Every year legal marketing professionals try to define the key trends and predictions for the upcoming year – so do we. Most tools and solutions have been around for some time, we just have to adjust them according to our experience and global trends.
1. Digital marketing
It’s had an important role in law firms for some years, but we are seeing more and more firms finding the need to go through a rebranding process. This affects their website, their thought leadership initiatives, their content marketing tools, and also their back office - with updated CRM systems which are now connected to billing, time tracking and marketing and business development processes.
2. The change of media
The PESO model in PR says that there are 4 types of media: Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned. Media is constantly evolving, and marketers have to adapt to these changes. Old-media forms, such as newspapers, magazines and mainstream news portals are not the ideal platform for law firms. They are expensive, not targeted enough to be cost effective and results prove hard to measure. Law firms need to build their own media platforms with the use of blogs, social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, or creating their own events and meet-ups. These are the ESO in PESO.
Nevertheless, paid media is still largely appreciated, but it needs to be highly targeted. Law firms should not pay for wide reach, but for laser-focused professional media-platforms. The potential clients don’t want to read every single news outlets; they do not want to shop around different portals either. Clients will look for information on their interests in smaller circles. And law firms have to be present in that circle.
3. Personal branding
Law firms are building their brand but also young attorneys are building their personal brand. The Y generation is starting to take senior positions. By Y generation, we generally mean those people born between 1978-1994. The Y generation has a rather different mindset from the earlier generation: they change jobs easily and they are not attached to their firms emotionally; they write professional blogs and client alerts; they hold presentations and meet-ups; they network extensively and are very active on social media. Content marketing is their number one tool developing their personal brand and carrier path.
4. Pro bono and CSR activities
Companies are more and more green, eco-friendly, with CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs and initiatives, locally and globally. And they expect their law firms to share their outlook. A law firm has to stand out from their competition. All law firms may have the same level of expertise, but they can project very different messages. A pro bono or CSR initiative can place their brand in a more outstanding and relatable position. It is important to remember that GCs and CEOs tend to choose a firm they can relate to.
5. Emotional selling
People like to take rational decisions in life – especially in a business environment. As decision makers are human, their decisions are unavoidably affected by their emotions. Law firms should use this knowledge. The purpose of every PR activity is to build a positive brand. A positive brand is a likeable brand. But how a firm can achieve this like-ability? Easy: when the law firm connects with their clients, or when clients receive more than expected. This can include free expert content in a blog or a newsletter, a free seminar, pro bono work for an important cause, a nice client event…. Law firms need to do everything they can to improve their communications strategy in 2018.
By Mate Bende, Partner, Pro/Lawyer Consulting
With 10 years of legal communication experience, Mate Bende started his legal consultancy firm, Pro/Lawyer Consulting in 2015, with the intention of, helping lawyers and the legal industry reach their business goals. In 2017, he worked with 15 law firms and 3 legal networks in the CEE region. His main focus is on PR based business development solutions which include branding, online presence for law firms, social media trainings and legal ranking consultancy as well. In 2016 and 2017 Pro/Lawyer won a Hungarian B2B communications award, both times with a campaign in the legal business sphere. From 2018, the firm is a member of the Nextlaw Global Public Affairs Network, powered by Dentons.