Stand Out in the SaaS Market Through Brand Differentiation
SaaS Branding

Stand Out in the SaaS Market Through Brand Differentiation

You have your software. It provides a service, a service people need. It will make their lives easier, their business more efficient, and their accounting department happy (as happy as accountants can be). Clients should be crashing your server in a mad rush to access this game changing software, but they aren’t. Why not?

You may have a branding issue. In a market where a host of established companies already offer products that provide the same service – the old adage “If you build it they will come” no longer applies. You have to give your customers a reason to choose you over the competition. It’s called differentiation, and it should be the starting point for your marketing efforts.

The following questions serve as a jumping off point to help you identify what differentiates your company from the competition.

What Do you Do?

This should be a fairly simple one or two line statement. As an example, here’s the meta description for the Slack website: “Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.” Don’t worry if your statement isn’t quite as polished as this one. With some work, this statement might become your public mission statement, but right now, it’s a planning tool.

How Do you Do it?

List the key features of your product and the tools that you provide to users. And don’t forget that SaaS stands for Software as a Service. Also list the services you provide.

Where Do you Excel?

Where Do you Excel?

Is there an area of your focus in which you particularly excel? Perhaps you have amazing customer service or the slickest customer interface. Customer feedback can be a great way to identify your areas of expertise. Their answers might surprise you.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Who is Your Target Audience?

Be as specific as you can here. Your answer can’t be – Everyone. Not everyone needs Workforce Automation Software. Think about your ideal user. How big is their business? What kind of services do they provide? How many staff do they have? Do those staff members work collaboratively or independently? How many customers? How do they communicate with those customers? What is their level of technical knowledge? Do they have a formal business culture, or are they hip and trendy?

Now that you’ve answered those questions about your own software and service, you may already have some ideas about where your company excels. That’s great, but we’re not done yet. It’s time to take a look at the completion.

What Do other Brands in Your Market Do?

In examining this question you may identify service areas that other brands cover but yours does not. You may be tempted then, to try to change your software to do even more. Resist the urge. The goal here is not to redesign your product, but to figure out where you fit in the overall market landscape.

How Do They Do it?

Again you may be tempted to patch on a bunch of new features to make sure that your software does everything that theirs does. But hold on. The point here is not to change your product, but to get a clear idea of what your product is.

Where Do they Particularly Excel?

Look at the areas of service your competition stresses in their advertising. Read reviews and see what points they praise. If possible, talk to the customers of your competitors. Find out why they chose that company over others.

Who Do They Seem to be Targeting?

In some cases it’s easy to identify who your competition is targeting. Take Zirtual for example. The main message on their home page tells you their product is “for Entrepreneurs,
Professionals, and Small Teams.” Not all businesses label themselves so clearly, so you might have to make some assumptions based on their marketing. Are they talking about growing your startup or are they putting a lot of stress their software’s ability to handle huge client lists with ease? Is their messaging formal or playful?

Now that you’ve answered what, where, how, and who for both your company and the competition, it’s time to compare your answers. You are likely to find many areas where you overlap. For example, HubSpot and Infusionsoft both provide inbound marketing support through automation and optimization of online marketing to execute their clients’ individual marketing strategies.

If the answer to what What for one of the companies you listed is radically different from your answer, that company may not be your competition at all. You’re differentiated by default, since you offer a completely different service.

Your answers to How and Who are most likely to give you the key to your differentiation strategy. Though you may offer a host of features that are the same as those offered by your competition, you’ll differentiate your software by focusing on the one extra feature. If other companies are focused on clients with large established businesses, you might focus your marketing toward small to medium sized businesses.

A word of caution: you can take differentiation too far. Don’t try so hard to stand out that you promise more than you can give. Getting new customers is not use if you can’t keep them and unhappy customers can do a lot of damage to your reputation.

Focus on what your company does well. Base your marketing on that and you can’t go wrong.

Define Your Brand Through Pricing
SaaS Branding

Define Your Brand Through Pricing

The price you should charge for your SaaS product may seem like a foregone conclusion. You charge what the market can support, which means that you charge about the same as your competitors.

While not technically wrong, this simplistic view may result in lost revenue. Your pricing strategy can send customers powerful signals about your product, and pricing considerations should be part of your brand strategy.

To develop a pricing strategy that works, you should consider both internal and external factors affecting your business. This involves looking inward at your company as well as outward at the existing market. If either one changes too much, you may need to reevaluate your strategy.

Even if you start out with an effective strategy, you’ll likely need to adjust it multiple times over the life of your business to account for your growth and changes in the market. Here are some points to consider as you develop your initial pricing strategy and reexamine existing strategies.

