5 Tips to Market a Corporate Law Firm
Legal services is a venerable industry, but traditional methods of marketing no longer yield the same returns in 2022 as they once did. Nowadays, firms must be savvy and focused on their customer profile in order to secure business.
Below, Social Chameleon director Jemima Myers lists five of her own top tips for marketing a corporate law firm.
As an agency that predominantly works with professional services and B2B industry clients, it is not uncommon for clients to come to us with a view that that their business is difficult to market in today’s aesthetically driven and sensationalised world. After all, for professional services firms – particularly legal practices – truth, integrity and a professional business persona are prerequisites of developing a trusted business practice. Moreover, with strict advertising regulations in place for legal professionals, out-of-the-box marketing tricks are not always a feasible option.
So, in today’s digital advertising market, how do corporate law firms compete with their counterparts and put themselves in the limelight?
1) Employee Advocacy
Though the phrase ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ is largely true when describing businesses, law firms and barristers’ chambers are a good example of where individual success and performance can be paramount to overall firm or chambers reputation – or at least can play a significant role in defining the latter.
Employee advocacy essentially describes the use of employees to promote a business. Individual rankings on Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners are a clear example of where legal organisations understand the importance of individual performance, so to this extent, employee advocacy should not be an entirely new premise. However, using employee advocacy to leverage the power of social networks (such as LinkedIn) is not something that we see regularly implemented by law firms – and should be a priority for 2023 marketing strategies.
Whilst posts published directly to firm pages on LinkedIn may reach a relatively limited audience of followers, posts shared or published by multiple employees and engaged with by their respective connections can have a huge impact on overall reach and engagement with a piece of content.
Nonetheless, it is no secret that lawyers – in particular, commercial lawyers – are amongst some of the busiest professionals and, unsurprisingly, regular LinkedIn updates may not make their list of top priorities. Furthermore, getting employees (and partners) to adapt to new digital activities can be challenging – especially when it is not essential to their daily practices. The key here is providing education and resources.
Employee advocacy essentially describes the use of employees to promote a business.
Personal branding is becoming an increasingly accepted concept amongst professionals, and often ambitious professionals will jump at the opportunity to promote their name and work portfolio. As such, employee advocacy is an easy sell to employees and simply offering workshops and educational resources (such as guides) on how to engage with a firm and its content online can be a good way to kickstart an effective employee advocacy initiative.
2) Being There When You Are Needed
Professional services firms often have a tough time navigating today’s online-focused market. Unlike traditional forms of marketing, where marketing messages were filtered from businesses down to consumers, online algorithms across search engines and social platforms have put users in the driver’s seat, allowing them more control over the type of content that they see and engage with. As a result, push-marketing techniques (such as social media advertisements) can often fall on deaf ears for demand-based services.
The trick here is to be proactive about ensuring prospects can find you when they need you, and by ‘find’, we mean you come up on page one of Google’s search results and at the forefront of review platforms. Unfortunately, SEO has never been more competitive than it is today, and with recent algorithmic changes on core search platforms now prioritising sites that produce regular, high-quality content, the output needed for a successful SEO strategy can be incredibly demanding for organisations.
Further, we are finding that users are increasingly using social platforms as a means of vetting prospective service providers before deciding whether to buy a service, meaning that firms must also uphold their social strategies to add legitimacy and authority to their online persona.
All in all, it is a tall order for firms who want to remain competitive in the online arena. However, beyond looking at SEO and social media as two tools with two separate strategies, developing and executing a single high-quality and integrated content strategy across both channels will help to propel your performance in both areas – whilst also simplifying your marketing approach!
Professional services firms often have a tough time navigating today’s online-focused market.
3) Nurturing Online Relationships
When considering SEO, it is also important to factor in ‘link-building’. This refers to the process of generating links from other sites towards your own site through articles, features and directories. The emphasis here should be on links from high-quality, trusted sites.
Links are essentially like citing case law in an article or submissions. They indicate to Google (the SEO equivalent of an editor or judge) that the source cited is a legitimate, trusted source. The more links to your firm’s trusted website that you build, the more Google’s algorithm regards you as an authority within your industry. This eventually results in a top-page ranking on Google’s search results when prospects are looking for your services.
4) Answering the Right Questions
So, we understand that content is paramount, that employees should be sharing it, and that inbound links will help ensure that your content is ranking for relevant search terms. What next?
All of these activities are only worthwhile if the content you are producing is relevant to your target client. Having worked with legal organisations for several years, one of the common mistakes we find with content strategies is an over-emphasis on producing content that is overly technical for a lay user (such as a company director or non-legal professional). Whilst it is important to produce content that also attracts other legal professionals to your site, and positions you as an expert within the relevant commercial area, a large proportion of content should be geared towards answering a lay prospect’s questions, educating them and – in doing so – gaining their trust.
Tools such as Google Search Console, Google Trends and AnswerThePublic can all be used to develop an extensive list of common search terms and queries which you can then utilise to develop informative articles. Such resources should be reviewed, updated and expanded regularly, including by adding internal links to related content on your site that explores other niche topics in more depth.
5) Seize the Moment
Whilst most of your website traffic and leads will come from searches or recommendations from current or former clients, legal firms should not pass up on the opportunity to gain media attention and further build brand authority through reactive marketing techniques.
Social listening tools such as BuzzSumo can be used to track and monitor trending events or news around specific topics or keywords, which will then send you real-time notifications as and when such developments occur. For example, such tools will notify you about new releases and announcements from any court, publicly listed entity or regulator (such as the Financial Conduct Authority or the Takeover Panel).
Firms can strategically piggyback on the general interest and hype around such events through techniques such as ‘newsjacking’ – which simply refers to the process of adding professional opinions or insights into trending news pieces. This can be executed through social posts (including any trending hashtags) or articles, or by submitting opinions to news outlets that are seeking expert commentary on news pieces.
Newsjacking is a great way to get your firm in front of users who are already interested in a topic or industry with which your firm’s services overlap, thus increasing your likelihood of attracting new leads and increasing brand awareness amongst relevant audiences.
The Verdict (or Judgment!)
Marketing is time-consuming – there are no two ways about it – but when done right, it is incredibly effective and will easily pay for itself in new clients. For legal organisations, it can be tempting to rely on the demand for legal services and to simply go through the motions of undertaking basic marketing initiatives. However, this usually results in wasted resources and ultimately allows other firms to pull ahead. In today’s age, it is crucial to put your target market at the centre of all your strategic activities, considering how best to get your firm in front of them, and what information will be most valuable to them.
Jemima Myers, Director
Chancery Lane, London EC4A, UK
Jemima Myers is the founder and director of Social Chameleon. She is a graduate in strategic business management from UAL and is a registered Chartered Manager with the Chartered Management Institute with over eight years of experience working both in-house and as an independent marketing consultant, managing digital marketing activities for a range of clients in the UK and internationally. Jemima specialises in omni-channel marketing and organic social growth strategy.
Social Chameleon is a Central London-based digital marketing agency that works with a range of clients internationally, including B2B clients, professional services firms and multi-national conglomerates. Outside of their experience working with legal practices, co-director Carmine Conte is a commercial barrister at Blackstone Chambers and adds further insight and knowledge of the legal services industry. Social Chameleon has been shortlisted for several awards at the UK Agency Awards 2022, including Best Social Media Agency of the Year.