How can smaller law firms market themselves?
We recently wrote about Hawley Troxell, Idaho’s largest law firm, and the split-image campaign that showed that not only were they big, they were also fast and flexible. All true.
But what if you’re not the biggest firm? Or not big at all? What can small firms or specialty boutiques use as their strategy, differentiator, or message? How can they compete against the large firms?
The problem many small firms have isn’t the quality of their skills.
It’s the quality of their marketing.
It won’t harm their reputation or prevent their lawyers from getting hired. They’re still Cravath (or Wachtell, or Davis Polk…). That is, their strong brands have ensured that their skills aren’t in question. But when you’re the smaller or less-well-known firm, you must look at least as good as the big firms. (Frankly, I think you need to look better.) You have to do all the little things well, from the card stock on your business cards to the design of your website.
Many small firms are insecure.
During rebrands, we’ve often heard small-firm clients exclaim, “Don’t say we’re small!” As though if we didn’t admit it, no one would notice. Instead, I want to say, “You’re SMALL! Don’t be embarrassed by it, OWN it!”
That is, leverage the many positive attributes — lean staffing, smaller teams, increased efficiency, more partner involvement, lower hourly rates — there are a lot of powerful messages in being small.
Novack and Macey likes being small.
They were confident in the high quality of their skills. Led by two of Chicago’s top trial lawyers, Stephen Novack and Eric Macey, they had chosen to be small; it was their foundational strategy and business model. We selected “Small but Mighty” (yeah, they got the double entendre, get over it…) as the tag line, and illustrated it with things from nature that were disproportionately powerful for their size. Nature’s crazy – we identified a lot of cool examples.
The first one’s above, a Tepin pepper. It’s tiny, the size of a pea, but it’s among the world’s hottest peppers. It’s a nice metaphor for Novack and Macey’s trial lawyers. Small, but extremely powerful. When we were hired to develop the branding campaign, they had just finished a brand-new website with a different company, so we simply redesigned the existing home page to add this campaign (above).
With a strong campaign, we worked with their terrific Marketing Partner, Monte Mann, to develop a variety of additional tools, including, e.g. buying wild Tepin peppers from Mexico and private-labeling them, sending out 2500 packets to the firm’s contacts, with a spicy salsa recipe and all the necessary “Don’t touch your eyes!” haz-mat warnings. A fun and effective giveaway, many years later these are still sitting on executive credenzas all over Chicago.
With this theme, we identified plenty of other visuals, which we explored throughout the campaign. I’ll detail them later, stay tuned. And if your firm is ready for an integrated marketing campaign, website, or social media/SEO, give us a call! email@example.com or 1.847.921.7677!
[This is a 2022 update to a previous post.]
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