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Successfully Brand Your Law Firm With Strategy, Empathy, and Consistency

What’s in a Brand Identity?

You may not think of your legal practice as a “brand,” but just like Gap, Target, MasterCard, or Subaru, it is. Done well, a law firm brand creates a memorable picture of your firm, builds trust with current and potential clients, and helps your firm stand out in the legal industry. So how do you effectively manage your brand and develop a brand identity?

Successful brands share three common traits:

  1. A foundational strategy
  2. Acting in empathy
  3. Maintaining creative consistency

Below, we will discuss these three core facets of effectively building and managing your law firm’s brand.

Defining a Successful Law Firm Branding Strategy

The first step to establishing and maintaining a successful brand is developing a comprehensive brand strategy. Begin by thinking about your ideal clients: Who are they? What do they struggle with? How can you help them relieve their struggles? Using what you know about your clients, you can shape your brand to speak to and connect with them. Today’s legal consumer is more sophisticated than ever. In fact, 42% of people with legal issues research their situation online, and 10% of people who hire a lawyer continue to do legal research on their own. Everything you do should speak to your ideal clients, offer them helpful tools for addressing their legal issues, and direct them to your firm for help solving their problems.

The first step to establishing and maintaining a successful brand is developing a comprehensive brand strategy.

Many law firms struggle to build a brand that speaks to their ideal clients. For example, they might overemphasize accolades, board appointments, and recognition in the legal community. Unfortunately, these factors don’t resonate your target audience, because most people are skeptical of awards and can’t put them into context. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include them on your site, it just means that your Super Lawyers badge shouldn’t be your main selling point.

Instead, your law firm’s brand should be rooted in your perspectives and beliefs as attorneys and clearly communicate how you help clients meet their needs and solve their problems. This is known as your brand promise. It can include information about your track record of success, your ability to handle complex claims, and the empathy you have for people facing a tough legal situation. By leading with value statements that relate to your target audience’s current troubles, you’re establishing your firm as a human, helpful, and relevant brand.

The data supports this approach to branding. In a survey of over 1,500 people conducted by Casey Meraz, none of the people surveyed indicated that awards, recognition, or honors were important in their decision-making process. Instead, some of the top qualities people look for include ratings, results, ethics, honesty, trust, and competitive price. Another survey by FindLaw discovered that the four most important factors for potential clients included expertise (such as your years of experience and your practice areas), recommendations, cost, and trustworthiness.

Some of the top qualities people look for include ratings, results, ethics, honesty, trust, and competitive price.

In short, branding for law firms is not about how great you are; it’s about how great you are at meeting your potential clients’ needs.

Understanding Empathy and Applying It to Your Law Firm Brand

Successful brands understand their clients at a deep level. Your clients reach out to your firm in times of real need. Rarely does someone seek out legal services in a time of great joy. Time and again when we read and listen to testimonials from our most successful law firms’ clients, we hear, “he took care of me,” “she listened to me,” “he made me feel like I was his only client,” and “they treated me like I was part of the family.”

Bringing empathy into your branding process requires time and effort on the part of anyone who interfaces with your clients and potential clients — from your receptionists to attorneys and partners. The good news? There’s a good chance you and your firm are already operating with an empathetic approach to client service. You just need to integrate it into your branding strategy.

In short, branding for law firms is not about how great you are; it’s about how great you are at meeting your potential clients’ needs.

An empathetic approach isn’t limited to how you treat people who come through your doors. It’s also part of your logo design, the colors and design of your website, and the words you use to communicate your message. People are coming to your firm in their hour of need; everything client-facing needs to be human, helpful, and empathetic. Your brand’s messaging should speak to where consumers are, and reiterate the ways your law firm can help them solve their problems. Even the smallest details, like where a form appears on your website, your typography, or your color scheme communicate your brand message proposition on an unconscious level.

If you’re not sure how to bring your brand to life, it’s time to consider working with an experienced team to help develop your brand through logo design; brand colors and typography; mission, vision, and value writing; brand voice exercises; website development; and more.

RELATED: The 10 Essential Elements Your Law Firm’s Website Needs

Creating Branding Consistency for Your Law Firm

Once you’ve established a brand strategy, you’ll need to apply it consistently across all your assets and marketing efforts. Creating a set of clearly articulated brand guidelines can help. Your brand guidelines should outline how your law firm uses images, logos, typography, voice, and tone to express its brand.

