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Marketing mistakes

12 November 2015

In our seven GhostMarketer Series articles so far we’ve discussed the necessity of marketing your firm, and how to go about it practically.

Let’s turn now to the marketing mistakes most often made by lawyers – and how to avoid them.

Not marketing your firm
This classic mistake is perhaps less common now than it was ten years ago, but as competition increases and becomes fiercer, it just doesn’t make sense to think you can prosper unless you find a way to remain top-of-mind with both existing clients and prospective new ones.

But even worse than not marketing is brand-damaging bad marketing, which brings us to …..

Doing it all yourself
We’ve all seen them – those awful newsletters, websites and logos that look as though the senior partner’s youngest and least competent child has put them together as a class project. Consider also the phenomenon of the “disappearing newsletter”, where the first few issues of a newsletter go off regular as clockwork but then gradually tail off and finally disappear altogether as the partners get tired of sacrificing billable time (or working evenings and weekends) to write them.

First prize certainly is to do everything in-house, but only if you have the necessary skills and if it makes commercial sense for your professionals to sacrifice the many hours needed to produce high-quality articles. Otherwise outsource it.

Choosing the wrong outsource partner
Make sure your outsource partners can live up to their promises by checking their track record –

  • How long have they been around?
  • What do their clients say about them?
  • Are they specialists in marketing professional firms? 

Online invisibility
New clients in the Internet Age either find attorneys when they need them on the Internet or at the very least will research you online before initiating contact. Make sure your website and Social Media pages are all mobile friendly.

Being over-sold
Watch out for -

  • Over-purchasing: Buy only what’s appropriate for your particular needs and budget. Most firms require nothing more than a good quality client newsletter/website/LinkedIn page combination. Think carefully about expensive offerings like mobile apps – they may be the flavour of the month, but how much value will they really add to your practice? Check each item on your monthly invoice and ask yourself “do we really need that?”
  • Over-committing: Don’t commit to blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook etc unless you can keep them fresh and interesting. There are easy ways to load your client newsletter onto your website and Social Media pages but ideally also schedule time to load little extras like snippets of your firm’s news.

Spray-and-pray
Who are your best clients? Where do they come from? That’s your target market; focus all your marketing efforts on contacting and communicating with it. “Spray-and-pray” advertising may work for some firms, but for most it’s a waste of time and money. Make sure that every cent you spend on marketing gets you in front of the very people you want more work from – your target market.

Legalese and other cardinal sins
So how are you going to grab your target market’s attention – and hold it – in our Information Age with its reduced attention spans?

  1. Avoid Legalese and its evil twin Legalistic Jargon. Law is dusty and fusty enough for most people without them being bombarded with Latin maxims and obscure technical terms. Only use a specialist term where the context demands it (“dolus eventualis” springs to mind) and even then provide the simplest-possible plain language translation.
  2. Legal Theory will send your readers straight to sleep. If you want them awake (you do) avoid it. Think practicality rather than theory and your readership will rocket.
  3. KISS (Keep It Short and Simple). All your readers want to know is whether or not they need your help – stick to the essentials, cut out irrelevant detail and verbosity. In fact, never use words like “verbosity” unless you are telling someone what not to do. Tip: MS Word’s Review/Thesaurus function is invaluable for finding simpler alternatives to verbosity wordiness type words.
    A great way to keep it “short and simple” is to write to your clients as though you were speaking with them. You wouldn’t say to your client over the phone “Notwithstanding the afore-mentioned…..” you’d say “But …..”. Write the same way.
  4. Talking about yourself is….. well, not ideal. Sure, the whole idea is to keep reminding your clients and prospective clients of who you are and what you can do for them, but follow the 80/20 principle: 80% about them and 20% (max) about you.
  5. Selling your services too blatantly can be the quickest way to reduce both your credibility and your trustworthiness. Rather go for the subtle approach of freely sharing your knowledge and expertise with your readers, for their benefit – you can’t ask for a more effective or professional form of marketing.
  6. Over-communicating is just as much a mistake as under-communicating. Do your clients really need and want to hear from you every week? Monthly communication will keep you top-of-mind without causing annoyance.

Not using GhostMarketer
GhostMarketer comes free with GhostConvey and you should use it to the full – see Are you using GhostMarketer yet? for more.

More articles in the GhostMarketer series by LawDotNews -

Article 1:  Are you using GhostMarketer yet?
Article 2:  Six reasons to market your firm
Article 3:  Targeted Marketing: Choosing your tools
Article 4:  Shoestring Marketing
Article 5:  GhostMarketer - Getting started
Article 6:  Client Newsletter - A practical guide
Article 7:  Branding: The basics
Article 9:  The proof of the pudding

Contact us on 086 110 5904 (or email info@dotnews.co.za) for more on your free set up on the GhostMarketer platform and other LawDotNews services.

Jack Crook, Director at DotNews is well known to law firms as the author of LawDotNews since 2005. Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping other small and medium sized professional firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

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