You may have heard of the word “branding” before. If you don’t know what it means or how it applies to your family law firm or why your law firm needs to brand itself, you should attend this seminar.
Ultimately, branding is a way to attract the kind of clients you desire by differentiating your family law firm from all family law firms. As you prepare for 2017, this is a topic your law firm should seriously consider.
If your law firm has grown, gained experience, gotten the wrong kind of clients or has lost business you feel you are qualified to get, maybe it is time to rebrand yourself. Just about every family law firm has a brand, whether you have chosen it consciously or unconsciously. Obviously, if you choose to brand your law firm consciously, you will have better control over the outcome.
Watch this marketing webinar and you will learn:
- The difference between branding and re-branding.
- Why branding is necessary and its benefits.
- What your options are as family lawyers.
- Where to begin and where to stop.
- How branding impacts your website design and content, social media presence, advertisements and other collateral materials
- How it will impact the business of your practice.
- Some examples of branding.
Press PLAY to watch this video.
Thank you everyone for joining us at this marketing seminar, hosted by myself, from Divorce Marketing Group. Today’s topic is on branding and rebranding your family law firm. My name is Martha Chan, and I’m the Vice President of Divorce Marketing Group. Just wanted to say a 30-second introduction about our firm and our seminar series. Divorce Marketing Group is the only marketing agency that is 100% dedicated to promoting family lawyers and divorce professionals.
We have been in business for 20 years. We host a series of marketing seminars on a regular basis to help our clients and other divorce professionals to help market their practices. Today, our seminar is about branding and rebranding your family law firm. While the majority of our seminars are tailored to family law firms, a lot of the principles behind it apply to anybody who is running a business, especially in divorce, and also who are interested in promoting their business.
Today’s seminar will cover:
- What is branding?
- What is active versus inactive branding?
- Why is branding necessary?
- How does branding impact your business and your marketing?
I’m going to show some examples of branding – including some good ones, some bad ones, and some pretty ugly ones. Then we’ll tell you how to begin the process, and one of the most important elements of branding is marketing positioning. We’ll make sure that you ask the right questions when you do that process.
Then we will talk about what branding demands of you.
Why Bother with Branding?
Branding really is a way of you saying to the world who you are in the eyes of the people that matter – your prospective clients and your clients, colleagues, judges, the community that you service – and the public.
Branding helps you to ultimately attract the kind of clients and cases you want in your practice. Do you want complex divorces, high-asset divorces, or simple do-it-yourself divorces? Do you want to attract men, women, maybe both? Military divorce cases, custody cases, international or inter-state cases.
Active vs. Inactive Branding
When we move on to the exercise that I am covering in this seminar, I imagine that the fact that you’re here likely tells me that you haven’t gone through that exercise, or you’re about to re-do branding. If you haven’t gone through the exercise of branding, you likely have engaged in inactive branding.
Every single element that is put out by you and your firm, and the people that work in your firm – the way you describe your firm, the people that you’ve hired to work for you, your website content, maybe the articles that you put out, maybe even if you’re an educator – is branding actively or inactively.
When I say actively branding your company, I’m really introducing the concept to those of you who have been doing it inactively. I want you to take an active and conscious role to examine the branding that your firm is putting out.
Proactive vs. Reactive Branding
The other aspect of branding is that you could be proactive, or you could be reactive.
For example, some clients have been getting businesses that they don’t really want. Some of my clients say, I really would prefer to have clients who want mediation, I don’t really want to do litigation anymore, and yet I’m still getting inquiries about litigation.
What they do is, they react to those inquiries by telling people who are contacting them they don’t do litigation, they only do mediation. That’s reactive, reacting to somebody inquiring about their service that you don’t really want to offer.
Another reactive way could be that you no longer want to work with people who do lower-end or simple divorces because they don’t really pay the kind of money that you want to get. If you were to take on active branding, you would send out messages to the world that the kind of clients you want is going through a high-stakes, complex, or high-asset divorce.
Or you may say, I only want to work with men, or I only want to work with women. When we take on the proactive branding, we can send out messages that would stop certain prospective clients from contacting you. Then, a “self-select process” would have taken place.
