In the complicated, fast-paced world we live in, there is an increasing desire to have “one thing” to satisfy multiple needs. When it comes to products, the smart phone is a perfect example. One device enables you to text, call, email, take photos, download and listen to music, access GPS and more. Let’s look at retail – is there anything you can’t buy at Costco? But in the world of professional services, the trend tends to roll the opposite way.
A savvy buyer of legal services wants a specialist – a lawyer who understands his/her challenges and sources of pain and has the most relevant experience to deliver successful outcomes.
Carve out a niche!
When a law firm goes to market, it wants to communicate and engage groups of buyers with similar needs, which is otherwise known as a market segment.
Market segmentation is a marketing strategy that involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers who have common needs, and then designing and implementing strategies to target their needs and desires using media channels and other touch-points that best allow to reach them.
Market segmentation is sometimes referred to as “Target Marketing” or “Niche Marketing.” A law firm practicing market segmentation will usually have a marketing plan for each target market. While it may seem like more work, there are many reasons for having distinct plans, which include:
- Messaging: The messaging used in segment marketing plans should emphasize “what’s most important” to a distinct target market.
- Methods: Buyers within the same market segment tend to favor certain methods of communication. For example, one market segment may rely heavily on printed trade magazines while another may turn to online content.
- Purchase Process: The decision making process or sales cycle for purchasing legal services will be different depending on the market segment.
Effective segment marketing plans deliver compelling messages using the most effective communication methods at appropriate points in the sales cycle. Full-service law firms often create plans by practice group and /or by industry segment. A boutique law firm, like one that only handles Intellectual Property matters, will usually create plans by industry. Which market segments a law firm selects to invest marketing resources in will depend on its depth of experience as well as a segment’s growth potential. Middle market and smaller law firms should be careful not to target too many segments or they will only skim the surface and never build penetration.
What about branding?
So you may ask, “What about the firm and its brand and visibility? Don’t you need a plan for that too?” The answer is “yes” but tread carefully depending on whether you are a large, middle-market or small firm. All law firms need an overall plan to ensure the marketing infrastructure is in place and up-to-date. Overall law firm plans might include:
- Visual brand and brand standards
- General brochure
- Promotional items
- Trade show materials
- Community outreach
- General advertising
- General Sponsorships
- Contact management / marketing automation
- E-mail templates
- Overall newsletter
- General public relations
The larger the firm, the more they can afford to put marketing resources into the overall marketing plan and general tactics. Larger firms can always out spend their smaller competitors on advertising and sponsorships. This is why middle-market and small firms should have modest overall marketing plans and invest as much as possible into reaching their target market segments. This is where they will make the biggest impact and be able to realize a measureable return on investment.
Don’t be afraid of multiple marketing plans for your law firm because marketing segmentation and penetration will win the day!
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