The Art of Marketing Yourself and Your Law Firm
Why do you need to market yourself today? The fact is that marketing is generally not a term associated with the legal industry, most law firms and lawyers in Singapore have practically established themselves by their professionalism, reputation, and efficacy. Besides being commended by the media on their achievements, the truth is that experiential word-of-mouth marketing has also been tried and true. It is not only a free form of advertisement that triggers clients to share about their experiences within their immediate network and beyond, but it also creates a chain of events that allows exposure to reach new clients. However, we must now consider the new marketing platforms in the world of digital transformation and re-examine new ways of communicating ones’ marketability. The onset of Covid-19 has gotten many practitioners asking this question, “Is there a way to reinvent the way I practice law? Lawyers have essentially had to revamp the way they think, practice, and perform in this new normal world that we find ourselves in. As prospective clients become more digital savvy and sophisticated, it is time we re-consider the art of marketing your firm to stay relevant.
History of Law Firm Marketing
Historically, in the old school way of lawyering, you could not market or advertise your firm. In legal circles around the world, it was seen to be improper to market your own law firm. Law has always had an element of prestige associated with the profession and with that, perceptions of a power imbalance between the client and lawyer persisted. However, this is no longer the case as clients are much more knowledgeable and have information at their disposal that people did not in times past. Simply having your company information published in something like the newspaper or Yellow Pages was frowned upon back in the day. The first major legal decision on legal advertising was the Supreme Court ruling in Bates v Arizona State Bar 433 U.S. 350 (1977), in which the United States Supreme Court, held that lawyer advertising is partially protected by the First Amendment. This case paved the way for countries around the world to allow law firms to advertise, albeit with certain restrictions. In England, law firm marketing became permissible in the late 80’s. In the European Union, advertising became more common in the 90’s. In Israel, for example, after the financial crisis in 2007, marketing managers in law firms became more and more relevant.
Today, it is no longer frowned upon to advertise your firm and in Singapore, this must be done within the limitations of the Legal Professional Act. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic causing disruption to the financial markets, law firms must learn to adapt and navigate this lull in business activity to maximise business earnings in these lean times.
Authenticity: The Keys to Law Firm Marketing
How does one even begin? You might find yourself at a crossroads point and have no idea where to start and the idea of handling any form of social media does your head in. Let me give you some pointers that have worked for my firm. With that being said, I would say that the most important point to take home is this – authenticity. When you embark on marketing strategies that are uniquely to you and your firm, true authenticity will show.
The first step of marketing your firm is to make sure that you have a proper website set up with an appropriate domain linked to the firm’s name. Some practitioners prefer to rely on their reputation and word-of-mouth, both of which are fantastic in themselves but can be greatly bolstered otherwise with a simple website. You do not need to spend thousands of dollars on an extravagant site, but simply displaying clear information on what services your company offers and stands for, would suffice as a starting point. As the world becomes more digitally dependent, most people access all kinds of information at the tap of their smart phones. Perhaps you are feeling hungry now and you want your food delivered quickly, where do you often go to search? Grab or Deliveroo are often the go-to food apps for those who are busy or seek convenience. In the same way, when prospective clients are looking to find a good corporate lawyer to assist their company, they would most often type the following key words on Google’s search engine – “company”, “lawyer” and “Singapore”. As such, if you have no website, articles or features, your company is least likely to appear on the search results. Whilst I do not claim to be an expert in search engine optimisation (SEO), it is no trade secret that the more published content you have on the internet, the higher in rank your firm’s name is going to appear on top of the search-engine results.
Next, you need to determine branding colours because it not only integrates across your website and firm’s logo, but it is also part of your brand’s aesthetics. You should take the time to research the best colours that would evoke the right emotions for your prospective clients as this helps to create and increase brand recognition. Whilst you cannot talk about your success rate as a lawyer, you can mention some notable achievements of previously won cases, client testimonials, and even highlight your team members and their specialisations. Today, people are often googling their legal conundrum first before searching for a lawyer. For example, if someone needs a personal injury lawyer due to sustained injuries, they might type the following sentence into Google’s search engine – “How much compensation can I get for my slip at a shopping centre”. If you just happened to write an article on this related topic and had any of the key words in the sentence above, depending on how many times people read that article or relevance, your firm’s website would likely appear on the top ranks.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words. This may be true but instead of uploading a picture of yourself on your firm’s website, why not try something more interesting like a short introduction video clip of yourself on your firm’s main page? When practising in Australia, I noticed that many law firms would market themselves this way. From that video, most people get a first impression of your personality as well as the overall character of your law firm. If you are looking for a way to publish your written articles, LinkedIn is a great platform to share with your network and beyond. There are also third-party sites and platforms such as Asia Law Network or Singapore Legal Advice where you can market yourself to a wider range of clients who are seeking legal advice. If you want to take on more social media platforms, I recommend having an Instagram handle for your firm as well as a Facebook business page. Another creative avenue where I ventured and explored my creative side was through hosting my own podcast. The Legal Eagle Podcast was started in 2019 and I have found it to be an immensely rewarding project. Besides getting to interview interesting guests, we also dive into legal-related topics such as divorce, international law and even law-tech. Our latest new podcast series is called “Let’s talk about it!” where we have short conversations with our guests on the latest trending law topics here in Singapore and around the world.
Networking is a great way to meet new people and introduce your business to different communities. In the early days of starting my business, one of my mentors told me “Sarah, you got to create an ecosystem.” In millennial terms, this would be creating a team with your dream. These are people you can connect with who are good points of referral. Giving webinar talks in different organisations and communities also allows you to expand your business network.
Your Brand Values
After setting up your marketing strategy, the next important step is to know your business inside and out because it allows you to make the most informed and strategic decisions. Law firms and lawyers need to make sure that their own brand values are defined clearly because as a brand, you get to distinguish your services from others through your personality and your competency with that area of law. This essentially helps to position you for opportunities ahead and assists you in discovering your business’s greatest potential. As proven results are what all law firms aim to convey to their existing and future clients, determining your distinctive selling points to potential clients along with a comprehensive list of provided services is vital.
Finding one’s niche is imperative. Typically, prospective clients are in search of specialised lawyers. So, consider this: “Am I a criminal law expert? Or perhaps a family law expert”? Set out on what you do best and begin to cultivate your own confidence and style.
At the end of the day, you should be building a bridge of trust with your clients by establishing great communication channels and delivering results consistently.