The annual holiday advertising blitz soon will begin signaling the year’s end, but lawyers and their firms still have plenty of time to lay the groundwork for effective legal marketing as we head into 2019.
Following are few recommendations, although this list is by no means exhaustive. For purposes of this article, I’m focusing on a few deadlines and easy-to-employ tactics prior to the New Year that can be used to effectively market individual attorneys and firms.
Nominate Now to Avoid Rush
The annual parade of reputable “best of” and “best lawyers” lists is largely based on nominations provided by attorneys themselves. Unfortunately, this is the type of task that many lawyers put off until the last minute, or, worse, fail to address altogether.
Most of the groups and publications that confer meaningful professional recognition also place a premium on the feedback they receive from current and potential honorees. One of the best ways to keep yourself and your firm on the radar is by participating in the nomination process.
The Best Lawyers in America is one of the top guides to the U.S. legal profession and a coveted listing for most attorneys. Only prior honorees can vote on who will be listed, but nominations for the 2020 edition can be submitted by any attorney using either the printable or online forms provided by Best Lawyers. The key is making sure you submit your nominations (and others nominate you) before the December 1 deadline.
Similarly, the publishers of the annual Super Lawyers and Rising Stars listings at Thomson Reuters also are accepting nominations with a deadline prior to year’s end. Nominations are due for both lists by December 13 and submissions are handled through the Super Lawyers website.
For any attorney who wants to be considered for either Super Lawyers or Rising Stars, it is crucial that they also have an updated profile at www.my.superlawyers.com. That’s because the research teams that help determine the final selections rely on those profiles as one of the first steps in the vetting process. If you’re up for consideration, it’s best to show you’re engaged by setting up a profile, which can be done in minutes.
Starting/Updating Social Media
Although it hasn’t made inroads in the legal field as quickly as with other industries, social media is becoming more influential and provides a vibrant avenue for marketing legal services.
If you or your firm haven’t yet jumped into the social media waters, now is the perfect time to make it happen before heading into the New Year. Even if your schedule only allows time for you to maintain one social media account, the effort can be worth it if you’re able to grab the attention of someone who can bring business to your door.
Those who already are on the social media bandwagon should use this time of year as an opportunity to review your performance during 2018 and establish new goals for the coming year.
Have you increased the number of your subscribers/followers? Is there evidence that you’re reaching the right audience? Which of your social media posts generated the most and the least traffic this year? What are the important milestones that would spell social media success for you in 2019?
These are all important topics that should be addressed to keep your social media efforts engaging and effective. Simply posting headlines related to your clients’ industry and hoping they view that as helpful is not a strategy.
For many of us, the upcoming holidays are when we’re busy making sure that the kids are safe on Halloween night; nabbing ourselves a Thanksgiving drumstick; or surprising our significant other with a thoughtful Christmas gift. It’s also a time to step away from the stresses of work and enjoy our families and the season.
However, the holidays also represent a novel and memorable marketing opportunity that most lawyers and law firms fail to consider beyond sending clients the obligatory “Happy Holidays” card or email.
Much like the employment lawyer who sends Labor Day reminders, Halloween is the perfect holiday to highlight anything scary that might be on the horizon. Using humor and charm, such a message can remind your clients (or potential clients) of your expertise and that you’re on top of the latest developments in their industry.
For example, one of the cases being heard during the upcoming term of the U.S. Supreme Court involves a property dispute tied to the government’s attempt to protect a species of frog that is facing extinction. For environmental protection attorneys, this is a prime opportunity to compare “scary” corporate interests against a seemingly defenseless amphibian. That may sound a little odd to some, but that’s also why it would get noticed.
The same holds true for Thanksgiving. What client wouldn’t like to receive a heartfelt message thanking them for their confidence in you and reminding them that you’re able to help them going forward?
As for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other year-end holidays, I recommend that clients think outside the box rather than relying solely on a card or email since we all receive so many of those that they can become lost in the mix.
Some lawyers and firms devote their entire holiday announcement budget to contacting everyone they have worked for and/or everyone who has given them a business card over the years. While contacting all those folks can be useful, ask yourself if you might be better served by using some of that same budget to provide a memorable holiday gift for those who are most likely to send you work during the coming year.
You can still reach out to your mailing list, but consider what it might mean to the potential referral source who loves wine if he or she opened a package from you to find a handwritten note and a bottle of their favorite merlot? It may not be conventional legal marketing, but it will keep you top of mind.
These are just a few of things you can do over the next few months to help promote your practice and start you down the right marketing path as we approach 2019. The key is to make a commitment, follow through, and be sure to stay ahead of the deadlines.
Bruce Vincent is a writer and editor who has been helping lawyers with effective legal marketing strategies for more than 20 years. A prodigious planner, he is the longtime organizer for his weekend golf group and a stickler for being on time. Contact Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to prepare for marketing success in 2019.