Marketing Matters Boost Your Firm’s Brand

7 Marketing Tips During COVID-19 and Beyond

It’s been a year, to say the least. With the lessons learned over the last 12 months, your legal organization can be in a prime position to reach clients. These tips can help.

Ross Fishman, JD

1. This Is the Era of the Service Partner.

The COVID-19 era is the time for service partners and senior associates to shine. The traditional glad-handing skills of gregarious rainmakers are of limited use when few people are willing or able to go out to lunch or a ball game and in-person conferences have all been canceled.

Today’s COVID-19 economy plays to the strengths of the second-tier lawyers the skilled service partners or senior associates who, although they may not be as overtly charismatic, are solid professionals who keep clients satisfied with competent technical work and dedicated client service.

They are reliable, trustworthy and hardworking ― all the things clients need at this difficult time. I think 2021 should be their breakout year. Lawyers possess the skills and training to help people who truly need it. Be proactive in offering that valuable assistance to them.

 2. Contact Your Best Clients.

Throughout the pandemic, every lawyer should be regularly contacting their clients simply to ask, “How are you doing?” or “How can I help?” Reach out with sincerity and authenticity to truly seek to help them through this turbulent time. Clients appreciate a lawyer who regularly contacts them to bring them new ideas and solutions to the types of problems that companies like theirs are experiencing.

The light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel is in sight, so businesses will be restarting, returning in person, bringing back employees, seeking new funding and reorganizing their finances. Find ways to become their trusted adviser. Clients regularly say that they like lawyers who can help them look down the road or “see around the corner.” Be the firm that has those lawyers.

3. The More They Talk …

Two of my favorite studies explain that in a networking or client-development situation, the more the prospect talks, the more they A) like you and B) the smarter they think you are!

That is, in the 80/20 rule of communication, the prospect is doing 80% of the talking. You are doing just 20%, most of which is asking well-researched questions and even more insightful follow-ups. This demonstrates your expertise and technical skills, while also leading them to identify areas where they may need your legal help. Today, when we rarely meet face to face, using this strategy on Zoom can help foster or strengthen the relationships you value.

4. Your Webinars Cannot Be “Fine.”

Our target clients have innumerable options for educational programming and webinars. According to a survey conducted by Baretz & Brunelle, a leading legal public relations firm, the 100 largest U.S. law firms produced nearly 1,300 webinars in the second quarter of 2020. According to a Vanderbilt Law School study, prominent clients may get as many as 250 webinar invitations per day.

“What makes your program so compelling that your targets will choose it over the many others offered on similar topics?” 

With seemingly infinite educational options, what makes your program so compelling that your targets will choose it over the many others offered on similar topics?

During webinars, where an attendee can silently disappear with a single click, the speaker cannot afford to be dull for even the briefest amount of time. The most important metric to me when presenting a webinar is how many of the original attendees are still in attendance at the end of the session. We must all work even harder to ensure that not only is our material technically accurate (obviously), but that the speakers’ performance must also be compelling or entertaining.

5. Update Your Biographies.

When we can’t be together in person, little things matter more. If we can’t evaluate someone face to face, we rely more heavily on the online information. Nearly everyone considering hiring you or your lawyers will first conduct a Google search for their name and visit both their website biography and LinkedIn profile.

This makes it even more important to have updated and persuasive profiles. I always recommend that lawyers update their biographies on the firm’s website at least every three to six months. This is especially important these days when prospects are looking for certain skills that did not previously exist. For example, if you earn experience in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding or COVID-19 counseling, you should add it immediately to all your online biographies and profiles. If this is not detailed in your bio and LinkedIn profile, prospects searching for that new skill set will not know that you possess it.

6. Thank Clients in Writing.

When you close a file, write a short handwritten thank-you note. I was moderating a general counsel panel in 2019 when a Fortune 500 general counsel stated: “In 10 years I’ve never received a single personalized thank-you card, even after multimillion-dollar engagements.” It’s not that she expected this, but rather that she felt it sure would be nice for one of her valued lawyers to show some sign of appreciation for the significant business she is bestowing upon their firm.

Today, personal touches like this are more important than ever. It only takes a few minutes to dash off a quick personalized note, and their infrequency makes them much more impactful and meaningful than a simple email or text.

7. Branding Is Particularly Important Today.

During stressful times, consumers opt for trusted brands. Branding can be a firm’s most powerful tool when undertaken persuasively and effectively — even more so today when our impressions are being formed online. Consider your website, the first place many clients and prospects will visit before hiring you. Does it showcase your firm in its most positive light? Is it unique and persuasive? Does it tell me something about your firm I didn’t know, or is it interchangeable with all of your lookalike competitors?

Remember, prospects visit your website at a particularly critical time in the hiring process. They have found you online or heard good things about you from a referring client or lawyer. It is this time when you have the opportunity to truly stand out from your competition. Failing to do so is simply marketing malpractice.