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Catherine Bailey

Catherine Bailey is Managing Director of Bar Marketing, specialist marketing consultants for barristers’ chambers.

Signpost in blue sky with fluffy white clouds

The legal directory industry shows no sign of decline. With the advent of the internet it would have been reasonable to expect the directories business to fade away as more people took to search engines to find their preferred counsel. However, the directories have embraced the internet by providing online versions with relevant information and as a result they are doing better than ever.

As you might imagine there are a number of directories to choose from. However, it’s worth noting that they are run in very different ways. For example, both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 spend a great deal of time and resources researching the legal market, both in the UK and overseas. Their results are both unbiased and unambiguous, ranking the top-rated counsel (as found by their research) in each practice area in each jurisdiction. Martindale-Hubbell and Who’s Who Legal appear to be more listings services rather than publications that have been methodically researched and ranked (I’ve received emails from Who’s Who inviting me to buy a profile in their directory and suggested that I would fit into the litigation category …. Scary thought for a marketing agency!). Practical Law Company’s directory ceased to be operational in 2013. It is worth mentioning that all of the directories have a cost associated with them. However, both Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners will still include the firm/chambers and lawyers in the directory rankings even if they choose not to purchase a profile. It’s not clear from the Who’s Who website how they deal with this.

Digital marketing plays a major role in marketing today alongside traditional methods. Unlike traditional channels, digital marketing allows marketers to target and track campaign successes with accuracy. After all, how can you truly know how many readers have seen your advert in a printed trade publication or how many recipients have opened your postal mailshot? Even your best guesstimate could be far off the mark.

Creating a website for your firm or chambers demands time, patience and persistence. You have to get the right structure, with easy navigation, straightforward calls to action and compelling content.

Even when the site is fully operational, it is no time to sit back and enjoy your handiwork. You need to know if the site is doing its job properly by enticing readers in, keeping them engaged and encouraging them to make contact. How do you do this? Analyse, test and refine.

And not just once. It’s a continual process of improvement because what works well one month, may not work as well the following month due to seasonal trends, legislation changes or industry developments.

Use statistics to guide you. Many tools exist to perform this task but we recommend the hugely popular application, Google Analytics.

Events are a great source of fresh new leads. They provide true permission-based marketing, bringing potential buyers directly to you. The type of event, however, varies significantly. For example, you may be inviting accountants to talk about tax legislation changes or targeting estate agencies to advise on conveyancing law changes. Alternatively, you may have secured stand space at a national exhibition.

Another variation is whether the event is “real” (at a physical location) or “virtual” (an online webinar). Webinars are delivered over the internet and received by your audience from the comfort and convenience of their own desk. You can reach people who are not based in city locations and you can expand into new markets. You can deliver your message to hundreds of people all at once and cheaply.

Catherine Bailey represents Bar Marketing

Marketing is becoming ever more vital in the race to win new clients and retain existing ones. Whether you are a law firm or chambers you are seeing your marketplace evolve at an unprecedented rate. New entrants are streaming in and new ways of working are becoming standard practice. You need to be more responsive in your marketing or you will be left behind and your practice may wither. Sounds dramatic, but it’s actually reality.

Spending money on promotion for your chambers is often seen as a massive punt, a huge risk, a pure gamble. But it needn’t be that way. It’s all about measuring your return on investment, and understanding that for success to be had, the investments needs to be planned, budgeted for and delivered via integrated marketing campaigns.