Your firm’s website is the single most important component to your firm’s marketing communications efforts. Period.
It’s the lynchpin on which all of your other mar/com efforts rest, it’s your “first impression”, your opportunity to communicate with targeted clients on a regular basis via blogs, and hopefully it supports your firm’s business development efforts.
With this in mind, here are the most common reasons firms come to us to refresh or update their firm’s websites:
1) Their site has become so neglected over the years, the firm is literally embarrassed by their current site. They need their website to effectively communicate their brand message and finally get in the game. Do they have a brand message? They find themselves calling someone, somewhere simply to make the simplest change each call ending up in a bill.
2) One of the firm’s senior partners has just rushed into an executive committee meeting asking if everyone has seen their biggest competitor’s new website that just went live – careful not to say the obvious that “their new site blows our firm’s web site out of the water”. “Haven’t we been talking about doing something about this? Why don’t we talk to Marketing about what’s going on?”
Ironically, guess what happens next? This partner that sits on the executive committee suddenly gets that wake up call that the gloves are off and their competitor is really going after their business, or at least sending the message that it takes marketing seriously. In addition, attracting lawyers with a respect and understanding of marketing that come with established books of business that will grow your firm faster than chasing after new business and responding to RFPs -- something else to consider when your competitor launches a new website.
3) The rare exception is the firm with a CMO that realizes that their firm’s website is an extension of the firm that needs to be nurtured, tended to and yes, refreshed or “realigned” on occasion. Reasons for moving in this direction include:
- The firm’s business development evolves
- Changes in laws, statutes, tax codes, etc.
- Market conditions make it inherently necessary to compete differently
- The needs of your client has changed or evolved
So how did we get here? Fear. How many times during the day do you read on any respectable law marketing listserve someone asking for a “best practice” in attorney bios, practice area descriptions, case studies (if they be used in their state), video or when to launch a blog?
Have we become marketers that simply follow what others are doing or wait around until the firm finally reaches its breaking point and then sends out an RFP to get their website updated as quickly and as inexpensively as possible?
Over the next few weeks I’ll be visiting law firm websites, and not the AmLaw 100 firms that everyone uses as their benchmark of what an effective website should look like. I’ll be looking at the AmLaw 200 firms and those just under the AmLaw 200, firms that are doing some pretty amazing work – and some that I have to admit fall well below the bar. I’ll be looking at a specific set of criteria so that everyone is measured equally and making some calls to see how recent the firm’s website underwent a significant design change. I’m looking forward to seeing what we find. If you have suggestions as to specific elements you think we should include in our search, let us know – we’d love to hear your suggestions.