It’s telling that only a handful of my clients have been asking for advice on how to market during Covid. Most of them are still trying to figure out how to be more productive with a workforce that is still at home at least part of the time. But for those who are ready to reach out beyond survival and into business development, I’ve done some research on-line to see what my peers are saying. Here is some of their advice, followed by some of my own.
Most of them feel that marketing in Covid is all about content that can be provided in means alternative to face to face.
- Website: many are proponents of using existing firm platforms like the firm’s website, especially if the firm runs a blog, post cast or both.
- Social Media: many suggests leaning heavily on social media tools for distribution of content: LinkedIn and Facebook are the most popular suggestions.
- Youtube: some suggest creating more accessible content through video, and loading it onto the firm’s own Youtube channel which is then linked to the firm’s website.
- Webinars: a number suggest inviting select groups of clients into webinars on pertinent topics for them.
- Organizations: One suggested that lawyers remain active with their various memberships. This means participating in alternative meeting opportunities such as Zoom meetings or group phone calls. This is a chance to keep on top of issues important to that target group, and to see and be seen generally.
These are all good ideas, as a starting point. But I’m going to approach my advice from a broader perspective first, and then move toward specific activities. Before I go there, let’s admit that the biggest shift in law firm marketing right now is the lack of ability to do activities with clients that benefit the lawyer as much as the client. I’m talking about boondoggles and event tickets (and the cache of going to a box), and extravagant dinners and experiences that lawyers probably wouldn’t feel completely justified in pursuing (or wouldn’t put out the expense for themselves to pursue) if not for the “marketing” excuse.
I’m good with marketing being advantageous for both the lawyer and the client; that ensures more if it gets done and most clients really like the opportunity to do these things. I’ve heard countless stories of work resulting form this time of client engagement. But in the absence of this marketing outlet, marketing must become far more about the client, and that’s why so many lawyers are lost right now. That just hasn’t been their emphasis before, so they don’t know how to proceed.
Marketing during Covid is about two areas: creating meaningful content for the client; and better coordinating your marketing decisions within the firm.
- Start making courtesy calls to your top clients – clearly off-the-books calls to ask them how they are doing and what’s keeping them up at night these days. Reach out, even if you don’t know what to say. Clients always remember the law firm that took the time to ask them how things were going during tough times. And your next question (is there anything I could be doing for you right now to help out) might actually result in some legal work.
- Consider your clients from a grouping perspective. What clients and contacts might be grouped according to their needs? Some might be struggling to manage their workforce. Some might be struggling to get access to funding. Some might be in an industry that desperately needs to temporarily pivot (i.e. restaurants moving to take-out only). Deeply consider the issues each grouping is facing, and see if you can create meaningful content (either through your firm or in partnership with other entities such as accountants or banks) to provide some helpful information or solutions. Consider the best way to package this content: an article? A Webinar? A video? Create your target list and get this content to the right people.
Better Internal Coordination and Systems:
The other side of marketing is analysis and adjustment. And that’s all about self-honesty and action.
- Which areas of the firm are hot right now in the marketplace, and which ones are slower? Adjust your resources to support the areas that are most productive. Direct more of your juniors to these areas, put more of your marketing expertise and money into these areas, do whatever you can to support them.
- For slower areas, what’s causing the difference and can you do anything to counteract that? For example, if litigation is slow because of court closures, can you move into mediation?
- Use this time to develop stronger practice groups, better marketing systems, and more timely and consistent client feedback mechanisms. This won’t make you immediate profits; but it is critical work for ensuring greater future marketing success and a great way to use any down-time wisely.
Lawyers sometimes equate action with marketing accomplishment. Writing a blog post that won’t get read is not nearly as meaningful as taking the time to determine the particular message needed for a particular target of your market, and then putting the message forward to the right people in the right way. I know that it’s so much easier to take a game…but ultimately, it might be more productive to spend the time showing them you care enough about their business to do research, ask them questions, and then deliver tailor-made legal solutions.
Incidentally, on October 21 I’ll be presenting a webinar for CLEBC entitle: “Using Covid (and other challenges) to Progress Your Firm”. This 1.5 hour lunchtime session will examine how the realities of running a law firm during Covid can lead to better business processes for those firms going forward. For more information or to sign up for the program, visit https://online.cle.bc.ca/CoursesOnDemand/ContentByPracticeArea/Webinars. (It may take a few days for the program to be listed).
Heather Gray-Grant is a business strategist, marketing expert and executive coach for law firms and lawyers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org