Why Attorneys Need to Pay Attention to Branding
The digital marketing landscape is always changing. Tactics from years ago, like stuffing your site full of poor quality content and collecting shady links from link farms, are now good ways to get your site penalized in the rankings, if not blacklisted completely. In its quest to deliver the most accurate and relevant search results, Google frequently updates its algorithm (sometimes under a specific guise like Panda, Penguin, or Venice) to account for new factors it deems to be important.
One of the new factors that all attorneys need to be aware of is branding. When you imagine an online “brand,” you may immediately think of Amazon or even Google. However, your law firm is a brand in and of itself, and you need to treat it as such.
What Is Branding?
In an age where there are millions of optimized websites all competing against each other, Google has started to look for a more complete presence online, one not solely dependent on a website and general optimization. The days of launching a new website, gaining a few links, writing up a half-dozen pieces of content, and then waiting to get to the top of the search results are gone.
In order to be successful in any competitive industry nowadays, you need to build your online brand. Take your firm’s marketing seriously and build your name wherever you can. Google wants to see that you not only have a great website, but also that you are active on social media sites, uploading videos to YouTube or Vimeo, giving webinars, publishing PDFs and podcasts, and more.
Essentially, you should worry less about the number of backlinks to your site and instead focus more on diversifying your online presence, ensuring that potential clients can find you in various places on the digital landscape, and providing valuable information that they may want to share with others.
Why Is Google Focusing On Branding?
The shift from website-centric thinking to branding actually makes a great deal of sense. When you think of a brand in your local community (the oft-neglected “real world”), what do you think of? A store that merely exists and does nothing to promote itself, or a company that gets its name out in any way possible, always striving to reach new eyes and keep people thinking about its services at all times?
Google is attempting to replicate real-world marketing by focusing on branding. If your local donut store sponsors a 5K race, appears in the city newspaper, and runs a radio ad during a single month, odds are good that people are going to recognize the brand and think of its products frequently.
This is exactly what Google wants to see online. The most authentic, trusted, and reputable brands are going to be those that have a diverse presence across multiple platforms and that have excellent methods of content variety and distribution.
What Can Attorneys Do to Build Their Brands?
The best advice we can give attorneys regarding branding is this: don’t put all of your eggs into one basket. Don’t be the attorney that assumes he or she can build a new website, spend a couple of hundred dollars on basic search engine optimization, and magically bounce to the top of the search results in a year. It isn’t going to happen. The market is saturated with hundreds (or thousands) of lawyers in even mildly competitive areas, so you need to stand out.
Developing a great website is step one. However, don’t stop there. Develop your social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Ensure that you are set up on Google+ Local and build citations each month. Post relevant and interesting content (not just the written word, but also videos, infographics, and presentations) to your site and social profiles. Think about mobile users and whether your website is set up to handle their inquiries.
How To Brand Your Law Firm
Like any kind of marketing, there are right ways and wrong ways to establish a brand for your firm. Here are 3 branding tips that will market your business in all the right ways.
1. Own Your Brand
Successful branding singles out your law firm. In order for this to work, however, you need to make sure that your brand’s logo or motto are different from common branding images.
Legal logos such as law books or a courthouse have been used countless times by countless attorneys, and won’t connect your firm specifically to them. Using mottos such as “Exceptional client service,” or “We pay attention to detail,” also won’t work because such statements could be used by any business in any industry—and probably have been.
Your brand should help you stand out from the crowd; e.g. “Smith Law is San Diego’s DUI Defender.”
2. Be the First Or Best
So your law firm can’t claim that it’s the oldest firm in town, or has the most locations. You can still be first, or best, at something, and use that for branding.
Do you return client calls within 6 hours? Never keep clients waiting for more than 5 minutes beyond their scheduled meeting time? Was your firm the first in town to offer free Wi-Fi in your office? You can get creative here—especially if it’s something memorable.
