Nearly all law firms want to raise their international profile and recognise that one way to do this is in the international legal media. However, there are an overwhelming number of opportunities to consider - legal directories, handbooks, comparative guides, monthly and weekly publications and more.
Part 1 of this Guide looks at the challenges that firms face using the legal media to build a profile and makes some suggestions about how they should approach the challenge.
PART 1: DO’S AND DON’TS, MYTHS & MISTAKES
Is there a must buy product?
Although for most firms we believe that well planned strategic expenditure will bring a worthwhile return on investment, in our view no individual product is a “must have”. Salespeople will often try and convince you that your business cannot survive without a particular media product. We are yet to find the product that we think this is true of and are not expecting to find it any time soon.
How can I measure the return on my investment?
This is notoriously difficult to provide a definitive solution. Although we do hear of direct referrals as a result of media products, it is not commonplace. We would also suggest that if you are expecting direct referrals as a result of your purchase, you are probably missing the point. This is principally a marketing not a sales exercise. The purpose is to raise brand awareness and create an environment where you will get more referrals.
There are some definitive measures available:
Some products will identify who has visited your profile or article. This provides both marketing analysis and potential leads which are measurable. This type of tool has become much more user friendly over recent years;Some firms track how new clients became aware of them as part of their inception process.
Generally, you should buy a product because it is consistent with your strategic marketing objectives, not because you received an e-mail or call about it on a day when you were not quite as busy as usual or because the salesperson sounded nice or was persistent.
A number of publications target a number of different partners/people in law firms for different products. As a simple example, if 100 lawyers in a firm are allowed to spend an average of £1000 each, the firm’s outlay is £100,000 for largely unrelated purchases.
Similarly, several publications have started to sell a high volume of relatively low cost products. A lot of firms seem willing to buy a number of these and a firm’s budget can quickly be eroded by these small ad hoc purchases that don’t necessarily offer any real value long term.
“We don’t like this sort of product”
There are some types of products that firms in some jurisdictions simply do not like. In particular, some firms feel very uncomfortable with advertising and are often restricted from doing so by national bar regulations.
Others fundamentally object to the idea of paying to write publications under co-publishing deals. In some respects, we are surprised by this as we believe this sort of product can represent very good value and we would encourage firms to re-visit the issue. However, if having done so you still feel uncomfortable with the concept, don’t buy. A product you don’t believe in is unlikely to improve your profile.
The cost of time
A common error is for a firm to devise a plan that involves little or no direct cost but an unrealistically large amount of lawyer time to deliver. In particular a number of firms produce a great number of internal publications but make very little effort to distribute them to a relevant audience.
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