Chambers, Lexology, ContactEase & in-house experts share their insights.
Once again, we are thrilled to present a group of wonderful legal marketing experts who are willing to share their wisdom related to the legal marketing trends they foresee in 2016.
Their predictions this year include mobilization of content, utilizing existing CRM systems to leverage and grow relationships, the evolution of client service delivery, storytelling as the PR tool of the moment, digital marketing (websites & social media) opening opportunities for legal directory exposure for smaller firms, and firms building marketing teams of the future.
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)
“The Relationship component of CRM is becoming more clearly defined for law firms. Firms are focusing on measuring and evaluating existing relationships, while becoming more aware of the investment required to obtain new clients.
By thinking differently about the use of our CRM systems, we can utilize existing technology to leverage and grow our relationships. Moving from mailing list management tools to fully functional business development and relationship intelligence tools is a clear trend emerging for 2016.
Technology alone cannot guarantee success, adequate resources and redefining the roles around CRM deployment will be significant discussion points for firms. We can expect to see firms deploying technology more strategically, staffing accordingly with new positions like Marketing Technology Managers and recognizing the need for project management leaders. Finally, we are beginning to bring substance to the age old discussion of ROI on technology deployment. CRM deployments for business development and client retention purposes will validate the ROI argument.
We can expect more discussion about CRM moving forward!“
Innovation and Client Service Delivery
“Service Delivery is an exciting area for business developers and marketers to explore because it goes beyond the traditional “selling” of legal services. It provides an opportunity to repackage legal services, and collaborate with departments across the firm, to build a solution that adds value from a business perspective in a dynamic market.
Instead of Going to Market by Industry/Practice, as many firms claim to do, Service Delivery-driven solutions allow a firm to Go to Market as strategic business advisors, potentially an equally or more profitable service offering than those traditionally “sold”.
Legal Project Management is now a recognized method to meet clients’ need for cost containment, and a fundamental part of any service delivery program. However, it is only one tool in what should be seen as a firm’s Service Delivery toolkit. In order to ensure profitability in an ever increasing AFA-driven environment, firms need to look for opportunities to re-engineer their processes, in essence, to revisit the “how” in delivery of legal services. This may include looking for alternative staffing models in traditional legal matters, insourcing work to lower-cost centres or outsourcing more commoditized work to legal process outsourcers such as Exigent, Integreon or Quislex. However, beyond process improvement, a service delivery program should allow firms to look at “who” and “what” they are offering clients. Can internal resources be leveraged to develop programs that meet clients varying business needs? What about risk assessment strategies? HR compliance programs? Crisis response plans? just to name just a few.
Lastly, the most important factor in any service delivery program will be trust and communication. The firms who can leverage new technologies, new service providers and of course, more demanding and discerning clients, who will think out of the box and work with clients, sharing-risk in new endeavours, will be those that excel in service delivery and who will undoubtedly, reap the benefits.”
Legal Marketing Recruitment
“As firms must meet the demands of a market that is more dependent on big data, marketing technology and measureable BD efforts, the time of the “marketing department of the future” is here. In 2016, firms will be forced to decide what their department of the future looks like, how it operates, and how to build it. This will result in firms hiring new talent to support the build out of these innovative teams.
As many firms experienced this past year, the competition for top talent is fierce. Firms at the forefront of building teams of the future will implement more creative hiring practices to address this talent shortage. These firms will look outside of the industry to invest in new talent and skill sets that will bring innovation and new perspective to their teams.
We’re also going to see firms focusing on (and investing in) talent that can measurably improve operational efficiencies. As marketing departments implement their new team structures and operations, there will be more opportunity for the more proactive marketing and business development efforts that legal marketers have been chasing for years.”
Jennifer Johnson Scalzi
President & Founder,
Johnson Executive Search
Media and Public Relations
“Getting press coverage for a mega billion dollar deal or a much anticipated litigation matter is fairly easy. However, for matters that may not be as sexy, there is another tactic to consider that can be more valuable to your firm’s branding and reputation – storytelling.
While storytelling might seem like the PR tool of the moment, making it happen at a law firm can be challenging and here are some ways to mine for good stories:
- Build trust with your partners. Many partners can be reluctant to take the time to brainstorm and delve into the details of their work, especially when they are unsure of the goal or under pressure to meet client deadlines. They may also have trouble identifying what is unique or compelling when they are in the trenches of a deal, so you should work closely with senior associates or your department counterparts to identify potential stories ahead of time.
- Start with low hanging fruit. If know partners that are natural storytellers, work with them first and enable them to champion your story approach.
- Be familiar with your firm’s clients and pay attention to the stories they are telling. If you discover something interesting about the client, see if the lead partner was a part of the success behind the client. Having more than one perspective for a story can tell a stronger story.
- Keep tabs on matters and deals by checking with partners periodically on the progress. During the deal making process you may discover new developments in the lawyering that are compelling to an external audience. Was a new financial product created during the deal? Did politics or an interesting sequence of events influence the outcome? Did a newcomer change the course of the matter?
What to do with a good story?
Let’s say you finally have a good story – one that clients, reporters and potential recruits will recognize as innovative and trailblazing, there are many ways to disseminate it that are impactful and meaningful.
One of the best ways to tell a story is to capture it on video, which creates great content to repurpose.
- Firstly, keep it short. Most attention spans run low on content consumption and social platforms have a limit to the size or length of the video.
- Second, consider social platforms like Spreecast, where multiple users can join via webcam to engage in dialogue for an external audience to view, or Livestream, where you can create a library of easily accessible videos, and viewers can further socialize on your behalf.
- Video is also a great fit for a firm’s Facebook page, Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile.