Identifying Goals

Identifying Goals

Before you set a pricing strategy you need to develop a clear idea of how your company will fit into the market. Do you want to be a high-end provider or an affordable option? Do you have the infrastructure to handle a high number of clients? Do you have the staff to handle high end clients who will expect a higher level of service?

Knowing where you want to be in the market and what you can afford to offer can serve as a starting point for your pricing strategy, but it can’t be the only factor you consider.

Charging What You’re Worth

When figuring out how to set the price for your software, it may seem obvious that you should charge as little as possible. After all, customers want to save money. If you charge less, you’ll be lowering one of the hurdles that customers have to overcome to purchase your product. By this logic, lower prices should equal more customers. But there are other factors to consider.

Studies have shown that people tend to equate high prices with high quality. So setting your prices too low may send a signal to customers that you’re offering a lower quality product than your competitors. If your prices are significantly lower, customers may wonder where you cut corners to achieve those bargain basement prices.

When figuring out how to price your product take into account the value you’re providing to customers. If your product makes their business more efficient, you’re likely saving them money. Your pricing should reflect that. And your marketing should too. Communicating your value to potential customers will likely make them more willing to pay what your product is actually worth.

Look at Your Competitors

Look at Your Competitors

Now that you’ve looked inward at what your business can afford and what the product is worth it’s time to look outward at the market. Identify other companies offering similar products or services. Do they have different pricing for different levels of service? Do they offer packages? Are you offering something new or different that could demand a higher price?

Implementing Tiered Pricing

Once you’ve identified a price point, you’re still not quite done. Keep in mind that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Many SaaS companies, including SalesForce and HubSpot, offer tiered pricing based on the size of the organization buying the service and the level of functionality the client needs.

This is a great way to expand your market share, because it allows you to serve the needs of enterprise clients without scaring away smaller businesses who might not be able to afford, and probably don’t even need, the full package. Tiered pricing also opens you up to future upselling. You’ll be able to grow with a client by offering them what they need when they need it.

Freemium

Freemium

Finally, no discussion about pricing SaaS is complete without talking about Freemium models. Freemium is a pricing model under which you give away a basic software package for free and then charge for added features.

MailChimp is a good example of a SaaS company using a Freemium model. Mailchimp lets users send up to 12, 000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers every month for free. That seems like a lot of emails at first, but MailChimp is banking on the fact that businesses grow and so do mailing lists. When a user wants to expand beyond these caps or if they want services that make their email campaigns more effective, like marketing automation, the user must pay to unlock the features.

Giving your product away for free might seem like a losing strategy, but Freemium has long been a recognized practice in the SaaS industry. It works because it encourages users to become invested in your product. They convert themselves, by becoming dependent on the services you provide. They also already trust your company, so when they need software solutions, they’ll look to your company first.

Other considerations

Pricing is a complex decision matrix. Every company is in some way unique, and will need to consider different factors to reach an effective pricing strategy. Ultimately, the true test of whether a pricing strategy is right for your business, is whether people are willing to pay the price you’ve set for your product.

5 Platforms to Diversify Your SaaS Marketing
SaaS Branding

5 Platforms to Diversify Your SaaS Marketing

For a Software as a Service company, your website is the hub of your marketing strategy. Like a traditional storefront, it’s the place customers identify as yours. It’s where they go when they need information and it’s the portal they use to contact you.

A solid website is a great marketing tool, but it can’t be your only marketing tool. Other marketing and advertising elements can help raise awareness of your product, direct customers to your website, and drive conversion.

1. Display Ads and Landing Pages

Display Ads and Landing Pages

Big-name companies like Intuit, Dropbox and SalesForce all use display ads to get their product in front of business owners and decision makers. The key to success is finding the right placement for your ads. Advertising on celebrity gossip blogs or recipe sharing sites probably isn’t going to garner the type of clients you’re looking for.

An advertising network can help by connecting you with advertisers who want high caliber advertising. Most SaaS companies, and indeed, most marketing professionals, consider Google Display Network to be the natural starting point for any display advertising campaign. BingAds and Native Ad Networks like Outbrain are great supplemental options.

Pro Tip: Optimize your impact by choosing appropriate publisher categories. The ones that work best for SaaS businesses include Tech News, SEO/SEM News Sites, and General Business News Sites.

2. Industry Relevant Referring Sites

Industry Relevant Referring Sites

Depending on your specific niche in the tech sector you may be able to place your business in service provider directories to help build awareness of your product offerings. For example, FinancesOnline.com is an independent B2B software review platform that helps business owners identify SaaS products that could help them better manage the financial aspects of their business.

