Chambers, Lexology, InterAction & others share insights on legal marketing trends for 2015
What are the Legal marketing trends for 2015? Well I’m very lucky to have friends and colleagues from around the globe who are well-known experts in various areas of law firm marketing. I’m luckier still that when I reach out to them to ask what they see at the trends in legal marketing for 2015, they take the time to write down those thoughts and allow me to share them with you.
Their predictions this year include getting back to the basics; focus at the lawyer level on the personal brand and business development; an increased importance in legal directories; remembering why you implemented technology in the first place (and then doing it better!) and resourcing content production.
To see the full text from each of them (in no particular order), and a couple of trends from us here at fSquared Marketing, keep reading.
Client Relationship Management (CRM)
“Law firms clearly are reinventing their organizations to support clients across the business development lifecycle. They are onboarding business development directors and managers, coaching attorneys in business development best practices, and hiring CMOs with sales experience.
Today, partners and business development leaders alike must effectively manage rapidly expanding professional networks made larger by social media; focus on building profitable business relationships; and converting opportunities into valuable client relationships.
This business development evolution simply cannot be managed by talent alone, however. In 2015, we’ll see new technology solutions and platforms that integrate with the core CRM to equip business developers to manage opportunities and outcomes to predict business performance. And we’ll see the emergence of tools uniquely designed to guide attorneys in managing professional relationships and helping them understand which members of their network can connect them to new business opportunities. These tools will aid talented professionals in simplifying what has become a complex role: building new business for the firm.”
“With the youngest of the Baby Boomers passing the age of 50 in 2015 (and the oldest turning 69), the new year will put the pressures of succession planning squarely at the feet of law firm management.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that partners will be starting to retire en masse over the next decade or so but there can be some delicate situations related to succession that we may not have predicted even five years ago. Many partners find themselves not quite ready, or, as a result of the financial crisis at the end of the last decade, able to retire. Firms need to find a balance for these individuals especially if the firm has a mandatory retirement age.
As such, management will need to consider factors such as timing, compensation, gaps in lawyer ranks, desire to work past retirement, and most importantly, client wants and needs, while addressing succession plans.
It’s also important to remember that many of the partners have been at your firm for a considerable amount of time and may, in fact, be founding or named partners. They deserve respect during this process. Hopefully, they understand that succession planning done well will carry their legacy, and the firm, on for generations to come.”]
“If the thought of “selling” to grow your practice leaves a bad taste in your mouth, consider a better alternative—strengthening your personal brand.
According to Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s Corporate Counsel survey, nearly 76% of in-house counsel select external legal counsel based on counsel’s personal brand and reputation (versus the reputation of their law firm).
A strong, personal brand communicates to your target audience the value (expertise, resources, relationships) you’re capable of providing them. When properly managed, your personal brand creates a “pull” for your services, which alleviates the need for you to “push” (read: sell).
For more tools and techniques on personal branding, visit BADfortheBRAND.com.”
Jonathan R. Fitzgarrald
Chief Marketing Officer,
“An effective client entertainment program contains two elements. One-on-one events combined with highly-coordinated firm initiatives. One-on-one or lawyer-client/prospect events provide a very focussed platform to discuss strategy, delicate issues, company culture, as well as a chance to get to know your client or prospect on a personal level. We all know relationships form the foundations of our business. Lawyers should be encouraged to lunch with these contacts as well as engage in events of interest to both parties.
Highly-coordinated firm initiatives are just as important. These types of client events puts the firm in an impressive light (e.g. the Presenting Sponsor with special backstage access or an introduction to a celebrity) and it includes a large group of the firm’s lawyers and clients. These firm events allow lawyers to introduce clients to other lawyers (insert buzz word “cross-sell”) as well as other clients with complementary businesses (insert next buzz word “facilitator”).
And finally to allow firm management to measure value, the activities are entered and tracked in the firm’s CRM system.”
“Several trends that we have seen emerge and gather pace over the last few years will further consolidate in 2015. In particular, resourcing content production (client alerts, blogs, videos and webinars etc) will come under greater scrutiny. Why are we doing this, and what is working?
With this in mind, there has been a noticeable shift in perception amongst legal marketers through 2014 (and this will continue) – certainly our web site is no longer seen as simply a distribution channel. When used properly, the transparent and live read reporting tools in fact help to improve content precision (what is it that our clients and targets are actually interested in?), and provide clear insight into what content is working – and equally importantly, what is not. This is actionable intelligence, and it will prove to be essential for everyone involved as the volume of production increases across the industry, and weaker content is ignored.
From the client perspective, in-house counsel will continue to seek out horizon-scanning services where lots of individual opinion is expressed all in one place, and where content from multiple sources is clustered around business critical topics. This allows those charged with providing and buying legal services, to easily keep up to date with important developments and assess and retrieve differing expert perspectives – and so better match their unique business environment and legal risk with savvy and on-point outside counsel”
“Chambers researchers and editors speak to in-house counsel throughout the year. They tell us that, increasingly, clients are using directories in order to select new counsel or validate existing relationships with law firms – clients don’t ignore rankings! At the same time, large corporates are bringing more of their legal work in-house and building up their own legal departments, only seeking outside counsel for real specialisms.
