How Law Firms Can Survive COVID-19
The coronavirus outbreak has impacted all aspects of our lives. Amid stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols, attorneys and staff at law firms have been forced to make sweeping changes in their operations. This, combined with the reduced hours and even closures of many courthouses, is creating uncertainty for your business.
A number of organizations are offering webinars on how to drive leads in a down period, but these are a poor use of your budget. Prospective clients are not going to respond to a hard-sell right now; rather, they want to see law firms that understand what they’re experiencing and continue to make positive contributions in spite of the pandemic.
Before you pay hundreds of dollars on a webinar, there are steps you can take right now to connect with clients in a way that serves their needs and makes you stand out. Each of these steps is either free or something your agency should be able to perform as part of your monthly retainer:
1. Update Your Website
Every company website has some kind of update or disclaimer about coronavirus. Generally, the wording on this update is pretty vague, expressing simple solidarity with customers but offering little in the way of actual information.
To stand out, your law firm should be specific:
- Inform visitors how you are working
- Detail the ways they can reach you (phone, email, online chat, etc.)
- Discuss consultation options if they have a case; do you perform intake via phone, or do you have a virtual consultation process?
When they search for local businesses, customers are looking for some kind of assurance that service is still available. Adding a prominent, specific update near the top of your website will inspire confidence in current clients and new prospects that you are still open for business (just in a different way).
2. Manage Your Social Media
With so many people stuck at home nowadays, social media use has exploded. Although this provides you an opportunity to connect with prospective clients, you need to pay close attention to what your followers are saying and use your social media marketing to drive engagement, not just focus on earning new business.
The same advice we gave for updating your website applies to your social media profiles as well. Make sure the contact information, hours of operation, and other details are accurate. And, if a user reaches out with a question, make sure someone on your staff responds promptly.
Develop a tone
People are paying attention to what you say and how you say it. Tone-deaf messaging will turn off your followers, so make sure every post is empathetic and provides value. You can post many different kinds of content within these parameters:
- News updates on COVID-19 within your area
- Community updates on resources available for those in need, stories of heroism, and more
- Fun pictures of your team’s new “office environment,” including home office setups, pictures of “coworkers” (i.e., kids, spouses, and pets), etc.
As you can see, being a source of levity and positivity is just as important as being a source of reliable, tuned-in information. With so many people looking for an escape from bad news about COVID-19, fun, shareable content with the right tone might be even more important these days.
Consumers will reward brands that make positive contributions in times of crisis. Consider making monetary or in-kind donations to local charities that are working hard to do good in the wake of COVID-19. In addition to posts about your latest charitable activities, you can share content illustrating your history of community involvement.
Give it away
Many people are out of work due to coronavirus. You can help by offering fans and followers the chance to win gift cards for groceries, home delivery services, and online retailers. Entry to the giveaway should be very simple, with a new reward every day for someone who:
- Comments on your post
- Shares a fun photo
- Responds to a poll
- And more
Your followers will appreciate the opportunity to participate in a little lighthearted competition. They will also like that you are showing concern for the pressures they face and offering a solution.
If new leads are slow in the wake of COVID-19, you need to provide positive proof of the services you offer. The best way to do this is to engage satisfied clients to tell their stories.
To get started, simply post a call-to-action on social media sites with a reviews function (ex: Facebook) for previous clients to share their experience. As they leave reviews, make sure you thank them for their time and promote the testimonial on your profile.
Saying “thank you” shows that you are paying attention. What’s more, having a lot of positive reviews reinforces the good impression your followers have of you, making them more likely to pay attention to your updates, engage with you on social media, and think of you when they need to hire a lawyer.
3. Invest in Visuals
With actual human contact growing scarce these days, people online are hungry for more than just text on a screen. Custom video and audio personalize your message in a way words can’t, especially when the audience is clamoring for dynamic content.
With everyone from talk show hosts to local newscasters doing broadcasts from their homes, DIY audio and video shot with your phone will resonate with people more than slick commercials. Custom clips can be a tremendous asset on your website and on social media, enabling you to create original, unique content that can take a variety of forms:
- Updates from the “new office” (i.e., clips showing the lighter side of working from home)
- Announcements for gift card giveaways and other campaigns
- Answering questions from users about your firm and how you’re responding to COVID-19
Your message carries extra power when followers are able to see your face and hear your words rather than just read them.
4. Engage Your Email Database
Companies have overwhelmed subscribers’ inboxes with messages about COVID-19. Much of this was boilerplate content that quickly resulted in “attention fatigue.” Now when people see an email about coronavirus, they tune out all but the most essential updates.
Therefore, instead of simply reiterating guidelines from the World Health Organization, make your updates essential by truly telling readers what they need to know.
As it applies to your law firm, this may include:
- How to get in touch with your staff
- Your hours of availability
- Options for consultations
- How their claim is being handled (i.e., do you have access to client files, are the local courts open, etc.)
- Community updates and how you are getting involved
Each of these elements is something only your law firm can deliver. By tapping into one or more of the dedicated audiences represented by your email database, you can create multiple campaigns designed to keep people engaged with your messaging.
5. Optimize for Changing Circumstances
The Internet is saturated with information on coronavirus, and you’re unlikely to compete if your website is just reiterating the same “stay at home, wash your hands, etc.” information people hear every day. Instead, create content that aligns with your website visitors’ current situation and put it in context with your expertise.
For example, tell visitors what to expect during a virtual consultation, explain the steps they can take while stuck at home to prepare an accident or injury claim, and create content on other topics that relate your target keywords to the “new normal” people are facing.
The goal with this SEO strategy is to position yourself as an authority so users can find helpful information that relates to their current circumstances – whether they search for coronavirus or something else.
In times of sweeping change, it is only natural to panic. However, the worst thing any business owner can do is throw away good money on strategies with little to no return.
Twelve Three Media offers attorneys and law firms these tips for free so you can work with web-savvy members of your staff or your current marketing agency to implement positive changes. Please contact our agency if you have specific questions or need help getting your new marketing strategy off the ground.