Potential customers tend to trust these sites because they’re third parties. The customer may feel that they’re getting a less biased view of the product than they would get from your company’s own marketing campaigns.

Pro Tip: In most cases, you can request a review from the referring site using a simple online form.

3. Social Media

Social Media

Social media is an essential part of any modern marketing campaign, particularly for SaaS businesses. Since your customers are unlikely to ever meet you in person, social media can help build trust and foster strong client relationships. It also allows you to meet clients where they spend the bulk of their time, on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.

A social media presence allows you to gather candid, real-time customer insights and communicate directly with customers. The goal here is to raise awareness of your SaaS and to drive traffic to your site. Every tweet or post should achieve at least one of these goals (ideally both).

Pro Tip: If every post is just an advertisement in disguise, potential customers are unlikely to follow you long enough to become paying clients. Instead, set yourself up as a subject matter expert by regularly sharing news and information about the industry.

4. Blogging

Blogging

Like social media, blogs offer a great opportunity to connect with potential customers while exposing them to your name and products. The same rules apply here as on the social media platforms. Don’t just advertise – educate, inform, amuse.

If you have your blog open to comments (and you’re wasting a good opportunity if you don’t) make sure that someone in your organization is reading those comments and engaging in the conversation.

Pro Tip: Look for opportunities to contribute to other blogs as a guest blogger. This can help increase your visibility and get your message, and your product, in front of new eyes.

5. Free Content

Free Content

Free content, like white papers and ebooks, can help convince customers that they have a problem you can solve. Write documents that are focused on the customer and their needs. Include tips and tactics and a call to action. Position yourself as an authority to be trusted in your industry, and when customers need a solution in that industry they’re likely to look to you for an answer. Offer white papers and ebooks for free download in PDF format from your website.

Pro Tip: If you include a form requiring that the user to give their name and contact information, you may drive some users away, but you will also amass contacts for potential customers.

You may not need (or have the budget and manpower) to incorporate all of these elements into your marketing strategy. It’s okay to mix and match. Whatever you do, make sure you have a clear plan with defined goals. That’s the only way to get the most out of your marketing.

A-guide-to-deciding-when-and-how-to-offer-a-free-trial-of-your-SaaS
SaaS Branding

A Guide to Deciding When and How to Offer a Free Trial of Your SaaS

The free trial has long been a part of the SaaS marketing and sales arsenal. Many companies including SalesForce.com, Citrix: Go to Meeting, and Concur offer free trials. Yet according to Totango, which does an annual study of trends in SaaS conversion, about 37 percent of SaaS companies choose not to offer a free trial. Workday is one of them.

Is a free trial right for my SaaS?

Is a free trial right for my SaaS?

There’s no universal answer to this. SaaS businesses should take into account several variables to make the decision. Ask yourself:

  • Is my software intuitive and easy to use?
  • Will potential clients see the value of the software immediately?
  • Can I afford to support back-end operations for clients who haven’t paid me yet?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then a free trial will probably help sell your software to customers. If you answered no to any (or all) you might want to explore other options like preview videos, demos, or blog posts.

How long should my free trial be?

How long should my free trial be?

Again, there’s no easy answer to this. In fact, it’s been a matter of hot debate in recent years. Conventional wisdom says 30 days.

  • Is my software complex enough that it takes time to understand?
  • Do some functions of my software (like payroll) happen on a bi-weekly or monthly basis?
  • Can I afford a longer sales cycle?

If you answered yes all of these questions then a 30 day trial may be right for your software. If you answered no to any then a shorter trial may be right for you. Try offering a 14 day trial instead. This shortens your sales cycle and helps users maintain a sense of urgency. If your software is exceptionally simple or its value is transparent on minimal use, then you might even reduce your trial to 7 days. Skype is one example of a company that does this.

Short trials may not be right for all users, even if they’re generally a good fit for your product. In those cases you can offer potential clients a trial extension. A good time to offer an extension is when a potential client is getting close to the end of a free trial but has not yet converted.

How do I convince potential clients to try the product?

Offering a free trial does not guarantee that every visitor to your web site will try your product. Just because something is free doesn’t mean people want it.

  • Have I made the free trail difficult to find on my website?
  • Is it difficult for potential clients to understand what the product does?
  • Am I asking trial users for a credit card up front?

