Prior to 2008, the legal market was experiencing a 4-6% annual growth in demand. Today, the demand for legal services has stalled at 0%, according to the Thomson Reuters’ 2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market. Combine this with the fact that an HBR Consulting survey found that corporate clients have increased their internal legal spend by 4% to cut outside counsel costs, and it appears as though independent law firms are losing their share of the market.
But the good news is, with the right strategic focus and insight, your law firm can stem the tide, raise awareness for your firm, and lock down new business.
And thanks to the insights of nine law firm marketing experts, below you’ll see their top strategies and ideas to help you grow your firm in today’s contentious legal market.
1. Remember: Clients Hire Lawyers, Not Firms – John Remsen Jr.
“Generally, clients hire lawyers, not law firms. And they hire lawyers they know, like and trust,” he explained. “Looking ahead to 2020, building and maintaining trusted relationships — especially with current clients and referral sources – will become more important than ever. It starts with demonstrating that you care by delivering great service, by knowing your client, her business and her industry. Beyond that, visit your clients on a regular basis. Break bread with your key contacts from time to time. Invest in relationships. You can’t buy them. They must be earned over time.”
2. Increase Relationship ROI Through Technology – Frank Strong
Founder and President of Sword and the Script Media, LLC, Frank Strong, believes technology needs to play a bigger role in relationship development and management, helping firms get a greater ROI from their contacts. He predicts that “by 2020, most large law firms will reaffirm that relationships still matter in law firm business development, but how they manage those relationships will be heavily augmented with technology.”
For example, relationship analytics tools automatically track and measure the activity and connections of all of your firm’s relationships to determine whether your firm’s relationships are growing stronger or declining. Based on the health of your relationships, your team can then proactively manage important accounts or protect at-risk contacts from going with your competition.
3. Automate Processes Through Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Jill S. Weber
Another proponent of technology is Jill S. Weber, the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer for Stinson Leonard Street, and the Past President of the Legal Marketing Association. She believes law firms need to utilize AI technology to increase lawyer productivity and provide superior service.
“We’re starting to see some law firms implement what I call AI platforms. This is where processes that might have been handled manually by a team of lawyers can now be automated,” Jill says. “They can do things via technology that reduces the time it takes to get clients an answer, significantly reduces client cost, and enables access to information 24/7. Clients will no longer have to wait for a lawyer to call them back. This technology is just beginning to develop and emerge for law firms.”
For example, the average CRM user spends 5.5 hours each week on manual data entry tasks. But through CRM automation tools like Introhive, those mundane data entry and management tasks are eliminated, increasing both lawyer and partner productivity in the process.
Introhive’s customer Fenwick & West, LLP, a California-based law firm with over 350 attorneys, is leveraging Introhive’s relationship intelligence and AI powered automation to increase efficiency across their marketing and business development functions. Specifically, the firm is integrating Introhive data with their CRM and financial system, and using tools like Tableau business intelligence (BI) platform and Excel to analyze the firm’s widespread data to improve data integrity, contact management and relationship intelligence. Click here to download their story.
4. Adopt a One-to-One Approach – David Ackert
“The most effective revenue generation strategies across lawyer and firm demographics involve a one-to-one rather than a one-to-many approach,” David starts. “Individual business development conversations with clients and referral sources generate better results than one-to-many marketing activities like advertising and PR, with the noteworthy exception of thought leadership, which is often used initiate one-to-one conversations on topical issues.”
5. Take Advantage of Social Selling – Vanessa Hill
“An active social media presence is just as important as your firm’s website,” she says.
Vanessa encourages lawyers to pick a social media platform that will benefit the firm and their connections — and to stick to it. In addition, firms should help lawyers share valuable content with their connections by making content easily accessible and shareable through employee advocacy platforms.
6. Create a Content Marketing Strategy – Michele Ruiz
“The firms that have quality content online, and an effective social media strategy to distribute that content, are building their firm brand and their personal brand — and a strong book of business — effectively and cost-efficiently,” Michele says.
“They are also winning clients over their competition,” she adds. “Here’s the big takeaway: A content marketing strategy that is client-centric helps not only attract clients, but helps retain clients.”
7. Enable Better Collaboration – Heidi K. Gardner
“Lawyers who collaborate earn higher margins, build trust with their colleagues, gain access to more lucrative clients, and attract more cutting-edge work,” Heidi states. “Lawyers who want to operate in this way need to share marketing and business development information with each other. Those who don’t collaborate are missing out on significant growth, revenues, and profits—and risk that their siloed work becomes commoditized.”
8. Share Your Hero Moments – Yolanda Cartusciello
“Tell the ‘hero stories’ about the success that sharing has brought to the firm,” she says. “Demonstrate that it has brought more money, work, and prestige to the firm. That may motivate partners, as well.”
9. Actively Seek Client Feedback – Joshua Lenon
“Begin soliciting feedback formally from clients,” he suggests. “Firms that listen to client feedback have a 30% higher client retention rate.”
And considering the fact that improving your retention rate by just 5% has been known to increase profits by 25% to 95%, listening and acting on client feedback isn’t something law firms can ignore.
Today’s legal market is undergoing a significant shift. But the advice and tactics above can help your firm reach success in a struggling marketplace. So, if you’re in the process of creating your law firm’s marketing plan, consider incorporating the strategies above such as asking for client feedback, demonstrating case studies, encouraging collaboration, automating mundane processes, and more.
For more strategies on how to market your law firm, download our Legal Marketing Playbook.