3. Be True To Your Brand
A strong motto or logo will fail if it’s not backed up by matching behavior. You must meet the expectations of clients who associate your services with your brand. Whatever your brand represents, live up to that representation, or branding can actually hurt your business. If Smith Law is “San Diego’s Fastest Firm,” make sure you stay the fastest, or credibility, and clients, will be lost.
Underrated Attorney Marketing Tools: Elevator Speeches and Brand Statements
An elevator speech (also known as an elevator pitch) is a roughly 30- to 60-second blurb that describes an individual’s qualities, accomplishments, and goals. Similarly, a brand statement is a brief spiel that answers the query “What is your firm about?”
The Importance of These Two Attorney Marketing Tools
Traditionally used by salespeople and job seekers, the elevator speech has transformed into a powerful law firm branding tool for networking events, interviews and PR events, client presentations, and addressing the everyday “What do you do?” question. A law firm branding statement, meanwhile, represents your firm’s purpose, values, and accomplishments.
While both pieces may seem superfluous, they may be two of the most important tools in your attorney marketing arsenal. Why do people choose to work with you and your firm? Because they like you and the way you conduct business, and believe in your firm’s values, mission, reputation—all elements presented in good elevator speeches and brand statements.
Creating a Powerful Elevator Speech and Brand Statement in 5 Steps
- Think about your audience
Will you be using your elevator speech mostly with other attorneys and those familiar with the legal field, or for those outside of the industry? Are potential clients the ideal audience members for your brand statement? Like many attorney marketing pieces, audience determines the content when it comes to elevator speeches and brand statements. For instance, you’ll want to avoid legal jargon and opt for layman’s terms if “pitching” mostly to prospects.
- Write the first draft
For a good elevator speech, answer these questions:
- Who are you?
- What have you done? (Include any notable accomplishments)
- What are you striving to accomplish?
Brainstorm answers to these questions for your brand statement:
- What is the purpose and/or mission of your firm?
- What are your values?
- What has your practice done or what is it known for? (A firm could mention that it is the biggest personal injury firm in Dallas, for example.)
- What are you hoping to do for the audience you’re speaking to? (i.e., What problem are you hoping to solve?)
A good rule of thumb for your brand statement: gather input from your team about what they do every day, why, the group’s outstanding accomplishments, etc.
Edit out all the unnecessary material until you have two concise speeches that run about a minute long each. Reciting these out loud should not only assist with adjusting the time span, but also help you notice whether the content sounds awkward, too formal, or overly complicated.
- Craft the final draft and memorize
After much editing and maybe even testing the statements on others, hone final drafts and memorize your speeches so you can confidently recite them whenever necessary. Ask your team to do the same for the brand statement.
- Use these as a base
Rather than sounding like a robot, tailor your attorney marketing speeches live, weaving bits and pieces into a brief dialogue that specifically addresses a particular connection/prospect’s needs or interests.
Your website should represent your brand as well as your brand statement. We’ll customize one for you—contact us today!
The Power of Empathy in Legal Marketing
You want your law firm’s marketing communications to be powerful, catchy, evergreen… how about empathetic? That may not be high up on your list, but empathy can actually be incredibly effective when implemented correctly within your legal marketing strategy and client service processes.
Learn more below about the power of empathy in legal marketing, and uncover 4 ways to make your legal marketing more relatable and successful.
Empathetic Legal Marketing Taps into Core Emotional Needs
Flashy advertisements or catchy jingles may bring in some clients, but they are more of a ‘flash in the pan’ strategy than a steadily hot legal marketing plan. On the other hand, employing empathy in your marketing communications can:
- Lure in clients by making them think “Wow, Law Firm XYZ really understands me!”
