Don’t Back Down! Here’s Why (and How) Your Law Firm Can Keep Marketing During a Crisis
In response to the current pandemic crisis, law firms need to pivot on, not abandon, their marketing strategies. Some have exploited the pandemic as a marketing opportunity, while others have significantly cut down marketing efforts to save money and avoid controversy. Savvy firms have paved their own way, maintaining marketing efforts that showcase their leadership skills and community presence during difficult times.
This is a difficult situation. But this is also a situation that presents a good opportunity for your firm to “show what it’s made of.” If you want to use this time to hone your marketing strategies and build your brand in a positive way that contributes to your community, there are ways you should be pursuing marketing in a time of crisis, both ethically and sustainably.
Should Marketing Still Be a Top Priority for Your Law Firm?
The short answer is “Yes.”
Some law firm partners believe that crisis is not a time for marketing. There are attorneys who believe that engaging in any marketing activities during this time is essentially using a global tragedy to profit. However, marketing doesn’t always have to “sell.” It can be beneficial for many reasons including brand recognition and community leadership both of which have no direct connection to selling. Thoughtful marketing strategies can actually help consumers feel more connected to their lawyer during times of crisis. This is crucial at a time when 82% of young adults believe that society is facing a crisis of leadership.
If you are interested in marketing your law firm in the times of the COVID-19 crisis, here are some thoughtful suggestions to guide your activities:
Show Solidarity with Your Community. Maintaining and expanding your community presence creates a sense of unity. Being active on social media and web platforms during this time shows clients that you will not bolt at the first sign of trouble—an essential trait for building trust, and an essential part of being a contributing member of your online and local communities.
Large-Scale Crisis Does Not Preempt Personal Need. People do not stop needing legal services in the times of a global crisis. Divorce, bankruptcy, contract disputes, and domestic violence are still taking place, and, in fact, may be amplified by a large-scale problem. Globally, social media usage has increased 50% since the start of the coronavirus crisis; taking a step back from messaging about how your law firm helps the community during this time would be a mistake.
Make a Plan for “After.” COVID-19 will not last forever. Allowing your marketing plan to fall by the wayside during this time can weaken your business in the recovery months to come. By the time you ramp back up to pre-crisis marketing levels, you will likely be behind those who did not yield during times of emergency. If you want to reach clients who could truly benefit from your services, you need to maintain your digital presence in their lives.
What Does Appropriate Law Firm Marketing Look Like During a Crisis?
“Appropriate” is the most important part of a crisis marketing strategy. A tone-deaf campaign can do far more damage than one that is simply ineffective or not reaching the right people. Consider the error made by Spirit Airlines during the COVID-19 crisis. They failed to cancel a pre-scheduled mid-March 2020 email with the subject line, “Never A Better Time to Fly.” Though they acted rapidly to fix their mistake, they could not completely mitigate the damage the outdated campaign did to expose their unresponsive marketing.
Here are a few core concepts to guide your law firm’s COVID-19 business development strategy and marketing plan:
Be Flexible. The amount of information that is coming in during a crisis can verge on overload, with much of it changing the way people can live, travel, and interact on a daily basis. Marketing during a crisis needs to be in tune with current changes and always based on reliable sources.
Position Yourself as a Leader. People always need leadership, but they look for it even more during troubling times. Strong leaders bring people together, provide messages of hope, and encourage people to stay the course. Lawyers occupy a leadership role in the lives of their clients – both consumers and businesses. Good law firm marketing right now involves education on the law and education on rights as they affect individuals, families, communities, and businesses.
Create Positive Content. Bad news is coming from all sides, and positive, informative content is a breath of fresh air. Create posts that highlight your volunteer work or share the good that is being done in your community. This would be the time to celebrate the medical community and grocery store employees that have emerged as a everyday heroes. While you never want to downplay the current situation, choose to share content that brings a sense of stability, peace, and hope.
Support Your Community. As a leader, you have an opportunity to show people that the way we get through a crisis is together. Consider remote volunteering at local organizations that support people without adequate housing, food, water, or medical care during this time. If hands-on volunteering is not an option, you may want to sponsor online events or financially support a charity outreach. Then be sure to tell your community about the support you are providing through a blog post and a social media update to spread altruism.
Connect Volunteerism with Your Practice Area. There are many needs right now, but it is wise to choose a community service that correlates with your area of practice. For example, domestic violence is a serious issue right now, since many victims are forced to spend more time with their abusers and are unable to leave to get help. A family lawyer could add messaging to reach people in this situation with community resources that can change their lives and assist them to leave their dangerous situation.
Embrace the Human Side of Your Brand. Isolation is a serious risk in long-term emergency situations. A study from Pew Research Center indicates that people who feel lonely or isolated are less likely to be satisfied with their family life, career path, and community life. People long for connection and you can stay connected by sharing the human side of your brand. Relate to the struggles your clients are likely facing (i.e., a post about what it’s like to work from home as a lawyer while unexpectedly homeschooling your children). This will reinforce that you are just a person, and one that deeply understands where they are coming from.
Use Technology to Connect. Online meetings are just the beginning. There are ways for you to connect with both current and future clients such as adding an interactive chat on your website home page or adding a welcome video to your personal biography page. Right now, people will be looking for legal services pretty much exclusively online so give them a way to really get to know you before they make that call.
The marketing work you put in now can yield dividends for your law firm for years to come. While the COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest global crisis in recent history, it won’t be the last time we face emergencies. Responding appropriately and positively to the current situation will establish your law firm as a trusted leader when people need support now and in the future.