I thought I’d post some thoughts today on legal marketing for smaller law firms and the sole practitioner. Obviously, in terms of marketing, the biggest difference between smaller firms and their larger brethren is the depth of resources they can apply to the marketing function. It is foolish to think that such practices will be able to “out shout” their competitors. Hence, they must think smarter and utilize whatever resources they do have more wisely.
Part of thinking smarter means ignoring the temptation to be just another fish in a large pond and instead turning into the proverbial large fish in a smaller pond. And that “pond” can be the geographical area the practice targets, the type of individuals or businesses the practice seeks to reach, the sub-segment or niche in which it seeks to make its mark.
By geo-optimizing its SEO and pay-per-click efforts, a small family law firm can be ranked high up on the online directories within that area closest to its office. There’s no need to reach out across a large metropolis to seek business among people who will never see the listing and even if they did, would probably not venture miles away from where they live.
A small personal injury practice might recognize that it would be foolish to take on the “big boys” with a television campaign. But it could carve out a niche among new and young drivers by a) launching a social media effort towards high school and college students, b) running ads on highly targeted cable networks (e.g., MTV, VH1, Spike) or c) implementing an outreach program or special event for high schools/colleges in which students are rewarded for safe driving or participating in a contest on driving tips, etc.
By thinking vertically, a B2B law practice focusing on a specific industry can become the player in a given market. Every individual and every business inevitably considers itself to be unique. By highlighting its experience in transactions for, say, the retail industry, the small firm can become the “go to” practice. It doesn’t really matter if other firms might be just as capable. The mere fact that experience in transactional matters for retailers is conveyed through the firm web site, social media pages, collateral materials can convince potential prospects that you understand their language. Want to get even more specific. That same firm might consider becoming the perceived guru on matters pertaining to retail restaurants.
Solo practitioners and smaller practices should not grouse about the unlevel playing field on which they compete. Nor, in frustration, should they ignore the marketing function altogether. Instead, they should recognize that they can be highly successful by leveraging their resources against tighter definitions of geography, target prospects and/or area of focus.