If you answered yes (or maybe) to any of these questions, you may need to rethink your strategy. Your website should always feature a prominent call to action, usually in the form of a button. You don’t have to use the words “free trial” because “test drive” or “try it now” work just as well, but make sure the trial is front and center on your website. Pair your action button with a clear description of what your product does, focusing on how it can solve a problem for your potential client. Fancy features don’t mean anything if a client can’t visualize how they’ll apply to his business.

As for credit cards, it seems obvious that getting a credit card from your potential client is a good idea, that way when a potential client is ready to convert, you’ve removed a step in the process. But not so fast. Requiring a credit card can scare users away. They may worry that you’re one of those businesses that is just waiting for the minute the free trial to run out so you can drop a huge charge on their credit card before they remember to cancel the trial. The jury is still out on this issue. You’ll have to decide based on conversion analytics.

But how do I turn free trials into sales?

But how do I turn free trials into sales?

Not every user who downloads a free trial will buy your product. Some will abandon the trial after a few days. Others will let the trial expire without doing anything at all.

It may be hard to tell why customers dropped out without analytics and some basic follow-up in the form of customer responses or surveys, but once you have that information ask yourself.

  • Does my product have the functionality the user was looking for?
  • Does the user have the basic technical skills and equipment to run my software?
  • Is the price point right for the user?

If you answered yes to all of these questions and the user still isn’t converting you may have a problem of communication. The goal of a free trial is to let the software sell itself by getting customers to engage with it in a hands-on way. They may need guidance on how to do that, or direction on where to find the most valuable tools for their business.

Communicate with your potential clients throughout their free trial. Don’t just send a welcome email. Show them where to find blogs, videos, and step-by-step guides that direct them to the most useful or impressive elements of your software. Offer a demo. The product should sell itself, but you can help.

Ultimately, the free trial is a conversion tool. If offering a free trial isn’t helping you convert customers, or if it ends up costing more money than it’s worth, buck the trend and start charging up front.

4 ways to build trust with potential and existing clients
SaaS Branding

4 Ways to Build Trust with Potential and Existing Clients

Trust is the backbone of any relationship and that’s especially true for the relationship between SaaS companies and their clients. Consider the range of sensitive information your SaaS may be handling if you provide HR, CRM, or Sales Force Automation software. The success of your client’s business depends on whether your product works, and whether it delivers on the promises you’ve made to the client.

In the client’s mind it might seem safer to keep that information and those functions in-house, where their business has at least the illusion of control. For a potential client to be willing to take the plunge with your software, they have to trust you and the product. Here are 4 ways to build trust from initial contact through follow-up.

1. Craft a trustworthy website

Craft-a-trustworthy-website

What makes a website appear trustworthy? First let potential clients know that your website is secure. Include security certificates, credit card symbols, and affiliations such as Better Business Bureau membership prominently on your website.

If possible, include testimonials and logos from satisfied customers. One way that potential clients assess whether a business is trustworthy is by looking for other businesses that use and trust the product.

Offer plenty of information. People tend to fear what they don’t know, so offer as much information as possible about your product and service to help potential clients make informed decisions.

Including these elements will help you set the groundwork for trust, but customer service is what really seals the deal, which brings us to our second tip.

2. Be available

Be available

SaaS stands for software as a service. Don’t make the mistake of focusing exclusively on the software and neglecting the service element. You need to be available to answer questions for potential clients and convert them into paying clients.

Provide clients and potential clients with a selection of ways to contact you. Live Chat is a great way to engage customers because it allows them to ask questions while on your site and without having to pick up the phone.

That being said, some people are more comfortable if they can hear a human voice, so provide a phone number that someone will actually answer. If you can’t answer every call, make sure you return phone calls in a timely manner.

Of course, email is the old standby. Even though it’s less immediate than the other contact methods, it has the advantage of being available to clients 24-7, even on holidays.

3. Offer a free trail

Offer a free trail

It seems counterintuitive to give your product away for free, but free trials have become the standard in the SaaS industry. They are huge trust builders for potential clients because a free trial allows the client to actually engage with the product and make sure it works for their business.

Ideally, a free trial lasts somewhere between 14 and 30 days. Longer than 30 days and you may lose the sense of urgency that encourages potential clients to actually explore the product, less than 14 days and they may not feel they know the product well enough to make a decision.

Stay in contact with the potential client throughout the trail period. Make sure they know how to reach you if they have questions and give them plenty of opportunities to buy.

Most importantly, when they are ready to convert, make sure it is easy for them to do so. There is nothing more frustrating than having to jump through hoops to give someone your money.

4. Keep in Contact

Keep in Contact

The structure of the SaaS industry means that, retaining clients is more valuable than landing new clients. If you have one client who pays you $100 a month for your product and sticks with you for three years, it’s better than 30 clients who pay their hundred and then close their accounts at the end of the first month.

