Top 5 Areas Mid-Sized Firms Should Prioritize 2018 Marketing Budgets

Meghan Frank, Senior Marketing Manager, Enterprise Software Solutions, LexisNexis:

Last year was filled with economic uncertainty for those in the legal field. Legal consultancy firm Major, Lindsey & Africa published a study that forecasts this uncertainty will carry over to 2018, along with increased pressure for firms to drive down costs and boost productivity.

While the study focuses primarily on large law firms and corporate legal departments, economic ambiguity impacts many mid-sized law firms too as their identity within the marketplace is not well defined. Rather than face this identity dilemma, many mid-sized firms instead choose to merge with larger legal conglomerates.

No matter the firm’s size, if 2018 marketing budgets are approached strategically, they can alleviate cost pressures and increase the return on investment. Marketing professionals refer to this as ROI, and its value can never be overstated. With that said, here are five strategic ways to get the most return on any marketing investment.

1. Establish an Identity

Firms that failed to identify themselves within their niche last year cannot stay anonymous in 2018. According to top business marketers Horowitz Agency, branding will remain as crucial in 2018 as it has been over the last several years. Law firm marketing is not excluded from this, and part of a 2018 budget should be to improve upon an existing brand or establish a new one.

Establishing an identity would include marrying the brand with its public relations, social media, and web strategies. This can be done through taglines, imagery, or design concepts. Telling a compelling story of how the firm came to be can create a relatable practice as well as bring consistency to its presence.

2. Become Recognizable

As mentioned above, a big part of brand establishment includes recognition. While taglines, company stories and social media are all important avenues that help increase brand exposure, it could be argued that nothing is more powerful than a well-thought-out logo. An excellent example of using logo design in the legal field is top law firm Cravath, Swain & Moore, LLP. A clean yet commanding “CRAVATH” makes up the business’ logo, and people recognize the prestigious firm quickly and easily.

Horowitz Agency confirms, “You need great design,” online and offline. Firms must be recognizable to their existing clients and catch potential clients’ eyes on every medium, including mobile. Graphic and web design are necessary to create an identifiable and consistent brand. An iconic logo that stands out for the right reasons can do a lot to improve recall, readability, and recognition.

3. Integrate

Once the brand is created, it must be integrated. It behooves law firms to incorporate their brand through several distribution channels. This includes their websites and social media platforms, but firms, especially mid-sized ones, should never ignore the need to do the following:

  • Remain at the forefront of industry news
  • Engage with clients and prospects
  • Participate in community outreach

For example, a law firm in Upstate New York, Barclay Damon, is actively involved in its community through a program it established to address at-risk children in urban schools. The firm’s “Say Yes to Education” program offers pro bono legal services to students and their families. The firm also provides in-house internship opportunities to minority students. Barclay Damon is aware of local issues often reported in the news and engages with disadvantaged community members to make a difference. Reporting the successes of programs like “Say Yes to Education” differentiates firms from their competitors and showcases them as pillars in the community.

4. Establish and Maintain Valuable Content

The Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 survey of 400 marketers in North America, found that most of the B2B companies surveyed were attributing nearly 30 percent of their total marketing budget to content marketing. Informative content continues to remain crucial to business marketing plans in 2018.  It’s well worth the investment to develop high-quality, relatable content that positions firms as trusted advisors to current and future clients.

Law firms should create new, fresh content to increase searchability. Search engine optimization, or SEO, remains a vital method to driving traffic to a firm’s website. The more informative and sharable content is, the more likely firm’s followers will be to link to it on their social platforms. Additionally, well-written content can build trust with potential clients (and the community at large) to drive more leads.

The most important thing is that content provides value to the community it serves. Law firms should provide information on a regular basis — in various formats like video, email, and social — that can stand on its own. An effective way to use content to increase traffic is to establish a regular blog cadence on the firm’s website.  According to a recent survey from Hubspot, sites that published 16 or more blog posts per month saw a traffic increase three times higher than compared to companies that published only one or two posts in a month.

Another content avenue to consider is that of guest posting on authoritative legal sites. While networking and establishing relationships with these sites can take time, the payoff from a digital marketing standpoint is usually worth it. Articles featured in publications, including online and paper journals are also crucial to establish identity and trust. Finally, people are visual, and firms should never shy away from video blogs.

5. Harness the Power of CRM

Nothing angers clients and potential clients more than mishaps in communication. Receiving duplicate information or not receiving important information, can permanently damage a client’s trust in a firm. With less resources than their larger counterparts, mid-sized firms can turn to customer relationship management (CRM) tools to manage and mitigate these issues while increasing brand exposure.

LexisNexis® InterAction® software is a powerful legal CRM that automates and centralizes client and prospect management. This allows mid-sized firms to streamline client marketing activities and contact management efforts, maximizing their marketing footprint in 2018 and beyond.