In the good old days of legal practice, effective marketing meant being good at your job, being on the high street was sufficient and once in a while taking clients out for long, exclusive and boozy lunches. That, at least, is what a senior partner at a law firm I worked at many years ago once told me.
Those days, if not entirely imaginary, are long gone. Marketing for law firms has evolved beyond, mainly due to the rapid changes in online platforms and advances in social media platforms. The modern Law firm will have to raise the stakes to meet the demand of this digital era.
Embracing different forms of internet or digital marketing is considered as the only way forward.
Mindful of the above, Wildings Solicitors takes marketing extremely seriously. We have embraced the age of digital marketing and we now undertake many different marketing initiatives, some of which include; print advertising, branded merchandise distribution, newsletter publication, article and book-writing, running seminars and workshops, event-based networking, public relations campaigns, sports and charity sponsorship, even TV advertising – but not forgetting the traditional lunch, even if many lawyers don't have a very deep understanding of the discipline. Embracing different forms of internet or digital marketing is considered as the only way forward.
No doubt, there are thousands of solicitors around the world blogging frequently, covering every area of practice conceivable. And many individuals and firms now use Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks to spread their messages. However there are still areas of internet marketing that are not well used by lawyers. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one such area, and search advertising another.
The culture of the law is conservative by any measure. Anything new such as internet marketing is often viewed with suspicion and seen as potentially unprofessional.
There is certainly still an archaic underlying sense in many solicitors of fear and an unwillingness to adopt new platforms where marketing is concerned, many would not dream of using internet marketing to further their businesses.
I often hear that commercial law firms have an assumption that good clients cannot be won through the internet.
For all the usual reasons, internet marketing can often be perceived as rather ‘second rate’: search engine optimisation as a manipulative gimmick, email marketing a fancy name for spam and so on.
In part, this is the fault of the internet marketing industry. There are certainly poor examples out there; forum and comment spamming, email spamming, link exchanging, link farming, article marketing etc But to reject all internet marketing because of examples like these is akin to refusing to use the telephone because others cold call. If law practices are to be convinced of the benefits of internet marketing, many of these assumptions need to be successfully tackled.
Sitting around the table in meetings, I often hear that commercial law firms have an assumption that good clients cannot be won through the internet. Arguably this assumption is false in some marketplaces, however there is an issue of lead quality that does need to be acknowledged. If a law firm is to use internet marketing as a source of new clients, efficient lead filtering needs to be addressed however lead generation is only one aspect of online marketing.
Special regulation of publicity
Legal services marketing by regulated businesses, solicitors, barristers, etc is usually subject to special rules. In the UK, the largest group of legal practitioners are solicitors and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
It would be an understatement to say that solicitors are busy professionals, so of the tasks required to be undertaken in a day, marketing is usually much further down the pecking order to chargeable work. Having the time to produce knowledge-based marketing materials for example newsletters, articles, case summaries, books etc can be a real struggle for many solicitors. In some industries, marketing professionals or generalist freelance writers may be able to produce these types of marketing materials, but in my experience that just doesn't work for anything but the most superficial legal reporting.
Sadly, many folks would say Law is a boring subject… Getting users engaged with legal subject matter is not easy. It depends to some degree upon the area in question, human rights is easier than probate for example, but this problem affects most legal disciplines.
The problem of engaging users with legal subject matter is not easy to solve
As we all know Law is often, rightly or wrongly, perceived as a subject with little user engagement for example murder is interesting but the law of murder is not so much. Also, the jargon of law at times can be complex and it isn't easy to explain in terms the layman can easily understand.
Many of the techniques of internet marketing depend upon user engagement, and the problem of engaging users with legal subject matter is not easy to solve. Effort must be made in this regard however if social media marketing, link building or viral marketing techniques are to be adopted.
There are some aspects of the legal services industry that lend themselves to the use of internet marketing techniques: a broadly literary subject matter and a large number of competent writers being prime among them. On the other hand, there are aspects that are not so favourable to internet marketing: a conservative culture, heavy regulation, a requirement of strict legal compliance and the socio-economic baggage that comes with the chargeable hour.
In this dynamic social media environment, content strategies are paramount
Wildings solicitors want to reap the benefits of digital marketing in all its glory, so we have now adopted a new way of thinking about marketing. We are implementing new and diverse strategies in engaging with the clientele of this digital era.
Building true social media engagement means creating a content strategy to hook the audience, not just being on social media platforms. In this dynamic social media environment, content strategies are paramount. Best practices entail effort both in content creation and content distribution on available digital platforms. Allocating resources between the two will ensure a successful foray into the social media jungle and accessing previously unreachable clientele.