Lawyers: think marketing isn’t necessary? Think again

As a lawyer, your services are always in demand. You may be a divorce lawyer helping couples come to amicable conclusions or a labour law professional dealing with the CCMA or labour disputes on a daily basis – whatever your speciality, legal services are usually in high demand.

However, many lawyers overlook the power of and the need for marketing in their industry. If you do not market yourself or if your firm is not marketing itself, you may be losing out on high-paying clients. Taking marketing courses will help you to understand just how useful marketing can be.

Why do I need marketing?

You may have studied for years to become a lawyer and can understand complex topics, but marketing is most likely a new and confusing concept to you. There are some pertinent facts as to why you need to market your services, including the following.

Competition is intensifying

Arguably the most important reason why lawyers need to market their practices or firms is the fact that competition in the legal world is fierce. And unless you can come up with a catch-phrase as memorable as Saul Goodman’s, you will need to be creative to beat the competition.

The increase in law students also means that there is more competition in the job market, so you will need to learn how to market yourself to potential employers and clients.

Beating bad press

It is well known that lawyers and legal professionals often receive bad press from the media. Marketing and PR strategies can help you to beat this press or to allay the repercussions. Not having your own publicist is no excuse to ignore your public image, this is what potential clients see before considering you as their legal aid. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to market your firm or yourself, but remember to create a professional Facebook profile and avoid using your personal profile for anything business related. If you show yourself to be a professional at all times, bad press will not be an issue for clients and can easily be avoided.

Technology is evolving

Articles and speaking engagements are a great way to become noticed in the legal world, but your clients are most likely more active on social media platforms. You should be more active on these platforms. Using techniques such as podcasting allows you to introduce yourself and the work you have done and are able to do.

It is not advisable to continue using outdated marketing techniques while the current ones are changing on a near weekly basis. Lawyers can make use of content marketing, video marketing and even post entertaining social media pieces to get their name out there to clients and potential employers.

What can I do to market myself?

Aside from hiring a marketing firm or taking marketing courses, there are simple tactics you can use in your marketing strategy.

  • Understand how clients find you: People will only use lawyers they know they can trust, which is why word of mouth is such a powerful tool. However, in today’s modern world, many people do their own further research rather than relying solely on the words of others, which is why it is important to have an online presence.

 

Maintain the relationship with current clients to strengthen the word of mouth referrals, but set up a LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ profile for those who want to be entirely certain that you are trustworthy.

  • Use content to build awareness about your services and/or firm: Other than word of mouth and social media reviews, having professionally written, relevant content on your website or profiles can work wonders toward garnering new clients.

 

If you are unable to write content in layman’s terms or in a manner that is appealing to your audience, you need to hire or reach out to a professional content or copywriter. These marketing experts will craft copy that is on point and that will tell clients that you are the best choice for their needs.

  • Build your social media presence: As mentioned previously, social media is an ever-growing platform that people use on a daily basis. For any company looking to build their customer base, having a social media profile is a highly effective way to do so.

 

If your posts focus on customer service and on articles written by employees or by yourself, you will not be breaking the confidentiality clause between lawyer and client.

Final thoughts

Any law firm or private practice needs to include a marketing or PR strategy in their budget. Using traditional methods of marketing is successful to a point, but if you want to grow your client base and flourish in today’s world of technology and modernity, you will have to implement a marketing strategy that includes digital tactics.

Let’s chat about chatbots

Chatbots are the topic of conversation in various industries at the moment, yet there are still people out there completely unaware of what exactly they mean for everyday life and society. Hence, we’re chatting about chatbots.

If you don’t know by now…

Chatbots are defined as computer programs designed to simulate conversations with users via the Internet through voice recognition technology. It’s AI technology designed to ask and/or answer our questions, as the user.

Surely you’ve heard of Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), Alexa (Amazon) or Google Assistant (obviously Google) by now? They are all integrated examples of chatbot technology in our everyday lives. Not everyone is a fan of Siri and the technology can, at some times, be frustrating especially if you have to repeat yourself five times for her to pick up what you’re trying to ask.

But there will never be a time where everyone in the world is happy with what’s available. So, if you still want to take a contact centre support course, the rise of chatbots shouldn’t stop you. There will always be a market for actual human to human interaction.

