The oversaturated state in which the Israeli legal market finds itself can hardly be considered ‘news’ by now. Nevertheless, several firms appear to be maintaining a remarkably rapid pace of growth, almost so as to camouflage the many problems inherent to the current situation.
A cross-sectional analysis of these firms will lead one to conclude one significant common denominator: all of these firms invest substantial time and resources in legal marketing and business development.
Many lawyers are of the opinion that a properly designed website and a relatively active Facebook-page ‘do the trick’ in terms of legal marketing; however, that is far from being the case. Quite the opposite – marketing tends to begin where many choose to stop.
This post will provide you with the necessary tips and advice on how to conduct effective legal marketing, as well as formulate a business plan that will ensure your firm’s growth in the future. In other words – this post will lead you through how to form a competitive advantage by use of the resources at your disposal.
(1) Know thyself: 2015 saw over 63,000 lawyers registered with the Israel Bar Association. Put differently, the number of alternative practice areas is relatively limited. The task is then largely to persuade the client to pick ‘us’ over ‘them’.
To that end, you must ask yourselves: “What can we do to stand out?” - The answer to the question is naturally individual and dependent on a number of factors and circumstances. In order to reach it, you must then ask yourselves: “What are we good at?”
The sooner we recognise our strengths, the sooner we’ll be clear on how to proceed. For example, if you possess good writing skills, a blog or a newsletter may be an excellent self-marketing tool.
Alternatively, if you feel you’re exceptionally persuasive and charismatic, your regular and frequent presence at various types of professional conferences attended by potential clients may be your thing. The bottom line is that you find the time to get thoroughly acquainted with yourself, so as to translate your strengths into new clients.
(2) Invest in business development: The popular notion in the business development arena is that a minimum of 2.5% of your annual revenue is to be allocated to this end, while these figures do not include the wages of those employees handling the business development.
Lawyers tend to think that decent legal advice is sufficient to maintain a steady pace of growth, and that word of mouth will see to it that their reputation spreads around. However, reality often begs to differ.
There is no argument regarding the importance of professional skills and abilities, but there’s more to it.
People need reminders, and investment in business development aims to provide those reminders to both existing and potential clients. It is important to note: you will want to assess the results of your investments in business development, and, in that respect, you might want to avoid the use of marketing tools that cannot be properly assessed (such as, for example, newspaper advertisements).
(3) Growth starts at the roots: When devising a marketing strategy for your firm, you must first consider the existing clients. These clients have worked with you in the past, and will presumably continue to do so in the future. In fact, these clients are the stable roots of your firm.
The firm’s growth requires the cultivation of these roots, and the investment of part of your business development budget in conserving and strengthening your ties with the existing clients. In order to do so, you can organise joint dinners, joint attendance of legal conferences, or otherwise less formal events such as sports matches; everything goes.
This type of investment will lead to two primary advantages: firstly, the development of your firm and its stable roots forming a sturdy client base, and secondly, your satisfied clients’ willingness to refer new clients to your firm.
(4) Get acquainted with the new media: Today, the internet is our primary source of information. Websites and social media pages have practically replaced business cards, while blogs are replacing conventional newspapers.
A properly designed website with high-quality content is the very basis for every company or firm in the modern age. If your website does not meet these requirements, please stop reading and go tend to your website – the gateway to any and every business.
Having said that, there is a common notion that a website is intended exclusively for your clients’ comfort; a notion that is fundamentally wrong. Your blog or website can provide you with heaps of information regarding your clients’ preferences and desires.
There are numerous tools available, designed to make this kind of information accessible and easy to use; among these one can name Google Analytics, enabling the website administrator to examine what users are and aren’t interested in, which posts caught more attention, which pages are rarely accessed, and, perhaps most importantly – this tool’s utility is quantifiable and thus measureable.
(5) A moment of psychology: Attending events and conferences has many advantages, including networking opportunities, exposure to professional content, and staying up to speed on the developments in your practice area. Another advantage relates to the field of psychology – people tend to like people they’ve met before more.
In most cases, brief eye contact or a quick word exchange is enough for a face to be ‘filed’ in one’s memory, and pop up again the next time you meet. In case you might run into each other in a different context, such as a job interview or a collaboration proposal, you will likely have an easier time ‘scoring points’ with the other side, seeing as you’ve already met.
May such an encounter take place, you will want to bring it up during ‘small talk’ – it can serve as an excellent ice breaker.
(6) Marketing knows no boundaries, ranges, frameworks or time: The marketing craft never ends; you never know when you might meet your next client or business partner. Therefore, you must always be prepared.
Marketing professionals will testify to the fact that some of the largest transactions often begin at the most unexpected times and places.
Coincidental encounters that lead to collaborations are often preferable for both sides, especially due to the lack of formality that is so characteristic of lawyers.
In his blog, Larry Bodine writes that the founders of Fortune 500 began their professional collaboration during a coincidental encounter at their children’s baseball match – emphasising the importance of always being prepared to seize opportunities. We must always remain prepared and alert, as substantial business opportunities may present themselves in almost any situation.
*** These are the six fundamental rules for business growth and expansion. Practicing all the above, in combination with thinking ahead and cautious planning, will guarantee the steady growth of your business.
It is important to remember that keeping records and documentation of information and learning from both your mistakes and your strengths is of crucial importance, and will help you to keep taking big steps in the right direction. These are, in fact, the point of departure for your business plan for the following year.
Best of luck – and we are always here to assist.