It’s easy to think about getting out ahead of a crisis before there is an actual crisis. Our best laid plans often fall apart on the drawing board when we are forced to deal with all of the dimensions of a crisis we find ourselves actually in. We get into a reactive, defensive posture when we need to look ahead, plan, and execute.
Having worked with many law firms not only during the COVID-19 crisis, but through every other crisis over the past decade or so, including the financial crisis, SARS, and MERS, we at Esquire Digital understand that agile marketing for law firms isn’t a nice-to-have in times of crisis, it’s an absolute must-have.
While everyone wants to be agile, few understand the nature of the term as applied to the business of law. To be agile, we need to be fast. In practical terms, this means that law firms – without regard to their size – need to act faster in crisis than they usually do, which seems counterintuitive. While this is a very big ask, our experience is that with the right guidance, firms can do this. We found that firms that generally take weeks or even months to communicate a new value proposition to clients (here, a service offering they create to meet a new client need that is the result of COVID-19) can do it in less than two weeks with the right focus and process.
A law firm needs to clearly understand what it wants to achieve through a crisis-based agile legal marketing initiative. We help clients be clear on exactly the kinds of new clients they want to acquire. We also advise as to how they can speed up the customer decision-making process and have the right legal marketing processes in place to capture and then scale this new business. Ironically, while law firms often operate from the “Wow – wouldn’t any new business in this difficult time be great,” mindset, they are ill-prepared to scale their offerings when an agile legal marketing campaign hits the right nerve with prospects.
So let’s get more granular for a moment and discuss how to move from a sense of being overwhelmed by this COVID-19 crisis to being in the position to get new business and grow your practice.
Lawyers often believe that the way to new business is a robust top of the funnel – get as many possible new clients in. We believe that part of being agile in a time of great crisis is being hyper-focused. We work with clients to find their ultimate sweet spots, what they do the best and also generates the most profit for the firm. A small part of that process can be visualizing this new business through creating something like a Kanban board (an agile project management tool designed to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress, and maximize efficiency). The goal of visualizing this new work is devoting more time and energy into fewer new clients and, as a result, working them through your funnel more quickly to the point where they are generating revenue. This also allows you to better justify your new agile legal marketing spend as you have tied it directly to return on investment.
This visualization and workflow process benefits the firm overall as it tends to creep in a very positive way into your existing business. A truly outstanding crisis response is when we allow ourselves the flexibility to extend the way we seek and analyze new business to our existing book of business. What better time than now to take an overall look at what’s working best for your firm, to make the necessary adjustments, and fill in newly-identified gaps.
One final thing to consider as you head into the world of agile marketing is how your firm’s brand current presents itself. Are you comfortable with how effective your website is and how your firm appears to prospects. This is the time to tighten up your brand as your move forward into new business opportunities and client relationships.
Once you adopt agile marketing and you have focused on communicating your unique value proposition to your prospective clients, you are tangibly ahead of your competition and have created opportunity from crisis, which should be the goal of every forward-looking law firm.