- Demonstrate your law firm’s core values and mission
- Promote your services in a non-salesy way
- Help written and video content go viral
- Grow an online audience
That may sound surprising but it actually makes a lot of sense. After all, we know that even in situations that call for rational decision making, such as seeking medical or legal help, people make decisions based on emotions and use logic to justify their actions afterward. That’s why commercials like Thai Life’s “Unsung Hero” commercial is so powerful—it tugs at your heartstrings and makes you think of Thai Life as a company that truly cares about people, not a life insurance company that wants to sell you a plan.
Employing empathetic marketing tactics for your law firm shows that you understand your prospects and clients. It can satisfy their core emotional needs and ensure that they feel personally connected to your brand—a strong bond that can make them truly loyal brand ambassadors and sources of business for years.
4 Ways to Make Your Legal Marketing More Empathetic
- Focus on them
All too often law firms center their legal marketing around selling their services. “How can we highlight our attorneys’ expertise?” “What should we say about our firm in our email newsletter?”
It’s fine to talk about your firm and of course, you want to showcase your services so potential clients know what types of legal issues you can help with, but too much of that type of ‘us-centric’ thinking moves the spotlight away from who you should really be focusing on: them.
For instance, rather than featuring copy on your bankruptcy law firm’s website that highlights how many attorneys you have on staff and how long you’ve been in business, explain that you understand the reader’s problems and want to help solve them. For example, “Are creditors threatening you? Is it impossible to pay your bills? Are debts keeping you up at night? We can help you get your life back.”
If readers think “Yes, that’s me! They understand!” then you’re on the right track.
- Gather a small focus group
Not sure where to start? Organize a small focus group of clients to gather feedback. Ask questions like:
- When you were researching law firms to consult, what were you feeling and thinking?
- What were your worries and fears?
- What was your first impression of our law firm? Why?
- What made you choose our law firm?
- Has your life changed since using our services? Please explain.
Even simple queries like the ones above can help you better understand your audience, internalize their fears, worries, needs, and wants, and adapt your legal marketing accordingly.
- Create a client journey map
A client journey map is a snapshot of your feelings, motivations, and goals throughout their entire journey with your firm, from the very first touchpoint to the close of their case and beyond.
It can help you understand your clients inside and out, recognize pain points and opportunities to wow clients, and brainstorm ways to increase conversion rates throughout various stages of the sales cycle. Read this article to learn how to create a client journey map today.
- Use empathetic language
When you’re responding to angry Yelp reviews, Facebook comments, or emails, a little empathetic language goes a long way. Phrases like “I understand how frustrating that is” acknowledge that person’s feelings and work toward finding a solution rather than turning the conversation into a volley of accusatory and defensive comments.
Find out what you’re doing wrong and how your firm can receive new, positive online reviews.
Get a free website and digital marketing evaluation today!
Emotional Branding and How It Can Revolutionize Your Law Firm
If you haven’t seen Personal Injury attorney Jamie Casino’s 2-minute YouTube video, check it out here. This video has been viewed over 5.5 million times, and has been heralded as “epic” by viewers and critics alike. Yes, it has a fist-pumping soundtrack and flashy editing, but what sets this legal marketing video apart from other marketing videos is the emotional connection it makes with the audience.
The most successful attorneys aren’t just selling legal services, they’re selling themselves—meaning, they’re selling an emotional connection between their firm and their clients. This form of marketing is called emotional branding, and it’s revolutionizing how law firms are marketing their services. If you’re unfamiliar with emotional branding, or how it works, let’s take a look. It could change your entire marketing approach for the best.
What is Emotional Branding?
Emotional branding refers to building a brand so that it appeals to a client’s emotions, needs, or aspirations.Emotional branding triggers a desired response for a product or service, as the advertising attached to said product or service elicits feelings of bonding, trust, and relatedness.
Why Is Emotional Branding Important to Law Firms?
Attorneys are not always perceived as the most personal of professionals. Emotional branding conveys that your firm thinks about people as people, rather than people as transactions. Your firm is more interested in making a personal connection than a billable sale. You would rather have a conversation with your clients, then to talk and rarely listen.
