There used to be a time when the only legal marketing that law firms engaged in was word of mouth. Some of the most prestigious law firms considered their reputations to be the best marketing for attorneys. And alternative legal marketing tactics would never have been considered as part of a regimen for retaining or attracting new business. Yet, times have changed, as law offices have increasingly adopted various recent trends in marketing. Let’s take a look at some of these trends.
General marketing trends have been such that any organization looking to get an edge will hire marketing specialists either internally, via a dedicated department, or externally, by hiring consultants. However, with respect to legal marketing, this division of labour is being taken to the next level.
According to a panel of legal marketing experts assembled by the American Bar Association, the marketing function within law firms contains an even more specific specialization. Some call it “sales,” others call it “business development.” Either way, law offices are working harder than ever to define their target markets and get their business — just like any other corporation or business.
It should be no surprise that even the legal profession, which is often associated with law books and oral arguments, is adopting the latest trends in marketing technology.
Specifically, and according to marketing strategist Graham Doggart, recent legal marketing trends include the recognition of mobile technology as a preferred method of clients seeking attorneys, as well as the use of third-party review sites to help attract legal clients.
According to Doggart, over 50 percent of new enquiries originate from mobile-only advertising, and prospective clients are seeking out websites such as Trustpilot to obtain credible recommendations for legal services.
As an offshoot of technology in legal marketing, voice searches are becoming the next big trend. Ever use Siri on your iPhone, Google Now on your Android device, or Cortana on a Windows platform? Well, according to Kirkpatrick Creative, while more businesses are using the latest in search engine optimization (SEO) for voice technologies, law offices are yet to get on board — which should present itself as an opportunity to get ahead of the curve.
As reported on slaw.com, Reilly Star, the public relations manager for international law firm Paul Hastings, believes that law firms are adopting the legal marketing trend of telling the world a good story when they have one. This is done by establishing yet another dedicated division within a law office’s marketing department, public relations, which establishes good relations with the media and is capable of getting a story out when needed. A video is a good way of doing that these days.
According to the Business of Law Blog, legal marketing expert Larry Bodine has isolated actual content as one of the next big legal marketing trends, as embodied in blogging, versus simply using search SEO, which Bodine believes is becoming less effective as search engines develop more sophisticated algorithms to weed out keyword-laden pages.
As a result, law firms are now displaying their expertise, obtaining new referrals, and attracting more clients through blogging. As importantly, getting this content out on social marketing will further enhance search-engine rankings and help establish legal-marketing reach.
Given the fact that many law offices now have their own dedicated marketing department/consultants, a recent trend in legal marketing involves getting the lawyers in the firm to better communicate with the marketers. This seems like some sound basic advice, doesn’t it?
It’s what Jonathan Fitzgarrald, managing partner at Equinox Strategy Partners, suggested at a conference held by the Legal Marketing Association. Tactics to help facilitate this coordination between marketers and lawyers include establishing an unofficial board of advisers to facilitate communication and build bridges, the absolute necessity of establishing marketing plans, keeping things simple by doing less things more intensely, and never starting out with a huge idea that’s bound to fail.
Bloomberg Law and the Legal Marketing Association did a survey asking attorneys and legal-marketing professionals about recent trends in marketing. Among the survey’s findings, it was found that more law offices are finding the need to shift the proper resources and support to their legal marketing professional services. As more law firms are making more use of these marketing services in new ways, the staff and resources need to be augmented, too.
As Heather Suttie, a legal marketing expert, sees it, law firms need to change their outlook towards legal marketing trends because their business models are changing, too. There is less of an emphasis on attracting legal talent, and more of an emphasis on focusing what most businesses focus on: sales and revenues. It’s this kind of growth that more law offices need to focus on, and their legal marketing services need to reflect this business reality.
Traditionally, law firms relied not only on the reputations of their law offices, but on the clout that individual lawyers had in the legal community. With increased competition, and declining revenue alternatives, more law firms are adopting legal marketing trends that focus on the company’s brand. For example, an increasing number of law firms are hiring image and brand consultants that tie their lawyers’ images to that of the firm as a whole.
As the saying goes, necessity is often the mother of invention. With respect to legal marketing trends, this means that more people within a law firm need to look at one another as being on the same team. So, as more law offices hire marketing personnel, they should be working in conjunction with the lawyers, instead of being seen as rivals within the law firm.
In the effort to remain competitive, law firms need to retain existing clients more than ever. With respect to recent legal marketing trends, this means becoming your clients’ indispensable law firm. Law offices do this by continuously researching and analyzing the clients’ needs so that when they need your services, you’re more than ready. Repeat business is far more likely with this kind of legal marketing approach.