By Gina F. Rubel
Special to the Legal
I had the opportunity to attend the 2012 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference (which was widely reported on Twitter using the Hashtag #LMA12). More than 1,000 people converged on Grapevine, Texas, to discuss best marketing practices, communication strategies, law firm technology and the business of law. Here are just some takeaways.
Attorney fees/pricing: Yes, legal marketing should play a role in the pricing of legal services. Pricing is one of the key components of marketing. Other things overheard include:
- While the first alternative fee was a discount, one does not equal the other.
- Just because you have always done it a certain way, doesn’t mean you still should.
- Pricing and cost predictability is among the top three concerns of Am Law 100 law firm clients.
To learn more, read “Alternative Fees, Blended Rates, Fixed Fees, Oh My” by Heather Morse, the author of The Legal Watercooler. You can also check out the March 2012 ABA Journal. Rachel Zahorsky debunked alternative fee arrangements – explaining how the flat fee really works in an article here.
Attorney website bios draw, on average, 56 to 75 percent of a law firm’s website traffic. As a result, much thought and strategic energy should be put into the crafting of one’s story. Here’s what the experts had to say:
- Attorney bios should be written by marketers or professional writers, not lawyers.
- Every attorney has a story and they need to tell it better.
- While their “resume-like” bios share credentials, who are they really? Inquiring minds want to know.
- Attorney bios need to be more engaging and talk about the benefits of what the attorney brings to the table.
- Law firms should integrate social media and create one-click website paths and sub-URLs for all attorney bios.
Branding is marketing and logos are not brands: One chief marketing officer (CMO) attendee said that the managing partner of their 100+ attorney firm believes, “Branding is not the responsibility of marketing or the CMO.” Really? I would bet that this managing partner also has an undergraduate degree in pre-law, English or poly-sci and has never taken a business management or marketing course, let alone learned the definition of branding. It should also be noted that logos are not brands. They are nothing more than a graphic illustration of the business.
- Branding is marketing.
- Law firm brands need to include a benefits statement.
- Law firm brands need to articulate their culture, mission and vision so they can be recognizable in the sea of competitors.
- Branding and logo development is not about what you like, it’s about what your target audience will respond to.
- Calling a firm by its initials or by more than three last names is not memorable.
- The name of the website URL is not necessarily the “brand” but it should reflect the name or niche whenever possible.
- Too often, the lawyer marketing committee gets caught up in the shade of royal blue or maroon.
- The brand needs to be integrated into all firm communication materials, which include sophisticated business cards, websites, website printable pages, invoices, mailing labels, RFP covers, email signatures, outgoing voicemail messages, on-hold music/messages and the list goes on.
Interactive Communications and Social media:
- Lawyers who understand business development network online to build relationships and their individual reputations.
- LinkedIn is a must for all professionals, including lawyers.
- Pinterest for lawyers is a waste of time.
- It is important that lawyers educate marketers on the ethics and practice issues related to social media while still engaging carefully online.
Gina F. Rubel is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications, a strategic marketing and public relations agency with a niche in legal marketing. A former trial attorney, she is the author of Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers. Rubel and her agency have won many awards for legal communications, PR, media relations, website and graphic design, strategic planning, corporate philanthropy and leadership. She maintains a blog, is a contributor to National Law Review, The Legal Intelligencer Blog, AVVO Lawyernomics and The Huffington Post. You can find her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter. For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.