Emotional branding causes emotions in your clients, which causes connection. And connection is what establishes long-term business, client referrals, and other positive financial consequences.
How Is Emotional Branding Done?
Emotional branding is really all about storytelling. This is not to say you should fabricate stories about yourself or your law firm—in fact, this is what NOT to do. The kind of stories you need to convey are human interest stories; stories that will establish a connection with your clients on a real level. Take Jamie Casino’s video. Mr. Casino suffered a personal tragedy that changed his life and how he handles business, and with whom.
No matter your practice area, there is a reason why you do what you do, right? Why do you practice criminal defense instead of family law? Post content on your website and social media pages that tells the story of YOU, not just the legal services you provide. Done with sincerity and humility, emotional branding through storytelling is one of the most powerful marketing tools available.
Want to learn more about client engagement, social media tips and tricks, and other top-notch marketing strategies? Ask us! We’re here to help.
3 Ways to Craft a Compelling Lawyer Bio for Your Law Firm’s Website
Of all the pages on your website, which do you think is the most important and compelling to viewers? The blog page? The one containing contact information? Actually, it might be your lawyer bio page. An often overlooked aspect of law firm webpages compared to elements like testimonials or awards, a well-written and engaging lawyer bio feature can be the tipping point, transforming prospects into clients.
Check out the following suggestions for crafting a compelling lawyer bio, and apply this knowledge when taking a second look at the bio(s) featured on your law firm’s website and marketing pieces!
Integrate Your Brand Differentiators
The voice of your bio(s) should jive with your brand and represent what differentiates you from the crowd. If your criminal defense firm is one of a handful of major criminal defense practices in your local market, why should a prospective client choose you over your competitors? Whether you have the friendliest lawyers, an unbeatable record of success winning tough cases, or a reputation for clear and constant communication with clients, your biggest differentiator(s) should be integrated into the bios on your law firm’s website and print pieces in order to stand out!
Consider this sample bio that showcases the approachability of the firm’s attorneys: Michael isn’t just known for being the ultimate morning person around our firm, but also the resident coffee connoisseur. While sipping hot lattes, he manages to help clients get the justice they deserve after being injured on the job. In fact, Michael’s success spearheading some of our firm’s most high-profile workers’ compensation cases resulted in his promotion to Managing Partner in January 2015… not that it’s gone to his head. He’s still the first one in the office, enthusiastically making life better for clients before the rest of the city has had their first cup of joe.
Choose Your Voice and Keep it Consistent
Although the tone of the bio above might be a bit too informal for your firm, it could be perfect if your firm is known as a friendly, local boutique. The point is that the descriptions featured on your law firm’s website and marketing pieces should accurately represent your brand. If you’re a larger firm whose clients include prestigious businesses or high-profile clients, for example, you may want to steer clear of sounding too friendly. However, don’t be afraid to liven up your bios while accurately representing your firm’s unique brand and attitude; readers want to be engaged!
One last piece of advice: the tone and style of a bio featured on your law firm’s website should be consistent throughout, and also remain steady from bio to bio if you’re featuring multiple on your website. Piecemeal write-ups with jarring transitions or individual bios that don’t sound like the rest of the group can quickly lose a reader’s attention.
Include a Photo
While text can be descriptive and effective, people more easily recall images, so be sure to include a photo alongside your bio. Additionally, a high resolution photo can instantly set a good impression.
What Team Engagement Can Do For Your Law Firm Branding and Online Law Firm Marketing
When you walk into the office, do you feel the crackle of energy and comradery or a heavy cloud of fatigue and dissatisfaction? If your attorney team isn’t engaged on the job, it’s going to be obvious not only to you, but to your clients as well… which doesn’t bode well for the practice’s reputation or marketability.
This is what building team engagement can do for your brand and online law firm marketing.