If your brand is established, you’ll now need to perform a careful audit of all your branded assets (publications, web pages, social media profiles, directory listings, letterhead, etc.) to make sure they adhere to your brand guidelines and communicate a consistent, empathetic message to clients. For new brands, you’ll want to create new, branded assets that reflect your brand guidelines as you expand your online and offline presence.

Strategies for Maintaining a Consistent Law Firm Brand Identity

 

  1. Work in Campaigns: Marketing campaigns have a consistent central message or theme that is shared across platforms or outlets. For instance, a personal injury firm might launch a campaign trying to reach people injured in a car crash that includes paid advertising, sponsored Facebook posts, optimized organic content, and local billboards. Promoting a message through a campaign also gives you a tremendous amount of control over your messaging and the ability to measure campaign success through careful analysis.

 

  1. Meet Prospective Clients Where They Are: With consistent campaign messaging across digital and traditional outlets, you can share your message with potential clients wherever they are. Digital and traditional marketing tactics can work together to deliver a consistent, persuasive client experience. And even if people don’t need your services right away, your firm will be top of mind when they do. In fact, pairing a search engine optimization strategy with billboards boosts its effectiveness by an astounding 40%.

 

  1. Stay True to Your Values: The heart and soul of your brand is your firm’s unique position and perspective. Your brand has the best chance of staying consistent, recognizable, and trustworthy if it is based on values you truly believe in, rather than trends or personas you adopt to appeal to more people.

 

  1. Build Brand Champions: Once your client’s legal matter is resolved, it is not the end of their journey with your brand. Don’t forget to collect a positive review to post on your website, on social media, and everywhere else you can online. True success stories about real people will build brand equity with prospective clients faster than the best ad campaign ever will.

 

Consistent branding reinforces what you want to be known for no matter where the client meets you: in print, online, or even in conversation. When your brand effectively delivers on its promises time and time again to the people who interact with it, you will start to see the rewards of good strategy, empathetic legal service, and creative consistency. Those rewards include emotional connections, high-quality ratings, referrals from satisfied clients, a growing following of brand advocates, and — most importantly — trust.

Consistent branding reinforces what you want to be known for no matter where the client meets you: in print, online, or even in conversation.

Develop a Brilliant Legal Marketing Plan With LaFleur

At LaFleur, we’re proud to work with law firms from across the country, helping them develop strong brands that translate to more clicks, conversions, and clients. To learn how we can help your firm elevate your brand identity, reach your target clients, and stand out in a competitive legal industry, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Simply give our office a call at (888) 222-1512 or complete this brief online form.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

References

Kabiri, N. (2016). Sink or swim: How to adapt to the New Legal Consumer. Avvo. Retrieved from https://www.martindale-avvo.com/wp-content/uploads/how_to_adapt_to_the_new_legal_consumer_avvo_whitepaper_2016.pdf

Meraz, C. (2016, April 18). Hiring a lawyer: What potential clients really care about. Jurisdigital. Retrieved from https://jurisdigital.com/what-consumers-are-looking-for-before-hiring-a-lawyer/

Sesto, G. (2018, August 25). Out of Home by the Numbers: 64 Amazing Outdoor Advertising Stats. DashTwo. Retrieved from https://dashtwo.com/blog/out-of-home-by-the-numbers-64-amazing-outdoor-advertising-stats/

Wilson, M. (2014, July 29). FindLaw survey: 4 factors clients look for when hiring a lawyer. FindLaw. Retrieved from http://blogs.findlaw.com/strategist/2014/07/findlaw-survey-4-factors-clients-look-for-when-hiring-a-lawyer.html

 

(C’mon, Baby! Do the Automation!) Marketing Automation FAQs

Marketing automation has become increasingly popular in recent years. In 2010, it was a $225 million industry. As of 2015, that number spiked to $1.65 billion with nearly 150,000 companies using some sort of marketing automation software. It’s an important part of any digital marketing plan because it complements and informs every other tactic and leads to tremendous success for the companies that utilize it.

Whether you already have a robust, segmented, and successful marketing automation strategy in place or are considering implementing this tactic as part of your larger holistic strategy, the answers to this short list of frequently asked questions will help you improve your existing campaigns or develop effective campaigns moving forward.

