Branding through marketing is critical for every business, even when that business is a law firm. After all, while clients are probably already a qualified lead by the time they approach your firm, branding is why they know about your firm to begin with. Even so, you’ve studied to win in the courtroom, not the marketplace, and law firm branding may seem outside your wheelhouse. That’s why we’ve put together a list of twelve do’s and don’ts to help you start branding your law firm effectively.
DO: Work with a Professional.
There are a host of benefits to working with professional marketers. They’ll understand industry best practices and know how to apply the most effective techniques and technology to help you craft polished creative and leverage the right channels to your benefit. They’ll also take steps to understand your audience (i.e., potential clients) and have the tools in place to track your progress and realign your campaign to more effectively reach that audience. Most importantly, professional marketers will be aware of the state law governing how your law firm is permitted to advertise and will ensure your ads are compliant, such as including the disclosure “The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.”
DON’T: Focus on Pricing over Quality.
The adage “you get what you pay for” exists for a reason. Branding is an investment, and if you’ll only make the cheapest investment, you’ll probably only get the cheapest results. Find a professional marketing team that can balance price with utmost quality so that you can stay within your firm’s budget while also making the biggest impact on your audience.
DO: Give It Time to Come Together.
It’s worth reiterating: branding is an investment. Investments usually take time to yield their best results, and the same is true of marketing your law firm. Trying to rush results or switching tactics before a campaign can actually prove its worth will only lead to wasted advertising dollars and undermining your firm’s reach. This is another reason to work with a professional; they’ll know how much time a particular branding campaign will need to yield results.
DON’T: Just Do Something Because That’s The Way It’s Always Been Done.
Choosing a marketing tactic because it’s the tactic that’s traditionally been used by lawyers in general or within your niche is one of the leading causes of advertising failure. That’s because audiences and their needs evolve, and no two firms are exactly alike. Your firm needs a plan that offers a message that expresses your firm’s values and benefits, and that means putting together a plan that’s based on research and an understanding of which tactics are actually effective and which aren’t all that effective anymore.
DO: Know Your Target Audience Before Starting.
As an extension of our last point, understanding your clients and potential clients is key to developing an advertising strategy that’s meaningful. A message that’s too generic won’t be as memorable or effective as insightful, customized messages. A message that doesn’t speak to the audience at all will fall flat, or worse, be so tone deaf as to turn the audience off to your offerings. This is where data is critical, and the more personalized that data can be, the greater the impact your advertising can have on your audience.
DON’T: Make Marketing Decisions Based Only on Your Preferences.
This is an important extension of our last point. If you develop marketing based on your preferences or impressions, rather than research and a real understanding of what your audience wants and needs, your marketing will fail. The ads you create will be talking to yourself and not the clientele your firm wants to serve.
DO: Focus on Your Specialty.
A key part of branding is helping your firm stand out and be memorable. Your firm has something unique to offer by operating in a specific area of law, and your marketing ought to be playing to these strengths.
DON’T: Think Small.
No matter how small your law firm is, the goal of marketing is to help your business grow. That means your branding plan shouldn’t reflect the fact that your firm is small; instead, brand your firm as the business you desire it to be. The limitations of your campaign should be just these two things: budget, and not misrepresenting your firm.
DO: Be Authentic.
Clients don’t like being sold to, and there’s enough stereotypes about lawyers to last a lifetime. If your branding is inauthentic, you’ll feed into those stereotypes and turn clients off. Worse, you may actually hurt your reputation. However, if your branding is authentic, your genuine passion to help your clients will be evident and become something that draws them to your firm.
DON’T: Value the Bottom Line over Values.
As an extension of our last point, authentically sharing your values through your branding will draw clients to your firm. If your marketing is focused entirely on pushing for the sale, that becomes your branding. Your firm will be perceived as one that only cares about getting another client and another paycheck. Instead, your values should be your guide, and that can open another authentic marketing opportunity: cause marketing.
DO: Be Flexible and Open to Learning.
Rigidity is another major cause of marketing failure. Your firm and your marketing plan need to be flexible enough to change your approach when the data calls for it. That means being open to learning new ways of understanding your clients and marketing your firm.
DON’T: Over Do It.
If your advertising is over-the-top, chances are high that it will annoy your audience. There’s a couple of areas where you need to consider this. In terms of advertising frequency, there’s a sweet spot between advertising too little to make an impact and so often that it makes your audience feel badgered. In terms of your creative, you want the message to be simple and easy to understand.
Marketing is the way you open communication with potential clients to express the value you provide and how you’ll meet their needs. It bears repeating that any marketing for branding your law firm needs to be compliant with Missouri laws governing the way law firms can advertise. These twelve do-and-don’t tips will help you build an effective law firm branding plan and help lift the number of qualified leads you see coming in.