1. Employees will rally around a unified vision
Let’s say that the partners of personal injury firm ABC started the practice with the aim of helping injured people with limited access to legal assistance. They hired attorneys that were passionate about fulfilling this vision and created an engaging workplace culture at the firm. The ABC lawyers, satisfied in the workplace, go above and beyond to help their clients, leading to stellar online reviews of their services (basically, free online marketing for their law firm) and a steadily increasing number of client accounts.
Although simplified, this tale is a real story; it happens in successful firms around the country every day.
- When an attorney team is engaged on the job, team members feel a sense of ownership over their roles and a passion for making a difference with their work, not just logging hours;
- The team takes pride in representing its firm and cultivating the best practice around;
- Anyone who doesn’t fit with this workplace culture of hard work, pride, and passion for fulfilling the firm’s purpose will automatically be weeded out by the environment.
2. Productivity will increase
Gallup reports that the U.S. loses more than $450 billion a year due to actively disengaged workers. A portion of that loss could be occurring at your firm if your attorney team isn’t engaged at work. The inverse is also true; as your firm’s engagement rises, so will its productivity, which can mean happier clients, a better reputation online and in the local area, and a more financially successful business.
3. Differentiators will become obvious
A study published in the International Journal of Business and Social Science found that customer satisfaction and customer loyalty were interconnected, and that customers who were satisfied with their business partner were less likely to switch to another. It’s a general rule that satisfied, loyal customers become walking law firm marketing pieces; they spread the word about your differentiators among friends, family, and colleagues in person and on social media.
Think about how powerful this Yelp review could be: “The attorneys at Bankruptcy Firm treated me like family. When I felt I had no one to turn to, they sat down and walked me through my options. They gave me my life back!”
After online law firm marketing like that, there is no doubt that your firm would quickly accrue a reputation as the best law firm around. It all starts with engaged attorneys who are attuned to your firm’s vision, and are productive and passionate about coming into work every day.
Showcase your firm’s unique culture with a custom website. Ask about our web development services!
Protect Your Brand and Legal Marketing Presence During Change
Changes in the size of your practice introduce a variety of obstacles on top of the day-to-day challenges. Growing too quickly without keeping an eye on your brand can compromise the high level of service you’ve worked hard to associate with your firm, while damaged morale and abandoned marketing are concerns when scaling down.
Don’t lose sight of your legal marketing goals in times of change. Here’s how to protect your law firm’s brand during growth or downsizing.
Prioritize On-Boarding and Training
When rapidly hiring, it’s difficult to fully on-board each and every employee—from attorneys to office managers to administrative assistants—but failing to do so could be costly. Every employee of your firm is a brand ambassador and the primary source of interaction between your practice and the outside world (clients, media contacts, etc.). They are your law firm’s marketers!
If you don’t ensure that everyone is on board and integrated with your firm’s values, standards of service, priorities, and goals, you can bet that client service and your firm’s overall reputation are going to suffer as each employee interacts differently with clients and resolves issues in an unstandardized way. On the other hand, if you take the time to on-board each new employee so that he or she knows how to properly market your firm every time, you’ll have more control over your firm’s brand.
Go for Controlled Growth
Growth is good but not when it’s out of control. Go for healthy, sustainable growth by investing in the right clients and the right hires at the right time rather than taking anyone who calls. If you keep attracting the wrong types of clients, revisit your legal marketing strategy and start from the beginning.
- Who is your target client demographic?
- Where are you advertising? Are these places the best avenues to reach your target demographic?
- What is your budget? Could you increase/decrease expenses in certain areas to experience different results?
- What legal marketing actions are you taking every day/week/month/quarter to see results?
It’s understandable for people to feel unhappy when a friend and coworker is let go, or feel burdened by additional responsibilities. The key is to let your attorney team know that it’s okay to be frustrated while the firm endures a time of difficult change, but that the firm’s values, standards, and priorities—including their wellbeing and engagement—will remain the same.
