The attorneys in your practice are more than knowledgeable; they are thought leaders in the legal field. So why not share their expertise, and market the practice in the process?
People actively seek legal information. Indeed, legal websites are highly popular, books offering legal advice sell well, and television shows like “Law & Order” have found new viewers in repeat syndication.
There is an audience of would-be clients waiting for information and insight from your experts.
As important, there is a community of fellow attorneys interested in exchanging ideas and sharing opportunities. This community serves as a potential audience for your experts, and a source of new clients.
Taking advantage of opportunities
There are numerous ways to connect with others.
Issue press releases. Each time something significant happens at the practice, issue a press release. “While there are no hard and fast rules, the most important factor is that you’ve got to make sure it’s newsworthy and useful to the reader,” says Scott Lorenz, president of Westwind Communications, a firm specializing in law practice public relations and marketing.
Reasons for a press release include a new attorney or legal professional joining the practice, awards or accolades an attorney has received, new practice offerings, new office location, and more. Assuming the news has value, spread the word.
And while you’re at it, make sure you distribute the press release widely. Use an online distribution network, like PRWeb or PRNewswire, but also send your news directly to local newspapers and information outlets. Doing so may result in an article about your practice.
Contribute an article to the local newspaper. A press release may get others to write your story, but don’t overlook offering one of your practice’s legal experts as an author. Choose a hot legal topic, one that an attorney from your practice has knowledge of and can provide commentary on, and approach the local newspaper about contributing an article on the topic. In lieu of payment for the article, ask that a photo of the author and his or her short bio appear with the piece.
Create a blog. A blog at your practice’s website that speaks to client legal concerns can serve as a valuable resource, while generating traffic to the site. It can be written by one or more of the practice’s legal experts.
Contribute to a website. Legal websites and general interest websites that cover legal topics are often seeking credentialed experts to share information. Conduct a search using Google and explore sites that might be a fit for the experts at your practice.
Become active on social media. By joining LinkedIn groups and participating in group discussions, attorneys can showcase their expertise. Encourage them to leverage LinkedIn to share information and ideas, build professional community, and, as a result, promote the practice.
Twitter also offers opportunities for sharing and image-building. Although the practice may already be tweeting, creating separate accounts for attorneys will call attention to these experts as individuals and help to position them as thought leaders.
Present at a webinar. Publishers, media companies, professional associations, and other organizations offer webinars to their members. Webinar presenters generally choose the topic, or at least have a say in the direction it will take. Because webinars tend to get heavily promoted, a presenter gets a lot of publicity. And of course the webinar itself provides exposure.
Speak at conferences. Sure, professional conferences allow for networking. But speaking at a conference provides the ultimate opportunity to be seen—and heard. Like webinars, conferences are heavily promoted, which means your legal expert’s name, photo, and bio will appear in marketing material. This, along with the presentation itself, can generate a great deal of interest.
“Conference speakers enjoy many benefits, including introductions to new colleagues which often result in new business,” says Anna Brekka, principal of Brekka Consulting, a B2B marketing and events planning firm.
Contribute to law journals and legal publications. It’s important to stay connected to the legal community, as colleagues are an excellent source of client referrals. When attorneys from your practice contribute to law journals and legal publications it brings notoriety to the practice, and keeps these experts top of mind in the legal community.
If one of your practice’s attorneys publishes in a prestigious journal or publication, you can build on this recognition by‑you guessed it‑issuing a press release.
Which raises an important point: None of these activities should take place in a vacuum. Issue a press release to announce an upcoming webinar or conference presentation. After the event, use social media to link to the archived presentation. Similarly, link to a published article within a blog post.
Find ways to use as many available outlets as possible to create buzz with attention to the main message: Your practice has dynamic legal experts who are thought leaders. Make people take notice and watch the practice grow.
Most business law firms try to differentiate themselves on client benefits that do not differentiate them from the competition. “Positioning” law firms is therefore not the most succesful strategy in the current landscape. Law firms are starting to see the need for branding efforts, although most law firms are locked into a “house of brands” strategy rather than a “branded house” strategy. The author enumerates why more efforts should go to branding law firms through media exposure.
Many managing partners at business law firms today are faced with the difficult question of how to market their firm effectively. After all, most top tier firms offer the same range of services, at more or less the same internationally accepted price points. The in house talent is perceived as superior to that of competing law firms, but then again marketing is not always about delivering superior quality. It is about convincing prospects and clients of the superior quality that is on offer.