Key Elements of Branding
1. Address Your Business Objectives
It isn’t just about marketing. Marketing is a way to accomplish your business objectives. Are you interested in growth? Are you interested in changing the direction your company is going in? Are you interested in having different kinds of cases from what you are currently getting? Or are you interested in reinforcing the kind of cases and clients that you’re getting?
Some of our clients are in the middle of changing their business. They want to expand, but they’re not sure which direction they want to go. I would encourage that you get those objectives clear before you embark on branding or rebranding your firm.
The other most important element in branding is the marketing positioning of your firm. By that I mean you need to judge who your target audience is. What kinds of cases do you want to attract?
You have to say to yourself, what benefits do these people get by retaining my law firm? It isn’t just about the services that you have to offer, you have to find a way of expressing and differentiating benefits from services.
2. Why Should Your Prospective Clients Choose You?
The next thing you want to address is, why should they choose your firm versus another firm? They’re not deciding to use you, they are choosing to use you. You have to differentiate yourself from other family lawyers.
3. Determine Your Main Message
What is the main message you want the public to know about you or your firm?
For example, if they were to visit your website, can they tell, within a matter of seconds what it is that you offer, why they should hire you, whether you are the perfect firm for them? Visitors don’t have a lot of time to spend on any particular website. They need to know right away whether the firm is right for them. It’s essential that you distill your message down to something that is precise and very clear.
With what I’ve just talked about, I’d like to show you some examples that did not meet the requirements that I’m referring to. With the first example, immediately you think to yourself, whoa, what is the message? What is it that they do? Do I really want to work with a company that has a website that looks like that?
Now, a lot of you may say, hey, mine doesn’t look like that, so I’m okay. I’m showing an extreme example so that we can begin to see, if I were to take the same questions and ask myself these questions as I review my website, my company brochure or anything that I put out, where do I stand on a scale of one to 10 in terms of clear messaging, clear benefits, clearly delivering the messages that I am the firm for you. Where do I stand on a scale of 1 to 10?
This is the home page of a law firm. What are your thoughts as you see this? Obviously, you may not even know this is a law firm, but it is. What is it that they’re offering you? And sure, you’ll say that I don’t have a homepage looking like this, but you probably have error pages that people would land on. I want you to know that every visitor comes to your website, to your homepage, so every page within your website matters.
Here’s another example of another law firm. You couldn’t tell what it is that they do. I’m not going to explain what it is that they do.
Finally, an example that some of you could relate. Avvo.com is a website that has been gaining a lot of momentum. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a directory of lawyers.
Make sure you go on Avvo.com to check out your own page by looking up your own name. Look to see how you are presented on their website. This website doesn’t ask you for your permission to list you on their website; they have gathered all the information based on what’s available publically and created a huge directory of lawyers, so it pays for you to look yourself up on Avvo.com.
The reputation or the branding that you have out there is not limited to the website you have yourself. It’s not limited to the marketing materials put out by you. It includes everything that is available online, whether you put it together or not, whether you approve of it or not.
It is important to do a reputation audit of yourself online. The simplest way of doing it is by Googling your own name and by Googling the name of your firm.
The Branding Process
1. Initial Analysis
Step one is initial analysis, branding yourself versus branding your company. If you are the sole attorney at a law firm, branding yourself versus branding your company could be fairly similar. But if you have a law firm and you have four to five attorneys or maybe even more, maybe you work within a much bigger law firm and belong to the family law section of that law firm, then the branding would be quite different.
Let’s say your law firm has four or five lawyers. Each one of the attorneys that work in your law firm could have a different yet consistent branding. A consistent branding that you’ve established for your law firm, and then within that, each attorney’s branding could be different.
For example, you could have a law firm where you offer mediation, and so you may have someone who is more focused on being a mediator. You may have someone who is more focused on being a negotiator or a litigator. Within that, each individual attorney can brand themselves differently but still be consistent with the overall branding of the firm.
What are the objectives for the firm and for yourself? You may be different in terms of your personal objective versus the objectives of other attorneys within your law firm, while you’re all doing family law. While the majority of family law firms do divorces, family law involves other practice areas. What are your objectives personally? Do you want to be doing more of divorce and less of maybe adoption and prenup? Those are things for you to decide.