To keep clients you have to keep building trust. That means you keep the lines of communication open. Check in with clients periodically to make sure they’re happy with the product and your service. If you find that they’re not, find out why not, and do what you can to fix it.

Building trust with clients takes time, and different clients will need different levels of engagement to feel secure, but it’s time and effort well spent. A client who trusts you and has faith in your product, is a client who will stick with you for the long-haul.

How to Use Blog Posts to Build a Legal Brand
Legal Branding

How to Use Blog Posts to Build a Legal Brand

Blogs educate and entertain. They can help with SEO and can turn leads into clients. Blogs are also a great way to express your law firm’s brand identity. Remember, a law firm brand is more than a logo, color or slogan. It expresses of your law firm’s culture and identity.

Unlike a slogan or logo, a blog lets a potential client hear your voice. You can discuss issues that are important to you and your clients in detail. Readers learn your perspective and outlook through your writing. Every blog post is a chance to express your law firm’s culture.

How to Choose the Right Blog Subjects

How to Choose the Right Blog Subjects

Blog posts should not directly sell your legal services. Instead, a blog posts should help clients understand the legal system and their rights.

Often, people find a blog post because they are searching for information about a particular issue (and not for a lawyer). If your blog post focuses too much on your law firm’s services, the potential client may go elsewhere for the information she needs.

There are several ways to find good subject matter. You can address your client’s most frequent questions and issues. Or, you can perform keyword research through programs like Google’s Keyword Planner.

How to Format a Legal Blog Post

How to Format a Legal Blog Post

Regardless of how you find a subject, make sure that your blog post is informative and easy to read. People often skim blogs. You want to make sure that your readers are absorbing the right information.

Use Headings to Highlight Key Ideas

Most blogs include headings. Headings can help with SEO and highlight key points for your readers. You may want to use multiple headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) if you are writing a lengthy blog post.

Again, many people only skim a blog for information. If your post is long and does not contain headings, readers may not find it helpful.

White Space Makes Blogs Easier to Read

Lawyers love writing long, detailed articles. Remember, your blog is not a law review! While your readers are looking for helpful information, they probably don’t want a treatise. Again, they may just skim your post.

White space is the space around your text. It makes content easier to read on a screen. Try to include a good amount of white space on your blog. Break your text into small, easily readable segments.

Use Calls to Action

Use Calls to Action

A call to action may be an offer for an e-book, a subscription to your newsletter or a free consultation. On your blog, you are not selling your law firm. But, potential clients may want more information than your post provides.

You can convert a reader into a potential client by offering a call to action. Calls to action offer valuable information in exchange for contact information. You can strategically place offers for newsletters and free consultations at the bottom of a blog post or on the sidebar.

Once you get a potential client’s information, make sure your law firm follows up and contacts them (either via email or by phone).

Make Sure Your Post is Mobile-Friendly

Your law firm’s website should be responsive. In other words, your website should format itself to fit your reader’s screen.

It can be challenging navigate a traditional website on your smartphone. Smartphone and tablets are the most common way for potential clients search the internet. If your website is hard to read (or outdated), they will go elsewhere for information.

How to Publicize Your Blog Posts

Social media is one of the most effective ways to share blog posts. Use your law firm’s social media feeds (including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to promote blog posts. If your lawyers have their own professional social media feeds, have them share posts.

The hope is that your posts will be shared by clients, other lawyers and everyone else on the internet. If a blog post goes viral, your law firm will have tremendous exposure.

How to Use Data to Build a Better Blog

You can track a blog’s impact by using tools like Google Analytics. As your blog grows, look at which blog posts get the most views, shares and comments. Do these blog posts have a similar subject or format? Do your readers respond better to list posts or infographics? Use this information to create more popular blog posts.

Legal blogging is an art and a science. Your law firm needs to write compelling content and structure it so your readers (and the search engines) value it. This can take time and effort. If you need help with a blog, there are consultants and writers who can assist you. Visit the following blog for a perfect example to follow when it comes to formatting and blog content: http://www.losangelesduilawyernow.com/blog/.

How Can Law Firms Can Retain Clients?
Legal Branding

How Can Law Firms Retain Clients?

Too often, law firms focus on getting clients, rather than keeping them. A successful legal brand attracts good clients and turns them into brand advocates. And, comprehensive branding and marketing strategy can help with client retention.

Law firm brands are the public expression of your firm’s culture and mission. It is more than a logo, slogan, or website. Branding also includes client communications and relationship building.

