Every year, new trends emerge in the world of marketing and there is no doubt law firms will need to be across the latest digital and AI marketing initiatives coming to the market.
Yet, as we begin to emerge from the global pandemic, some traditional marketing, business development and even sales themes, will be key to lawyers achieving significant revenue growth in the year ahead.
That’s why, like Doc and Marty McFly, lawyers will do well to go “Back to the Future.”
The context to the year ahead and where lawyers should focus, like much of what has come before, is heavily influenced by the effects of COVID lockdowns and the so-called new normal.
Businesses across the board have been impacted and with the “Great Resignation” spreading at an almost pandemic rate, these strains on doing business will only increase.
During this period, technology has enabled us to still function, and trade, as Zoom meetings and working from home has become normal.
And while technology has given us so much, it has not been able to fill the one void, we all crave the most….Direct human interaction.
This means that for the year ahead while digital marketing, AI and technology will continue at breakneck speed, the firms and lawyers who get ahead will be the ones who put on their seatbelts, hit the accelerator on the DeLorean, and head back to the BD future.
To do this, the areas that lawyers will do well to focus on are shown below.
Trends For Law Firms- Focus On Personal Branding
Certainly not a new concept, in fact, it’s been going for over a decade or so now. At whatever stage of your legal career, you are currently at, if you’re not focused on and investing in your personal brand, then make sure you get on it right away.
First of all, focus on your key message – i.e., what your personal brand is. This means understanding who you help, and how what you do helps them.
Then package this up so that you identify and can convey what you want to be known for by your target audience.
Then make sure all the content you post on your website, and social media channels help to promote this personal brand message. Make sure you post on social media sites that are relevant to your audience.
In a B2B corporate world that means LinkedIn, and most likely not TikTok. Commercial buyers don’t really care how great a dancer you are!
There’s a lot to getting personal branding right, which is why we’ve created this free downloadable Guide to BD and Personal Branding for Lawyers.
Get those meetings and coffees booked in
Assuming it’s possible, get in front of people and start to have those direct conversations and chats. By all means, don’t overdose on caffeine, healthy alternatives are also an option.
The point is, online/Zoom meetings have filled a void but they are in no way as good as the real thing. It’s hard to pick up on those all-important non-verbal signals.
They are also very tiring; a day of face-to-face meetings is energizing whereas online ones tend to lead to fatigue for both you and your clients.
At the start of the year, or when lockdown measures ease, those who book meetings first will have the greatest success. So don’t be shy, start to fill up your diaries today.
Get back on the speaking circuit
This has always been one of the best ways of getting incoming referrals, as when people see someone speak at a conference, assuming they speak knowledgeably and well, start to form a bond with them.
This means that when they have a need they remember that experience/speaker, and that person is who they contact when they need them.
While webinars are convenient and provide ready-made YouTube content, they are nowhere near as effective in generating leads as the real thing. Which leads neatly to the next point.
Book those conference tickets
While this is quite a costly expense, you can at least take comfort in knowing that this is really helping an industry that has suffered extensively due to the pandemic.
It also allows you to network face to face again in relaxed and natural settings.
Yes, online conferences have used breakout rooms and tried their best to encourage networking, but it is a false or unnatural environment, so it ultimately leads to stilted conversations.
So, if you can, attend conferences and networking events and start to rebuild and establish a new network of contacts you can interact with.
Trends For Law Firms – Lawyers should focus on in-person BD in 2022
Therefore, the main conclusion is that once you have established your personal brand, and got your social media channels and content reinforcing that brand, your next step is to try and create as many in-person or face-to-face business development activities as possible.
Through meeting and talking with your clients and prospective clients, you will develop a better understanding of what’s important to them. You’ll also start to develop some rapport with them.
All of which helps you move from transactional relationships to ones that last for the long term. It is these long-term relationships that are the foundations of any successful legal career.
Ben Paul is the founder of The BD Ladder, a BD and marketing consultancy specializing in providing practical advice to lawyers and professional services firms.
He has over 20 years of experience in providing sales and marketing advice to global law firms and professional services firms.