Invest in Marketing
Investing in legal marketing during downsizing is a must. No matter the size of your firm, you still need new business coming through the door. In these situations, it’s more important than ever to focus on inbound marketing efforts that achieve new accounts without taking too much time and energy away from your strapped attorney team.
Our experts are here to help. Contact us to receive a free digital marketing evaluation!
What Makes Your Law Firm Unique? A Different Take On Branding.
You are one of over 1.3M law firm in the United States, and you are struggling to grow your practice, have you asked yourself why? Why are clients not flocking to your door, begging you to work with them? Let us assume you are a good lawyer who has been practicing for several years and you are well known around town by all the locals. Now, think about how many other lawyers in your market can check all the boxes above plus a few more that may not be on your resume; unsettling isn’t it?
Lawyers have to consider branding. Essentially, your brand is your identity as a law firm. It defines what separates you from other law firms and gives your team purpose and direction. Clients want to know this information. It’s nearly impossible for them to tell the difference between one law firm and another. That rings true for any specific professional industry.
This relates to two of the other modules that we have discussed: niching down and referral marketing. But the question isn’t who do you want to be as a practitioner. The question is: who do you want to be as an advocate?
That question is crucial because not only does it give those who work under you a sense of purpose, but it also tells your clients about your approach to the practice of law.
For instance, you might consider yourself a fighter who pitches their firm as fighting tirelessly for their clients. You might consider yourself an empathetic advocate for your clients, helping them through a difficult time. You might play the lawman, who is going to hold another party accountable for their misdeeds. All of these are tried and true approaches to setting up your law firm with an identity.
The problem for attorneys, of course, was their reluctance to advertise their services on television or at all. It made it difficult for attorneys to reach out to their ideal client. Much of what potential clients knew, they knew only because of referrals. Nonetheless, every law firm does have a distinct personality and approach to practice. This needs to be clear to your clients one way or another. It helps you differentiate yourself from others.
Digital Advertising is a Medium Law Firms Don’t Find Unseemly
While billboards and television still seem like going blue to most law firms, content marketing, primarily through the internet, has provided an effective marketing strategy that doesn’t embarrass the firm. As we’ve said before, positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field is an especially successful technique for establishing yourself in the market. It can also help you establish your brand.
In fact, the digital landscape has established a much larger surface for attorneys to establish their brand and it helps to do some of the work of referral marketing. Now, law firms have websites in which they can talk about their values and their mission directly to their customers. They have social media sites which can help them to disseminate this information.
So what are some of the keys to improving your brand and your message?
Trust and Authenticity
If there’s one phrase that crystallizes the modern approach to self-promotion, that would be “fake it till you make it.” If you want to be the most successful personal injury attorney in West Palm Beach, then you must present yourself that way at all times. Authenticity is an affectation, and it is incredibly important. But it’s about showing how successful you are. You can’t simply say “I’m the best.” Not only is that ineffective, but the ABA doesn’t like it either.
In other words, it’s about exuding success but not directly referencing it. You have to be comfortable promoting yourself and comfortable about asking your happy clients to help you in the process. In other words, you have to ask them for ratings and referrals.
Another key to this process is hiring a professional photographer who will take candid and posed shots of you and your team for your law firm’s web page.
Then you’ll want to talk about the characteristics that make you and your law firm unique. Here, it helps to have a single phrase that crystallizes precisely what your law firm is all about.
Using Social Media
Social media is a great place to sell your services. A good percentage of interested clients will look into your social media pages on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Here, you can share blog posts, thoughts concerning various lawsuits, thoughts on legal trends, thoughts on proposed legislation, and major successes in lawsuits that you have tried. It’s an incredible resource that humanizes your law firm and allows you to establish your identity or brand. It establishes a timeline of experience and a history of success.
Social media should be used as broadly and widely as possible. This includes sites like Instagram that may not necessarily be employed by many law firms.