The Importance of Customer Service

The Importance of Customer Service

Marketing does not end when a prospective client signs a retainer. Your clients expect more than litigation services. They hired your law firm because they liked your culture and mission. Now, you need to put the rubber to the road.

Every client interaction should reflect your law firm’s brand. If you promised to be compassionate and friendly, don’t push clients off the phone. You and your staff need to be living examples of your firm’s brand identity.

Welcome your clients to your community and keep them engaged. Send targeted newsletters or blog posts. Ask them for their opinions. (For more information, see our article about client questionnaires and reviews.) Show your appreciation.

And, keep them updated on their cases. There is an increasing number of software solutions that can help lawyers communicate with their clients.

The Benefits of Client Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

The Benefits of Client Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

Communication is vital to the attorney-client relationship. Small firms often send letters to clients. But, you may want to consider using a legal Client Relationship Management (CRM) system.

CRM software is more than a client database. These systems give a structure to client communications. You can schedule appointments, phone calls and other communications through CRM software. CRM’s also can track leads and help convert them into clients.

If your law firm struggles with client communications, a legal CRM may help improve your organization.

The Benefits of Project Management Tools

Lawyers rarely think of themselves as project managers. But, you are working with a group of people to resolve a problem—it’s a project!

Law firms can use project management tools or a client portal to share documents and information with clients. While email can do the same thing, it may be easier to have all your communications in one place. (No one likes searching through email.)

Project management systems and client portals may also be more secure than email. It is easy to waive attorney-client privilege in an email thread. And, privacy is not assured when you email a client’s work or shared personal account. (At the least, encrypt and password-protect your client emails.)

No matter how you communicate, make sure your clients are updated and engaged in your legal representation.

Engage Clients Through Blogs and Social Media

Engage Clients Through Blogs and Social Media

Blogs and social media are a great way to engage clients. A law firm can give legal updates, helpful advice and feel-good moments to their clients through blogs and social media feeds. These posts will keep you in the forefront of your client’s mind and can build trust.

For more information, see our articles about social media and blog posts.

What is a Brand Advocate?

What is a Brand Advocate?

A brand advocate is a law firm’s best marketing tool. Lawyers and staff members become brand advocates when they embody the firm’s brand identity and core values. Clients become brand advocates when they share your message with others.

Lawyers often get their best referrals from their clients. A client’s review or recommendation is invaluable. And, it extends your law firm’s brand. Firm reputation is a huge part of your brand, and nothing is more authentic than a client’s expression of your brand identity.

Even if you lose a case, a client can become a brand advocate. If your law firm exceeded their expectations in customer service, communication and culture, they still may refer you new clients. Good results can come in a lot of forms.

Every client interaction should reflect your law firm’s identity. If you have questions about law firm branding and client retention, contact a branding consultant for help.

Should I Brand my Different Legal Practice Areas?
Legal Branding

Should I Brand my Different Legal Practice Areas?

Successful legal marketing is based on brands. A legal brand is not just a logo. Instead, it is a law firm or lawyer’s public image. Usually brands focus on culture, identity and mission.

Brands help differentiate a law firm or lawyer from its competition by educating clients on HOW and WHY they practice law. Clients often choose a law firm or lawyer because of an emotional connection or shared values.

Most law firms have multiple brands. These brands can include:

  • Law firm brands
  • Personal (lawyer) brands

Each of these brands is a separate identity and personality. (For more information, see our article about the relationship between law firm and lawyer brands.)

Large firms may have practice area brands. These brands are sometimes called subsidiary brands.

Why Should a Law Firm Use Practice Area Brands?

Why Should a Law Firm Use Practice Area Brands?

Law firms usually have more than one area of practice. Sometimes, these practice areas can be easily branded together. For example, workers’ compensation and Social Security practices can be branded similarly. (Both sets of clients are facing medical uncertainty, cannot work and want to assure their financial security.)

But, different practice areas can appeal to different buyer personas. A buyer persona is a subset of a law firm’s client base. Law firms can use buyer personas to attract their ideal clients through targeted marketing. (For more information, see our article about legal buyer personas.)

Your criminal defense buyer personas may differ greatly from your law firm’s Child SSI personas. If your law firm is having difficulty attracting the right clients, it may want to consider practice area brands.

But, there are risks involved when a law firm uses multiple brands. Sometimes, the brand messages and identities can conflict. Personal and subsidiary brands can also dilute the law firm brand’s core message.

