The purpose of the marketing mix is to build and preserve a valuable differentiating brand image.
In our article “5 Steps to Developing a Law Firm Marketing Plan” we identified three main marketing activity categories:
- Content Development,
- Relationship Building, and
- Contact Management.
We now turn our attention to the purpose of these activities and the necessary steps to build an effective marketing mix.
What is a marketing mix?
Google defines a marketing mix as “a combination of factors that can be controlled by a company to influence consumers to purchase its products”. Adapting the definition to legal marketing, it would read as follows:
a combination of factors that can be controlled by a firm or
lawyer to influence clients to purchase its services.
The purpose of the marketing mix is to build and preserve a valuable differentiating brand image. The brand image is an intangible asset that attaches to the firm or an attorney and has a significant impact on their reputation, at least within the targeted market segment and preferably the entire market. The activities that make up the marketing mix are aimed at raising awareness, increasing interest, and building trust. It is important to understand that a brand is built over the long term and requires a consistent financial investment.
Understanding how clients buy legal services
Just as any consumer, legal clients base their decisions on a twofold stimulus processing and evaluation chain. A stimulus is considered any activity or attribute that affects a potential client’s buying-decision process. In the case of attorneys, the stimulus could be a notable track record, a recently won case, an online ad, a landing page, a blog piece, a presentation at an industry event etc.
After identifying the need for legal assistance, a prospective client engages in a decision-making process that consists of a cognitive and an emotional (affective) component. Examples of cognitive elements include rational evaluations like success with previous cases, proof of client satisfaction, hourly rate or cost, ease of engagement, and several other factors.
Emotional elements revolve around the brand image. To a certain degree, these affective evaluations are processed subconsciously, having a significant impact on the outcome of the decision-making process. Many potential clients do not have the level of legal knowledge to make a hiring decision solely based on rational evaluations. Therefore, the brand that a law firm or attorney builds with their individual marketing mix can have a significant impact on origination success.
Achieving a true ROI (Return on Investment)
The development and implementation of the marketing mix require a considerable time investment. Successes are typically not measurable right away. To fully understand the value of this practice, we recommend considering the marketing mix as a platform that evokes continuous emotional engagement with the attorney’s or law firm’s brand.
A well-designed planning process will include exercises to help an attorney or a firm
identify the right mix of activities to build their brand. As brand value builds and the marketing platform is perfected, a true return on investment is realized. In other words, with growing brand equity, the marketing output, which we will define as new clients and revenue, will exponentially increase compared to the continuous marketing inputs (dollars and time).
It is therefore important for lawyers to understand that clients define the value of an attorney’s legal services rationally via cognitive reasoning and irrationally via emotional engagement. A marketing mix aims at shaping the clients’ subjective preferences in favor of the affected attorney or law firm. Eventually, an effective process for building brand equity will deliver a significant return on investment.