Brand-Building 101: Law Firms and Expressing Identity
Recently, we highlighted the concept of brand and shared two ways law firms can express it to potential legal consumers. In this post, we’ll continue our exploration of brand – put simply, a concept of who you are and what it’s like to work with you that distinguishes you from competitor law firms – and how law firms can use digital legal marketing tools to further that impression of themselves.
Blog about it
Running a blog takes time and effort. Some attorneys work with marketing services to maintain their blog, while others do it on their own. Either way, the purpose is to routinely share timely, informative updates that establish you as a committed, engaged thought leader in your area of law. That’s an excellent way to build a body of copy that emphasizes and reiterates your brand – and of putting that copy right where potential legal consumers can find it.
The main question attorneys have when they want to start a blog is, “What should I write about?” The best answer in terms of brand-building is, “Things that you think will be of interest to people who’d like to hire you.” A blog is your chance to speak directly to your intended audience. Aim for a post a week (no more than 800 words is good) and feel free to create a blend of updates on your practice area, insights into who you are and the kind of work your office does, and what is going on in your community. The more cohesive you can make your blog posts—think of each as a chapter in a book—the more harmonious and put-together your blog will seem.
Social media isn’t new anymore. It’s a well-established and well-accepted way of furthering your brand and reaching those who might hire you or refer work your way.
FindLaw has written a great many how-to guides and white papers on social media best practices, but in the event your time and interest level don’t permit, here’s the best and easiest way to take advantage of social media: Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and includes that recent headshot we talked about in our first post and set a goal to make one timely, informative update per week. This will establish you among members of your network as engaged, proactive and abreast of topical issues in your field of law – an excellent brand that adapts well to any geographic location and practice area. You can certainly go further and try a similar approach to Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram, but an achievable goal with respect to LinkedIn is a great start. (If you’d like to up your social media game but aren’t sure where to start, our complimentary webcast Starting From Scratch: 5 Ways to Bolster Your Firm’s Social Media Presence is available on demand.)
Put it in action
Whatever your brand is, it absolutely must include being responsive to client inquiries and concerns. A surprising number of solo attorneys and lawyers at small firms put their clients on the back burner by not answering the phone or responding to emails in a timely manner, and lose an incredible amount of new business by doing so. Expressing your brand through action is the least tangible way to broadcast it, but it’s vitally important. It shouldn’t need to be said, but when clients hire you, they expect a certain amount of time, attention and responsiveness. Working with a web chat or call-answering service helps many attorneys be available without being on the clock 24 hours a day. If such a service isn’t in your budget right now, try to set some simple guidelines for yourself. For example, many attorneys make it a point to respond to client emails within one business day. If you avoid answering the phone because you don’t want your attention to be diverted from whatever you’re working on, write a brief script for politely letting a client know his or her concerns are being heard and that you’ll provide more information later, when your commitment at hand has been resolved.
As a final thought, remember that building your brand takes a long time, and the act of expressing it is a piece-by-piece process that will take the consistent application of (hopefully not too much) effort and investment. It pays off, though, each time a consumer with a legal need understands who you are and what it’s like to work with you, and so decides to hire you.