What Is Marketing Automation?

As the name suggests, marketing automation includes a software program designed to automate repetitive marketing campaigns — such as email, social media, and paid advertising, among several others — helping to eliminate unnecessary resources and generate a strong return on investment. There are several marketing automation platforms to choose from varying in price and functionality.

The best marketing automation campaigns are consistent, sustainable, and scalable. They focus on a variety of audience segments and the ways in which those segments behave online and interact with your brand and materials. While email is the most popular and common form of automation, you should be gathering and reviewing the data each time a potential client interacts with your brand via social media, paid advertising, and content on your primary and secondary web properties (including landing pages and review sites).

For instance, a potential legal client viewing a social media post related to bankruptcy on a law firm’s Facebook page is an excellent behavioral input. It tells you exactly what the individual’s challenges are and what sort of material you need to put in front of them to showcase your value. Better yet, by placing a helpful form directly on that page, you can also utilize your social media channels as a platform for direct marketing.

Many companies are quick to purchase the shiniest software, but marketing automation is most powerful when it incorporates well-developed, user-specific content in the form of tailored emails, infographics, whitepapers, video, etc. So instead of buying expensive email lists, which provide false lead stability and result in high spam rates and wasted spend, take the necessary time to develop thoughtful content marketing with several primary audience segments in mind. This means creating client personas early in the process and crafting meaningful assets that align with your potential customers’ needs.

RELATED: Create an Email Marketing Strategy in 4 Easy Steps

What Are the Benefits of Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation provides several unique benefits, but perhaps the most useful aspect of this tactic is that it helps create resource efficiencies for marketers and businesses. Rather than having to develop dozens (or even hundreds) of unique campaigns from scratch, automation allows the user to collect and analyze data, derive insights about potential and existing customers, and then create content marketing strategies that can be delivered to segmented audiences with the click of the mouse.

Sound marketing automation campaigns not only save time, money, and brain power, but they also help identify clients and customers who are further along in the sales funnel or who are more inclined to purchase your product or service. In most instances, these prospects are first introduced to your company when they are still researching and gathering information, and automation helps identify exactly what they’re looking for and how you are in a unique position to help meet their needs.

When you determine what your prospects are looking for and how near or far they are to committing to your products or services, you know exactly how to communicate with them and which educational, promotional, or advertising assets to provide them with. Prospects near the top of the sales funnel should receive more general information about the history and benefits of your company. Prospects closer to the purchasing stage should receive more specific information about products or services.

RELATED: Engagement Can Improve Email Marketing Performance — Here’s How

Why Do Some Marketing Automation Campaigns Fail?

The most common reason marketing automation campaigns fail is the lack of a top-funnel foundation. Businesses are attracted to the idea of marketing automation that they put the cart in front of the horse before even considering their route.

Marketing automation should support lead nurturing, not lead generation. Yet, time and time again, companies are enticed by the lure of buzz-words and purchase trendy automation software before they have content marketing plans in place. If your company isn’t generating inbound organic leads, you’re not quite ready to begin investing in marketing automation.

Another common reason for unsuccessful marketing automation campaigns is a lack of resources necessary for sustained growth. It takes time, money, and skill to create quality campaigns with a reasonable expectation of consistent success. If you’re not committed to doing it the right way, your spam rates, unsubscribe lists, and low engagement levels will increase quickly and sharply — defeating the purpose of marketing automation in the first place.

RELATED: Email Lists: Low-Hanging Fruit or Cream of the Crop?

What Are Marketing Automation Best Practices?

We’ve already touched on several best practices, but we all like concise lists grouped in one easy-to-find location. Here is a brief list of the most effective marketing automation processes and protocols.

  1. Install Lead Management Before Marketing Automation:

    Marketing automation can be a powerful tool, but it is entirely dependent upon lead generation. This means that companies need to map out their lead flow prior to implementing any automation campaigns. According to Mairi Burns, VP Client Services at Dunthorpe Marketing Group, “You can’t automate a process that doesn’t exist.”

  2. Create Accurate Personas:

    Before developing or facilitating prospect interaction, businesses must understand who they want to communicate with and what sort of content they want to develop to foster those relationships. Creating personas (fictionalized versions of a company’s ideal client) takes a substantial commitment, but it’s a necessary practice if you want to generate maximum ROI.

