When it comes to marketing a business, it’s important to know what you’re up against. While it would be nice to solely rely on your firm’s strong lawyers to bring in the business, that’s simply not enough. How do you know your firm is taking the right steps toward an effective marketing strategy? Understanding what other law firms are doing and how yours is stacking up against their efforts is one way to find out. A competitor analysis will help your firm establish what’s already being done in law firm marketing, what makes your law firm unique when compared to others, and how to market your unique attributes to target clients.
WHERE TO BEGIN WITH A COMPETITOR ANALYSIS
IDENTIFY YOUR COMPETITORS
The first step in performing a competitor analysis is easy- find out who your competition is. Start with the basics and search local law firms in similar practice areas. Then broaden the search to national firms that work in the same practice area. Also check legal directories and search sites like Google and law.com to see how the firms are ranked. Take note of anyone that shows up ahead of you in the search results. Find about five law firms that seem to be doing well, that will be your benchmark for the analysis.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind during your examination is of course the target audience. There might be a firm in your city practicing in the same area of law, but you might find they are reaching out to a completely different type of client than what you want. Once you determine whether the law firm is aiming for the same audience as you are, you have found your competition.
TAKE NOTE OF THEIR EFFORTS
The second step in this process is evaluating the content and marketing efforts of the law firms that are most like yours. What are they doing that is attracting the clients you want? To answer this question, there are several things you can do. Explore their website, check out their social media networks, sign up for the firm’s newsletter, or Google alerts for the firm. Get an idea of how the firm is presenting themselves to the online world. Are their digital marketing tactics enticing? Do they seem to be attracting online attention and engagement? Observe not only what your competitors are doing well, but what they are doing that can be improved.
Auditing your competitor’s online presence also includes taking note of things like speaking engagements, who the key attorneys are, any recent firm successes or news. Understanding what work these law firms are getting noticed for will help you realize what exactly it will take to get your firm ahead of the curve.
BECOME THE LEADER, NOT THE FOLLOWER
You have assessed your competitor’s marketing strengths, now it’s time to determine your competitive advantage. Consider how your firm differs from the competitors you just researched. What holes are in their content or marketing efforts? What events are they not speaking at? What Google searches are they not ranking on? This is where you can fill in the information, and get a leg up on the competition.
Take the data collected and think about the biggest area in which your firm can improve and that is where you will start. Focus on the success you’ve seen from other law firm marketing while also considering what works best for your niche and the specific client pool you are targeting. It won’t help you to simply copy what other firms are doing, understand what they are doing and how your firm can do it better.