Reading through strategy adviser Nick Jarrett-Kerr’s article ‘In the nick of time’ in a recent edition of Managing for Success (the magazine of the Law Management Section), I spluttered on my tea when I came to section five.
Under the title ‘Make other savings’, Nick says he is ‘yet to be convinced… that huge amounts of money spent by the profession on brochures, leaflets, calling cards and newsletters has provided any form of meaningful return’. I agree with Nick that it is not necessary to spend ‘huge’ amounts of money, but I must argue that a firm’s marketing material is a vital part of the marketing mix. I also agree with him that it can be hard to track ‘meaningful return’ on expenditure on specific marketing materials, but this is does not mean that they have little value.
The buying decisions for legal services can sometimes be lengthy and go through many marketing touch points. Different marketing materials play different roles in the process of establishing your brand, building awareness and trust of your expertise or prompting a call to action.
A client may pick up a brochure at an event, ask their accountant if they think the lawyer is good and then go on the lawyer’s website to find the phone number. Similarly, a client may be prompted to pick up the phone when they receive a law firm’s newsletter, or a white paper which establishes their thought leadership in a particular area.
The average number of marketing touch points to win a new client is said to be seven. Some clients may be a quick win via a single activity, for example a Google search. Others, usually high-value clients, will take many years of tenacious contact before you get to first base on a tender list. Brochures, newsletters and thought leadership pieces play an essential role in building your brand, creating understanding of your services, and establishing you as an expert in a particular field. Printed materials have a long shelf-life. Good quality ones are not easily thrown away and are often forwarded to colleagues.
In my experience, lawyers sometimes fail to recognise the requirement for a long-term and varied approach to business development and can be quick to dismiss an activity as a ‘waste of time and money’ if it does not yield immediate instructions. One mistake that I see occasionally, is where a lawyer has a great idea for a publication and who it will be of interest to, but the logistics of identifying the target audience and distributing it to them proves to be easier said than done. This certainly hinders a return on investment from being achieved.
This all needs to be thought about in advance:
- What is the objective?
- Who will it be of interest to?
- How will we compile an appropriate list of recipients?
- How will it be distributed?
- Who will follow it up and how?
There are many examples of great marketing material yielding value in terms of opening the doors to new prospects and opportunities! Only recently a business owner called a solicitor about an employment tribunal problem because he had kept their employment law facts and figures guide in his drawer for a year.
In another instance, after much hard work, a law firm which had been appointed to the legal panel of a public sector purchasing consortium used a booklet relating to a new law as a way of introducing themselves to all the local authorities with access to the panel.
I could go on…
Sue Bramall is managing director of Berners Marketing and advises law firms in the UK and overseas