On top of that, the business law firm market has been in a state of constant turmoil over the last two decades. Partners have moved in and out of firms, started new firms with old rivals, merged firms with up and coming players. One could forgive clients who think that there shouldn’t be too much different between law firms.
Unfortunately they would be strengthened in this belief when taking a look at the majority of the marketing communication of business law firms. Most, if not all of them try to differentiate themselves on these client benefits (opzoeken):
“technical” know how
The overall tone of lawyer marketing communication, either as a result of a clear strategy or the lack of a real strategy, is subdued and careful, as if the foremost principle guiding the communication was: thou shalt not offend.
Sadly little or no differentiation is actually taking place. For the prospect, all these firms look alike. Choosing a law firm (or, on the other end of the spectrum, promoting the law firm) becomes a game of networking, of knowing the right players. In the end, it may happen that a large corporation chooses Firm A for their litigation, Firm B for a merger deal and yet another Firm C for handling their IP.
For the managing partner interested in cross selling services of different departments, this is the fundamental dilemma he is faced with. On the one hand, he wishes all of his partners to enjoy an excellent reputation as a lawyer and a healthy dose of commercial flair. On the other hand, he can feel the vulnerability of the firm in having to rely on the reputation of individuals. Individuals who might decide to join another firm, or start their own firm.
The effects of this lack of clear positioning has far reaching effects on the other type of “clients” that law firms depend on for their sustainability: recruits. A young lawyer will choose a firm on the basis of his specialty, and the name of an individual partner who enjoys a solid reputation in this chosen specialty. Again, the firm is vulnerable here. It will prove impossible to retain top talent if young recruits choose to work for a particular partner rather than a firm, a “brand”.
A name, sign or symbol used to identify items or services of the seller(s) and to differentiate them from goods of competitors. (Dictionary of business and management)
In recent years, law firms have begun to understand the need for branding, hence the arrival of the “fantasy” name in law circles like Altius, Elegis, Eubelius and more recently, Lydian. Unfortunately, having a brand is not the same as having brand equity (“a measure of the influence that a brand exerts on the buying behaviour of customers”).
Law firms are still, for the most part, “houses of brands” instead of a “branded houses”. The archetypical house of brands in consumer markets is Procter&Gamble. P&G is relatively unknown to supermarket shoppers, but currently holds 24 billion dollar brands like Tide, Duracell, Gilette, Vicks, Pampers, Pantene etc. No consumer chooses Pampers based on the fact that it is a Procter&Gamble brand. Few consumers even realise that by buying Gilette and Pampers, they are actually buying products from the same company.
Opposed to this is the so called “branded house”, which chooses to sell all its products under the same name, like Nivea. It sells shaving cream, skin lotion, sunscreen, etc. Here, shoppers do choose Nivea products because of the Nivea brand, which has succesfully positioned itself to signify ‘skin care’.
In Belgian law firms, the predominant model is still that of the house of brands, where partners attract clients based on their individual reputation. The name of the firm is of little or no importance to the client.
Partly, this strategy is understandable and even unavoidable: the “house of brands” strategy is especially useful when trying to dominate niche segments of the market, especially in a market as specialised as lawyering. A partner’s name might well be a ‘billion dollar brand’ in his chosen specialty.
But for the managing partner interested in cross selling and in making the tide rise for all the ships, there is a clear need to move towards more of a “branded house” position. This need not be disadvantageous for the individual partners. Consider: a strong niche specialty will, when handled correctly, translate into a stronger firm name or brand. A stronger brand, will attract top talent and retain them better. This in turn will strengthen the other departments. For a successful law firm, a common ground will have to be found between the “branded house” strategy and the “house of brands” strategy. The question is: how?
One area that is consistently overlooked in the branding efforts of many firms: consistent, strategically embedded media exposure. Sometimes because lawyers are suspicious of journalists or media. Sometimes because they don’t know how to approach media. Sometimes because they misunderstand the needs of media outlets: a ‘radical’ ruling by a judge is met with indifference, while a legal triviality can suddenly appear in bold uppercases on the front pages of newspapers.
And yet it is the experience of the author that media exposure is probably one of the most cost effective means of branding a law firm currently available. Due to the nature of the law firm, it is also ideally suited to make regular appearances in the business and financial press.
