Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Get creative

Get creative


The nature of private client work makes it tricky to market a firm and all the services on offer, but it's certainly not impossible

The three most strands of private client law - family, wills/tax/probate and residential property - are tricky to market.

First of all, there's the targeting issue; identifying who will need you, what they need and when, along with more tangible hurdles. You will naturally have a higher volume of clients and because all of those clients are individuals with individual circumstances, needs and plans, you cannot make marketing-based assumptions on what they are likely to need and when, or about the likelihood and timing of a repeat purchase.

That doesn't mean you can be excused from any marketing discussions within your firm.

You still need to bring in work and you still need to charge for that work. To do that, you must stay visible. However, given the issues listed above, you may find that a more automated approach to maintaining your profile could make your business development easier to manage (and easier to balance against client demands).

Here are a few ways you can build an effective marketing machine.

1. E-marketing of value

The first thing to remember is why you're e-marketing. It's to win work and generate referrals and if you're going to do that, you need to ditch two things immediately -

• Long long technical articles; and

• Stories about the firm, new partners and new offices.

Instead, create short practical pieces (preferably a couple of short paragraphs or even bullet points) that frame a potential issue, explain why it's an issue, outline a simple solution and invite your distribution list to get in touch to find out more.

And don't be ageist. Too many firms still discount e-marketing because the older generation aren't on email. This is just a handy excuse; every online user survey clearly shows they are volume users.

2. Widen out the value you offer

Getting guest bloggers from other professions to contribute to your news bulletins, updates and website will have a positive impact on your readership.

They'll recognise you are looking at their wellbeing from a broader perspective which will boost your PR ratings. You'll increase the likelihood your content will be passed on to family and friends which will boost client referral opportunities. You get more reasons to talk to your key referrers which will boost professional referrals.

3. Encourage 'stickiness'

Everything you put out needs to give your recipients a reason to stay in touch. Clearly set out your 'call to action' (what you want them to do next) and give them a reason for doing it.

For example you can add links to more in-depth information or explanation on your website. You can invite them to download a fact sheet or roadmap. You could even ask them to complete a questionnaire about how to improve your service and/or information flow (with a prize of course).

4. Produce practical video content

Studies show that, irrespective of demographics, the popularity of video content continues to rise unabated. It's easier and quicker to digest and consumers can access it when it's most convenient.

Replace time consuming articles and seminars with short sharp single topic videos. Platforms like GoToWebinar allow you to produce slide and voice files cheaply and you can append them to your website, send them out to clients and referrers, and promote them via the major share sites with minimum impact on your time and budget.

If you get the tone and delivery right, they will also be passed on which again will create valuable word or mouth marketing and referral opportunities.

5. Use greeting cards creatively

Don't concentrate on Christmas or birthdays. If you're going to invest time and budget into cards then stand out, don't disappear inside everyone else's efforts.

Wedding anniversaries and moving anniversaries are good times to get back in touch and are never going to generate as many cards from other sources as more major dates. More personally relevant dates like St David's day or St Andrew's day could also raise a smile and single you out as the adviser who actually takes note of their clients.

Something else I've come to understand is that there really is an international day for everyone now. If you have a large number of golfers, sailors, bridge players or gardeners within your client base, Mark them up and send them a card on their day.

6. Get more social

Who do you have in your commercial client base (or indeed your private client base) who you know run businesses that rely on new introductions to prospective consumers?

Those who run food and drink based businesses, venues, sports clubs or other personal interest vehicles need to meet people. Why not explore potential opportunities to run events together? You get exposure to your clients, they get exposure to potential new clients, and your clients have a nice time and leave smiling.

Even if they don't come to whatever you organise, they will see, receive and appreciate your invitation which means the exercise has a wider marketing benefit. And it takes little more than pressing 'send' and letting automation take the strain.

Douglas McPherson is a director at Size 10 1/2 Boots

He writes a regular blog about marketing for Private Client Adviser