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Legal Services: Commodity or Brand?

Are your legal services viewed as a commodity or a brand? Law firms are struggling with price pressures from customers and prospects, yet few law firms actively and comprehensively market their services in a branded way.

What is a commodity? It is a good or service whose wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors such as brand name.

What does it mean to be a brand? Branded product marketing communicates higher quality, greater overall satisfaction and the higher likelihood that the product will meet the customer`s specific needs. In the case of branded services, the customer service dimension, including a satisfaction guarantee, is highlighted along with the promised end result.

How are legal services becoming commoditized?

·         There are too many attorneys and whenever there is a wide availability of a service, that service risks becoming a commodity.

·         Many attorneys are using low prices as a weapon to gain market share, which drives their margins down in order to increase their client base.

·         Most people don’t know enough about law to distinguish high quality services so they often focus on low price as their number one factor in choosing an attorney.

How to avoid becoming a commodity?

·         Establish a near-perfect track record of quality and success. What percent of cases that you handle are successful?

·         Improve your processes to increase speed and accuracy.

·         Take time and energy to give clients the attention they need.

·         Create high quality marketing messages.

Law firms that seek to build market share and pricing power should develop a branded marketing strategy and communicate their brand promise in a consistent, comprehensive way. Branded product and service marketing are the key differentiators that make a product or service unique.

If legal services become a commodity, it could harm your law firm`s profitability. You will see price wars, lower margins and higher difficulty in establishing differentiation and brand image.

 

Are Marketing and PR the same thing?

The answer is no. But they need each other. Although they share similar methods and tactics, at their cores, public relations and marketing have different goals. Let’s break it down:

The goal of PR.

The desired outcome of a PR professional is a trusted relationship with his audience. Public Relations main goal is to create awareness and trust by communicating with audiences, directly or through intermediaries such as the media.

The goal of marketing.

The job of a marketer is to stimulate demand in an audience by triggering a response, a need, then directing that need to products and services. The desired outcome here is an interested buyer.

Why Marketing and PR aren’t the same thing?

The methods and tools used by both is very similar, if not the same. However, there a few differences. A PR professional uses the media to create awareness and the social media to communicate with audiences. The publications provide information to audiences and advertising drive awareness to content. PR professionals use trusted third parties like publications to create social proof and trust in the company and its products and services.

On the other hand, a marketer uses the media to generate demand and the social media to trigger need, pose questions and to highlight implicit problems audiences have that the company will solve. Marketers use advertising to reach audiences that are hard to reach organically, but with a different purpose other than awareness: demand generation.

Why marketing and PR need each other?

Awareness needs demand and demand needs awareness. Let’s put it that way:

Demand without awareness and trust is like having a coffee shop that customers can’t find, and awareness without demand is like having a coffee shop that customers never visit. Combined, marketing and PR encourage people to tell each other about the coffee ship, trust that the coffee is good, come to it and buy something from it.

They are not the same thing, but they need each other.

5 Tips for Writing a Good Marketing Plan

Writing a marketing plan is not as hard as it sounds. Whether you are launching a new product or promoting your latest offer, it is worth taking the time to complete it. Planning your strategies will help you direct your day-to-day activities, guide your approach and ensure you are taking advantage of all your available resources. The good news is that a marketing plan doesn’t need to be overly time consuming to prepare. Sometimes simple is better! You don’t need too many details in order for it to be effective and keeping it simple will also give you the flexibility to quickly adjust your tactics if you need to.

Read these 5 tips and learn how to develop a basic marketing plan:

  • Build a precise picture of your ideal customer. The first and most essential step of any marketing plan is identifying your target market, being as precise as possible. Ask yourself questions such as: Who in your current customer base is the right fit for your product or service? What have they purchased from you before? Do their purchasing patterns suggest they might be a good target? Are they the kind of customer you enjoy doing business with? What about reaching new customers outside your customer base? Being really specific will make it easier to craft the right message and tactics for reaching that audience.
  • What do you want to accomplish? Once your consumers are made aware of your campaign or promotional activity, what is your call to action? Do you want them to register for an event, take advantage of a special offer, upgrade an existing product, invest in training, or request a quote? Maybe there are more than one action that you want them to take, so be specific. These actions will drive your messaging and delivery methods.
  • How can you reach your targets? Now you already know who you want to reach and what actions you want them to take. The next step is identifying the best ways and messages to reach them. In order to find the most effective way, consider the following:
  • What associations do they belong to?
  • Are they active on social media?
  • Do they subscribe to your email marketing?
  • What print or online media do they read?
  • What types of messages or call to actions have they responded to in the past?
  • In what ways will they benefit from your service?
  • Work Out Your Budget. When it comes to planning your budget, determine your tactis and price them out, prioritizing what is most necessary. Keep in mind that you can always adjust your budget as you go, so be flexible.
  • Plan Your Tactics. Whether it is direct email, email marketing, print/radio/online advertising, blogs, social media, webinars, case studies, or events, you need actions that will help you reach your target market and accomplish your goals. However, do not rely on one tactic alone. Invest on an integrated approach that delivers a consistent message across multiple, targeted platforms. Above all, be flexible and track your results, keeping a close eye on what works and what doesn’t and adjusting your tactics as you go.

