Expert Insight

Balancing the business of being a lawyer with marketing your firm – the key to getting it right Legal Services Marketing . Rachel Tombs

Award winning legal services marketer and business development specialist Rachel Tombs speaks to Legal Challenges International to give us her advice on attracting and keeping clients.

Rachel started her career working as a solicitor for fifteen years in both regional and city law firms. She discovered a talent for business development and legal services marketing and established her own firm, Orion Legal Marketing, dedicated to helping clients in the legal sector grow their businesses. With her unique insights as both as a lawyer and marketing specialist, Rachel  and her team have worked with law firms, both nationally and internationally, to develop effective business and marketing strategies.

She is also the proprietor of Links2Leads, where she offers LinkedIn coaching to over 500 business owners and lawyers, helping them to effectively network, market and develop their businesses using the power of LinkedIn.


Lawyers often struggle to dedicate the time and resources to run marketing and business development campaigns whilst concentrating on the business of being a lawyer and running a business. It is a common juggling act but for a law firm to thrive and grow it is important to have a marketing strategy and ensure it is implemented effectively.

Today, lawyers are often competing with cheap, low-quality online services and battling increasing regulation whilst servicing increasing client demands.

Building a flourishing law firm requires a healthy marketing habit that is worked on continually. When I put together a plan for my law firm clients, I take account of how busy they are and create a strategy that fits into their day-to-day lives. Occasional, panicked marketing, put together when work is quiet, isn’t effective. Neither is a mighty marketing strategy that languages in a file and is never implemented. Continuous, focused effort brings a steady stream of the right kind of clients, and it is this type of strategy that I want to share with you today.


Strategy and goals


A tailored and thought out marketing strategy is essential for any firm trying to achieve success. It helps define a law firm’s unique characteristics so that it can differentiate itself from the competition and provides a roadmap for the future.

The strategy should list goals for the firm, which need to be specific in terms of achievement and time. These should not be ‘vanity’ objectives that do not actually help the bottom line but measurable aims that help generate leads and work from both new and existing clients.

Identify the firm’s strengths and weaknesses, and the market opportunities and threats, and use this information to tailor your marketing strategy. If you are particularly good at business law that includes technology, focus your efforts on marketing in that sphere. If you know that new businesses are opening in your area of expertise, make sure your best lawyers are networking with their key staff. If you can see a threat on the horizon from online legal services, make sure your branding identifies you as a different and better provider.

Look at other firms and see what they are doing well and what is working for them. Select techniques that you think will work for your business. This could be running free workshops on employment law for big local employers or producing a series of online family law guides for people contemplating divorce.

Give everyone in the firm a marketing role, even if it is only a minor one, such as writing an occasional article for your newsletter then sharing it on social media. Not only will this help add to your bank of quality content, but it will keep everyone involved and aware of the importance of marketing.

Make sure your strategy includes regular review dates, when you sit down with your team and go through what has worked, what hasn’t and what your next steps need to be.


The power of a good website


It is impossible to overestimate the importance of a good quality website in an age when almost every first contact is found via the internet. Invest in a clear, fast, mobile-friendly site where potential clients can quickly find what they are looking for and there is plenty of well-organised, useful information available.

This is your opportunity to sell yourself, so make it a priority to go through every aspect of the site and make sure it is the best it can be.

Include your services, appealing bios of your lawyers with pictures and readable (not dry) information about them, information about various areas of law that is likely to be relevant to your clients and articles of news, including anything your staff have been involved in.

It is important to offer solutions to your clients’ problems, not just tell them who you are and what you can do. A great way of doing this is by including case studies. If someone who has been in an accident reads about how you helped a client obtain a successful result for their personal injury, you will connect with them on a more emotional level than you would if you just listed your staff’s qualifications and abilities.

Good quality content is vital in obtaining good online search results and keeping clients on your site. It needs to be useful, interesting, easily digestible and relevant. It should also be added to regularly, as this is something that search engines look for when ranking results. Keep to subjects that will be of use to your potential clients. Set up a content schedule in advance and plan who will write each piece, particularly if this is something that you want your staff to contribute to.


Building a brand


Clear branding should extend across everything you do. This means that when your prospects and clients read one of your articles, attend your event or visits your website the key values of your firm are consistent and they immediately understand what it is you offer and what sort of a firm you are.

Think about your culture and the clients you want to attract. Are you a young, forward-thinking firm, quick to take on new technology and able to offer online client portals, or a firm built on traditional values of excellent service and attention to detail? Or both?

Brainstorm with your staff to come up with your ethos. Ask yourselves, what do we do? How do we do it? Why do we do it? And what do we offer that other firms don’t that makes us unique?

Legal branding doesn’t have to be dull. High quality images with striking text, clearly setting out your unique selling points will help separate you from the crowd. Again, play to your strengths. If you’re a small firm, explain why that is an advantage to your clients, for example, because of the level of your client care, personal service and flexible approach. Make sure you stay true to your branding across all of your content.


The importance of the ideal client


Targeting your marketing towards your ideal client is essential. Trying to be ‘all things to all men’ and capture every possible lead will mean you end up missing the business you are most suited to taking on. Instead, draw up a profile of your ideal client, including their area of business, their needs, their pain points, their goals and their motivations.

Find out where they can be found, whether it is on a particular social media platform or at the local Chamber of Commerce or in a business forum. Connect with them there, by offering something of use, such as informative content, a chat about the current business climate or your informal take on a problem they may have.

Make sure all of your marketing work is specifically targeted towards them and solving the problems they are likely to encounter.


Retaining and growing clients


Communication is essential for keeping clients happy. They need to hear from you on occasions other than when you are billing them to feel valued and informed.

Think about what line of business they are in, and if you think any of your colleagues might be of use to them in the future, make sure you connect them. A substantial amount of work is lost from law firms simply because clients didn’t realise what other work they could cover. Throughout any transaction, make sure you are always listening to them and helping them understand the legal process.


Use technology to enhance your client experience


Make sure you take advantage of advances in technology. Law firms can be slow to adopt new software, but increasingly tools exist to automate the more standard areas of legal work making the service more efficient and profitable. This can free up lawyer time to focus on better client care and more marketing. For example, a client portal can allow clients to have a quick check on progress, without the need for a telephone call. Quite often, all they want to know is what stage their case is at and kept in the loop.


Marketing tools and services


Time can be a scare resource for a busy lawyer but there are helpful tools available, for example for scheduling social media posting, email list management and analytics, that mean you can use automation to run some elements for you.

Outsourcing some of your marketing work means that not only does it get done, but it is of a high quality and provided with the regularity which is essential in obtaining successful results. A social media marketer will be able to target your posts to the places where your ideal clients are found, and will have the experience to know what is working and what needs to be tweaked.

Well-written content is essential, but if no-one has the time to put it together, find a content marketer with the necessary expertise to create the things you need, for example, legal guides, engaging personnel profiles, news pieces, articles, newsletters, landing pages, case studies and white papers. Research by DemandMetric found that content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional forms of marketing, yet it generates three times the number of leads.


In summary


To thrive and grow, a well-thought out marketing strategy is essential for every law firm. You may have the best firm around, but unless people know about it, you’ll struggle to find new clients.

Ensure your strategy is grounded in reality and focuses on the areas what will give you the best return. Keep it reviewed  to reflect changes in the market and update it where necessary. Make sure you have an optimum profile by putting out regular content, including newsletters and social media posts linking to new content targeted at key prospects and clients. So long as your effort is consistent and focused, new business will follow

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