Who are you â€“ and what do you stand for?
By Neil Lloyd
Neil Lloyd considers the importance of building one’s brand over traditional marketing methods
There’s marketing. And there’s marketing. I don’t mean making sure content strategy aligns with SEO or that social posts have a call to action. Although that’s clearly important too. I mean what should be the route to market, how can we strategically build our customer base and our reputation?
For law firms, the answer is rarely simple. The nature of our work means we have sometimes completely disparate audiences and therefore messaging.
What we need to say to our B2B clients will be different from how we appeal to first-time buyers. How we approach a grieving family who have come to us after the most terrible tragedy will be completely different from the challenge presented by a planning issue.
However, what we have found is the building of our brand, intrinsically linked to the building of our team and our culture, is what wins out day after day.
This should be the starting point. What do we want to be known for, how do we live and breathe these values, how does this translate into someone walking through our door or picking up the phone? We don’t separate business development from marketing – they are two sides of the same coin.
Internally, we will sit down with each team to discuss their yearly goals and how they can be achieved through marketing and business development activities.
We look at our PR opportunities and cases studies that can be developed, and make sure we’re sharing testimonials on our channels.
We offer existing clients the opportunity for an annual legal review (ALR), which not only identifies potential additional revenue streams but also serves to strengthen relationships.
Maximising the technology we offer clients also supports our marketing efforts. Technology is focused on the customer journey and apps to make life (and contact with us) easier.
Of course, it’s important to know what’s working and what isn’t – which is why we build metrics and measurement into the marketing strategy.
Building the brand
When we rebuilt and relaunched our website, we made sure we could trace the success of our campaigns. We made sure it’s responsive and effectively tracks the user journey but with a focus on sales to ensure we build enquiry levels. We have a trackable search tool and quarterly reports for lead generation which include how many enquiries we’ve received for business, private client and our own vacancies.
We have specific telephone numbers for different departments. And we monitor newsletter opens and click-through rates. We also make sure we highlight how we rate on independent review sites – when people check the reviews for a pair of slippers or a take-away, you know they’ll do the same before engaging a solicitor. We actively encourage clients to complete feedback surveys and are frequently found at the top of Review Solicitors in the disciplines we practice.
One aspect of our marketing we can’t always measure, but can see having an impact, is our public relations programme. This introduces and establishes our people as the experts and highlights the benefits of using our services.
We use our social channels tactically – we encourage our people to share their news and successes and see the most engagement when we focus on our teams.
After all, people like to do business with people. And the human stories, real-life case studies and personal testimonials are where we see the most impact from our PR and social media campaigns.
But the biggest bang for our marketing buck is probably our corporate social responsibility agenda. FBC Manby Bowdler is a law firm embedded in the communities in which it serves.
From the sponsorship of the University of Wolverhampton motorsport team and Keighley’s horse-racing stable to our support of organisations promoting STEM and tech skills to dementia awareness, we are there.
This is because these are the projects and charities which are close to the hearts of our teams and their families, and our clients and their families. It is a business development and marketing strategy that unites us and has delivered far more than traditional print advertising or Google Adwords.
For people to trust you with their business, they need to know who you are and what you stand for. We market our services not just by telling them who we are, but by showing them too.
Our people are the best ambassadors for our brand. Our tactic is to engage them in the development of their own business teams, to get them thinking about what activity can deliver for them, and then engage specialists to help us deploy the tactics that work.
Here’s my top 10:
1. Engage your people in your marketing efforts. Our best performing social posts involve our people, not our services or corporate messaging.
2. Bring marketing to the top table. Every business with marketing experience at board level does better.
3. Embrace innovation. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation. Use this to your advantage.
4. Spend wisely. Paid-for advertising can be expensive. If you’re going to pay for it, make sure you can target it. Social media is brilliant for cost-effective campaigns.
5. Make your website work for you. It’s great having an online brochure but do you know what you rank for or are people finding your competitors first? Get your content strategy right
6. Tell stories. PR is not about promotion, it’s about engaging people in a story to deliver an impact. PR gives us a reach into audiences which build our brand.
7. Get to grips with what your audience are searching for online. If you’ve not got Search Engine Console working on your analytics, do it now.
8. Different platforms, different tactics. Know where your audience hangs out and create content accordingly.
9. Use video. Without a doubt, on every algorithm, video wins. Slideshows, animation, talking heads – try it.
10. Google ‘law firm’ and your location in an incognito browser. What are people finding when they search for you and how can you move up the page?
Neil Lloyd is managing director at FCB Manby Bowlder fcbmb.co.uk