Objections overruled

What’s in, what’s out in marketing communications at legal firms

In my career in marketing and communications, I have come across a fair few misconceptions about the right and wrong way to market legal firms. What follows is my attempt to dispel a few myths and suggest reality-based corrections.

Myth 1. Lawyers should be...

Out: a three-piece suit and strict law firm partners, never smiling is a must for a website. “Lawyers are conservative, and that’s the way it should be”. It is convenient for lawyers to believe this. A Victorian office, an English law library, a double-breasted suit and serious, never smiling lawyers – that is how a lawyer should look like. So law marketing should reflect this, right? Wrong.

In: follow your client. If your target client is a farmer, find a beautiful field as a backdrop for your next office photo. You can’t ignore reality. Bookshelves, seriously? Don’t they have intranet servers, databases, or chat-bots? A three-piece suit is a great solution for the courtroom, but not for negotiations in sunny Monaco. A lawyer with the latest smartphone and excellent soft skills, multilingual and friendly – that is the lawyer of the 21st century.

Myth 2. Keep it quiet

Out: be aware of competitors who are ever eager to steal your experience. Don’t create useful content, and hold the cards close – competitors can catch a wind of your methods and hjack your strategy. But, frankly speaking, it will make clear that your victory was occasional, and you cannot guarantee the success for your client.

In: create useful content; otherwise, neither competitors nor customers will find out about your expertise. Be useful for your clients in text, video and visual form – that is the only way to show your expertise. By preparing clear and visually-friendly content you help your clients to solve the problem on their own, which means that they will be more successful in business, which means that you will have one thankful client. Additionally, today even a kid can tell a visually-great story, one only needs to learn visual and text basics.

Myth 3. You are the boss

Out: if you have some successful cases from your legal point of view, you should deliver it to your audience. They will love it. If you have won complicated case – share it with your clients. Only you may know what content they need.

In: In 2018, you cannot ignore Google Analytics and other SEO tools to find our you clients’ real interests. Try to comb through the intricacies and nuances of Google Analytics. After all, it is a real possibility that those articles and blogs you’ve prepared so meticulously  aren’t valuable to your readers. Find out what keywords people use to find your website and how carefully they read your stories. All the dirty work is already done by Google. It remains only to understand the basic principles of SEO optimization.

Myth 4. Use only friendly media

Out: putting news on your company website. Your employees and clients will share it, because it is so awesome, right? PR has to sound funky. If your article is great, people will love it and share it.

In: follow your client where he/she prefers to read the news. Putting your story in media and emailing it doesn’t work anymore. Find media, read by your client, – it can be a specialized niche blog, Facebook group or even Reddit forum. Blogs are the new media.

Myth 5. Don't share

Out: competitors are just waiting for feedback from customers to poach them. Asking your client to share good feedback creates the risk that competitors will poach him. So hide your clients as long as you can.

In: people are  trusting of others, their feedback will create new potential clients. And if your client signed with the competitor - well, maybe that was just a matter of time. Moreover, if your client has left, that is a great chance to understand what you have done wrong and to make every effort to change the situation.

Myth 6. Quick is the new long

Out: Force your customer to spend tons of time surfing through your website. If it is good for your stats, it is good for him. Your customer has no other concerns, emails, Facebook or Twitter, no private and family life?

In: Guides, eBooks, and whitepapers - any other type of content that can be saved on smartphones and looked through at a later point would be better. Benefit and convenience are alpha and omega of successful client relations. Present them anything that he could save and check later, send his friend to rate, share with colleagues. Make his life great again!

Myth 7. Be serious

Out: lawyers have to be serious, so clients will know how hard they are working on their behalf

That is why you should be little more low-key with your social profile.

In: lawyers should be normal. Here is a short story…

I once surfed through the website of a shipping company. To my surprise, on “Our team” page, after the CEO, deputies and key managers, I found a dog named Bob. I’ll bet that is the most shared page on the website. It creates a highly emotional contact between the shipping company and their customers, and shows that they are ordinary, trustworthy people with a good sense of humour.

Happy marketing!

Igor Kazakutsa

Igor Kazakutsa is a marketing and communication manager at Interlegal –a  Black Sea-specialised law firm. His professional experience includes public relations, communication, strategic marketing in public sector and state-owned enterprises (mechanical engineering, shipbuilding, public administration, law).