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Profile building for independent law firms

World Famous Brands

In my previous blog I discussed how large global firms can take steps to ensure they are creating strong worldwide brands, but what about the independents?

At the IBA Conference in Washington this week, it is striking how many of them are here. If you need to be huge to aim at decent international instructions, then no-one’s told these firms.

They are, of course relying on their ‘brand’ as heavily as Baker & McKenzie rely on theirs. But without the same mega-budget of these global behemoths, how do the good ones do it?

Go digital

The secret, as far as I see it, for independent firms looking to raise profile, either nationally or globally, is embracing the digital age. In many ways, the arrival of digital marketing is a great leveller for the industry.

It’s already potentially possible to reach an audience of billions with a lot less marketing spend than you would have required five or ten years ago. In fact, for those firms looking to get the most out of a relatively tight marketing budget, digital is a godsend.

Digital marketing can include anything from strong social media presence through to running ads, optimising your website and jumping on the content bandwagon.

Content, content, content

Not to labour the point but content is such a simple and effective way to begin profile raising that every independent firm should be doing it.

By this I mean white papers and blogs, opinion pieces and articles placed in industry publications.

The levels of expertise within a law firm make it the perfect resource to plunder for facts, opinions, innovations and ideas. Not only is this a simple method for making clients feel that you’re really adding value to the service they get but it’s a fantastic way to start building a specialist reputation.

Content is very easily shared online and if it’s your thought leadership, reporting, news and opinions that are being liked, commented on, shared and distributed then that instantly creates brand reputation for your firm.

Awards and submissions

Rankings in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, as well as receiving recognition from awards such as the Modern Law Awards or The Lawyer Awards all contribute to creating profile.

Don’t dismiss these as industry-only reputation builders because they can have a very positive impact beyond the legal sector too.

Not only will your firm name appear as an award winner or ranked firm alongside other exceptional practices but the marketing benefit from being able to quote wins and rankings on your website is huge.

If people haven’t heard of you before something you do grabs their attention, then inevitably they go looking for you online – if they find awards and rankings, that’s hugely reassuring. Clearly someone else looked at your practice, and judged it good.

Branding strategy

As I mentioned in my blog about building a global brand, those firms that don’t have a branding strategy are faltering reputationally – even the biggest and most well established.

It’s not that they have dropped in quality or service but they are simply being overtaken by more aggressive practices that have been smart enough to identify the need for a strong and focused branding strategy.

Branding is something that has become key to every business across all sectors and for independent firms it is a very simple and cost effective way to start getting ahead.

If you’re an independent firm looking for reputation management advice on profile building or digital marketing then please do get in touch. I will be at the IBA conference in Washington until Friday. I am hosting a panel discussion on how to get the most out of your marketing budget on Thursday at 10.45am it would be great to see you there.

Melissa Davis is the managing director of MD Communications, the international legal PR agency. She is also co-chair of the IBA Law Firm Management Committee Business Development Working Group and a member of the ABA Transnational Legal Practice Committee. She will be speaking at the IBA next week on the value of networks and how to best use your marketing budget. MD Communications is on Twitter @mdcomms 

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