Are marketing myths holding law firms back from making a bigger and better impact with their websites, social media and brands, generally? To answer that question, let’s take a look at seven, fundamental misconceptions and debunk them, one at a time:
#1. Fit in and you’ll be safe.
Many law firms fall into the trap of thinking that if their marketing approach basically resembles what others are up to, they’re probably safe. Not true. While you might not get noticed for doing anything really bad. You also won’t get noticed for doing anything really good. The problem is that marketing is about being memorable, which necessarily involves doing something different. So, maybe it’s counterintuitive. But taking a chance is… safer.
#2. Data is insight.
It’s become more commonplace for law firms to collect data to measure the success of their marketing campaigns. In principle, that’s a great discipline. The danger comes when people trust their data, explicitly, without questioning its potential limitations.
For example, if you run a direct mail campaign that turns up little to no leads and conclude that direct mail isn’t a fit for your firm. It could be that direct mail is actually a brilliant fit, but there was a specific issue with how the campaign was executed somewhere along the way, from creative, to messaging and distribution.
Another example. If you think that the lion’s share of new business comes from offline referral sources you might be misled to focus future efforts on that avenue, when the drivers of your referral network were initially generated on LinkedIn. And so on. Data may be knowledge. But that knowledge doesn’t always give rise to clear insight.
#3. Content is content.
There’s a lot of pressure to produce content these days. A lot. But, nevertheless, winning at SEO (Search Engine Optimization), isn’t just about having more material. So, offloading the development of web, blogging and social media content to whomever, just to get it done, doesn’t necessarily get you further ahead.
Ask yourself... Does this information help readers connect with our firm and people? Does it make visitors want to call and meet with our lawyers? Those answers are critical, not only, from a client’s perspective, but from an SEO perspective, as well. Google and other search engines are influenced by the stickiness of your content. Algorithms assess whether or not people read pages all the way down to the bottom, share on social and come back often. So, when people are engaged by content, it’s likely to perform better on search engines.
These findings don’t necessarily mean that you can’t have others assist with content development. But, if you do, all such efforts should be driven by an overarching strategy that ties to your practice goals, message and voice.
#4. Being everywhere is better.
Marketing can make people feel a bit like being back in high school. Everyone wants to keep up with the cool kids. Pinterest yesterday. Twitter today. And instagram tomorrow… But, such omnipresence can be a constant and never-ending drain on time and funds.
Furthermore, is that really the way to win?
When it comes to marketing, being everywhere isn’t actually better - Focus is. Whether it’s online or off, a more advantageous position is to pick a few vehicles that are a good fit for your firm (video, social, speaking, writing, networking…) and go far with them. Taking the time to develop a firm marketing plan allows for the opportunity to explore all available options at once, rather than getting cornered into ad hoc decisions throughout the year.
You could go a step further, even, and develop personal marketing plans to set all participating lawyers and staff up for success with their individual marketing efforts, in a manner that’s aligned and self reinforcing.
#5. Bigger firm, bigger spend.
Despite the fact that larger firms often cater to larger markets, it’s not the size of the firm that drives the marketing budget. It’s the complexity. So, if a law firm focuses on one core area of practice, less time and money would normally be required to reach its audience.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Highly competitive areas of practice tend to drive up marketing costs in specific niche markets. However, in such cases, there’s usually still a way to further set your firm apart and distinguish your target audience.
#6. Marketing isn’t branding.
While it’s true that there’s a division between marketing and branding, they’re not actually autonomous disciplines. If anything, every (consistent) move made on one front serves to underline the other.
The branding strategy, which includes the logo, tagline and communication strategy, establishes a foundation on which all marketing initiatives are developed.
The marketing strategy, which includes everything from the firm’s website, to events, articles, seminars and even down to the shortest of tweets, establishes continuity with concepts first expressed with the brand.
Sure, nuancing adds interest from campaign to campaign. Nevertheless, it’s not necessary, nor is it even helpful, to reinvent messaging and positioning, every time you sit down to develop a new program. The power of the marketing program is significantly strengthened when it stands for one clear idea, vision or value. Your brand.
#7. Marketing is administrative.
To say that marketing is administrative implies that it follows certain predetermined templates and systems. That is all fine, as long as the direction is defined at a strategic level, to tie all the firm’s marketing activities to its vision and business plan. How else can law firm leaders be expected to meet their practice goals?
While this article doesn’t (and couldn’t) run the gamut of law firm marketing myths, the point is that they exist. When seeking to improve results, law firm practice managers and principals would do well to consult with brand and marketing professionals, to better understand the types of changes that could make a real positive impact. In clearing away any possible misconceptions about why a campaign might not be performing, appropriate next steps immediately become clearer, as do the standards to evaluate results.
About the Author
Sandra Bekhor MBA, president of Bekhor Management, helps lawyers and other professionals build and enhance their practices, through marketing and management programs aligned with core strengths. Sandra has extensive experience helping small to mid-sized firms succeed in the modern marketplace. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.bekhor.ca
See Sandra on April 5th, taking your law practice where you want to go. This marketing seminar is part of the Enterprising Lawyer Series at The Canadian Bar Association (CBA)