Forget Best Practices, Engage Best Thinking
There’s no denying that the necessary measures taken by organizations to remain functional during the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially alter the way the world operates. The same is true for law firms. Several new challenges now face law firms. To continue practicing great law, firms will now have to adapt to new ways of listening to increasing concerns of clients during this global pandemic. On top of this, firms will need to emphasize building their brand, making a presence in a new virtual environment and getting used to a new business model outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar way of doing things.
These new challenges mean that law firms now have an obligation to accommodate new world standards into how they conduct their business to remain relevant. Most importantly, law firms will need to think like start-ups and reimagine their future. If you don’t, your competition will. It is crucial that law firms embrace change, but that change must “bubble up” from within, not cascade down. In essence, the whiteboard has been wiped clean.
Marketing is at the center of how to master adapting your law firm to the aftermath of this global crisis. Very few businesses that have survived crises and cut their marketing as a result look back on it as the right thing to do. So, let’s talk about how to maintain your marketing strategies and adapt them to suit these new standards. Here are some steps that your firm should be taking to ensure that you remain relevant in an ever-transforming legal landscape:
Ask yourself this: where do you want your firm to be when the crisis is over and at the start of our new reality? If you want to be considered a proactive, positive influence in the law arena, you need to start now. If you do nothing and tuck it in, you will lose tremendous momentum and credibility as a proactive firm. Marketing is not a switch-on, switch-off activity. It’s actually more costly to constantly stop and start the marketing process rather than just keeping the train moving. It will be impossible to turn the switch on fast enough once you know the crisis is over.
You can’t afford to look unprofessional. Trust your instinct to know what’s right or wrong, rather than relying on standard – and oftentimes cheesy – COVID-19 ALERTS! which can be perceived as ambulance-chasing and taking advantage of a bad situation. Structured non-threatening information is great, but scare tactics are overall just bad form.
It is important that you continue to walk and talk marketing and let your attorneys know they have outlets should the need arise. Even though on-site marketing is not viable at this time, other activities can keep the flame and infrastructure alive. Your firm needs someone who lives and breathes marketing — someone to push and bounce ideas off of, and someone available virtually 24/7. Nothing shuts down a lawyer’s great idea more than the words, “But we’re not marketing right now!” Keep the conversations alive, and you’ll keep marketing alive.
Utilize the new digital workspace to your advantage. Organize discussions with attorneys via Zoom or other online platforms to keep your marketing momentum strong. Develop and share a consistent stream of webinars, events and other activities within your firm to keep attorneys involved with marketing topics and developing new ideas. Host round table discussions to keep an open forum for everyone to voice issues that come to mind. Working together will be critical to navigating the workspace during the present crisis and beyond.
Getting out of the gate strong should consistently be at the front of your mind when thinking about strategizing in the present for when things eventually turn around. The goal in taking this approach is to ensure that you can become the proactive law leader in your market. Prioritize what’s necessary marketing-wise during this time. It is crucial to be active by taking the following steps:
• Continue to keep clients at the center of your focus. Determine one or two things that your clients need the most and jot them down. Keep that at the front of your mind and act to meet those needs. Write, post, actively help and get press.
• Build a positive brand and build brand awareness by doing good things. What good things might this entail? Start writing and doing things that help others. Think about the things that your clients and the public might need the most right now.
• You can also provide help by communicating with your local bar associations to learn how to best help other lawyers. Communicate with law schools to mentor law students. By being a resource for others, your law firm will be a leader in the profession. All you need is one good idea to get started. Executing any idea appropriately and with the helpful intentions will provide positive brand awareness and will put you far ahead of the competition when things start to turn around.
• Be even more active with your relationships with the press. The media will be desperate for content and stories, both good and bad. Concentrate on being the face of good stories. Everything the firm does will then turn into positive content and positive media exposure, which creates compelling website content.
• This is the perfect time to start updating and nominating all attorneys for Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers for 2021. Begin nominating lawyers for Top 100 Women in local business journals, 40 Under 40, practice area awards and more. Even though you won’t see results for a while, the nomination processes will create a buzz around your firm and will get people talking about marketing.
• Push yourself and your attorneys to provide up-to–date informational content.
• Keep your website fresh. Become a go-to resource.
• Engage on social media. Clients and prospects will be spending more time indoors and on their computers. Go where the Buyers Go! They will be on social media, be there with great information for them. Posts are easy, but also think target ads to your markets!
• Think Cross Selling. Zoom the attorneys in different practice groups to discuss their specific client issues and needs relating to COVID-19 and see how they can help each other. To break the ice, follow what’s trending with COVD-19 searches and see if the topics start some discussions.
• Produce continual content to keep Search Engine Optimization (SEO) moving.
• Prioritize for website analytics. Know your keywords, research your search terms, know who comes to your site, why and where they go once they get there. It’s an eye-opener and gold-mine for future ROI marketing.
• Dip your toe into online digital advertising (PPC). There is no clutter right now; helps build your brand and make the phone ring.
• Analyze your clients’ website and marketing activities. See what’s on their mind and you will be surprised how you can help.
• Do competitive analysis. It’s easy. You’ll be motivated when you see what your competition isn’t doing!
These are just some of the simple activities you can accomplish now through effective marketing. It’s critical to write more, post more, be relevant and find ways to help clients, staff and other lawyers and communicate those messages. The list of possibilities to capitalize on building brand awareness and maintaining internal momentum for your firm through this crisis truly is endless.
Now more than ever, it is crucial for law firms to think about new ways to care for their clients’ legal needs. Law firms need to use this time to take a step back, reassess, and strategize to be of better service to their clients. At the end of this crisis, your firm will be that much stronger for the efforts that you put in now. There truly is no time like the present!
If your law firm is looking to maintain and develop your brand during the COVID-19 crisis, get in touch with HerrmannLAW today. With more than 25 years of experience in law firm marketing, business development and technology, HerrmannLAW will combine branding, technology and analytics to ensure your law firm’s marketing dollars promote your business model, aspirations and you see a return on your investment… even during the toughest of times. Contact HerrmannLAW today and learn how to turn outdated into outstanding today