aw firm marketing has traditionally been all about networking in communities populated with the law firm’s target audience. The best work came by word of mouth.
Whether it was a audience of prospective clients or those who influenced your target audience (business associates, referring lawyers, media, etc) the goal’s been the same – to get the community to recognize your firm’s lawyers as reliable and trusted authorities within their niche.
Communities, until now, have been offline. Business clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis etc), conferences, social gatherings, and traditional PR to network with the media. However, as Ryan Fujiu at Pronet Advertising, writes, online communities offer marketing opportunities.
The explosion of web communities has caught the eye of even the most traditional businessmen. The possible benefits of corporate participation in communities have executives chomping at the bit to enter these markets. However, there are inherent risks that can wreak havoc on public relations and brand image if the wrong strategy is pursued.
Tangible benefits mentioned by Ryan include:
Communities can be used to engage your customer base in a natural setting The ease of interaction in communities allows for discussions prohibited by the barriers of traditional research Communities can strengthen the bond between company and consumer, creating loyalty through personal investment Communities tighten the feedback loop Communities can be used to reinforce, or manipulate brand image
While practicing law in the mid ’90’s, I marketed my law firm by answering consumer inquires about injury law matters in AOL’s legal community. I archived the questions and answers on my firm’s website. Worked so well, I closed my law firm and started an online legal community, Prairielaw.com (now Lawyers.com’s community of content, message boards, listservs and chats) within which lawyers could market their services.
Today, blogs and blossoming online communities, whether defined by topic or locale, offer tremendous law firm marketing opportunities.