Legal marketing wasn’t around 20 years ago. Attorneys were responsible for building their own books of business, but most of this was done organically through networking offline. In an increasingly mobile and digital world, attorneys struggle to keep up with marketing demands to keep their brands at the forefront of the law industry. Because of the private nature of their work, outsourcing marketing and business development is often not a viable option either. Nowadays, most law firms with more than a few attorneys employ legal marketers. Large law firms operating globally may have a marketing team of 30 or more people around the world.
Legal marketing usually includes business development activities, as well. Large law firms run both departments together under a Chief Marketing Officer who usually has a legal background. In the last 10 years, there has been a rush to push the legal space into the technological era, and with this comes every marketing and business development piece other companies have been cultivating for years.
To get a better understanding of how technology is featured in the legal space, let’s consider three aspects: client management, business to client relations, and public relations.
CRM Systems & Client Management
Client relationship management (CRM) systems provide law firms with a huge opportunity for business growth, where client management is largely monitored through CRM systems. Attorneys who work as part of a practice group can input information about relationship building activities and conversations about cases. While attorneys work on a potential client with numerous practice groups at once, the CRM system allows them to easily see the level of engagement, preventing redundancy in their communications.
Further, with a CRM system in place, attorneys can pull contact lists from Outlook and send them directly to marketing for event management. Many such systems are tied into accounting systems, allowing business development to pull quantitative ROI data from relationship building activities.
Social Media & B2C
Firm-wide social media accounts are monitored by marketers and are the front line in business-to-client-relations (B2C). Attorneys are also using their professional social media accounts to share white papers, public case results, articles, and awards. Social media provides a casual outlet for attorneys to share pictures from client events and community service activities.
Marketers use social media to promote activities across the firm and help individual attorneys share content. Twitter has become a forum where big case results or new legislation being passed can be spread en masse to those who will find it relevant. The technique is slowly gaining ground as an alternative to emailed newsletters. Press releases are also posted on social media sites as well as with local print media and on a primary website.
Public relations can be part of or separate from marketing. According to experts at Fulgham Law Firm P.C., the value of PR is readily apparent: “These teams can promote legal brands by sending out articles written by attorneys and distributing them at seminars, among other strategies.” When striking news comes out, they are at the forefront of contacting online and print media to ensure their firm’s information is published. Online public relations is focused on brand management.
SEO, targeted marketing plans, and branding are all part of the public relations side of marketing. For law firms, dedicated SEO strategists will work much like other businesses to build effective links and ensure meta descriptions contain the right keywords.
Branding conventions for law firms are usually very specific and cannot be altered. Rules on how to use logos and taglines and other advertising text are meticulous, always with the consideration of semantics.
Targeted marketing in the legal industry is vastly different, depending on the type of law practiced. Corporate law firms will target professional organizations and businesses, choosing to insert their brand in newsletters, magazines, and business newspapers. Personal lawyers target individuals through more conventional marketing methods, as they are trying to reach the general public.