Law firms tend to be long-lived businesses, often with decades or more of practice under their belts. The older generation of partners that presides over any long-established firm is usually credited with building the business. And that’s true. But these legacy partners historically used a very different set of business development strategies than the ones that are most effective today.
They assembled their rolodex of clients via social networking — the face-to-face, analog version. Wining and dining were a key part of doing business. For the majority of their careers, an engraved business card was the closest thing to a website they would have published.
They weren’t behind the times. Those were the times.
But times have changed. Businesses and individuals now begin the research process of making most decisions, from new shoes to legal representation, online. As a result, digital activities rightly form the locus of most organizations’ marketing efforts. And law firms are no exception.
Transitioning your law firm’s website to a modern marketing powerhouse requires buy-in from all of a firm’s partners, including legacy partners who may question the value of doing so. At Decker Design, we help our clients bridge generational and technological divides so that they can move in alignment toward a modernized website and digital marketing platform.
Law Firms in Transition: The Push for a Modern Marketing Website
The way law firms view digital marketing often splits along a generational divide.
Many legacy partners understandably resist the shift toward digital marketing. Because of their age, they tend to be less digitally fluent. Every firm has a website of some kind, of course, but they tend to see it as a static listing (like the old telephone book) rather than a dynamic marketing tool. In fact, they usually perceive digital marketing as cold and impersonal, so they struggle to understand its value. It just seems so much less relational and straightforward than their preferred, face-to-face approach.
Younger lawyers, on the other hand, readily understand the digital mandate. As digital natives, they have a different set of expectations about how a law firm should present itself and achieve growth. Like others in their generation, most younger lawyers live a large percentage of their lives online. Because of that, they implicitly get the importance of digital advertising, marketing, and communication.
As younger lawyers become partners, they push their firms to modernize their marketing programs, starting with an updated website. In order to achieve consensus, however, younger partners must get their older colleagues on board and it can be a significant challenge.
Getting Legacy Partners On Board with a Modern Marketing Website
That’s where Decker Design comes in. In our work with clients, we help legacy partners embrace digital marketing. We do this by presenting them with a compelling business case while at the same time creating space for their concerns, input, unique perspective.
In presenting our case, we find the following points help legacy partners understand the need for and value of digital marketing, beginning with a modernized website.
- A significant precedent for the value of digital marketing already exists. In working with the law, lawyers must have a high degree of respect for precedent. And the precedent for modern marketing websites has already been set within the legal space. The largest and most successful law firms have been pouring resources into their website for the last two decades. These firms treat their websites like living, breathing organisms and redesign them every few years in order to remain digitally relevant. They use their websites to educate site visitors and harness the power of content marketing to increase site visits and brand recognition. It’s no accident that the most successful firms invest in modern marketing websites (and that the firms that invest in their websites are more successful).
- Your audience expects to use your website as a major tool in vetting your law firm. Whether you serve individuals, small businesses, or corporations, your potential clients expect your website to validate a referral or give them the additional information they need to form an opinion about your firm. If they like what they see, the next step is likely to reach out and make contact. If they are forced to go beyond your website to figure out what it is you do and what you’re about, you’ve likely lost them to another, more digitally visible firm. (And the same principle applies to potential recruits, too.)
- Building a new website is a significant investment, but it’s cost effective in the long-term. A modern marketing website is a little like a new car. It’s a big investment, and you have to put some effort into maintaining it. But if you do, chances are you’ll get a lot of mileage out of it. Instead of designing, maintaining, and printing multiple assets separately, your website can serve as the central hub for all of your firm’s marketing content and assets. For example, many law firms utilize a tool that allows them to export lawyers’ biographies from their website for use in proposals and pitches. With a well-designed and feature-rich website, you can continually update content and promote it through email, LinkedIn, and other channels.
- Your website gives your firm control of its own image. Building a modern marketing website is the best way to put your firm’s stake in the ground in terms of projecting your image to the world. And if you don’t take control of it, someone else will. Legacy partners who have worked long and hard to burnish your firm’s reputation can’t help but see the value in that.
Legacy partners don’t usually come to the table with a lot of excitement about digital marketing. And they certainly don’t start with a lot of enthusiasm for investing in a new website. We pride ourselves on our ability to help them understand the value of both. The result is a new website that helps firms achieve their business goals. One that makes both generations of partners happy.