Their direct influence

Chatbots are already making their way through various industries in big and small ways that have a direct influence on us as users and on the companies that have adopted its technology. Here are a few examples:

  • Insurance: Allstate Business Insurance in America incorporated ABIe (a chatbot) to relieve traffic from the call centre and is able to handle thousands of queries from both agents and consumers directly.
  • Finance: Capital One Financial (also in America) has Eno – the balance-checking, payment-making, credit-card-informing, text-message chatbot. It only communicates via text.
  • Hospitality: Marriott International makes use of chatbot technology in Facebook Messenger and Slack (soon WeChat and Google Assistant as well) and allows for rewards members to research and book their trips.
  • Therapy: There is a chatbot out there that you can have conversations with and build a relationship through Facebook Messenger. Well, a relationship in the sense that Woebot, as you talk to him, gets to know you and your moods better. Woebot changes the way people think about therapy and is available 24/7 to chat, give expert advice, share a quote or crack a joke.

There are more examples, but that should be enough to give you an idea of where and how chatbot technology can have a direct influence on you. Well, it’s not too surprising seeing as they were designed to directly interact with us, but if you weren’t aware of it before, you are now.

Chatbots affecting the future

The content marketing and market research industries are going to be greatly affected by chatbots in the near future.

  • Personalisation of content based on trackable user behaviour through interaction
  • Humanising chatbots with personalities will better the user experience
  • Increased brand engagement stimulated through user-bot interaction.
  • Chatbots retrieve direct user insight in an unobtrusive manner
  • Quick and direct way to interact with the brand
  • Additional/external applications are not necessary for interaction making it convenient for users

The future of marketing is all about messaging and interacting with a user in a way that is convenient and not intrusive. A way where they have a choice to partake in the marketing campaign – by means of conversation.

Companies making the move

A lot of people are on the move to better their customer’s experience with their brand, so much so that the experience is beginning to rely less on the actual product conversion and more on the process of bringing them to that conversion.

Coca-Cola is one of the larger brands preparing for a digital future. David Godsman, Coca-Cola’s chief digital officer, says “It isn’t about changing digital experiences but also about helping customers make decisions in a more effective manner. It’s about an operational transition.” And the transition he’s talking about? Oh, just some talk about chatbots and AI vending machines.

Starbucks has also dived into the chatbot-pool with a “bot-barista” from which customers can order and pay for drinks remotely. Other companies include Pizza Hut, Mastercard, Sephora and Spotify, mostly through Facebook Messenger and Twitter.  

How you can do it too

The market and customer improvement opportunities with chatbots are incredible developments for any company that values their customer experience, which should be every company. If you were wondering, it is possible for you to make the most of it too.

Some places you can look at to help you create and test your bots are The Bot Platform, Chatfuel, Engati (through a 10-minute process), ChattyPeople and ChatScript (considered “next-generation” and was awarded for having the most human-like AI).

The internet can help take your business to all the places you’ve been struggling to get into by the click of a couple buttons. The process to use technology is never as complicated as the process to create the technology was and that should be comforting in a world of constant technological innovation.

Why you need report writing skills for business communication

Business communication requires a number of skills, ranging from effective presentation skills to the ability to understand graphs, charts and data. There is also the need to write effectively and concisely while including all pertinent information that can help to understand the communication sent out.

This is where report writing skills are important and will come into play. Report writing skills are different to normal business communication or simple writing skills as they encompass a different set of abilities, such as the ability to write objectively and factually rather than using emotion and persuasion in your pieces.

What are report writing skills?

Report writing skills are vital to effective communication in any office. The skills that are required for writing an effective report can include the following.

The ability to focus

This is essentially keeping in mind the objective of your report. You should not be distracted easily by information that does not relate to the report or is not necessarily needed for inclusion in the report as this will make for an unstructured and unfocused report.

An analytical approach

Being able to analyse and utilise data are essential report writing skills, as having an analytical approach will allow you to interpret the information you have been given, such as financial data, SEO numbers or performance data on employees. You’ll also have to make an analysis of the target audience, the purpose for which audience requires the report, the type of data the audience is looking for in the report, and the implications of report reading.