Clients have become more discerning in how they select law firms, and look to directories to provide depth in editorial to talk about specialties. As a result, legal directories have had to respond by becoming more user-friendly, more engaged and by producing more detailed and meaningful content.
The Chambers guides have been ranking law firms and lawyers since 1990; we have been researching Canadian law firms for 15 years. In 2015 we will be launching a new standalone Chambers Canada guide, to respond to client demand for more and enhanced information about this vibrant market. Across all jurisdictions, we aspire to grow our coverage to line up to client needs and market trends.
Law firms are also improving the way they communicate with guides. It has become less about annual submissions, and more about a dialogue throughout the year. We welcome updates from law firms – they improve our research and help us make our website more relevant to clients.”
Editor – Chambers Canada
Websites & Digital Strategy
“While many firms continue to do “catch-up”, 2014 saw law firms continue to refresh and update their websites. Consciously or not, potential clients use the level of sophistication and depth of a firm’s website as a factor in their decision making process. Law firms, and lawyers, are starting to recognise that their websites can be real lead generators and, as such, realizing the importance of SEO.
Responsive design will remain a “hot topic” as screen sizes vary and mobile search continues to see rapid growth. Mobile search tends to be “local” oriented and is more likely to result in a person “taking action”. In 2015 we should expect to see mobile local searches exceed those on a PC. Mobile internet usage already exceeds that of desktops. As such, SEO for mobile will emerge as something law firms, and especially lawyers, will have to address if they want to be seen online beside their local peers. Integrating their social media presence with their SEO strategy will gain the greatest exposure.
We will also see agile firms integrate CRM capabilities and Micro-interactions into their sites to create personalized experiences with the goal of converting prospects into clients while being able to track their level of interest and engagement.
The use of video will build on what we have seen in 2014 creating a more engaging experience for clients and new marketing opportunities, both at the firm and lawyer level”
““Don’t look towards the future for trends. Look towards the past!”
2015 is going to be the year to simplify and take a step back. Law firm marketers needs to not look towards the future for trends, but look toward the past. What worked before? Well do it 10 times better in 2015!
Everyone is getting carried away with technology and forgetting about some of the basics and what is right in front of them. Technology should create efficiencies and make things easier – not harder.
By 2015 you would think that mobile would have ceased to be a trend but law firms are still missing the point that mobile is not a trend, it’s essential. Most firms are still not utilizing and understanding how mobile is used and adjusting their email strategy to fit. This includes mobile friendly emails and less content heavy emails to make it easier to consume content on the go.
Content Marketing will still be a common theme among many law firms, but the important thing to remember is not that content marketing is something that you need to do. It’s all about making your existing content work harder for you, pushing it into as many relevant channels as possible, beyond just the general social networks. High quality content should be invested in properly, as well as the right mix of distribution channels utilized; owned, earned and paid.”
“In 2015, firms will and should continue their efforts in establishing strong, coordinated social media presences for their leadership, including managing partners, practice group leaders, c-level executives, and recruiting, diversity and pro bono leaders. Branded firm channels will still play an important role, but should aim to direct followers to the influential people within a firm.
In the B2C world, Instagram will become the channel of the day for brands, thanks to its astronomically high engagement levels. The jury is out on whether Instagram will become an important channel for law firms, but experimentation could pay off. Regardless of the social media channel, content remains king and firms should focus on high quality, highly relevant content, posted with a high degree of repetition.
A continued focus on analytics as a means to justify ongoing social media focus and resources will become especially important when it comes to making a case for sponsored posts. For marketing departments, social media will become less and less centralized as knowledge and interest in social media becomes diffused throughout the firm, making the establishment of policies and best practices ever more crucial. The social media manager role, if it exists, will be rolled up into the larger communications or PR function.”
Media and Public Relations
“Lawyers are more aware of the media than ever as a way of publicizing their achievement and involvements. They’ve also developed much more savvy in understanding media’s needs in terms of deadlines and responsiveness. Unfortunately, lawyers have been doing better than their law firms.
The quality of public relations representation is hugely disparate, even among the large firms. Many firms, failing to understand that PR is a different creature than other forms of marketing, do not have dedicated PR people. The marketing and client development types do not, for the most part, have either the time or the experience, to take on the PR role. On the whole, internal PR staff get better results than external providers, who often have very little understanding of what makes a legal or business of law story.
There are, however, some terrific exceptions. In an era where costs are under careful scrutiny by law firms and clients, PR amounts to very low-cost marketing. Law firms who don’t take advantage of this by hiring the right professionals either internally or externally, however, do so at their peril.”
Marketing Team Operations
“2015 is going to be the year of ‘laser focus’. Marketing and BD professionals have been spoilt in recent years with many new and exciting routes to market including Linkedin, Twitter, Webinars, Thought Leadership and so on. Adding these to the long-standing marketing tools we all still use, we have created a deafening volume of noise with no real increase in the overall target audience. Leveraging our databases and utilising client relationship strength and opportunity software to identify our key targets and those who seem open to approach is going to be vital in 2015. This focus is going to be essential to avoid our partners and firms’ voices, no matter how impressive, being drowned out.”
So there you have it folks! Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on what we’ll see in Legal Marketing in 2015. From all of us here at fSquared Marketing, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.