Adapting marketing and advertising strategies in 2020 during Covid -19.
Staying Ahead of the Competition
They say the only constant is change! Such words could not be more relevant than in the current crisis we are facing due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). With the sudden and drastic effect that the coronavirus pandemic has delivered to the economy, it is an unfortunate consequence that law firms (along with most other businesses) are facing daunting and uncertain times.
As law firms are seeking and finding ways to navigate this ‘new norm’ we are often used as a reference source and one of the key questions we are asked is how firms should approach marketing and advertising.
With the sudden and unexpected loss in new clients and for most, a slowdown in cash receipts, law firms are being forced into conversations on how they can trim budgets and maximise efficiency. While we certainly agree that action needs to be taken to ensure the sustainability of firms, the question on “whether law firms should stop marketing activities during the pandemic?” the short answer to this big question is a resounding ‘no!’
There is an absolute need to adapt and adjust your marketing and advertising strategy, but a complete withdrawal could prove to be a more costly mistake, even in the short term. Clients and potential clients need to know you are there and ready to assist them and maintaining a presence through the crises will help ensure, that when the crises is over or as people adjust to new ways of working that your firm will be found and instructed by those who need your services.
Whilst there may be a natural inclination to cut spend where you cannot see a tangible benefit, cutting all marketing and advertising budget needs a lot more consideration.
If you are there to be seen and found people will find you! If you withdraw your marketing your positioning will reduce, particularly on search engines and those who maintain a presence will increase. Achieving high ranking on search engines takes time and costs money and it can be a slow process to reach first page positions on search engines. Losing positioning is a much quicker and damaging process which you will accelerate by stopping your activity while other continue theirs.
A recent article by The Guardian suggests that the UK lockdown could end with a sector by sector phase out plan. Should this phasing out plan include your sector, be sure you are ready with a proactive strategy. Firms that are cutting marketing activities from their strategies will feel the effects on their bottom line for a variety of reasons.
In the rest of this paper we will share our knowledge and experience from what is happening across the market:
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Adapting marketing and advertising strategies during Covid -19.
One of the most significant affected areas for law firms is property work with the property sector depending on interaction to view, sell and purchase properties most if not all transactions have ceased. If phased return is considered appropriate it has been suggested that estate agents will be one of the first to reengage and when that happens firms need to be ready to provide services to those in the residential and commercial property sector.
People are spending more time on the internet that ever before – Update your website
Your website is one of your most powerful marketing tools. It is the window into your firm and the way it is worded and structured is essential for the search engines to connect your firm with your target audience as they seek out the services of you and your competitors. When was your website written and by who? Is the content out of date and is it relevant? Does it represent who your firm is today? If not then change it! Keeping your content refreshed and expertly written is more important than the look of your website. Search engines use your content to connect you to your customers and it is a fact that a well written website which is optimised with relevant keywords ranks better than those which are not.
With millions of people working from home and school closures, people are more reliant on the internet than ever before. Ecommerce giant Amazon is only one of a variety of companies that have seen a sudden surge in demand for their services. This surge in demand is the result of a robust digital presence. SEO and content marketing can be your solution to combat the impact of coronavirus on your firm. With an expanding online audience, now is the best time to conduct new keyword research to analyse how peoples search preferences are changing. Additionally, this is an opportune time to increase site traffic and branding by editing or creating content to target these searches.
Your competition is not stopping marketing, in fact, they are increasing
Due to the effect of the current pandemic many firms have seen a slump in clients, with more time available, many firms are taking this time to tackle tasks that in normal times can get overlooked. For example, we are seeing firms taking the time to engage and review their website wording and content production ensuring that their website is a true reflection of who their firm is and is up to date and refreshed. Firms who are seizing this time to rewrite content and write blogs are seeing refreshed and renewed activity on what may have been a ‘stale’ website which is serving to bolster their presence and social media engagement. Rather than letting your competitors get ahead in google rankings you should be ensuring your website and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is fully optimised and that when the crises does end, you are ready and already ahead of your competitors.
Adjust and realign your goals
Whatever ideas are relevant to your sector, this could be the time to expand your service offering and seek new ways of working and delivering your services. In a time of uncertainty and quarantine, clients and customers are likely to be more receptive to changing the norms, as old practises become outdated. Email newsletters and blogs posts can help your existing clients learn of your new services; however, SEO and the help of marketing experts are the best ways to push your new services through. Creating new pages of content, updating SEO features like meta descriptions, and choosing the keywords the correlate with your new services are all critical to a successful strategy.
Your firm will be finding new ways of working but how are you telling clients or prospective clients? If you are taking appointments using video conferencing, let your clients know. If you are offering additional or alternative services, again, let your clients know. People are interested in how industry is responding and showing that you are keeping pace with the changing environment is essential to gain respect from your clients and potential clients. They will not see this unless you tell them.
SEO is measurable and provides long term gains, stopping it is difficult to recover from
Search engine optimisation is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic coming through search engines like Google. Unlike Pay Per Click advertising, where you can feel its effects very quickly, SEO is a longer, and more comprehensive process, by stopping it you are going to see a compounded downtrend which will take a lot of time, money and strategy to get it back.
SEO as a whole encapsulates so many different practises and strategies for your firm, not only does it ensure your local presence is optimised, it monitors your websites technical issues and essentially contributes to the overall ranking of your website on Google and the other search engines. When you stop SEO, you are not just stopping one aspect of your business, you are essentially affecting many things at one time.
If you stop providing relevant, up to date content to your site you run the risk of:
- Losing rankings for target keyword
- De-incentivising people from visiting your website directly or through branded search term
- Missing out on new audiences, which also harms any retargeting campaigns you may be running
- Decreasing your opportunity to score quality links back to your site
While COVID-19 has prompted Google to suspend some Google My Business features (reviews, responses, Q&A, and business information edits) it is crucial that your firm is optimised online fully as soon as these features are reinstated. This could be the perfect time to let a marketing team evaluate your GMB presence, create review curation strategies, gather frequently asked questions for your Q&A section, and branch out to other local directory sites.
The lock down will end
Once life returns to normal, business will resume. Times may be different and for a while, new ways of working may be retained, and clients will re-engage and services will need to be provided.
Firms are already reporting an increase in new work across a range of areas as clients start to adjust and seek to resolve issues and matters that have understandably taken a back seat. Disputes still need resolving, wills and documents still need drafting etc. People and business are realising fast that others are continuing with their life and business and the industry is starting to respond too.
Understandably, investing in marketing activities could be an intimidating cost when business is slow. Nevertheless, by building a campaign now, you are more likely to have established successful rankings when quarantine life comes to end, and you will see the results sooner and faster.
If you do decide to wait, you will be competing with business who took heed of the advice, and you risk falling behind their presence.
It pays to be strategic
Most of us are suffering the consequences of economic downturn in the up and coming months, it is more important than ever to consider the fast paced changing global landscape, maximising on all opportunities to ensure that at the end of the pandemic, your firm will thrive. Economic upheaval because of the coronavirus may be inevitable. However, with a strategic plan in place, you can prevent your firm suffering from the impacts for longer than is necessary. Maintain your market share by investing in digital marketing strategies like SEO, PPC and social media campaigns. The cost of building a future proof structure may not be as expensive as believed and with some foresight, planning and advice from experts, firms can find themselves with a more robust solution moving forward.
At The Strategic Partner we work with firms to share knowledge, help them build strategies and implement them. We have access to leading marketing experts who are ready to advise and assist your law firm.
To hear more about how we can work with your firm you can contact us on 02039119710, email us firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website (www.thestrategicpartner) and complete an online enquiry on our contact page