Reprinted with permission from The Legal Intelligencer, November 24, 2010
Copyright 2010 ALM Media Properties, LLC.



You Have a New Website? You're Moving? Big Deal!
How to Get Clients Excited About Law Firm News

I have many clients doing exciting things -- from moving to new and improved offices, to rolling out new websites, blogs, microsites and other initiatives. And each and every one of them asks me how to promote -- to the max -- this unbelievable news!

When law firms spend thousands of hard dollars and non-billable time creating new marketing products, they expect there to be a marching band and fireworks. Well, the truth is that this news is only interesting and exciting to clients if you can show them how it will enhance their world -- not yours.

When a law firm moves or rolls out a new website and more, the only question the marketing team at that firm should focus on is: "How will this news help our clients in any way, shape or form?" So let's look at some examples.


NEW OFFICES

When a firm moves, the following questions may be triggered in the client's mind, so any announcement or roll-out needs to consider these items:

• How convenient or inconvenient will the move be for me? Will it take me more or less time to get to the firm's new offices?

• What kind of parking will there be? How much will I have to pay? How far will I have to walk?

• Are there any changes to telephone numbers or e-mail addresses that I need to know about?

• Is the firm putting in place any advances in telecommunications or IT that will benefit me and my company?

• Do newer offices mean the firm will charge higher rates to pay for the move and those new mahogany doors?

• Will these new offices be more comfortable than the old ones? (Cleaner -- yes that's right some firms are very, very sad, dusty and depressing places -- new and more comfortable furniture, disabled access etc.).


NEW WEBSITE

When laws firms update or redesign their websites to be more modern and cutting edge, they see the new -- and usually five- to six-figure -- website as something to shout about. But from the client's point of view, unless the site contains new information that will help the clients in their lives or businesses and is extremely user-friendly, both from the navigational and content standpoints, clients will look at it as a non-event for them.

Therefore, when your firm undertakes to revamp or upgrade its website, the first questions your lawyers should address is: How will this new website help our clients? What will the site contain that will rock the visitors' world? If the answer is "nothing," then you may need to reassess any major announcement when you roll it out. Instead consider what kinds of content -- checklists, preventive steps and forms -- are now on the site that will help the visitor. Why should someone go to your website at all? Why will they stay on your website? The answers to these questions will determine the message your roll-out should bear.


ADDING LAWYERS

Traditionally, law firms have sent lovely -- and not so lovely -- print and e-mail announcements to their clients to "celebrate" the addition of new lawyers. Again, the beast that is "Why should I care?" needs to be addressed. Too often, these announcements describe all the things the lawyer has experience in, has written or spoken about, has chaired or has done.

What these announcements do not but should do, is discuss the kinds of results the lawyer has achieved -- large verdicts, tax savings, deals done in 24-hours -- and for what kinds of clients. The industries that the lawyer "gets" and has solid experience in should be enumerated. Clients want to see you have handled the problems they have and have handled them successfully.

So, out with the boring narrative and in with really helpful information. Turn these announcements around and make them more colorful, inventive, interesting and actually helpful. Check out Seattle-based Crocker Kuno's fun and innovative new lawyer announcements as a great example.


TA DA! YOU HAVE JUST BEEN SELECTED AS A 'BEST LAWYER'

It is terrific to be recognized by your peers and clients as someone who is tops in their field. But there are so many lawyers being recognized in so many directories, listings and contests, clients today are besieged with press releases and e-alerts about this kind of news. I am in favor of posting such accolades in bios and on websites and even on e-mail signatures, but beyond that, again the "Why should I care?" factor needs to be addressed.

Beware of chest pounding and instead favor real hard facts about what you were recognized for and exactly why the client should care or will benefit from your recognition. If winning a top award means you have a record of providing top services at the most reasonable price -- that is indeed news to clients and needs to be communicated in word and in action.


NEW 'TEAMS' FORMED

Many firms today are creating "client service teams" or single issue groups -- a TARP practice group, for example -- to let clients know they are the experts in a particular very hot niche. I think these efforts are terrific. However, I have seen so many of them start and then fizzle out. The client gets the announcement: "We have created for you a new . . . blah blah blah." So many firms do a great job "announcing" this kind of really good news. But what they do not do such a great job at, post-launch, is communicating with clients in the months to come -- what the team is doing that really matters to or benefits clients. Just because the new team has been launched does not mean your clients will remember it even exits a month after the announcement.

In sum, just because you have spent marketing dollars on something -- you must be very careful to develop it and launch it in such a way that clients know how it will benefit them. And, you have to repeat that message every few months in a meaningful way. The moral to this and so many marketing success stories is two fold -- put yourself in the clients' shoes and always consider why anything you are doing should mean anything to them at all -- then follow up, follow up, follow up.

So as I like to say, get up, get started and get going.


Stacy West Clark has been helping Philadelphia lawyers and law firms expand their practices for more than 20 years. She is a former attorney with Morgan Lewis & Bockius and was the firm's first marketing director. She is president of Stacy Clark Marketing, www.stacyclarkmarketing.com, a firm that helps law firms grow their businesses.