An objective mindset

When writing a business report that’s regarding an employee’s behaviour or a disciplinary action report, it is important to be able to take both sides into account without bringing emotion into play. Meaning that you will have to apply an objective eye to the information provided. It will not be conducive to decision making if you write a report that is fraught with emotion and is subjectively biased toward the employee in question.

The ability to be clear and concise

A report for business purposes does not need to be lengthy or convoluted, but rather it should be accurate, clear and concise, including only the most important details and information. This does not mean, however, that you should aim for a short document, but that you should practice the ABC of report writing: Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity. Your report can be over three pages long, but should never read like a conversational piece or include information that has no place in it.

Quality assurance

Simply put, quality assurance means the proof-reading, editing and fact-checking of a report, which further increases the effectiveness of the document and the information. It is important to verify every piece of information that goes into the report as not only will incorrect information reflect badly on you, but it can hinder any decisions made regarding the report, such as budget cuts or hiring a new employee.

How can report writing skills help in business communication?

Report writing skills can help improve business communication in many ways, such as improving general writing ability and boosting the effectiveness of further business communications. Some of the ways that having and improving report writing skills can help business communication:

  • The quality of writing in business reports will improve.
  • The content and format of business reports will always be correct.
  • General writing and document sequences will be logical and meaningful.
  • The presentation of business reports will improve, as will the formats.
  • The clarity and efficiency of all business writing will improve.
  • Organisation skills will improve, due to having to remain focused and accurate when writing reports.

Improving your report writing skills is of vital importance to any successful business communication and there are some effective ways that you can improve them aside from going on a report writing course, which in itself is extremely helpful.

Thinking before you write applies not only to report writing, but to every type of business communication you may be writing. It is important to ask yourself what the audience should know or think after reading the email, proposal or report. And if the answer is not immediately clear, then you may have started writing preemptively.

The writing structure you learnt in school does not cross over well into business writing, where you need to be direct and clear without writing long introductions and conclusions. Business reports should be direct in their message and remain clear and accurate throughout, so be sure to keep this in mind when writing a report that is meant for a business situation or will be read by an analyst or decision maker within the company.

Marketing on a tight budget

Money in business is always tight. And even more so when starting a business. There are so many initial costs, renting costs, monthly expenses and business expenses. Now you want to add in a budget for marketing?

The marketing department can easily be overlooked and brushed off as not a priority cost to the company. But the truth is, if you want to bring business in and find more clients, marketing is essential to do that. And there are budget-friendly ways to efficiently market your business so, cut down on the take-away coffees if you need to, it’s time to go for marketing courses, create a budget and get your business out there.

Piggyback

So there are shortcuts for most things in life. And when it comes to marketing, there are some shortcuts here too. Piggyback marketing is when you use the success of another brand to boost your own marketing campaigns. But it obviously happens in a more professional way.

Find a company with complementary products to your own, and they’ll end up incurring most of the marketing costs on your behalf, while your product offers additional value to the complete package.

Target

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money if you thoroughly define and research your target market and audience. Focus on the market of customers that are near to you, it’s more cost-effective and, especially if you’re just starting out, it makes the most sense. Why spend all your marketing efforts on an audience who are miles away from you and not aware enough of your brand to drive all the way just to buy your product?

Newsworthy

Get involved in innovative or community-change projects that will be worth mentioning in the media. Call in to local radio stations, make your way into the local newspaper and get people talking about you and your business. There are many simple ways to get free publicity for the company which won’t require a cash budget, just some time set aside to put in a bit of effort.

Referrals

Love the customers you already have. It can’t be over-stressed how important it is to keep current and returning customers, well, current and returning customers. As a small business with a tight budget for marketing, these people are what keep your business afloat. More than that, they have the ability to serve as marketers for your brand.

Ask your customers for referrals or testimonials that you can put up online or have them share within their own circles. Word-of-mouth marketing is a traditional marketing method, but should not be underestimated. Words have power, as do satisfied or dissatisfied customers.

Internet

The internet truly is a wonderful medium for marketing. Three channels that we’ll look into include email marketing, website and social media marketing.

There are free email marketing platforms, like MailChimp and Constant Contact, that allow you to send out mass mailers to a customer database you create. They are painless, have free templates and are a great way to communicate and share with your audience.