  3. Right Time; Right Place:

    The basic premise behind marketing automation is to deliver relevant, purposeful, and useful content to the right person at the opportune time in the ideal setting. So before launching any outbound campaigns, make sure you understand the data you’ve collected and leverage it to the best of your ability.

  4. Score Your Leads With Purpose:

    Developing an effective lead scoring system takes time and patience, but the result is worth the effort. Lead scoring helps your team understand where prospects are within the sales funnel and how likely they are to purchase your product or service. Focus on objective data and keep it simple — diversify your system over time based on thoughtful analysis of the information you receive from each prospect.

  5. Maintain Your Email Reputation:

    Even if you’ve crafted amazing content with engaging email copy, you can’t deliver your message if you routinely send to bad email addresses. Understand your audience, write for that audience, provide clear and prominent unsubscribe options, and scrub your lists regularly. This will ensure your emails arrive in welcoming inboxes rather than filtered as spam.

RELATED: How to Effectively Manage Your Email Marketing List

Is Marketing Automation Right for Your Company?

Most companies can benefit from marketing automation to varying degrees depending on your product and service lines, the amount of resources at your disposal, and the behaviors and interests of your ideal client base.

Smaller companies offering simple services should keep their automation practices simple and focus on areas they are most likely to succeed. Don’t spread yourself too thin and utilize your staff and other resources wisely.

Larger businesses that offer more diversified products and services should also optimize their resources, but likely have a bit more margin for error. A large budget and talented staff doesn’t justify a free-wheeling approach. Consider your audience, segment accordingly, and take the time to curate an organic list of interested customers.

Regardless of your business’ size or industry, marketing automation can work if you follow the best practices mentioned above, make a concerted effort to develop and distribute usable content, and rely on the data rather than your intuition or opinion.

RELATED: The LaFleur Approach to Email Marketing

Get Your Automation in Motion With LaFleur!

Marketing automation is central to what we are trying to accomplish on behalf of our clients here at LaFleur. We believe it is an integral component of a larger holistic strategy and recommend it for all our clients (although to varying degrees based on their unique circumstances).

If you’re considering marketing automation or any other digital marketing solutions, please contact us today by calling (888) 222-1512 or completing this brief form. We specialize in legal and healthcare marketing but also have achieved excellent success for numerous general business clients across the United States.

Our marketing experts are familiar and proficient with several automation platforms and have developed proprietary lead scoring systems for internal and client use. Additionally, our content team is staffed with professors, former journalists, and educated and experienced writers from all walks of life who can deliver your company’s story to multiple audience segments.

References:

Getting started with automated email marketing. (2018). Kissmetrics. Retrieved from https://blog.kissmetrics.com/automated-email-marketing/

Hemani, M. (2016, December 27). How marketing automation is changing the game in 2017. HuffPost. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/moosa-hemani/how-marketing-automation_b_13863584.html

Rimmer, A. (2017, February 1). What is marketing automation? A beginner’s guide. Hubspot. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/insiders/what-is-marketing-automation-a-beginners-guide

Sukhraj, R. (2017, July 8). A quick history of marketing automation (& why you need it). Impact. Retrieved from https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/history-of-marketing-automation

 

5 Common Marketing Mistakes and How to Correct Them

Without a solid marketing strategy, it’s easy to make mistakes. Unfortunately, many law firms don’t know how to identify and correct their errors. Before you spend another penny of your marketing budget, take some time to reassess your tactics.

1. You Lack a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy

Without a strong marketing strategy, it’s easy to waste time and money on inconsistent and ineffective initiatives. Sometimes, companies throw their budget at the proverbial wall and hope that something sticks, and while you can approach marketing on an ad hoc basis, it’s not in your best interest.

There’s a difference between a marketing strategy and the tools you might use to implement it. Your marketing strategy is your roadmap and foundation; it identifies your core audiences, sets standards, and frames your marketing choices. Your website, social media profiles, pay-per-click ads, podcasts, and email campaigns are great tools, but none of these elements composes a strategy in and of themselves.

