Do you feel the same as many lawyers? You are in the office 12 hours a day, working on a large number of cases from a wide variety of legal fields, small and large amounts in dispute mixed together - but somehow you can't find the common thread? What does the firm stand for, which cases are the ones you would like to have more of? And which ones are better left out because they are unprofitable? And have you ever noticed that the most unprofitable cases are often the ones that cause the most nerves and deadline stress? And, hand on heart - the whole thing is not really lucrative either? Especially since you started your career quite late anyway due to your studies and legal clerkship?
No common thread
In the daily consulting of various law firms, the same problem shows up again and again: there is no common thread. A single attorney takes on all the mandates that can be obtained at the location, while larger law firms often handle several areas of law with several attorneys in house. But there is no common thread in sight. The one, decisive argument why potential clients should hire your law firm of all firms and not the colleagues across the street, or the law firm that booked the Google ad above you?
165,000 unique lawyers in Germany? Really now?
As of 2019, there are approximately 165,000 licensed attorneys in Germany. Honestly, you won't make it with a pretty law firm sign on the door alone and the conviction that you're a good lawyer. Neither will generous referrals to Google for paid ads. So what to do?
IN 10 StePS to the mandate machine
Our advice: close your office!
No, don't worry. Not forever. But for one day or better for a whole weekend. Schedule the people from your law firm who are responsible for the economic success. These are primarily you and your law firm partners. Employees stay at home. On this date, provide a pleasant working environment for the day (don't forget a flip chart) and a nice cultural program for the evening if you are staying overnight. Possibly find a management consultant specializing in law firms with proven experience in strategy and marketing to law firms to ask the right questions and guide you through the process this time. Don't know one? You'll find one in the imprint of this page. By the way, we offer this process regularly as a seminar in the Bavarian Forest.
The exact path to successful positioning
When we do this process with you, it will have exactly the following question-driven flow:
1. with which type of mandates do you generate the most revenue?
The background here is the Pareto idea: across all industries, it is said that you achieve 80% of your sales with 20% of your customers. These do not necessarily have to be customers or clients; they can also be legal products or subject areas. How exactly this behaves with you, must be worked out. Only then can you say goodbye to 80% relatively pointless activity and do more important or more pleasant things.
Which mandates do you enjoy the most? As a dry lawyer, you might say that fun is not the point. But that is wrong. You are only really good at what you enjoy doing. Ideally, we will find your strengths in the professional area 🙂
3. what is the current situation?
Now let's take a closer look: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Do you think you have everything in your head anyway? Perfect, then let's put it on paper now. The so-called SWOT analysis is one of the most common management tools and provides valuable insights for finding the right strategy. But please don't let anyone sell you 100 pages of worthless PowerPoint on this topic. It can be done properly in two hours together. More info on SWOT analysis...
4. how is the view from above?
In this step, we look at the external factors. We like to use the PEST(EL) model for this. Ultimately, the aim here is to obtain an assessment of the overall environment in which you operate and what influence the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors have on your own company. Sounds really dry? Well, with such a model you can, for example, come up with the idea of representing masses of diesel victims, revoke the underlying car loan agreements due to errors and sue the client's legal protection insurance with another legal protection insurance for payment. Cool stuff, right? More info about the PEST(EL) analysis...
5. competitive analysis - who are we fighting? And are we fighting at all?
Here we look at the competitive environment in which we operate. We're talking about competitors of your firm that are very direct and well-known by name. What identifiable strategies are they pursuing? Are there threats from new law firms or law firm concepts entering the market? Are we under pressure from clients? And if so, under what pressure? Are we dependent on agencies from whom we need to buy leads or is there dependency on staff? Are there possibly new service providers who may make us completely redundant or who can provide the service better or en masse in a standardized way? Keyword legal tech, air rights, etc.. We often use the 5 Forces analysis according to Porter. More information about the 5 Forces...
6. definition of the niche and formulation of the positioning
The information and data gathered by means of the above-mentioned analyses result in an overall picture of the market as well as a realistic assessment of one's own position and an evaluation of the opportunities within the market. Philip Kotler recommends in his book "Fundamentals of Marketing" to write down one's own positioning in the market in the form of a sentence, which necessarily contains four elements: Target segment and need, brand, concept, differentiation criterion (Kotler et al., 2016). This is exactly what we do together.
