Overnight, it seems that the whole world has changed. The Disney magic is nowhere to be found, beaches are off-limits, and Paris can’t be the city of romance since hugs & kisses are now risky. How did the world get turned upside down in the blink of an eye?
No doubt you are feeling a similar turmoil in your business and trying to find some guidance on navigating this new landscape. You are not alone, but this is manageable and will pass. So what do you do right now?
We have been saying it for a while: Lawyers need to stop entirely relying on Google for new business and diversify their marketing portfolio. Never has this rang truer than within the context of the Coronavirus pandemic. Firms who have been heavily relying on SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) to get new clients have seen a drastic downturn in phone calls. If that sounds like your firm, you are not alone. Everyone has taken a hit due to the pandemic. If you are wondering how best to market your practice right now, my response would be it’s time to let your humanity show.
On a global scale, people are experiencing shelter-ins, loss of income, loss of jobs, and loss of loved ones. March and April were nothing but virus-related content, as to be expected. Those who continued to market “as usual” met with backlash and bad PR. So, it’s safe to say that any legal marketing you do cannot be unsympathetic or ignorant about what is going on in the world. If you’ve been letting your typical content and campaigns run – stop. It’s time to reevaluate and adapt.
Recalibrate Your Marketing for Your Audience
Google said it right at their 2015 conference: To get new business, you need to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. That means we need to know who our ideal clients are, what their problems are, and how we can solve those problems today. Amid a global crisis, our marketing message and delivery need to change rapidly. People are looking for and expecting humanity and empathy. Make sure that your marketing is not tone-deaf.
How would we recommend you change your marketing?
- Don’t stop marketing. Within the first week of the crisis, we were shocked to see some lawyers posting on Facebook groups that they were slowing or stopping their marketing efforts altogether. Unfortunately, this method is a bit shortsighted. It’s been proven that marketing during a recession can boost financial performance throughout the year following the recession. The marketing you do also contributes to slowing the decline in business and consumer spending that can create worse economic crises. So keep marketing, just do it wisely.
- Don’t create Corona-only content. Though you might feel tempted to create a lot of content related to the Coronavirus with the hopes of getting more engagement, remember that people are already bombarded with it everywhere else. It is OK to write content, do a live video stream, or run a few ads that don’t have anything to do with the virus, just as long as it doesn’t seem insensitive to the ongoing crisis.
- Don’t be self-serving. No one wants to see your ad about how many years you’ve been practicing law, that you give free consultations, or awards that you’ve won. This is not the time to be blasting an irrelevant message. Not only that, but your message is also competing with content that is more relevant and more worthy of people’s time, given the situation. People want to see how you are helping others and improving their lives. If you are a personal injury lawyer, lay out the benefits that appeal to people right now, like no out-of-pocket fees, getting their medical bills reduced, not having to have health insurance, and getting in to see a healthcare provider more quickly. Whatever platform you use for marketing, make sure people can see how you are meeting their needs, and helping your clients.
- Reevaluate your marketing. Maybe you created the perfect COVID-friendly post with a great message on Facebook about giving back to the community, but without realizing it, you left a button that said, “Subscribe Now” that makes no sense. Check your entire marketing experience, from the first click to your website, to the thank-you-for-contacting-us page.
- Show how you are helping during the pandemic. If you are supporting a charity, organization, or specific workgroup in your community, talk about it! Getting exposure for your good deeds can actually encourage others to reach out and do more too. We always recommend local community involvement, but it is even more important now. Expanding and showing your efforts to improve your local community is how you can market without solely relying on Google and PPC campaigns.
Lawyers Who Are Doing It Right
There are already many lawyers leading by example and shifting their marketing efforts. They are following the guidelines above, but what is more important is that they are taking the extraordinary opportunity to be seen as human during this crisis and not just a business.
One Georgia law firm is promoting other businesses in their monthly printed and e-newsletter free of charge, which includes a guide of local companies that are providing curbside services, meal packages, virtual experiences, and more. This firm is also resuming their Teacher of the Month program over Zoom, and planning to provide lunch to first responders and nurses in the coming weeks.
The Takeaway: Your charitable programs don’t have to be expensive or grand to make an impact. Remember that your community is made of the people who live in it. Every opportunity you make to touch the life of someone else matters and is marketing in it of itself.
A Las Vegas attorney has personally taken on the challenge to help provide local hospitals with thousands of masks, gowns, disinfectants, gloves, hairnets, and more. She has privately funded much of it and recently started a GoFundMe account to continue to help.
The Takeaway: Is there a specific need in your community you can fund? Do you have a large following on social media that you can reach out to to help support a cause? Getting the community involved not only makes people aware of your work but can inspire others to help and make them feel involved.
We also want to recognize Ken Hardison and his wife, Tiana (We didn’t tell them we were writing this). As the crisis amplified, many attorneys expressed their concerns about being able to pay their employees or losing their businesses. Almost overnight, PILMMA rolled out open-discussion webinars, blogs, and other various content to help lawyers feel more confident about what to do, and how they can improve their law firm during the months ahead. No doubt, all of us are very grateful for their quick response!
The Takeaway: Be the first to respond to the needs of your community, your local chamber, and your clients. Keep an eye on local forums and groups for your city and county. Speak up and help out where you can. Provide free content answering people’s questions and concerns, even if it’s not your exact area of practice. Don’t ask for anything in return.
If you decide to continue marketing right now, do your best to follow the guidelines above. There are plenty of ways to help in your community right now. When you do decide to market, keep the tone empathetic, and prepare for a more significant marketing push in the months ahead when your potential clients will be more welcoming of it. It won’t be long before the conversation starts to change, and it won’t be corona-virus saturated. By continuing to market effectively through the crisis, you are giving your firm a better chance of future success.
Be safe and stay home. We will get through this together!