Shifts in the Legal Marketing Landscape
By: Gina F. Rubel
If you asked 10,000 lawyers the meaning of inbound and lead gen, the majority of them likely would respond with a blank stare. However, these are just some of the shifts in the legal marketing landscape – and in the professional services marketing landscape, for that matter – that have changed the way we think, do business, and measure ROI.
Since legal marketers embrace new technologies and solutions enthusiastically, here are a few excellent articles and presentations worth digesting if you are looking to grow your law firm or your personal book of business.
Stefanie Knapp, an online marketing manager with the California law firm Allen Matkins, recently attended HubSpot’s INBOUND 2017. She shares key takeaways from the conference in an article for JD Supra, which I have summarized and elaborated on below:
Invest in video: We have seen the same statistic over and over again. By 2021, video will account for 82 percent of consumer internet traffic. This is a statistic Jennifer Simpson Carr, Paula Wilkinson, Ryan King and I presented to a packed house in Charlotte just a few weeks ago at the Legal Marketing Association Southeast Conference #LMASE17.
Create an environment of courageous creativity: We need to move away from the same old way of doing things. It’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about making the wheel more efficient, more productive, more engaging, and more interesting.
Provide clients information when and how they want it: This couldn’t be truer in the age of reinvention and Day 1 philosophy. Even as our legal marketing agency, Furia Rubel, has reached its 15th year in business, we are reengaging our clients, listening to their wants and needs, embracing their preferences, and refocusing how we deliver service, as it is a client’s perceived value of our services that matters most.
Take a look in the mirror: And as my grandfather, Guido Piccionetti an Italian immigrant used to say, “like who you see.” He wasn’t referring to one’s hair or eyes. He was referring to the person. And as Stefanie shared in her article, it is important for law firms to embrace who their clients are and reflect that back to the client with diverse client teams.
Test. Analyze. Optimize. Repeat. The devil is in the details, as they say. Look at your firm’s marketing data and use it wisely. Stop saying, “We didn’t get any results from that effort,” especially if your firm is not tracking data and measuring results.
Calin Yablonski, founder and president of Inbound Interactive, shares nearly two dozen marketing statistics that law firm management should be aware of. Here are four of my favorites, all of which present excellent opportunities for law firms to engage in inbound, lead generation marketing:
- 97 percent of all law firm websites fail to deliver any kind of personalized content.
- 62 percent of legal searches are non-branded (i.e., generic: “Phoenix divorce attorney”).
- 71 percent of people looking for a lawyer think it is important to hire a local attorney.
- 31 percent of all law-firm-related website traffic comes through mobile search.
While we have already shared Jennifer Simpson Carr’s guest post on our blog, it is worth recapping here.
Succession planning starts now: As a law practice management thought leader, I still always thought of succession as something that was focused around retirement, illness or death of an owner or partner. I never really thought about it in terms of internal systems and protocols that would help with the transition of individuals internally or the departure of key players. This past summer, after our CMO gave notice, I realized that we had to take our own medicine and reevaluate all systems and procedures in order to do our best with the succession training so that we could avoid gaps in service with our own clients. Lesson learned and message reinforced: “Consider succession planning as a multi-year approach. Expose your clients to other [professionals] early and often.”
Create client-centric experiences and ask for feedback: This is no different a message from the INBOUND conference message. It’s not about us, it’s about them. Ask, what does the client want? How do they want it? How do they perceive value? And ask how well you are doing along the way. Then deliver and adjust accordingly.
Data is available; use it to show your value: No matter the type of business, data should be used to track, evaluate, measure and adjust marketing strategies and tactics. If your firm doesn’t have a way of collecting data such as a CRM system or case management system, it’s time to get on board.
Take a strategic approach to content: Jennifer and I have been conferring about content for several years now and addressed this very topic at #LMASE17. In addition to the shift towards video, it is important to understand how video fits within a larger strategy.
Another legal marketer, Stefanie Marrone, published a recap from #LMASE17 on JD Supra.
The future law firm is a multi-disciplinary legal solutions provider: In her recap of Jordan Furlong’s keynote, Stefanie reminds us that professional service firms are evolving at an exponential rate. A key point is that law firms need to run like businesses, not like law firms. This means moving away from the eat-what-you-kill, internal competition-like mentality to a more team-driven, alternative fee arrangement, all-about-the-client approach.
Truly partner with your business partners: Stop calling service providers vendors and legal professionals “non-lawyers.” They are not selling soft pretzels at the entrance of a sports complex. Your strategic business partners and other legal professionals are there to make your firm look better and perform better, as well as grow larger and more profitable.
Say no to random acts of content and yes to client-focused content: I’m a bit biased about this recap, as I was one of the four presenters on the panel. I still need to give a shout out and say thank you to Stefanie for the following:
“My favorite tip from this session came from Gina Rubel who gave the idea to interview your lawyers on various timely topics and then turn those into a podcast series and repurpose the quotes into social media posts.”
Really listen to the client: This should go without saying. It is the client’s experience that matters. Once again, it’s all about them.
Law firm leaders need to make proactive changes in how legal services are delivered if firms are to thrive in this rapidly changing legal marketplace. It is up to the firm to identify the best strategies in light of their unique strengths, talents, geographies, and differentiators.