution.” Examples might be:
“We want to do lead management better than we are and a CRM may be the solution.”
“We want to automate workflows within the firm”
“We want to integrate our CRM with our practice management software”
Notwithstanding this, if the firm has a healthy appetite of technology adoption, it, of course, may also illuminate opportunities to reconsider brand, particularly from a client perspective if there is a now more provocative value proposition being entertained. It also may hint that there is a cultural change happening within the firm that perhaps can be better leveraged.
So, What Next?
Getting a better understanding of your problem will help with identifying the solutions. Sure, it’s likely you’ll need some help with a true diagnosis and at this end, we can help if need be. You, of course, can integrate some diagnostic tools for these problems that will further assist. That said, getting together for what we call, a “sprint” can be a good start!
What is a Sprint?
A Sprint is a set period of time of which we bring together relevant people to work through a design-thinking methodology to better understand the problem and most importantly, start iterating potential solutions. The latter is important because what we find is that law firms tend to be risk-averse and getting them to a place of trying potential solutions is the real hurdle, as well as the real opportunity.