- Don’t overlook the traditional route by sprucing it up. Share a story as a client alert and show the firm’s utilization of current medium. You always want to be a step ahead of the competition.
Ultimately, personalizing a story with voice and countenance can inspire a connection that leads to relationship building for the firm.”
“2015 was an exciting year for Chambers in Canada. It marked the launch of “Chambers Canada – Leading Lawyers for Business” which was put to the market on October 1st. The new regional guide saw Chambers significantly expand our coverage both geographically and in terms of new practice areas covered. We continue to see a diversification in terms of the sectors where deals are taking place, and seek to structure our products in a way which is relevant to users.
As we delve deeper into the market and try to learn more about firms and lawyers outside of traditional Chambers stomping grounds, we are required be more innovative in the ways in which we seek out information and “leads.” If we are to encourage new firms to participate in our process, first we have to know who they are.
Luckily, firms are making this challenge increasingly easy for us.
Law firm websites are changing across the board and becoming a far more sophisticated marketing tool and source of information. Equally as important has been the development of law firm brands on social media channels, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – the most competitive law firms have a strong presence online and maintain a strong social media network.
Professional services organizations are in and of themselves highly social organizations, and they have become interactive in a way which is mutually beneficial to rankings organizations such as Chambers and Partners, as well as to clients.
The other issue which has really come to the fore over the last 12-18 months is succession planning. It’s no secret that clients are concerned about law firms’ abilities to address their needs over the longer term and this is something we are hearing more and more about from both private practice and in-house lawyers. Law firms are increasingly promoting their rising stars both in terms of their involvement in major transactions and cases as well as celebrating their achievements via social media. Chambers has noticed that, increasingly, younger partners are taking on leadership roles of key practices at major law firms.
Chambers has also increased its focus on the next generation of leading lawyers both in Canada and further afield – many of our most recent publications feature a “new faces” list which puts a spotlight on our ranked up-and-coming partners and associates to watch.“
Websites & Digital Strategy
“While is still amazes me how many law firms websites are still not mobile responsive those who are late to the game have the distinct opportunity to leapfrog their competition. They can do this if they pursue a “Mobile First” approach in the design and construction of their website and the content served on it. This will be the way agile law firms in 2016 will tackle their site re-designs.
Content and “storytelling” are going to become more of a focus for the leaders in the legal industry as more and more firms realize the need and value to having rich and changing content on a law firm website. It’s all about how it impacts your SEO rankings and providing useful content and solutions to the end-user. In addition, they will leverage this same content on Social Media to increase the “Social Signals” Google is monitoring for when determining their SEO ranking.
Allocating the right resources post your initial website launch to support this need for content will become much more critical to the ongoing success of a law firm website in 2016. Remember you have to “feed the monster” once its alive for you to maximize your ROI and its lead generation potential.”
“In 2016, mobilization of content is still a strong trend. Clients still consume and share content mostly from their mobile devices and this means that delivery of content in a way that is digestible on mobile should be the priority of developing a successful campaign and effectively delivering client communications. Since our clients receive communications from a multitude of competing sources, customization and personalization of content will significantly impact ability to get readership and ensure clients engage with the piece and continue on the user journey. Additionally, tweaking the language in campaigns to be short, snappy but still substantive, will help cater to an always on-the-go audience.
Additionally, CRM tools must not be overlooked. They can no longer act as traditional legal marketing tools, but now must take the role as robust sales management tools. Using more robust CRM systems or add-ons to existing platforms that can integrate relationship management, pitch and pipeline management and other important analytics will complement the omnichannel approach that [law] firms need to work into their marketing strategies.“
Law Firm Branding
“The competitiveness of the legal industry seems to intensify with each passing year and the ability to stand out from the crowd has never been more important. In the world where General Counsel are under pressure to cut external counsel fees, and more firms are formed every day, more is required to connect with your target audience and stay top of mind when the time comes to retaining counsel.
In the coming year we’ll see those law firms who are undertaking a brand refresh to rise above the crowd concentrating as much on the brand message as the brand visual. They’ll be the firms that know their target clients and are willing to let go of parts of the market in order to have an authentic, distinctive message.
There will be an emphasis on the extension of the law firm brand with a clear focus on areas not traditionally associated with the brand including client service delivery and knowledge sharing. Clients work with firms that have brands that resonate with them not just because of the messages they convey but the type of people that provide their services and the level, and style, of service they bring to bear on the relationship.
Finally, I believe there will be increasing attention paid to the role of the “personal brand” with lawyers looking to both traditional and new content marketing strategies in order to differentiate themselves from their competition and add value to their clients.“
“Over the last year we’ve seen the volume of content produced by our partner law firms jump significantly. Fortunately, it hasn’t all been scattergun; those with a targeted approach have been the most successful.
Longform articles have done particularly well – so long as they have been clearly signposted as such. It does seem that counsel are looking for more thoughtful analyses of current issues.
Articles on hot topics have continued to perform well but what has been even more marked than in previous years has been the spike in reads and other interactions (prints, forwards, author bio clicks, etc) when authors take a practical approach. Those with titles (and corresponding structures) like ‘Five things you should know about…’, ‘What to do next…’, ‘The real implications of…’, ‘What your Board will want to know about’, etc have general performed much better.
Clearly targeted pieces of all kinds have been receiving very strong reads in niche markets – the overall headline read numbers may not seem exciting but, for example, pieces focused purely on a pertinent issue for a particular industry sector have often reached a who’s who of key players.
And, yes, the firms to have seen the best results combined these approaches: a clearly labelled, sensible analysis of a topical issue that gives a specific group of readers something practical.“
So there you have it folks! Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on what we’ll see in Legal Marketing in 2016. From all of us here at fSquared Marketing, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.