Factors to Consider Before You Build Practice Area Brands

Factors to Consider Before You Build Practice Area Brands

Again, practice area brands are not always necessary. A law firm should evaluate their practice and law firm brand before creating new brands. Introduce new brands only when they give a strategic advantage.

Are Your Buyer Personas Different?

Your law firm should do market research about their buyer personas. Have each practice area create a list of their buyer personas. You can use your own client data to determine what types of people use each practice area. Competitors’ websites also may give insight into untapped buyer persona markets. (Who are they marketing to?)

Once each practice area has described its buyer personas, compare the lists. You may be surprised to see that the demographics are similar. If there are marked differences, your law firm may benefit from practice area branding.

Is Your Law Firm Brand Too Narrow?

As law firms age, they often change missions or diversify. A business law firm may grow to offer estate planning and bankruptcy assistance. If the law firm’s brand stays narrowly focused on business development, it may not attract the right clients to its other practice areas.

Rebranding can be a good thing. An outdated or overly defined brand can cause tension in a law firm. Lawyers whose practice areas are underrepresented (or ignored) will feel left out. Their brands will conflict with the law firm identity, and they will lose clients.

Before building a separate brand for a practice area, make sure your law firm brand has room to grow. All of your subsidiary and personal brands should fit under the umbrella of your law firm brand.

If your law firm brand seems too narrow, shift your focus from one area of practice to your firm’s core values. A strong law firm brand often focuses on its culture and mission. Talk about what makes your firm exceptional.

Does a Practice Area Brand Dilute your Law Firm Brand?

Your law firm’s brand is your most valuable marketing asset. If your firm creates too many brands, it risks diluting its message. Make sure you align all brands, both subsidiary and personal, with your overarching law firm brand.

Build a practice brand as a subsidiary. It should use the law firm’s logo and color palette, if possible. A subsidiary brand may have a different voice or outlook, but it should be clear that it is part of your legal organization.

Branding can help attract and retain clients. But, it’s difficult to define and build a brand. If your law firm is struggling with its brand, or is considering a rebrand, it should contact a marketing professional.

Law Firm Marketing Through Social Media
Legal Branding

Law Firm Marketing Through Social Media

Law firms have been slow to embrace social media. But, social media (like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) have become increasingly important marketing tools.

Globally, billions of people use social media every day. Social media is not just for cat videos and pictures of cute babies. Increasingly, we rely on social media provides for news and information.

Today, a law firm must have a social media presence to survive.

Law Firm Branding and Social Media

Law Firm Branding and Social Media

Social media feeds are a wonderful way to express your law firm’s brands. Social media allows lawyers instant access to their clients and followers. It gives clients a steady feed of information that educates and entertains.

Your law firm’s posts should reflect your brand. A brand is the public face of your law firm. It describes your cultural identity and law firm mission. Avoid posting information that does not align with your firm’s core values.

What should a law firm share on social media?

What should a law firm share on social media?

Your social media feeds should not just be targeted at prospective clients. Many of your followers are current or past clients. Posts should speak to people at every phase of the buyer’s journey.

The legal buyer’s journey describes how people develop from potential clients to brand advocates. The journey is described as follows:

  • A person searches for basic information about a problem.
  • He identifies his problem, and considers his possible solutions.
  • He wants an attorney, and begins to lawyer shop.
  • Now a client, he wants ongoing service and value.

(See our article about marketing fundamentals for more about the buyer’s journey.)

People find different information helpful at different phases of their journey. Your posts may include:

  • Basic information that would educate the general population about your practice.
  • Legal updates that impact your clients.
  • Feel-good stories.
  • Reminders about community events that impact your clients.

Try to keep your posts informative and entertaining. If you want to create a longer discussion of an issue, share a link to your blog.

But, social media needs to be treated with caution. Along with its benefits, social media can pose branding and ethical challenges.

Personal vs. Professional Accounts

Lawyers should keep their personal and professional social media accounts separate. Most lawyers do not want their clients seeing their vacation pictures. At best, you are over-sharing with your clients. At worst, your personal images and posts can damage your professional brand.

Keep your personal social media accounts private. It’s pointless to keep a professional account if your personal account is open to the public.

Legal Ethics and Social Media

Lawyers must follow their State Bar’s ethical rules. Often, there are specific rules on advertising and client solicitation. These rules apply to social media. Here are some best practices:

Don’t Publish Confidential Information

Don’t Publish Confidential Information

Lawyers and law firms should not publish client information without the client’s signed consent. It’s tempting to post war stories on social media. Client success stories are compelling.

But, if you give too much detail, you may violate your clients’ right to confidentiality. Tread carefully, and when in doubt, ask for permission.

