Audience Segmentation Analysis of Legal Marketers
During the summer of 2021, Ghidotti Communications embarked on an audience segmentation analysis to better understand the attitudes and needs of marketers in legal firms around the country. The agency worked with partners to distribute survey invitations, and over 113 marketers provided their expertise and perspective about their firms, their work, and their challenges.
Different Attitudes, Different Segments
The research revealed a striking gap between legal marketers — while 55% of them feel confident that they are in a good position to effectively market to target clients, 45% feel frustrated about efforts to market their firms’ services well and get the lawyers and firm leadership to prioritize the effort.
The first segment, Leaders, are defined by their confidence that their firm is in a good position to succeed and that their marketing efforts are effective. They represent 55% of the survey respondents.
Leaders say their firm’s leadership understands the importance of building a reputation as an expert and that their firm is considered an expert in their area of specialty. They also say their firm’s leadership understands marketing.
Their firms have a clear and shared understanding of both their ideal clients and their strengths and competitive advantages. They also do a good job of nurturing prospective clients over time and feel their marketing activities are more sophisticated than that of their competitors.
Strugglers, on the other hand, say they struggle to get their firm’s lawyers to contribute to marketing activities such as content development and that their firm’s leadership team is too focused on quick wins when it comes to marketing.
These marketers feel strongly that their firm could use some new ideas when it comes to marketing but also feel it’s hard to find resources that specifically address the marketing needs of law firms.
Strugglers represent 45% of the survey respondents.
Deeper Findings: Differences & Similarities
In addition to the attitudes that are responsible for defining each of the two segments, the research found a number of other attitudes that differ substantially between these groups.
- Long term vs. Short term: Leaders are at least twice as likely as Strugglers to strongly agree that their firm’s leadership is willing to pursue marketing strategies that take longer to deliver results.
- Being seen as experts: Leaders are at least twice as likely as Strugglers to strongly agree that their firm does a good job of demonstrating their expertise through speaking or content marketing and that the lawyers in the firm recognize the importance of these activities.
- Sufficient resources: Leaders are also more likely to say their firm has the resources it needs to market effectively and that it is comfortable trying new marketing approaches.
- Client type: While both segments are equally present in firms that serve business clients, Leaders are more likely to also serve individual clients as well.
There are also some areas where respondents agree, regardless of which segment they’re in, highlighting both the challenges faced by legal firms and how they go about positioning their content.
- Competition: There is strong agreement that respondents’ firms are facing more competition than ever and that marketing for the legal profession is much more challenging than marketing for most organizations.
- Being helpful: Most respondents also agree that their firm’s marketing content is more focused on being helpful than it is on selling their services.
Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
Another striking result of the audience segmentation analysis is that there is no difference between the two segments based on the respondent’s age, organization level, or role in marketing decision-making. The segments also don’t differ based on whether the respondents had prior marketing experience, legal experience, or both before joining their current firm.
There is also no difference between segments based on the size of the firms they work in. Both segments are present at similar levels in firms with fewer than ten attorneys, over 500, or any level in between. And there is no difference based on the size of the firm’s marketing budget or the size of its in-house marketing team.
These are critical findings because they remove many of the excuses and scapegoats that exist to prevent firms from taking a hard look at their marketing efforts and results. Budgets, firm size, marketing team size, and experience are all poor measures for success.
Instead, long-term thinking, commitment to marketing strategy, leaning into a niche, and leadership show a much stronger relationship to success.
Why It Matters
Legal marketers aren’t all the same, and there’s a huge difference between those feeling confident and effective and those struggling to support their firm’s efforts.
In large firms or small, as senior executives or in non-management roles, legal marketers may find themselves in circumstances that vary widely. But there are ingredients for success no matter the situation.
The key component in developing a strong marketing communications plan is to start with a focused strategy. This is what establishes the plan, lays the foundation for the rest of the process and puts your law firm on the track to success.
Ghidotti is here to help marketers regardless of which segment they’re in by helping our clients to start using or to double down on those ingredients for legal marketing success.
In future posts, we’ll share more about the audience segmentation analysis findings — the challenges both groups are facing, the marketing approaches they are using, and how they are harnessing the expertise of their firms’ attorneys to create thought leadership and drive new business activities.