Sometimes it feels like every lawyer and every law firm do the same things to get business. We sound alike: other law firms may have the exact same practice areas as yours, and thus very similar messaging to you. We look alike: with the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality of legal digital marketing, many law firm websites look ridiculously similar to each other as lawyers try to use the same vendors as their competitors without really being able to quantify a tangible value to that decision. We dress alike: almost all law firm imagery shows people in suits in or near corporate buildings or courthouses.
Here are 5 ways to help your law firm stand out from the competition:
Be Unique: Tell Your Story
People don't just hire a lawyer because they need your services. To speak in sales terminology, behind every client’s “buying” behavior, a desired feeling helps dictate the choice. So identify what that feeling is and tell your story to play to those feelings. Why are you here? Why should people hire you? Weave your law firm’s benefits into a story. Get potential clients and referral sources to know your firm’s name and to trust you.
Use Images to Help Others Visualize Your Law Firm Brand
Some estimates reveal that 90% of the incoming information to your brain is visual, and many of us are visual learners. Some Internet gurus even claim that your brain can process visual information 60,000 times faster than other types of data. Think about it – as a consumer digesting large amounts of digital content each day, are you more likely to read a lengthy, dry case synopsis, to view an image of a lawyer visiting his or her injured client in the hospital, or to watch a video of a corporate client explaining succinctly why working on his or her matter with a law firm was exceptional.
Images and video win most of all because these days no one spares more than a few seconds reading content. While they are a more easily digestible medium, visuals are also easily shareable. Visual marketing captures your audience's attention by making use of images, photos with text overlays, videos, comic strips – anything goes so be creative.
Provide Superior Customer Service
I have previously written about the customers of a law firm and how to treat them. Be exceptional in service. Solve problems in the fastest, least-expensive way for clients. Communicate effectively, and often. Return emails and phone calls timely. If you are unable to, you can, when appropriate, use your voicemail message and your email’s “out of office” feature to let clients know when you will be available, or have an assistant check your email and voicemail while you are out of the office for extended periods of time. Ask clients for feedback, including written surveys at the completion of a matter. Clients will be your best referral sources: your referrals from really satisfied clients and referral attorneys should only continue to increase over time. Ask really satisfied clients for testimonials to weave into your website.
Love your “internal customers” – your employees – as much as you love your clients and referral sources. Your employees are your brand ambassadors and the face of your business to the world. If you treat them well, they will care about making you look good.
Build Your Lawyers’ Personal Brands
While a lot of thought (and money) goes into law firm brand promotion, often very little time (and significantly less money) go into lawyers’ individual personal brand promotion. Promote each lawyer’s expertise in his or her practice areas. Thought leadership is an opportunity to differentiate. Once you identify your best referral sources, find out how to best reach them with helpful information. Write short articles for your local paper, local business journal, legal industry publications, and offer to give free advice or talks at community centers like churches and schools. Encourage your firm’s attorneys to put their names out there, which will benefit both their individual careers and the firm’s reputation.
The marketplace is a competition for the biggest cases and best clients. There are many ways to give your business an edge over the competition, including targeting certain concerns and keywords. Analyzing the most effective geographical target can help you assess whether you need to be talking to small towns across a wide area or just one huge city. For instance, if you represent clients throughout Miami, you don’t necessarily need to target all of Florida. Don’t be afraid to review what others in your area are doing, and focus your energies on where your practice is relevant.
Your potential customers are also comparing you to other attorneys in a number of categories, from costs to specialization in a field. Don’t hesitate to highlight these strengths and stay one step ahead of other attorneys competing in your territory.
Remember that under each state bar’s ethics rules, there can be a huge difference between specializing in an area of law and being a specialist in an area of law. In many states, a state bar or other association must certify specialists in order for them to market themselves as such; in other states, certification is not an option and marketing as a “specialist” or “certified” is prohibited. If a lawyer claims to be a specialist without actually being certified, that can be an ethics violation. Be sure to fully review your state’s ethics rules carefully before claiming expertise or specializations.
Want Help Making Your Law Firm Stand Out?
If your law firm needs help with its business development efforts, personal branding ideas for its attorneys, or just a general audit of its marketing efforts, we can help. We can perform an audit of all of your digital assets, or a more comprehensive view of your entire law practice. Contact us today so that we can help you develop a plan to bring your law firm into the spotlight.