Marketing for Small and Large Firms: How to Use Data to Individualize Communications
In a global survey, one marketing firm found that 90% of survey respondents believed individual marketing should be priority for their organizations. Yet, only half of marketing professionals utilize data to make their communications more individualized for each respondent.
This demonstrates an obvious disconnect between marketing goals and actions, perhaps because marketers aren’t quite sure how to best tailor their communications to their audiences. Whether you’re marketing for a small or large firm, the following information can help to individualize and improve your marketing communications.
Speak Directly to Website Visitors
Google Analytics can tell you nearly everything about who is visiting your website, from their age and geographic location to their behavior (whether they are a new visitor or a frequent one, for instance). This kind of data can be a goldmine for law firms looking to optimize their websites and more effectively communicate with their website visitors.
Take this example: a DUI defense firm realizes that roughly half of their website visitors are 25 to 34 years old, and that many of these visitors land on the homepage multiple times yet do not convert into leads or sales. They design a pop-up box that promotes a free comprehensive infographic—a trendy marketing piece, particularly among younger audiences—explaining the various types of field sobriety tests in exchange for an email address in order to gain more leads and potential sales.
This is just one of the many ways that both small and large law firms’ marketing plans can incorporate website analytics to tailor their site layout and features, and communicate more effectively with audiences.
Create More Personalized Emails and Improve Campaign Performance
Would including a personalized greeting at the start in your email communications or adding a geographic term (such as a local neighborhood or metropolitan area) in your email subject lines improve open and click through rates? Utilize data to find out!
Determine whether these tweaks can make a difference in your email campaign performance by assessing initial performance, experimenting with changes, and analyzing follow-up data.
Be Present On Social Media When (and Where) You Need To
With so much information hitting social media every hour of every day, posts can quickly get buried if they’re not shared and spread fast enough. That’s why speaking the right language, and cultivating a social media presence on the right platforms at the right times is so essential for both small and large firms’ marketing efforts. To find out where you need to be and when, take a look at your firm’s past posts, or run your data through paid tools like Hootsuite or free ones such as Buffer. Discover:
- Which of your posts are performing above expectations
- Track social demographics
- Analyze which keywords within your space are trending
Then, use the ideal tone, keyword phrases, and content to speak directly to the demographic(s) you want to reach.
Ask us about our customized social media plans to increase SEO and traffic!
Legal Marketing Don’ts: 4 Signs of Inconsistent Branding
When marketing your law firm, it’s difficult to cultivate the brand that you’re striving for and consistently maintain that brand week after week, month after month, year after year. Brands can end up having a life of their own and running out of control—before you know it, the company’s public image is fragmented and unrepresentative of the soul of the organization.
Below are four telltale signs of inconsistent branding. If these are true of your practice, it may be time to reassess and realign your legal marketing and branding efforts.
1. There are multiple versions of logos floating around.
At some point, you may have included a logo update as part of your legal marketing strategy. While it can be a great idea to revitalize your image if it no longer resonates with your client base, having multiple versions of logos floating around can cause brand confusion. Be sure to update all marketing materials including print items, emails, advertisements, promotional materials, and websites with your new logo after changing your look.
2. Experiences don’t live up to expectations.
Since your law firm provides a valuable service to clients, the attorneys and case managers at your practice essentially become walking billboards of your firm’s brand. If they misrepresent your firm—for instance, they never return clients’ calls when your practice is usually known for responsive communication and excellent client service—they can quickly damage the cohesiveness and strength of your brand.
3. Name recognition is sporadic.
Your reputation and brand identity is what drives business through your doors. Therefore, if your firm is part of a larger entity or has several specialized business lines/services, deciding which name to promote on all legal marketing materials is a must. For example, Latham & Watkins LLP is one of the largest law firms in the world and has dozens of specializations that are all branded under the Latham & Watkins name, achieving strong brand recognition.
