Remember the science experiment to make a volcano? You use simple ingredients like baking soda and vinegar. On their own they work for baking and cleaning, no wow factor. But when you combine the two you get a volcanic eruption. Pretty cool.
Marketing for law firms works in much the same way. If only one channel is used, you don’t have a seamless message, or the people in your firm do not support the message, many firms find they get hit or miss results and come to the conclusion that whatever channel or message they used didn’t work. Unfortunately, this happens all too frequently and some marketing gets a bum rap.
The magic with marketing law firms happens when you take an integrated marketing approach. Much like our volcano experiment, when you combine the right ingredients (marketing channels, message, and internal resources) you’ll see an eruption in your results.
Research shows that consumers must be exposed to your message multiple times before they notice you, so your message better be consistent. It also helps to reach people in more than one way, as integrated marketing’s use of various channels and means to deliver your message also helps to reach people who have different learning styles. Someone may see a television ad that tout’s your customer service and then they may see your name again through direct mail giving a service selling point of phone calls returned in a day and it barely register in their subconscious, but when they see a detailed description or recommendation of your customer service through another source like social media it clicks. They had seen your message enough times and made the connection that you are the firm that will provide the level of service they want. It wasn’t just the social media that worked, it was the integrated use of channels and message. This ignites the volcano. When they contact your firm via e-mail, web forms, social media comment or phone call and have the experience they were promised in the message of great customer service you have a full circle connection. Magic.
What does this mean? To get the most of every dollar you spend your efforts must be integrated. Think what would have happened in our scenario if at any point in the process a message didn’t match up with your core strength of customer service. For example, what if the person answering the phone was rude? You’d lose this prospect and have wasted your money. Was it the marketing that didn’t work? Integrated marketing is a full circle approach.
When you develop a strategic marketing plan, you must expand your horizons. Get your message right first. Your unique selling proposition (USP) should represent your core competencies. Do research to make sure this is the reality your clients see and not just the perception of your internal stakeholders. Then make sure you work with your staff to provide this USP seamlessly. Look closely at the channels used by your current clients and those you would like to be clients. Even though integrated marketing requires multiple channels, you should only include as many channels as you can do well and consistently. Every firm should also have a client relationship management & marketing (CRM&M) plan at the heart of their efforts, as referrals (professional and client) are the lifeblood of law firms. CRM is one of the most efficient and cost-effective marketing tools to get new or repeat business.
Be consistent with your branding, message, marketing, and internal resources. To make magic, your message and brand must be recognizable at any point in the process so people make the connection in their minds. Monitor campaign effectiveness; don’t be afraid to adjust campaigns that are not working as well as you’d like, but make sure you give it enough time to work. Magic doesn’t always happen overnight. One of the biggest mistakes we see firms make is to not give enough time or support to a marketing plan, stopping before they hit the tipping point to get more clients. Converting new customers is frequently a numbers game—it all comes down to planning and effectively executing on those integrated marketing plans consistently.
Think about how you can incorporate these ideas into your marketing strategy to improve your results. Questions and comments are welcome. Please share any success stories or challenges as well. If you’d like help integrating your efforts, contact Catalyst for a free Backyard Dreaming session.
Jeanne Frazer heads up The Expert Speakers, a group that provides marketing, management and motivational speakers, writers, coaches and mentors with expertise in all facets of marketing and management for law firms for events, seminars and workshops. Frazer is also president of vitalink® a creative + strategic marketing think tank that specializes in marketing for attorneys, law firms and legal associations. vitalink is a strategic partner of Catalyst Group, Inc. Jeanne may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.850.0605.