When it comes to online marketing, boutique law firms have started to capitalize more and more on some unique advantages they have versus larger firms. Over the past 15 years or so, attorneys have tended to fall into three main groups in terms of digital marketing:
First have been those with practices focused on personal damages, criminal justice or divorce. Because they draw most clients by marketing directly to the public, they were the first to embrace the Internet in a truly aggressive way. Look at the websites of these firms and you’ll tend to find very up-to-date designs, smart marketing copy and lots of contact pages that make it easy to set up a free initial consultation. For these practices, the web long ago supplanted most print advertising.
The Big Boys
Next come large law firms, which have gradually evolved into fairly serious web marketers. Most of them now accept the “confirmation” role of a website, and are willing to invest in it. When a person or another attorney recommends a firm these days, there’s a knee-jerk tendency for the recipient to at least look at a firm’s website before initiating a contact. A site that lacks a contemporary look or fails to deliver basic information just won’t confirm that the practice is a smart, state of the art business. Having no site at all, which is still the case at some small firms, can literally make a potential client wonder if the firm is still in business.
A third growing force in online marketing are the “boutique” law firms, which often have highly specialized litigation skills. Usually having far fewer attorneys than the mega firms, they’ve become scrappy online marketers who are using the web to compete effectively. A few key factors work in their favor:
- A website that’s designed well can help promote their top attorneys as unique experts, rather than as part of a vast roster of lawyers who are difficult to distinguish online. Clients get a sense that they’ll be hiring a specific person rather than a team.
- They can use a website to market themselves as more highly focused on particular specialties and offering more personal service than large firms.
- They can promote themselves as a more cost effective alternative to larger firms.
- They can use a website to focus in on a specific specialty like construction or insurance law, rather than trying to present themselves as all things to all clients.
Last but not least, the boutique firms often capitalize on a key reality: their smaller size makes them less bureaucratic and often less conservative about marketing decisions, which can translate into a more unique and impactful website. Interestingly, small firms tend to follow the results of their web marketing more closely, because it represents a bigger expense to them than for large firms. That can set up a cycle where attorneys will spend more time putting content on their blogs or updating sites with other information, which helps the online marketing effort grow more healthy and productive over time.