As we head into #LMA14 this week, I’m excited that we’ll be revealing the best of the best in legal marketing with our Your Honor Awards (which I was fortunate enough to serve as a judge for this year).
As much as I’d like to reveal the winners (calm down Jill and Marcie, I would never do that!), instead, I thought I’d use this week’s Two for Tuesdays to give you two tips on smart marketing – we really saw some amazing and brilliant submissions this year, and they all had a couple of things in common.
Tip One: Know your audience
I say this a LOT here, but any good marketing or business development activity HAS to start with knowing your audience. The best submissions that we saw really took the time to identify not only who their audience is, but what their needs and wants are. They made sure there was nothing else in the market that was meeting their needs in that way, and put together carefully crafted campaigns or events or apps or what have you that were actually of use to their clients and potential clients.
How did they do this? Well, for the most part, the answer is pretty easy – they ASKED them. Are you a firm putting on a seminar for your clients and potential clients? ASK them what sessions they’d like to see, what topics they need covered, what kind of timing and format works best for them.
Working on an app that you’d like your clients to download? Don’t just put together a directory of your firm, TALK to your clients and find out what they need from you in mobile access. Is it a niche area that they could use some information on, with the latest updates and tips? What would keep them coming back to the app regularly (and subconsciously reminding them of your firm)?
Revamping your website? ASK your clients what they use it for. Ask your attorneys what they use it for. Make those things the most prominent. Find out HOW your audience uses the website – are they mostly accessing it on their phones? iPads? Then put the focus on the mobile design.
You get the idea.
This is not to say you neglect research when you’re putting together a project – it’s also important to do your due diligence:
- Check out your competitors: have they done similar projects, events, materials? How can you be different or better? What might they have overlooked that you can capitalize on?
- Check out similar items (whether in the industry among your competitors or not): what can you learn from what they’ve already done? Did something work particularly well at an event that you can adopt? Did someone miss a key piece of research that you could incorporate instead?
- Are there statistics that you need to be reviewing, thanks to surveys that have already been done? Find out what those might be and take a look. The market will often tell you what you need.
The key here is that you never want to assume that you already know what people want. Sure, you might be right, but there also may be aspects of an event or promotional piece that you didn’t consider, which, when added, will push you over the top to success. Make sure you know your audience and have done your research.
And once you’ve got something ready, tap a couple of your trusted clients to review it – they will appreciate that you want their advice, and they will also be able to tell you whether you’re on track or have missed the mark before you throw it out to the public. It’s a tough thing to do because you have to be willing to take criticism of something you’ve likely poured your heart into, but it can mean the difference between something that meets with resounding success, and something that falls flat.
Tip Two: Don’t be afraid to be creative
My second tip is to be bold – don’t be afraid to be creative.
Now, I want to caution here that I’m not talking about creativity for creativity’s sake, or being extra crazy just to get noticed – that can often backfire.
What I am talking about is combining the knowledge you have of your audience with outside-of-the-box thinking.
- Is everyone else in the industry doing long seminars on dry (but necessary) topics? Try TED-style talks or skip the seminars all together in favor of another kind of delivery system. Maybe video conversations with your attorneys, or involving clients would be eye-catching.
- Does everyone else have columns and gavels on their websites? Are they all some shade of blue? Try red or orange. Use responsive design. Find out what represents YOUR firm and makes it different and capitalize on that.
- Do you always try to get a meeting with a potential client in the same way? Switch it up – find out what they’re interested in. Maybe they love baseball, and you could invite them to join you at batting practice. Or they have a real fondness for a local bakery, and you could have a cupcake delivered to their office (side note, if you want MY business, cupcakes are always the way to go).
I know lawyers can be a bit apprehensive about doing anything crazy, and I’m not advocating that – but with a little bit of creativity, you can turn the things that you’re doing (which everyone else is ALSO doing) into something with a "wow" factor that people will remember – and you can do it within the confines of being smart and professional.
We saw so many brilliantly executed entries this year for the Your Honor Awards, and the finalists all showed a real openness to understanding what their target audiences’ needs and wants are, and the willingness to try something a little different to catch their attention.
Be sure to keep an eye on the LMA website so that you can see the finalists and winners once they’re announced this week – there are some truly wonderful things in there that we can all learn from!