Journalists used to say that a story had “legs” if the topic promised to be far reaching or warranted extensive ongoing coverage. Similarly, many kinds of marketing activities have legs that might allow law firms to extend the depth and breadth of their efforts -- often without incurring much, if any additional cost. Unfortunately, many firms engage in PR, advertising and/or online initiatives without squeezing out all of the benefits that these initiatives have to offer.
As such, I thought it might be a good idea to discuss some of the ways in which law firms can extend the life of their marketing activities.
Generate Publicity Before and After a “Happening” Law firms often make the mistake that the marketing of an event is limited to the implementation of the event itself. This can be shortsighted. For example, consider a situation in which a family law practice decides to make a presentation on the topic of domestic violence. The firm spends a great deal of resources both promoting and implementing the program. Usually however, this is where it stops. Left on the table is all of the post- event publicity that might have been realized. Were photos or a video taken of the presentation for posting later on the firm’s web site, blog or social media pages? Were follow up communications made to the event’s attendees? Might proceeds from the event been given to a women’s shelter, thereby allowing the firm to generate more publicity when presenting that highly visible, oversized check?
Similarly, it’s great to land an interview on a major broadcast station. But have the firm’s clients and prospects been made aware of the appearance? Is there a clip of the event on the firm’s website?
I say over and over again that marketing does not happen in a vacuum. It does not end just because one particular “happening” has concluded. That check to the women’s shelter can be earmarked for the procurement of food, the obtaining of which might be the basis for yet another photo op. The video of the event you posted on your web site might also be excellent material for posting on Youtube (see #2 below.) And the cost to the firm for all of this? Very little.
Use the Same Online Content in a Multiplicity of Ways Law firms often decide that they wish to launch a social media campaign or an e-newsletter effort or a blog without realizing that the content developed for one such initiative can be used just as well for the others. Consider for example, a personal injury practice that seeks to develop a niche in swimming pool accidents . There is no reason why that same article entitled “10 Ways to Keep Your Swimming Pool Safe This Summer” cannot be used as both an article for a blog as well as fodder for an email blast/e-newsletter. Further, snippets from such content can then be used as posts on the various social media channels. That’s an example of just one piece of content being used in three different ways!
Use Advertising and Online Media to Interact with Your Prospects There was a time not so long ago where the interaction between a marketer and its prospects was much less dynamic than it is today. For the most part, marketers, including law firms, promoted their products or services and the targeted individuals or businesses made the decision to either purchase the offering or not.
That’s not really the way things work any more. Today, it’s the prospective client who initiates the “conversation” by seeking out particular goods or services. The ability to maintain this conversation with the prospect through online means has particular implications for law firms. One has to remember that, for the individual (or even the business client), selecting a law firm to handle a specific legal matter is one that is fraught with risk. There may be large sums of money involved and without any previous experience with a particular firm, there may be little for the prospect to go on in terms of firm credentials or even the “likeablity” of individual attorneys.
But with online media, the prospect can learn more about the firm – at their convenience; they can come to appreciate the firm’s expertise – through the downloading of firm articles, posts and white papers; and they can even “meet” the firm’s attorneys by registering and attending firm sponsored webinars. These are all ways in which the prospect can first get comfortable with the firm before making the commitment to “buy.” And usually, this takes very little expense on the part of the firm.
Leverage Opportunities with the Media in Which You Choose to Run We live in a competitive world. This is particularly true for print, broadcast and even online media that have to fight tooth and nail for every marketing dollar that they receive. Yes, you can certainly negotiate for rates that are amenable to you, but at some point, even that will have its limits. However, this does not mean, you can’t make getting some “gimmes” a condition of your purchase. Depending on the nature of your practice area and the type of medium you employ, there is nothing wrong with seeking a free article about your practice when negotiating an ad buy, attempting to secure lists of attendees when purchasing a trade show booth or asking for links back to your site when procuring an online directory listing. There are many merchandising opportunities that may be available to you. You just need to be a) aware of them, b) creative, c) willing to ask for them and d) ready to leverage the pressure the media has to generate new revenues.
Developing a marketing plan involves more than just coming up with a litany of activities. To be successful, the smart law practice must recognize that marketing is an evolving process and should use the same content in multiple fashions, consistently interact with its prospects and seek out ways in which to leverage media opportunities.