4. Navigating your website feels like visiting different websites.
You know when you land on a really great website that’s obviously been designed by the same person or team? Everything has the same color scheme, the content is written in the same voice throughout, and the overall look and feel screams, “This is who we are and what we do!” On the other hand, you can tell when a website has been designed or updated piecemeal; moving from subpage to subpage feels like jumping to different websites.
If you look at your site and feel a bit whiplashed from page to page, consider putting a redesign on your legal marketing to-do list.
The New State of Attorney Marketing: SoLoMo
In terms of game-changing marketing tactics, few have been as earthshaking in the past year as the rise of SoLoMo. The phrase—which stands for social/local/mobile—indicates a massive shift in the way that law firms need to approach digital marketing. It will open new doors for lawyers to communicate with potential clients, grant easier access to geographic targeting, and ensure that smart, savvy firms can build their brands consistently and constantly across multiple platforms.
SoLoMo and Branding
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, branding is absolutely imperative for attorneys in 2013 and beyond. These days, every geographic region typically has dozens or hundreds of attorneys running optimized websites and competing against one another. By being more unique and comprehensive than your competitor, you can gain a larger share of your target market.
The social/local/mobile tactic aids in this quest. Developing your firm (brand) on multiple digital platforms ensures you have the necessary reach to connect with potential, existing, and past clients on any device 24/7. Creating a mobile website ensures you don’t alienate people browsing with smart phones (an increasingly large segment of the population). Updating your social profiles with useful information encourages sharing of your content, which is now a primary factor in search algorithms, and allows you to be found on powerful new tools like Facebook Graph Search. Establishing yourself on local business directories like Google+ Local keeps you relevant in search results in areas near your office.
If you are a sole practitioner, or work in a small partnership, the chances are that your name is part of your law firm’s name. This law practice tradition can play well to your digital marketing strategy. You want to build your firm’s authority and the quickest route to that is through personal branding. You are your firm, so make sure people know who you are and that they believe you are both an expert and approachable.
Search Engine Watch has a lot of articles that relate to personal branding this week. This article is the most directly relevant of the crop. This is just a general pep talk on the topic of personal brands and you don’t need any technical knowledge to understand it.
This Search Engine Watch articles shows the growing trend towards localizing search results. This plays greatly to the advantage of small law firms, so you need to enhance your profile in your local community to benefit from this free marketing tool being handed to you by Facebook.
Over at Moz Blog, this article is another reminder that social media marketing is no longer only about Facebook. You need to use Google+ and then combine that with Google Local and Google Authorship to establish your personal brand. These three tools will propel your firm’s site up the rankings on search engine results pages.
The biggest tip this week on getting your name noticed and respected lies in this Search Engine Watch article. Produce videos featuring you explaining some aspect of the law, such as divorce procedures, DUI options, etc. Post these on your site instead of worthy articles. Post those videos on YouTube as well and put a link back to your firm’s website. This will get your face known to visitors to your site and they are more likely to ring up and book an appointment if they feel they already know you and if you look like you know what you are talking about. On top of that, linking back from YouTube will earn your site extra traffic and better rankings.
Back at Moz Blog, Rand Fishkin, the company’s founder, talks about branded searches in one of his regular “Whiteboard Friday” slots. The important thing to take away from this post is not what Rand says, but how he does it. This is a video presentation exactly in the style you should use for your instructional videos. Rand has identified himself very firmly with his company, he has made himself a recognized authority in the field of SEO through his videos and his personal brand then reflects back on Moz. This is what you need to do.
Now, more than ever, law firm branding is a marketing strategy. Since most clients cannot tell the difference between one law firm and another, it helps to show them who you are on your website, social media pages, and even in person when introducing yourself. Branding may feel like a marketing term, and it is, but law firms need to establish a sense of identity. It lets their clients know who they are in relation to the competition. It’s hugely important when competing in the market.
That means thinking beyond your niche and consider your approach to your practice. It means asking the question: who am I as an advocate? If you want to chat with me about your branding and how we can help, click here to select a date and time.