Lawyers are experts. Law is difficult, and it changes often. Journalists have too much work to understand and digest all changes themselves – few journalists have a law degree. They need a reliable guide. In return, they will give the guide exposure. They will also invariably mention the firm brand. This status as “expert” will empower both the partner who is mentioned, and the firm. The “expert” status will attract new clients and convince recruits to apply for a position at your firm.
Law firms are confronted with the public interest on a daily basis. Law is (mostly) made on the basis of policy choices, and policy is made for the public interest, “the greater good”. In a way, everytime a lawyer gets involved, some principle of the legal system, the democracy, is being put to a miniature ‘stress test’. The lawyer is in the unique position of seeing our system probed continually for weaknesses and fault lines. These are also matters that the media are naturally interested in.
This does not in any way mean that the firm brand must become a synonym for controversy and conflict. Rather, what should be highlighted in media communication is the ability of lawyers to rise above the “stress test” and make rational and reasonable assessments of the problem, to propose avenues for resolving common types of problems.
This can easily be done because law firms are, above all, centers of learning and expertise. As we said, the goal for the managing partner is to have as many of his partners considered experts by leading journalists. That way, the firm is continually in the news.
CASE: In one case, the author worked together with a lawyer who had done extensive research on rulings in matters of automobile concessions. An article was written and released to coincide with a large automobile trade show. Result: the article was not only picked up by a business newspaper, but the firm was mentioned on the front page. Media exposure is about knowing what to tell, how to tell it, and when to tell it.
Law firms are divided into departments, and so are media. This provides a tactical advantage to the law firm. The fact that a HR lawyer of Firm A appeared in the jobs section of a large business paper, is not likely to dissuade a journalist specialised in mergers and acquisitions to call a lawyer of Firm A the same week to ask his or her opinion on a certain merger. For the media outlet, two specialists gave their opinion on two unrelated matters. For the managing partner, the firm brand was mentioned twice in one week in the same newspaper.
Credit: Kristien Vermoesen (http://www.finnpr.com/node/18)
Para uma boa estratégia de marketing digital é preciso pensar em conteúdo de qualidade. Ou seja, deixar seus textos, sites, títulos, publicações, imagens, links internos e externos com os termos adequados como palavra-chave. Identificar quais palavras que seu prospect pode usar ao procurar escritórios, práticas e profissionais e pensar também em sinônimos para os termos que vai usar. Apesar de ser uma tarefa difícil que exige dedicação, gera resultados positivos.
E quais as melhores práticas de SEO que melhoram a relevância do seu site?
Embora as palavras-chave ainda sejam importantes, é importante saber que o algoritmo agora se concentra na intenção do usuário, no significado contextual dos termos usados, na localização do usuário e no quão bem as citações de seu site estão vinculadas.
A intenção de um pesquisador das palavras-chave usadas em sua pesquisa no Google pode ser dividida em 3 significados básicos:
Por exemplo: O réu foi jogado aos leões no tribunal.
No sentido literal, o réu realmente foi jogado aos felinos selvagens. Figurativamente, isto significa que a testemunha foi massacrada na audiência. Usando isso como um exemplo, o Google não daria resultados onde uma pessoa está sendo comida por animais e provavelmente levaria as palavras para mostrar resultados ou exemplos de técnicas de exames cruzado. Isso é, mais do significado contextual da intenção do pesquisador.
Hoje, as melhores práticas de SEO usam indexação semântica latente (LSI), para que o Google possa exibir resultados de pesquisa que levem em conta a intenção e o significado contextual do pesquisador.
Concentrando-se na intenção do seu pesquisador, você começa a conhecer o seu público e a razão para a pesquisa. E ao integrar o significado contextual, você usa todas as palavras e termos para definir a intenção do usuário.
Marketing digital pode parecer complexo para advogados mas não pode ser descartado na criação uma estratégia de exposição.
* Fernando Nieto é consultor da Markle Comunicação e especialista em Marketing Jurídico.
Os consultores da Markle possuem mais de 10 anos de experiência em renomados escritórios de advocacia e estão aptos a prestar assistência para as bancas na organização de eventos internos e externos e na divulgação da participação dos advogados em eventos relevantes para os setores que atuam.
Para obter mais informações sobre marketing jurídico siga a página da Markle Comunicação e Marketing Jurídico no LinkedIn, acesse o nosso Blog e visite o site: http://www.markle.com.br.