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In previous posts, we outlined our view of the traditional law firm marketing process. In short, we are not convinced it delivers results. In this post, we discuss how to take the first steps towards an alternative marketing approach.

To summarise, first, we discussed the problems with the traditional marketing funnel. Potential clients don’t follow a nice linear path, they can come in (and drop out) at various points. The funnel concept ignores potential law firm clients who are not already engaged (triggered).

We developed an alternative way to think about potential clients and the content they consume. We also discussed how to engage pre-trigger audiences with awareness campaigns before concluding with a review of an often overlooked audience – existing clients.

Decisions

You have to decide if putting the resources into lots of learner content is the right thing to do. Remember, you will also have to put in significant effort (SEO) to ensure it is found. Is that effort worth it, given that whoever reads the information is a long way from the sale?

You should think through if it is worth paying to deliver specific content to an active (has purchasing intent) prospect. What is your law firm client’s lifetime value and hence what can you afford?

You need to decide what will trigger pre-trigger audiences (FOGS) to take the next step. Remember, even if they take that first step with you, they are a long way from a sale.

You should consider what builds your brand. Is content the best medium to trigger the next step? Building a brand has advantages, but decide what you can afford as audiences are often pre-trigger and wastage is high.

Finally, decide how to allocate effort across new and existing clients. Reviews, testimonials and other information generated by past clients support the entire marketing process.

Developing A Marketing Process

Before working on brand and promoting your law firm, understand:

  • Your offer and what distinguishes your law firm from the competition.
  • Your audience – Their needs and how to reach them.
  • The position of your law firm in the marketplace.
  • Your value chain – What protects you from the competition?

Fail to do so and you WILL waste a large proportion (if not all) of your marketing budget.

Geography

If your firm only works in limited areas, it simplifies the marketing process significantly. Localised search terms make it easier to get found online. The Google My Business pack gives you an advantage in search. Social activity can have more impact. Ad costs can be cheaper. Branding activity will be simpler (and cheaper).

Brand

Given the difficulties with building a brand outlined above, we suggest offline should be the focus of your law firm brand-building exercise. Options include:

  • Press activity (PR).
  • Sponsorships.
  • Events and exhibitions.
  • Poster and display.
  • Location.

If budget allows, digital PR (online) is powerful for some businesses with the right type of product/service. Organic social media is a branding rather than a lead-generation tool.

Content and SEO

We suggest information for the website should focus on building the brand and the needs of existing customers. Anything that is helpful to customers or builds ‘social proof’ including reviews and testimonials. Content to attract new clients should, we suggest, be lower priority and on other (high ranking) sites wherever possible.

A priority should also be information that supports the work of sales, business development or partners. Try to optimise that content for SEO but don’t expend too much effort.

Social Media

Post the information described above directly (or repurposed) on relevant social channels but accept this is a brand-building exercise, that’s all. Support this with carefully curated relevant content from others. Company pages on social channels should support the brand.

Existing Customers – Community

Try to build a community of existing customers. The promotional effort will be mostly offline (events/networking and their promotion), but online marketing can help. If relevant, this activity will often require an Ad budget.

Online Ads

Google Adwords, display Ads (and the Bing equivalent) and social media Ads are the most common, but there are others (including Reddit and Quora). The objective should be to choose the Ad network with the most relevant audience. Then select the appropriate Ad type.

The (Keyword, Ad, landing page) aim should capture those coming in at shopper/buyer level. A secondary objective should be to collect prospect details (see above).

Allocate Ad spend appropriately. It is important to know a customer’s lifetime value and set budgets accordingly.

Email and Nurture

The primary purpose of early-stage content (we suggest) should be to secure potential client details and build an audience. Then remarket to that audience. Distribution (as discussed above) will often be via paid ads, but micro pages and specific SEO activity are one option.

If you can generate useful information that prospects will download in return for their email address, you can stay in touch. Over time you can build trust and hopefully convert. That’s the theory, but in practice to make this work you need to build a large list (high hundreds minimum) and that takes time. Consider carefully if it is worth the effort.

Think through where your potential client is in the buying cycle and how you will progress them from one stage to the next. You need a process. You cannot spam and whatever you deliver via email must be useful and relevant.

One process can be to progress the prospect to the point they are happy to sign up for a seminar or webinar. Another could be to persuade them you can be trusted to carry out an impartial review of their situation. Again, be aware of the potential costs and prioritise accordingly.

Direct Mail

Gathering a prospects online details is not the only option. If it is possible to deliver a simple message, then direct mail marketing can work well, but mailer design and targeting are crucial. Success depends on the type of business, the quality of the list and execution. A multi-step marketing process rather than a one-off hit tends to work best.

So What’s Next?

First, we suggest you go back and re-evaluate your objectives and your target audience. They may be correct, but it is certainly worth checking. Forget funnels, and try to rebuild your online and offline law firm marketing process, step by step. Keep what has worked well in the past and build around it.

Finally, as a thought experiment, take some time to think through how you would market your business if the internet did not exist. In a few years, we suggest, it might not exist in its current form. It could be worth preparing now. Before you are locked out by communities.

Need help? We will work with you to build a marketing plan and then (if required) help you deliver on that plan. To discuss how we may be able to help, call 07747 042320 or email phil@harrhill.co.uk

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