Don’t Accidentally Create an Attorney-Client Relationship

A lawyer publishes a blog post. In the comment section, a person asks questions about a claim. The lawyer responds with legal advice.

The lawyer may have accidentally created an attorney-client relationship.

Once there is an attorney-client relationship, you must protect the client’s privacy and avoid conflicts of interest. You should avoid giving legal advice online. You should also put disclaimers in your comments.

Requesting a Connection Can Be Solicitation

A construction law specialist meets a developer at a social event. The next morning, she sends the developer a LinkedIn request. Has she improperly solicited a client?

Lawyers should be careful when making social media connections. The individual could already be represented, or your friend request could be considered a solicitation.

Use Disclaimers to Protect Yourself

Don’t forget that social media is really a marketing tool for your law firm. Make disclaimers that your posts are general, and should not be considered legal advice.

If you need help with your social media strategies, speak with a marketing consultant.

Graphic Design and Law Firm Branding
Legal Branding

Graphic Design and Law Firm Branding

Logos, color and fonts are some of the easiest ways law firms express their brand. But, design elements are not your law firm’s brand. Instead, logos and images help your clients understand your firm’s identity and outlook.

Good design helps define a brand!

Logos

logos

Logos can be powerful expressions of brand identity. Mouse ears and or golden arches make us think of their representative brands immediately. Law firm logos are usually less iconic.

Law firm logos tend to be conservative. They use traditional typefaces and are often monochromatic. They also rely heavily on gavel, scales of justice and Greek columns.

Law firm logos seem to offer very little brand differentiation. Your firm can do better.

Here are a few pieces of advice:

1. Work with a Graphic Designer

Work with a Graphic Designer

Most lawyers don’t have the skills or time to make a logo. Your firm may have an idea of what your logo should be, but may not have the technical ability to bring it to life.

A graphic designer can create a high-quality, custom logo with your brand in mind.

2. Do Market Research

When you do market research, don’t just look at law firm logos. Instead, study other markets. Create a file of logos that speak to your firm.

Then, consider WHY these logos are successful? What message do they convey? Are they modern or traditional?

You also need other people’s opinions. If you are a partner at a 25-member firm, do NOT include them all in the design process. Instead, ask a small group to give input into the logo design. If you cannot agree on a logo, get help from your graphic designer or a marketing consultant.

3. Choose a Simple Logo

Most iconic logos are simple and elegant. They usually have one to three colors. This makes them easy to recognize.

Color

color

Color consistency increases brand recognition by 80%, according to a 2007 University of Loyola, Maryland study. But, color also evokes emotion and can help define your brand.

The Psychology of Color

We associate colors with both positive and negative feelings. Think about your law firm’s brand and culture. What emotions do you want to express in your branding? Ferocity? Trust? Optimism?

Now, select colors that evoke these feelings. Most Americans link these colors to the following feelings:

  • Red: Power, aggression, passion and strength
  • Blue: Security, dignity and trust
  • Green: Wealthy, fresh and youthful
  • Yellow: Positive, energetic and warm
  • Gold: Historic, traditional and valuable
  • Grey: Conservative, responsible and serious
  • Pink: Feminine, playful and youthful
  • Purple: Sophisticated, creative and royal
  • White: Truthful and pure
  • Black: Serious, elegant, and bold
  • Orange: Cheerful, optimistic and exuberant

You also want to select colors that are complementary and easy to read.

Again, a graphic designer or marketing consultant can help you select a color palette.

Images

Sometimes, law firm images and photography seem like an afterthought. Too often, law firm websites rely on cliché stock photography and poor quality profile photos. But, images are an important part of your firm’s branding strategy.

The images on your website (and other marketing materials) should align with your law firm brand and client base. Before you select a stock photo, ask these questions:

  • What does the image say about my clients?
  • Does the image reflect our culture and values?
  • Is the image consistent with the rest of our marketing materials?
  • Are my competitors using the image?

You should choose images that are unique and directly relate to your brand identity.

Just like color, images can express emotion. Consider the message you are trying to convey with an image. And, consider how that emotion relates to your brand.

Similarly, attorney profile pictures should be high quality and consistent. A poorly lit, low-resolution image will not positively advance your brand identity. It is worth the time and money to hire a professional photographer.

The Need for Consistency

Law firms should use graphic design elements consistently throughout their marketing. Your social media feeds, print materials and website should share common design elements.

Along with logos and color, consistent use of font, images and taglines help define a brand. Your law firm should provide clients with a consistent message and visual aesthetic. This consistency will help your clients understand your firm culture and identity.