Law firms ask themselves this question time and again: How "specialised" should we market ourselves? After all, you don't want to exclude potential business by positioning yourself too specialised. This is where differentiated marketing can help.
The beauty of legal marketing in 2022 is that communication can be individualised. A sensible marketing strategy allows a law firm to address different target groups with messages adapted to these targets.
This approach differs from undifferentiated strategies as well as niche marketing. In undifferentiated marketing, a law firm uses the same communication strategy for the whole firm (and all practice groups within it). If, on the other hand, a law firm targets only a niche or a specific segment of the market, this is called niche marketing. This strategy is particularly popular and successful with smaller law firms.
In contrast, differentiated marketing allows a law firm, for example, to market the services of the tax department, the litigation team and the labour law practice group to specific target groups. It would therefore be possible for the litigation team to specialise in a particular sector (e.g. insurance disputes). At the same time, the tax department could address a more undifferentiated target group and market its services broadly.
Elsewhere we have explained why strategies in law firms should emerge at the practice group level. Differentiated marketing is another example of this.
Clients prefer law firms with demonstrable expertise in their problem or sector. Differentiated marketing allows the development of tailor-made services and targeted communication strategies. This increases the chances of success in business development.
Of course, different marketing strategies need more resources. The costs in marketing increase. However, the effectiveness in communication as well as the reduction of the discussions about the content of communication mentioned at the beginning clearly outweigh these additional costs. Of course, this is only true if differentiated marketing is implemented correctly.
Why do we want to introduce differentiated marketing? This question needs to be answered clearly. There needs to be an awareness of the goals the law firm wants to achieve. This requires an alignment with the goals set in the corporate strategy.
In this phase, it should also be determined which client segments should be the focus. So where should the business development go? It is therefore important that the practice groups are already involved at this stage.
This probably needs research work. Many think they really understand their clients. However, this understanding often relies on assumptions based on individual experiences. These are not representative and do not reflect reality. Many also do not understand exactly how clients really decide in a buying process. It is therefore worthwhile to "get your hands dirty" in this phase.
There are different ways to better understand existing and potential clients. They all require us to engage with them and "get close". The insights from this process are of great value in the further course of differentiated marketing.
Positioning concerns the branding of a law firm. Therefore, it is important to consider all target segments when developing the positioning of a law firm brand. In this phase, we work out which elements set our firm apart from other providers.
What are our differentiating features? Are these relevant for our target groups (cf. 2. above)? How can we prove these characteristics?
Of course, not all differentiation features are relevant for all target segments. However, at least one feature of differentiation is needed per target group.
Based on the positioning, targeted messaging can be developed for each segment. It is again up to the practice groups to package the benefits of their service in a pithy messaging. Note: The process in steps 1-3 can of course also mean that the individual departments still have to adapt their services and offers – a process that should not be interrupted anyway!
The choice of marketing measures is not easy. Successful marketing needs a sensible mix of traditional measures, such as networking, lectures, professional articles and printed communication, and digital activities, such as email, social media, webinars, blogs, etc.
We have already explained the selection of marketing measures in another article.
One thing is certain: Many need to invest further in digital marketing. Without a modern, functional website, little can be achieved in online marketing. Differentiated marketing can place new demands on the online presence of a law firm. In addition, automation in various areas brings great advantages (e.g. in email marketing). And SEO has become an ongoing main task of marketing anyway and should not be neglected. These are just a few examples.
Time to act! The strategic decisions are translated into clear actions. A marketing plan emerges, which – as already mentioned – has to be developed and controlled by the different practice groups. Planning needs room for some flexibility, but one should not deviate too much from it. In addition to the marketing plan, processes are needed to develop and monitor a budget. After all, the costs should not get out of hand.
We have a lot of experience with marketing services and products in the legal market. In the development of differentiated marketing strategies, we support law firms from the first thought to effective implementation.
A no-obligation initial meeting provides information about the starting point: brand audit, brainstorming, communication analysis... We find the right way and structure a profitable project!
Just send us a message by e-mail or give us a call. We look forward to the exchange!