Direct mail (great return!), nurturing referrals with a continuity series for VIPs, unifying the marketing message, and widening the firm’s presence.
Cathy Jamison found herself in a new place earlier this year—literally. She moved from South Florida, and took up a new residence in New Jersey. But leaving Florida meant leaving her ca-reer in sports marketing behind.
“I spent the majority of my career in television and marketing,” she says. “I definitely love it.”
After her big move, she decided to take a break and dive into renovating her home. Once the renovation was done, she began interviewing for marketing jobs in New York City.
And that’s when a conversation with her neighbors changed everything.
“My neighbors are partners at the law firm King, Kitrick, Jackson and McWeeney,” she says. “We were chatting one day and they said the firm was thinking about running a newspaper ad. Since they knew I had a marketing background, they wanted to get my opinion. Before they came over to talk with me, I did some research and discovered that their positioning in the market was very confusing and unclear. I had a frank discussion with them about it, and then they asked me to come on as a marketing consultant.”
But doing marketing for a law firm is very different from doing marketing for sports television. Not to mention Jamison was starting from scratch in a lot of ways.
“They’d never had a coordinated marketing effort ever before,” she says. ”So we did a deep dive. I took them back to square one and asked things like, ‘what do you want the firm to be when it grows up?’ and ‘what’s the goal for the firm?’”
Jamison gave the partners a crash-course in Marketing 101, explaining to them the purpose of marketing activities and what the psychology and analytics of marketing is. After doing that, the partners understood what needed to be done, and they were ready to move on to the next step.
“They’d done things piece-meal in the past and never in a coordinated, integrated way,” she says. “They needed the same message across multiple platforms.”
To start things off, Jamison had the partners act things out.
“I had each partner role play, one would be the client and one would be the lawyer,” she says. “And I had them show me what a typical interaction with a client would be like. I’d stop them during the role play and ask questions, like, ‘did you just understand what he said, not as a law-yer, but as a customer?’ You always have to think about the customer.”
She even likened interactions with their clients to the big C.
“It’s like getting cancer,” she says. “You hear that word and you don’t hear anything else that’s being said. If you’re getting sued or you’re having a legal matter, it’s a very scary place to be. So you have to come at it from a hand-holding, spoon-feeding, point-of-view. You can’t throw all this legal jargon at your customers. The role playing was very enlightening for the partners.”
Jamison says that’s the thing about doing marketing for a law firm—you really have to approach things differently, especially when it comes to convincing the lawyers they need to do marketing in the first place.
“I did a SWOT analysis and put the results out there,” she says. “Very straight-forward. With lawyers you have to approach things in a very logical manner. It’s like building a case.”
Another challenge Jamison faced when she came into the King, Kitrick, Jackson and McWeeney law firm was dealing with undoing damage from past marketing efforts that weren’t coordinated.
“When I first came in, I renegotiated all of their contracts with outside vendors because I felt they were overpaying,” she says. “For example, the firm originally had two websites and so they were paying double, but Google changed its algorithms, so the websites weren’t working the way they should’ve been. So I renegotiated the website contract, trimmed down what they had from two websites to only one, and we worked to make it more impactful. I was able to cut their monthly fees in half, and we redesigned and relaunched the website to have a stronger brand identity.”
What’s Currently Working
The firm has a baseline of online marketing and radio advertising, but they’ve also begun dip-ping their toes into the mail. And it’s working.
“What’s really driving new business right now is direct mail,” she says. “The firm is sending mail to the recently incarcerated, because they’re working to build up more criminal cases since they’ve taken on two new criminal attorneys. They’re seeing a great return on this, but it’s a constant thing. You have to keep sending it out, so you need a budget for it.”
Although she says ultimately it’s a combination of things that are making the mailers work.
“Overall the reason the mailer is working is because when someone drives down the street, they see a billboard for the firm,” she says. “When they turn on the radio, they’re hearing an ad, and so all of this stuff gives them more credibility.”
Translating Sports Marketing Into Legal Marketing
Having a background in marketing sports television, Jamison had an advantage over people immersed in the legal world—outside perspective and experience. She took what she learned working in TV and applied it to the law firm.
“When I was at FOX I’d send VIP mailers to advertisers, cable affiliates and team owners,” she says. “So that’s where the idea for the VIP 3-D mailer for the firm came from. It’s really hard to stand out with so much clutter. So we decided to do a continuity mailer where you don’t just send it once and you’re done. You do it on a regular, recurring basis and you build momentum.
“We decided to go with the top 20 percent of clients who were sending referrals to the firm,” she says. “We looked at who those 20 percent were and found it was B2B: other law firms, accountants, real estate agents. Then we put together a black box with a colorful belly band that advertised the firm.
“Since we sent it in July, we used the theme of ‘Summer at the Jersey Shore’ and used the slo-gan ‘Summer’s A Sweet Time of Year,’” she says. “And then inside the box we put salt water taffy, a beach ball, a bag for the beach, a notepad, a pen and a personalized note from the partners, thanking them for their business, and wishing them a great summer.”
The VIP 3-D mailer worked out great for the firm; they’ve been getting tons of phone calls and emails from the clients they reached out to.
“Who does’t like getting stuff in the mail?” Jamison says. “The next mailer will be in October around Halloween, because candy is always big. Then people will start to get it and be wonder-ing when the next one is going to arrive. Staying top-of-mind, that’s why you do it.”
Prior to Jamison coming in as acting Marketing Director, the firm didn’t have any social media presence, but now they have a Facebook page and are more active on LinkedIn. They also maintain a profile on AVVO, which Jamison says is like “Yelp for lawyers.”
But there are plenty of other tools she uses to get the job done.
“FindLaw hosts the firm’s website and they also developed it for them,” she says. “We’re in the process of implementing email newsletters, and for that we’re using Constant Contact. All of the mailers are handled by LegalPlex.”
She also used a program called Prezi to create a video presentation of the firm and its services for the new website.
“That was super cutting-edge for them,” she says. “I’d have loved to do a scissor reel for the video, but that’s expensive and takes a lot of time, and the firm just isn’t there yet. So a Prezi is a good start. I wanted them to have a motion-graphic on their homepage, because I come from television, and storytelling is best through video.”
At the end of the day, marketing a law firm is a specialty, because you have to get into different areas of law and there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach. That’s why Jamison recommends testing and then tweaking.
“I told the partners that we’d have to try different things and we’d change what wasn’t work-ing,” she says. “You need a strong understanding of your market, and you have to be able to react and adjust depending on the situation.”