(And 4 strategic law firms that get it right)
The best lawyers are strategic. They have a vision of where they’re going with a case, and then they build a roadmap. You would never waste thousands of dollars purchasing unnecessary medical records, deposing irrelevant experts, let alone file a case that wasn’t recoverable.
So why are you doing those things when it comes to your legal marketing?
In this article, we explore the importance of a law firm marketing strategy. You’ll learn how strategy differs from tactics, how our CLEAR Framework™ helps you approach your marketing efforts strategically and see some examples of law firms that are thinking creatively and analytically.
What is a marketing strategy?
There’s a lot of talk about “marketing strategy,” but many lawyers (and marketers) have a hard differentiating strategy from tactics. We won’t bore you with a history of strategic and tactical thinking—you can read Sun Tzu’s Art of War on your own time. Instead, let’s focus on the practical differences:
- Strategy: a plan of action focused on an ultimate goal
- Tactics: the steps you take to get to that goal
Tactics are the building blocks of law firm marketing strategies, but in isolation are not strategies themselves.
Suppose your firm has seen a decrease in your number of leads. You’re eager to get more emails, phone calls, and texts from potential clients, but how do you make it happen? You could throw money at a series of tactics like paid advertising, YouTube videos, and blogs. But, if these efforts aren’t part of a cohesive, targeted strategy, you’ll see haphazard results.
Before our team launches a marketing plan, we audit the firm’s current efforts, looking for gaps, inefficiencies, and opportunities for improvement. Then, we assess the competition, performing a similar audit. Finally, we craft a plan that reflects the firm’s unique goals, market, budget, and brand.
During an audit, we might discover that your firm’s drop in leads coincided with a decrease in website traffic. One of your top competitors started leaning into their marketing and launched a website with a strong user experience and well-optimized content. At the same time, your brand was being neglected—you haven’t been consistently publishing articles, your website is excruciatingly slow, and your pages aren’t optimized for conversion.
We would likely suggest a strategy that focuses on improving your brand positioning, modernizing your website and user experience, and reaching your ideal clients with purposeful content that drives them further down the funnel. This strategy would likely incorporate web design, content marketing, paid advertising, and social media management, but it would be holistic and intentional.
Now, let’s explore some fundamentals of legal marketing strategy and some firms that are getting it right.
Ground your law firm marketing strategy in a clear mission and vision
Why do you practice law? The easy answer is, “to help people.” The better answer probably is a lot more nuanced. A great marketing strategy is what connects your mission and vision to your marketing tactics, so before you start roughing out a marketing plan, it’s a good idea to explore your firm’s purpose and mission.
Let’s use Karl Truman as an example. Karl served in the U.S. Army for 28 years. He’s deeply committed to helping veterans in Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana, whether they have a personal injury case, a VA disability claim, or were hurt at a civilian job. Now that Karl is retired from the U.S. Army, he frames his law firm’s brand in the military values he holds dear: integrity, discipline, and getting the job done.
His brand always feels genuine. When you talk to Karl or watch his ads, his sincerity and love for the veteran community is clear. It’s no surprise that his “Count on the Colonel” tagline resonates with his audience. Once you’ve met Karl, you believe that statement.
Your brand and marketing should center around your values and mission, not a corny mascot. After all, which would you rather have your potential leads think of you as?
- An honorable retired servicemember who won’t abandon them if the going gets tough
- A law moose (or whatever animal you’ve chosen)
- An inanimate object (hammers are a popular choice)
- A guy who yells a lot or stands on vehicles
So, how do you come up with a brand and narrative that are as authentic as Karl Truman’s? Hard work and introspection.
You’ll need to dig into your firm’s voice, tone, goals, and motivations. You’ll also need to analyze your ideal clients’ pain points, priorities—and the reasons they decide to hire you or someone else. It’s not easy work, but your brand and messaging will be much more powerful for it.
That’s why LaFleur’s Create solution focuses on brand positioning, competitive analysis, and other foundational work. We help law firms differentiate themselves and build content that resonates with the people that they want to serve.
Speak directly to the people who need your help
Sure, you might write in plain language, but are you really speaking to your clients’ needs in your content? We’re big fans of human-centered content at LaFleur, and we think you should be too.
Human-centered content focuses on your audience’s core needs and concerns and offers meaningful solutions. Legal consumers are more independent than ever before—and they’re experiencing information overload. So, while you need content that is search engine optimized, you also need to talk directly to your audience, help them make sense of their situation, and build up trust.
We love SEO (search engine optimization), but you cannot focus so heavily on it that you forget about reader experience. You can use all the right keywords and get onto the first page on Google, but if readers don’t find the answers they’re looking for, all that extra search traffic isn’t going to actually bring in new cases.
YLaw, a Canadian law firm that focuses on family law skillfully walks the line between SEO and human-centered content. Using clever visuals, a strong sense of empathy, and comprehensive content, YLaw’s website acknowledges the difficult situations that their clients are facing and differentiates themselves from their competitors.