Does your law firm website follow these 5 best practices?

We all know that most people head to the Internet first when they are seeking any service. Legal services are no exception to this trend and that’s why your law firm’s website is so important. Let’s put it in this perspective: your website is the online version of your firm’s front door. This means that the information included should “invite” your potential clients to use your service and it should be tailored to meet their needs and expectations.

But what exactly are people looking for when hiring an attorney?  Here are the 5 tips to improve your Law Firm`s website and make it more effective and consumer friendly:

Showcasing quality of service is important. Legal consumers want to see proof of good service. A good way to provide information about the quality of service provided by your firm is to include links to reviews that are favorable. If your firm has not been reviewed, including client testimonials and quotes is a good option too.

Highlighting client communication is key. Clients value clear, concise communication from their attorneys more than anything else. They are looking for simple explanations and terms that are easy to understand. One great way to show that attorneys at your firm are able to communicate effectively with clients is to maintain a law firm blog. It should include posts where lawyers explain legal concepts in a simple, down to earth manner. That way, you will show potential clients that attorneys at your law firm are knowledgeable and able to communicate clearly.

Emphasize experience. A lot of times, experience is more important than certifications, education, age or gender. If you have been practicing for a while, make sure to include your years of practice for individual attorneys or collectively for the entire law firm. Doing so will inspire confidence in potential clients and will encourage them to contact you.

Certifications are also important! Be sure to include any award or certifications that attorneys in your firm have received. It is just one more way to showcase your firm`s expertise.

Focus on client service. Potential clients value attorney responsiveness. So show your clients that your law firm provides multiple ways for lawyers and clients to interact. For example, if your law firm uses online client portals for communication or incorporates other innovative communications features into its workflow, make sure to emphasize those features on your law firm`s websites.

Does your website provide the information that legal consumers are seeking? Make some changes to your firm’s online presence and see how much more effective it will be!

4 Reasons Why Visual Communication has a Big Impact

The use of visual communication continues to grow and it is happening in all mediums – newspapers, websites, social media, instruction manuals and emails. Whether it is images, animated GIFs or video, visual aids can produce higher engagement than regular texts.

Visual communication creates a more effective and meaningful message, helping content creators get their point across. Read these 4 reasons why visual communication is crucial and more impactful when delivering a message:

  • It saves time by relaying messages faster. Time is money, right? Getting your point across quickly is a huge benefit considering that readers often prefer to scan content rather than read word for word. The media landscape is filled with clutter and it is hard to acquire and retain the readers` attention, so keeping your material loaded with visuals is a surefire way to relay your message in less time. Studies have shown that we can get a sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text!
  • Visual communication ensures that a clear, unified message is delivered. In the business world of communication, less room for interpretation is what you want. It is important that all readers interpret a similar meaning, otherwise it can result in waste of time and confusion. Text-heavy content leaves much to imagination and it works for novels and pleasure reading, but not for business. Short, simple videos or animated GIFs are a great way to make sure everyone involved is on the same page.
  • Visual Communication helps to provide a shared, consistent experience. Branding is an important part of delivering a consistent experience with visuals. Marketing activity is more effective if organizations define brand colors, logos, font, graphics, icons and imagery that will pair with the company`s voice and tone. It will not only make your brand recognizable and consistent, but it will also build brand awareness!
  • Visual Communication results in better retention of the information. Considering that images are directly deposited and stored into the long-tern memory, using visuals helps the audience remember the information more effectively. Studies have found that after 2 weeks, only 10-20% of text or spoken word is recalled, compared to 50% of visual content! Regardless of your communication topic or plan, retention is always something to aim for.

Bringing it all together, the benefits of visual communication are for both the sender and the receiver and it is crucial to an overall strategic communication plan.

Congratulations to Education to Career Network of North San Diego County

We love to brag about our clients.  And we especially love it when others brag about them. Last night, Education to Career Network, the leading provider of adult education courses and services in San Diego’s north county, received a FIRST PLACE from the San Diego Press Club for its student-focused website. Our design and content team launched the site in 2016 and work with each of the six of the member schools – Poway Adult School, Escondido Adult School, Vista Adult School, Ramona Adult School, San Marcos Adult School and Palomar College, to ensure the site is current and relevant for all students.

 

We are proud to work with such an important project, which serves thousands of students each year, and helps them to reach their educational and career goals through high-quality programs, pathways and services. And the best part? Most of the classes they offer or either low or NO FEE.

 

So, if you know someone over the age of 18 who is interested in getting their life on track, learning a new skill or wanting to explore new career and higher education options, have them visit ETCN at www.educationtocareer.net

 

Congrats you guys!