7. unique selling proposition
A scientific definition for this is provided by Hindle: "A "unique selling proposition" is the description of the unique qualities of a specific product or service in a way that differentiates them in that customers prefer to buy this product rather than that of a competitor" (Hindle, 2008).
Applied to the field of legal services, however, limitations of this model, which Kotler has characterized in very general terms and through the consumer goods industry, quickly suggest themselves. According to Pepels, "This approach, which is still widely propagated, may seem obvious, but on reflection it is not very fruitful. For one thing, it can be considered difficult to be permanently and demonstrably better at something than everyone else in the same market segment. And even if this were the case, potential clients often lack the market transparency and expertise to recognize and assess this" (Pepels and Steckler, 2012, p.28).
8. lawyer positioning
For the development of the lawyer's positioning, Pepels therefore recommends moving away from the purely factual level to the level of the needs and gut feeling of the potential clientele. "Far more clever, on the other hand, is to use an emotionally based standout, which in marketing is called a Unique Advertising Proposition (UAP). This means that a law firm can make credible that it can do something better than others. This is not meant to be credible in the strict legal sense, i.e., factually provable, but to create a comprehensible, plausible appearance of being able to solve potential clients' problems more efficiently and effectively than others. This is the core competence" (Pepels and Steckler, 2012, p. 28).
9. the new law firm website
The first step is usually a revision of the online presence, especially the firm's website. This must necessarily reflect the positioning and strategy previously developed. On this page, introduce yourself and your law firm, as well as the relevant areas of law in which you are active. Plan sub-pages for special promotions (so-called landing pages). The website will later be the hub for scaling your law firm. Therefore, when choosing web developers, make sure they are familiar with the required interfaces to CRM systems, billing program if applicable, scheduling program, email marketing systems. We usually recommend using WordPress as the base system. Other, partly proprietary systems may seem more intuitive at first glance, but usually do not offer the required customization options and interfaces. Please also pay attention to a hosting that is sufficiently scalable. As a rule, we strongly advise you not to use the well-known mass hosts, as important settings are not all or only very complicated to make here. We are happy to recommend a robust solution at any time. From day one, the usual analytics tools such as Google Analytics but also Facebook Pixel should be running on the site. Of course, you should follow the current data protection regulations. As you can see, a law firm website is much more than just a digital business card. The developers of your site should therefore be familiar with the current and planned processes of your law firm and have a deep technical understanding of the required interfaces. Please do not reduce the topic mentally to "colorful pictures". Colorful images do not earn money.
Now that you have created a high-performance website and the necessary landing pages for your project, it's time to drive visitors to your website and ideally convert them into clients. Please be careful at this point: the paid advertising programs from Google and Facebook are true monsters once you have your credit card information on file. Set up incorrectly, you can burn more money in a day than you've ever seen in a stack. Setting up and managing the campaigns you need is something you should ALWAYS leave to people who have learned how to do it and do it every day. There are various online marketing agencies here. However, when choosing one, make sure they have proven expertise in attorney marketing. Otherwise, your ads on the diesel scandal may be shown to potential car buyers and all your money will be burned.
We usually recommend a mix of paid advertising and a solid content marketing strategy. Google's algorithms are getting better all the time: so look for content that really adds value to your readers. Talk out of the box. The new strategy is the opposite of hiding books. Share your knowledge publicly. This is how you position yourself as an expert and gain trust. Forget the thought: "If I write everything on the website, no one will need to mandate me anymore". This is nonsense. After all, a legal service is not an IKEA shelf you can assemble yourself. The underlying reasoning is clear. It is not possible to move up in the organic search results within a very short time. Therefore, we usually start with paid campaigns and a good content marketing strategy at the same time. The latter will gradually improve your presence on the web, so that the investment in paid advertising can be gradually reduced. This is the only way to build real business value. Anyone can turn up Google, but you won't achieve sustainability with it. And don't let anyone tell you about SEO. It's all nonsense and usually lies. There is no magic strategy to get you to the top of Google. Only regular writing with a clear focus on client benefits pays off.