Another marketing method made possible by the Internet is creating a website. Again, there are free website platforms for you to make use of and having a website linked to everything you market will drive traffic to the site and, ultimately, to your store. Use your website to create tailored content that is brand specific to your business and promote your business message.

And then we have social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn are top social media platforms to work with to run organic or paid marketing campaigns (paid campaigns that work according to your budget).

In the online world (and the real world for that matter), quality is king and you’ll be wasting your own time and money if you skimp on quality to save a few bucks. It’s a quick way to establish your reputation as cheap and not be taken seriously or as a professional business. You need to be aware of what you put out there and how people respond to it.

Measure

Whatever you do end up doing with your marketing department, be sure to test different methods, measure success and analyse pitfalls. There will always be room for improvement, whether it’s from marketing during a certain time of day or knowing when would be the perfect time to extend your range.

Measure the statistics, change it up, and measure it again. It’s an ongoing cycle and you will learn what works for your brand and what you should never do again. Hopefully, you’ll start seeing an increase in ROIs from your efforts and you’ll be able to implement new marketing strategies that you couldn’t previously afford.

Why businesses should be both on and offline

With the way the world is developing digitally and all about automation, it’s understandable to have expected “online” to be the only way forward. This, however, is not the case. Businesses should have both an online and offline presence and here’s why.

Offline to online

Offline only isn’t convenient enough for consumers. And while there are advantages to having a physical presence, which will be discussed below, making use of both will make business-life better.

Businesses may be hesitant to take themselves online as an issue of security. But if they get the proper guidance, training and security software their data will be protected and their business will be able to reap the benefits of being online. The online ecommerce platform is so large and diverse that businesses would also have to up their marketing game and learn about the rules of Google. But if you’re starting a business in 2017 and beyond, startup costs are more affordable by going online. So there certainly are benefits to online.

Benefits of integrating an online presence to a business include the ability to accurately and real-time track customer interactions with your site and products (in retail especially), to almost effortlessly increase the business’s reach and decreasing general operations costs. And those are just a few benefits.  

Online to offline

Online only is open to many customer service related issues, where delivery of the product doesn’t go as planned and is damaged when the customer receives it. And the process of emailing, phoning and trying everything in the book to contact and sort out a problem such as this is gruelling, frustrating and a waste of your clients time.

Online only is an expensive marketing effort and highly competitive market where a business is either easily found or on page two of Google’s search results. In other words, completely looked over. That’s why incorporating a physical presence, even in the form of a pop-up, can benefit the business and fill in the gaps.

Like the move to online, there is a hesitance to the issue of security when moving offline and operating in a physical location. But, again, there are ways to secure your physical assets and staff. As a quick and direct example, follow this http://www.turnstar.co.za/products/automatic-sliding-doors link for some security measures ideas.

The benefits to taking an online business and giving it an offline presence include “free” marketing efforts by having a physical something for consumers to see, solidifying a brand for consumers to physically interact with and the ability to establish and maintain consumer relationships, which encourages loyalty.

Why having both is a strong business move

One just isn’t enough.


Consumers want to enjoy both strolling and scrolling through at their leisure when it suits them. They want the option and the benefits that come with both, and what is a business there for if not to meet consumer demands?

And just because a business moves from online to offline, doesn’t mean that the innovation and technology have to be “dumbed down”. Customers are looking for consistency when interacting with your brand and there are ways to integrate the digital and physical experience in store.

Having both will drive traffic back to both platforms respectively. In-store marketing with promotional hashtags and online discounts will send people to the website to find out more and, likewise, online advertisements on the website and internet will send people to the nearest store to, again, find out more.

Therefore, having both means more business and happier customers.

Following digital footsteps

Some top online businesses that have made the integration into the physical-store world prove to be more motivation and inspiration for other online businesses.

Amazon surprised everyone by building a physical AmazonFresh Pickup and Bookstores. Their motivation was to give customers a drive-in pick up point after placing orders online as a seamless transaction. Other huge brands bridging the gap and creating new channels to conduct their business, are Disney and Under Armour.  

This integrative mission is all about the future of businesses efficiently satisfying the customer experience. Whether it’s a copy and paste effort of translating an online store to a physical building, creating a physical pick-up point from online transactions, or an effort to give consumers the option to browse and conduct business from the comfort of their own homes, there are, undoubtedly, reasons to make use of this omnichannel business experience.