Without a marketing strategy, it’s hard to ensure brand consistency and foster quality leads. For example, suppose your law firm purchases a generic, late-night cable television ad. It doesn’t include much information about your personal injury practice, because a big-box referral service created it from a stale template. Instead, it simply tells viewers to call you with their car accident questions. You and your partners figured you could easily recoup the few thousand dollars you invested if you got one good case. However, most callers have undesirable cases — or no case at all.

When you have a well-defined marketing strategy, you and your team will understand who you want to reach and the best tools with which to do so. Your messages will be consistent with your brand, offer compelling information, and nurture leads. When someone initiates contact with you, there’s a better chance they’re exactly the type of client you’re looking for because they know exactly who you are and what you do best.

2. You Don’t Know Your Audience

Most businesses know their clients’ stories, their challenges, their idiosyncrasies, and their goals. But have you ever thought of them as a marketing audience, or more accurately, a series of marketing audiences?

Effective marketing is targeted at specific audiences who you know value your services and who you consider ideal clients. Typically, you will develop a series of “personas,” idealized characters that reflect your audiences’ preferences, motivations, and demographics.

When you’re building your personas, don’t just data-mine your files. You should also look for areas of potential growth and underserved populations. Ask your leads and clients questions, and listen carefully to their responses. Find out how they discovered your company, why they chose you, and what they appreciate most about your services. Do they recommend you to friends and family? Once you’ve answered these questions, review this information and other client data to identify common traits.

Once you have developed well-defined personas, you can create marketing messages that speak to each audience segment. Consider how your personas would search for your services and what might entice them to click on your contact form or other calls-to-action.

3. You Treat Your Services Like They’re a Commodity

There are thousands of law firms offering personal injury, tax, estate planning, and business services. And many of them use similar branding and messages: Pictures of people in suits! Free consultations! Millions recovered! This sort of messaging can quickly become white noise and will rarely differentiate you from your competition. It can also make your firm look like a commodity that’s nearly identical to your competition, charges similar rates, and offers comparable results.

 

“The longer someone spends reading your blog, watching videos, and downloading white papers, the more likely they’ll fill out your contact form or give you a call. An educated lead is more likely to match one of you.”

 

Your firm is unique, and your messaging should be as well. You might approach cases differently, have specialized credentials, or your staff might go above and beyond to make your clients feel welcomed and empowered. Your personal experiences or passions might add a depth of understanding or empathy that your competitors lack. These are your value propositions. Take advantage of your strengths.

You should demonstrate your added value on each page, post, email, and ad. This requires a lot of introspection, research, and effort. You should identify why your services are unique and desirable, and craft messages that clearly and concisely explain your value propositions. Then, share these messages in all marketing materials and client interactions.

4. You’re Too Self-Centered

You certainly should talk about how awesome your law firm is and share its success stories, but alongside these promotional pieces, offer thought leadership. Legal marketing sometimes seems like it’s all about the cult of personality, but most clients aren’t looking for a name — they’re looking for a product or service.  They’re also looking for information, guidance, and an interpersonal relationship.

When most clients start searching for law firms, they’re typically looking for basic information. They want to know how to file a claim, draft a document, or learn about their rights. Sharing knowledge not only shows your competence, it also encourages prospective clients to spend time on your website. The longer someone spends reading your blog, watching videos, and downloading white papers, the more likely they’ll fill out your contact form or give you a call. An educated lead is more likely to match one of your ideal personas, since they found your content appealing and informative.

5. You Don’t Value Data and Research

A good marketing strategy requires competitive research and data points. Market research involves studying your competitors’ brands and messages. What are they doing right? What weaknesses can you exploit? How can you differentiate yourself?

You also should assess the effectiveness of your content and tactics. This might involve using A/B testing, data analytics, SEO evaluations, and other activities. Data will also help you establish a digital baseline that will help you understand the relative impact and cost-effectiveness of your revised marketing tactics.

Finally, never rest on past success. Marketing, especially digital marketing, is constantly evolving. Unless you regularly assess your website’s performance and compliance with the industry’s best practices, you might be losing leads — and clients.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Learn How LaFleur Marketing Can Help Improve Your Marketing Strategy.

Most lawyers would rather practice law than focus on legal marketing, but that’s where we come in. At LaFleur Marketing, we help law firms, healthcare organizations, and other businesses reach their ideal clients through well-designed websites, brilliant content marketing, and customized marketing strategies. Contact us online or at (888) 222-1512 for more information.

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