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How should a generalist law firm approach digital marketing?

How should a generalist law firm approach digital marketing?

By Jim Thompson


Without doubt digital marketing is most effective when it is highly targeted at a narrow audience which creates obvious problems for large law firms with broad client bases.

Understandably this is one reason why most firms marketing effort to date has been focused on the brand as it’s not practical or cost effective to narrowly position around a particular area of expertise or client.

Before going any further let me just quickly cover the two different ways to approach positioning

Firm level

Law Firms can and do position around a particular area of the law or a particular sector at a whole of firm level.

Problem level

Positioning around a problem is slightly more abstract but fundamentally means making yourself as a attractive as possible to a particular type of client with a particular problem that you have demonstrable expertise in solving.

So what works for generalist law firms?

As highlighted above it’s just not practical or logical for a large firm to reposition at a firm level and it’s also difficult via traditional methods and thinking to present clear narrow expertise to a specific audience because you are branded as a generalist.

Further complication is introduced by the generalist firm being traditionally attractive to clients that require integrated advice across multiple divisions and experts.

However at the end of the day the key to attracting the best and highest value clients is the ability to differentiate on expertise and not brand messages.

This is where the power of digital marketing steps up to the plate because regardless of the size of the firm it provides the ability to practically and cost effectively narrowly target “ideal” clients with a particular problem and demonstrate your expertise.

How does it work?

It starts with a strategic game plan that includes:

  1. You having a narrowly defined target audience with a problem that you have particular expertise in solving.
  2. Raising awareness of the problem in order to attract the targets interest enough to voluntarily sign them up to an automated digital nurturing program.
  3. A content nurturing program that is educational in nature and specifically designed to demonstrate your expertise and move the prospect through the marketing funnel.
  4. Optimised messaging and multiple conversion points designed to move the prospect from a prospect to a client.

The ultimate goal of the game plan is to deliver you a client already educated in your way of thinking, aware of and wanting your expertise and not shopping around, won off your own back and not by referral.

The great thing today is that generalist law firms can run multiple game plans for different audiences with different problems leveraging the efficiencies and measurement capabilities of marketing automation platforms.

It doesn’t matter if a client is attracted and won by you solving a specific problem because once you have them they are going to be far more receptive to using your other services and divisions later on and if not they are probably a client you would have never attracted by traditional methods and therefore lost to someone else anyway – win / win!

Summing Up

The rapidly changing landscape and commoditisation of the legal market means that the ability to position and differentiate on expertise is a now just a fundamental requirement in order for law firms to attract and retain high value clients.

Broad brand based messaging no longer cuts the mustard and those that act early will undoubtedly be the most successful meaning strategic targeted digital marketing is one of the greatest opportunities available to law firm marketers today.

This is not going away so I encourage you to act now before someone else does.

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