The last item on this slide is SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. When you are branding yourself, you need to be aware of who your competitors are. I know a lot of you consider them to be your colleagues who refer business to you. By all means, they are your colleagues, but they are also your competitors because they can take business away from you.
What are some of the strengths within your firm that you could hang your hats on? What are some of the weaknesses when you compare yourself to your competitors? But the advancement of technology, outsourcing, all those could be opportunities if you take them on.
2. Marketing Positioning
The second part of the branding process is marketing positioning. There are questions that you need to ask with regard to positioning your firm. What positions do you own now? What positions do you want to own? Who will you be competing with? In the new marketing positions that you want to own, can you match that marketing position that you want to go after? What is your main message, and how are you going to go after it?
When you have gotten the answers to your marketing positions, you want to then apply them when you’re creating or examining the logo, the tagline, the design of your website, your brochure, anything that you put out, including the text that you use to describe your services and the benefits that you have to offer, right down to the headings, the subheadings, including your pictures and images.
A lot of law firms do not have logos, and yet a logo can say a lot about you. You can have a highly modern logo, or you can have a conservative looking logo that reflects on your company.
Do you have a tagline? What is the tagline? The tagline summarises, in one sentence, who you are, who you service, and why they should hire you. For example, right now, since it’s right in front of us, our company tagline for Divorce Marketing Group is “Marketing Experts for Family Lawyers and Divorce Professionals.”
Let’s examine the elements in the tagline. It clearly states who our clients are: they are family lawyers and divorce professionals. It tells people what we do: we’re in the marketing business. It tells people why they should hire us: we are the marketing experts. It’s a brief outline of a few words, which need to be backed up.
I want to invite you to look and see, does your company have a logo? Does it fit with the marketing positioning and the branding that you want? Does your company have a tagline? In a sense, does it stick with the branding and marketing positioning that you’ll need to go after? The Same thing can be applied to the pictures that you take of yourself.
In a little while, I’ll show you an example of a branding or rebranding exercise we do with our clients, and I’ll talk some more about these pictures of attorneys that have been chosen or that we’ve directed them to take.
Once you’ve decided on all the above, you apply your marketing positioning everywhere, including your websites, ads, stationary, signature, online listings, social media, PR, collateral materials, or presentations.
In this presentation, you’ll see we applied our logo, our tagline, and also our marketing message, which is, the benefit of using us is you can focus on your practice and trust your marketing to us.
Examples of Successful Branding
A family law firm in California asked us to help them redesign their website. The first questions that we ask them are the questions that I’ve shown you in our previous slides. What are your business goals? What are the services that you would like to offer? You translate that into benefits to people. What are the kinds of cases and clients that you would like?
You’re looking at the end result of many questions that we went back and forth on, and that the Divorce Marketing Group has distilled down to this as their home page. They told us that they want business in both mediation and collaborative law, and they want to go for litigation. We presented both options of settling without going to court and litigation right up front on their home page. We present it as benefits to their visitors so that they can know that they have options. A lot of people going through divorce really are at a loss as to what it is that they should do, how to go about it. On their homepage here, we presented to them the options and let them know that it’s their choice.
When you have a choice, you tend to make a better decision. In this, also, we’re saying why they should consider this particular law firm is that they’re recognized leaders and that they help you find solutions and offer resources to protect your best interests.
Below is an example of branding Divorce Marketing Group recently worked on. This is a family law firm in Chicago that is already established and known for handling high-net-worth divorce cases – including business owners and people who have a lot of assets – and they also handle international cases. They came to us saying, we want to hire you as our marketing agency and we want to reinforce ourselves in those categories.
The concern that they had was that while they are that way, they might not have presented themselves that way. There were some cases that they felt should’ve been theirs, but they went to some other law firms. So how can we help them secure those cases?
What we did was we looked at what they’ve got and we came up with this tagline for them: Family Lawyers Who Mean Business. It’s meant to reinforce their ability and their expertise in helping families to get what they deserve or want to get when they go through cases.
We also modified their logo. Their logo looked similar to this, but we modified it by introducing stronger colors. You may not know this, but colors tell someone something. You want to use strong colors if you want to communicate that you are strong. Here’s how their new website looks like after we launched it:
We changed the look and feel, not just of the website, but also their pictures. They used to have pictures of themselves where they’d be smiling, friendly, and we decided to take on that they are family lawyers who mean business. We invited them to take new pictures and present themselves so that they are consistent with their tagline.