How do you embrace this approach? Consider using an empathy map. As you create your editorial calendars, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your ideal clients’ biggest worries and needs?
- What are they feeling, hearing, seeing, saying, and doing?
- How can you speak to those pressing needs and address their biggest worries?
Consider your prospective clients’ journey
Legal consumers are researching their issues and considering their DIY options. But while they might not be ready to schedule a free consultation, that doesn’t mean you have to wait patiently. Instead, offer them valuable content and tools that involve less of a commitment than a face-to-face case evaluation.
Some quick examples of interactive and downloadable content that might work well for your law firm:
- Ebooks and guides that go beyond the typical “what to do after a car accident” topics. This might include workbooks, symptom trackers, and other tools that help people organize their claims, learn more about their rights, and regain a sense of control during a challenging time.
- Educational quizzes or online tools that educate your visitors about your area of legal expertise or their claims. For example, you could have a quiz about traffic laws in your state, an online tool that helps them understand their case’s settlement value, or what damages are covered under a typical homeowner insurance policy.
- Interactive graphics and data visualizations that provide more detailed information when you scroll over or click certain elements, without taking you to a separate page.
Michigan Auto Law does a great job offering interactive and gated content that furthers its readers’ journeys and demonstrates its remarkable expertise. Legal consumers can use the firm’s settlement calculator, download a comprehensive guidebook about Michigan’s complicated no-fault laws, or watch informative videos. They can even sort through the firm’s countless five-star reviews by attorney.
Michigan Auto Law’s website has become a trusted source because legal consumers can easily access high-quality information that they need. At the same time, the firm’s high-value resources help build trust, reaffirm its reputation as an unrivaled expert in its practice, and nurture their leads.
Enhance your narrative with visual storytelling
Images, video, and other visual elements can boost engagement with your content, so don’t ignore design and visual storytelling when you build your marketing plan.
Look at Kelly | Uustal’s site, for example. Its clean lines, bold typography, and compelling videos are more powerful than its written copy. The law firm engages its audience with empathetic, human-centered storytelling. Because the firm seems to rely on attorney referrals more than organic traffic for its leads, this approach makes a lot of sense.
Even if you’re more interested in search engine optimization (SEO) and driving traffic to your law firm website than Kelly | Uustal, you can still take lessons from their approach.
Your website should be more than a pretty face. Its visual elements should further your narrative. Color, typography, images, and video content should reflect your brand and connect with your prospective clients.
If you have a cookie-cutter website that looks and feels identical to your competitors, you’re not digging into design enough. (And if your law firm needs a design refresh, our team would love to meet you.)
Don’t rest on your past marketing successes
Legal consumers and search engine algorithms are continually evolving. Your law firm should never assume that because something worked in the past, it will work in the long term.
However, you also shouldn’t panic every time there’s a downturn in performance. SEO experts believe that search engine volatility is going to be increasingly common. According to SEMrush, compared to 2020, websites in 2021 were significantly more volatile (68% on desktop and 84% on mobile).
Instead, take a holistic, data-driven approach that continually monitors your marketing strategy’s performance, embraces A/B testing, and isn’t afraid to acknowledge that tactics sometimes fall flat. Our Refine solution puts our AAA process (which attracts, analyzes, and adjusts your campaigns and content) and regular reporting at the forefront, helping you make smarter decisions about your law firm marketing strategy.
LaFleur: Law firm marketing strategies that deliver real results
Innovating within an established, highly regulated field can be tricky. But innovating without a strong foundation is almost impossible. Even if you become the world’s most famous TikTok lawyer, that’s no guarantee you’ll be flooded with new cases from your ideal clients if your website and intake processes are a mess.
In short, you can’t ignore the basics, including making sure your law firm’s website is in good health—impactful branding, strong foundational SEO-optimized content, user-friendly navigation on desktop and mobile, fast load speeds, targeted calls to action, and more.
If that foundation is looking a little shaky and it’s time for a website and digital marketing review, that’s certainly something that LaFleur can help you with. And if you’ve got the basics down but are struggling to take your practice to the next level, we’d love to hear from you!
Our CLEAR framework is a data-driven, comprehensive approach to digital marketing that helps law firms of all sizes reach more of their ideal clients. Rather than reusing the same cookie-cutter law firm marketing plan for every attorney, we take the time to get to know you, your practice, your market, and your brand and offer tailored marketing solutions to fit your needs.
Schwartz, B. (2021, October 21). Google search results are more volatile this year than last year, says data provider. Search Engine Land. Retrieved from https://searchengineland.com/google-search-results-are-more-volatile-this-year-than-last-year-says-data-provider-375409
Understanding the Legal Consumer 2020. (2020). Martindale-Avvo. Retrieved from https://www.martindale-avvo.com/wp-content/uploads/Understanding-the-Legal-Consumer-2020.pdf
Understanding the Legal Consumer 2021. (2021). Martindale-Avvo. Retrieved from https://www.martindale-avvo.com/wp-content/uploads/Martindale-Avvo-Understanding-The-Legal-Consumer-2021.pdf