This article is part of our In Their Own Words series where lawyers share their insights in starting a law firm
LEAP recently surveyed lawyers who have been through the process of starting their own law firm and the results have revealed a distinct lack of marketing know-how.
The survey results highlight that many law firms deprioritise investment into marketing in the early days, yet in comparison, it was also the area they wish they knew more about before they started their firm. A staggering 83% of start-ups did not consider investing in marketing when they opened their doors. Don’t be a part of this statistic.
Almost 25% of those who started up wish they knew more about marketing.
This makes sense as lawyers are focused on providing legal services and not always on developing business relationships and seeking clients. Some lawyers find that they fall into a role of business development as they progress along in their career and it is a comfortable dual role which they inhabit. Contrary to this is the structure of many larger firms which have dedicated lawyers who work within a business development role and are focused on speaking at events, writing whitepapers, commenting in the media, and working closely with the marketing communications team.
But, starting your own law firm requires you to wear many hats. Marketing needs to be a big hat from the very start. It takes time to plan and implement a marketing strategy that will position your firm at the right level in the legal market. A strong marketing foundation at the outset will make an impact on the financial success of your business.
Digital marketing… say what?
Many respondents were concerned about digital marketing and how it worked. This is a good axis from where you can develop your marketing strategy. From this central point you can branch out across many lines and try new approaches, and over time you will strengthen your message.
You do need to engage in digital marketing to reach and attract clients. Let’s start with the world wide web.
Build your online presence with a website that works for you
The Australian Bureau of Statistics cites that at December 2016 there were 13.5 million internet subscribers in Australia. Internet use is rising and, not surprisingly, access from mobile devices is increasing to the point that now your online presence must be mobile optimised. It’s simple – if you aren’t online you don’t exist.
You need a professional legal website that reflects your law firm and is a resource for your clients and potential clients to: easily get in touch with you, find information, enjoy your value-added services, and perhaps to book appointments with your legal team.
“Know your market – what sort of clients are you marketing to, what sort of advertising will work in your area or to attract the clients you want.” These are words of wisdom from one respondent.
Zaliet builds personalised websites specifically to help law firms to attract and engage clients. You don’t need to know how to create a website. A website is the place to start to build your digital presence. Once you have your website up and running you can really take off the handbrake and speed along the digital highway.
You can read Zaliet’s free whitepaper on 4 Reasons Why Websites are Crucial for Law Firms here.
A premium Zaliet website is included with your LEAP monthly investment.
Now you have your website live, you can give your social media profile some grounding. Sensis has reported that 79% of Australians use social media, with nearly every person aged 18-29 years interacting at least twice per day. The rate of use only drops below 79% at the age brackets over 50 years. These rates are still significant at 66%. This data tells us that to be found online, through searches, you need to be where your target market is.
For business marketing it is important to try several channels, for example: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These sites are now all common platforms where people who need legal services interact. All networking sites have comprehensive resources to help you get started and market your skills. It’s the destination to showcase your expertise, advertise, build a following and get referrals.
Content is essentially information that your audience would like to read, watch or listen to. You can create content designed to address the problems of your clients – and then share this through your website and social media.
By sharing valuable content produced by reputable thought leaders, the perception of your expertise increases and eventually you may be recognised as a thought leader as you write your own content. Search engines love quality content such as blogs, newsletters, case studies, articles, brochures and they all contribute to increasing your Google rankings.
One respondent explains, “research, network and be confident”, so heed this advice and explore the world of legal content.
Use online booking services
Now that you have a leading website and you are active on social media, you might want to consider the value-added services you can offer your clients. One of these is online booking capabilities. There are many benefits of using online booking systems, including the ability for clients to book appointments at a time to suit them, and as they do this they will read about the services that your firm offers. Self-service systems can improve client experience as they are in essence consumer driven—businesses are digitising customer service as technological advances can provide 24-hour engagement—which delights and satisfies modern consumers who demand instant response.
LawTap is a great example that allows prospective clients to search by geographic location, area of law and allows them to book an appointment online.
Networking and referrals
“You need to make solid contacts and be reliable.”
This respondent reflects a solid understanding of business development. The development comes from building relationships with your peers, industry bodies, associations, mentors, and clients. Relationships evolve over time, and take some commitment so get ready to book up your diary with events and coffee catch-ups.
Microsoft Outlook’s calendar integrates with LEAP so you can schedule a meeting and your client’s details are saved to the meeting entry. This simple integration saves time.
We look forward to seeing your law firm in the digital space. Tag #LEAP so we can follow you.