January is traditionally a month of resolutions, of looking back over the past years at successes and failures, looking forward toward a new year, and deciding what changes could be made and what new initiatives could be implemented in order to improve your practice. One area many law firms examine at this time of year is marketing.
The January/February 2015 issue of Law Practice Magazine is out, and it's packed with articles all about marketing. Here's an overview - maybe you'll find something that suits your fancy:
If you've never done it before, the beginning of the year is a good time to put some analytics in place to measure the effectiveness of your marketing. Amy Hrehovocik writes about Leveraging Analytics in Marketing and provides stories from experts that illustrate the effectiveness of good data.
In Cultivating Credibility, Brad Shepard talks about the impact of online profiles on legal marketing, and specifically on the ways in which in-house counsel research and choose outside counsel. According to Shepard, outside counsel are interested in whether online profiles demonstrate an attorney's expertise: with a particular legal issue, in a specific industry, or with similarly-sized companies, and whether that expertise is backed up by recommendations from other trusted sources.
Shepard also notes that clients want to see depth, rather than breadth, in online profiles. (Attorneys insistent on listing every case they've ever handled or every practice area they could possibly handle for a client, take heed!)
Another important take-away from the article:
...[M]any legal marketing teams focus on building firm-wide marketing umbrellas, while potential clients with new matters are looking for attorneys with specific subject matter expertise. These teams would be better served spending time and resources on creating awareness of the true value of the individual attorneys who bring in, or attract, the business - not a master firm brand.
In other words, clients hire lawyers, not law firms - at least initially - and therefore, marketing should be more focused on the lawyers, rather than the firms as a whole. One way to do that is by giving more attention to lawyers' online profiles, such as those on LinkedIn. (If you want to learn how to maximize your LinkedIn Profile, consider LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers).
There has been a lot of buzz recently about the commoditization of legal services, and Debra Bruce's article, Responding to the Commoditization of Legal Services, tackles this issue head-on, showing you how you can market your practice to differentiate yourself from others by adding value or unique offerings.
And how about social media? What platforms are actually effective, and how can you adopt them? Two articles in this issue address social media. First, Courtney Ward-Reichard provides a round-up showing you which platforms the well-known technology experts and Law Practice Division actives are using regularly and why in Social Media Marketing in Practice. The top answers were Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and even the bloggers used social media to promote their blog content.
My Simple Steps column for this month also addresses social media. In A Simple But Effective Social Media Plan, I provide you with a basic plan for approaching social media activity which can be expanded or contracted based on your needs, keeping in mind that at its most effective, social media should be a networking, rather than a broadcasting platform.
As always, Law Practice also has other articles, not tied to the month's marketing theme (or at least not directly). These include:
Ken Callander's article on Value-Based Pricing Strategies, which, while not marketing per se, can certainly be a way to differentiate yourself from the competition and become a strong focus for your marketing and branding strategy.
In The Key to a Happy Client, Rod Boddie, author of the excellent LP book, Succeeding as Outside Counsel, points out the importance of setting and managing clients' expectations and managing both the matter and the client effectively. (You can also read more about managing clients' expectations in my post, "Tips for Managing Client Expectations" or this post on Lawyerist: Managing Clients' Expectations.
There are even more tips and articles in this month's issue, so be sure to take a look! What new ideas can you take away?