Because they’re going after particular clients, you will see here that we highlighted them on the homepage: executive divorce; divorce for professionals; child custody; property division; and also alternative dispute resolution. Those are the things that they want more business in. But remember what I said earlier: you want to distill it down to a simple message that is very, very clear.
We applied the same thing to an ad and a handout that they give to prospective clients who come for their first consultation.
Once you decide on your marketing position, you want to apply it everywhere. This is an example of how we created an ad and a handout for them, and another example of how it’s applied. We shot probably 16 videos for this client, and we open the video with this, and we close the video with this. We see the same logo, the same tagline.
You may be saying to yourself, how do I then position or brand my business? You can be creative, and think outside of the box. This is not a family lawyer’s branding. This is a car rental company who knows that they are not the #1 car rental company, and they have to work really, really hard for a long time before they would come near being #1 in that industry.
Some of the family law firms out there are really small. Maybe you’re one person, maybe you’re three people, maybe you’re six. But I believe some larger law firms have something like 40 lawyers focused just on family law.
Play up the fact that you are small. Don’t try to take the larger firms head-on, because when you try to be big when you’re really small, it’s inauthentic and you won’t gain ground.
In this particular instance, I want to show you is a car rental company that is far from being number one, but they play off the fact that they aren’t number one. They’ve come up with a series that said, at Avis, which is the name of the company, we try harder. When you’re only number two, you try harder.
You don’t have to read the body of the ad, you know what it says. Continuing on with the positioning that they’re number two, that they try harder, Avis can’t afford not to be nice, Avis can’t afford unwashed cars. That’s their way of delivering to you the message that yes, we’re number two, but we try harder. And how do we try harder?
We wash your cars.
I’m inviting you to be creative as to what it is that you do with branding your family law firm.
Final Words on Branding
You need a vision. If you are the owner of the company, you will be in the perfect place to create a vision. Even if you’re not the owner of the company, if you are someone with a vision, present it to the company.
Leaders don’t come with ranks, leaders are just leaders. You might be a new associate to the company, but you could still be a leader to a possible vision for the company.
You also need courage, because there will be sacrifices, restraint, and you have to stay the course. What are the sacrifices? You might say I want my firm to be known as a men’s rights firm. What are you sacrificing? All women who are going through divorce won’t be coming to you.
Let’s say you want to focus more on mediation. You’ll be sacrificing people who want you to do litigation. And you have to apply restraints. What do I mean by that? Let’s say for a moment we follow the example of you wanting to be a men’s rights family law firm.
If a woman calls you, to have to them you only work with men. You have to stay the course and not be persuaded to accept other cases. That’s a tough one, but that’s how you build your brand. If one day you are a men’s rights lawyer and another day you are not, your message will be very, very confusing to the people who are considering working with you.
You need outside help. You need their expertise, and you need the ability of the outside help to think outside-in.
Often, when we are so deep into our company, we can only think as an insider who is thing inside-out. Thinking outside-in requires objectivity, and it requires that you don’t bring your ego.
A very simple example would be, do you think about what benefits you have to offer to your prospective clients or do you only discuss the services you offer without translating the services into benefits. Has anyone ever challenged you on the direction you’re going? If you haven’t got that challenge in a while, it’s a worthwhile exercise to be challenged.
And you need a budget, right? Everything requires money and time. If you hire someone with expertise, you’re going to have to pay for it. If you want to redo your website, you’re going to have to pay for it. And it isn’t just that I’m a marketing agency that I’m pitching that you have to put aside a budget, that you’re better off with requesting outside help. I feel the same way about expertise and professionalism.
I wouldn’t want to take on a case by myself without hiring lawyers. I have a lot at stake, and you have a lot at stake if you’re interested in growing your business.
We’ve come to the end of our seminar. I hope you have got some useful information, and if you need some help with anything, by any means, give us a call. You will find our information on our website, www.divorcemarketinggroup.com. Once again, my name is Martha Chan, thank you very much for joining us today. Have a good day.