I am already hearing from both our African and international law firm clients that planned travel, events and sponsorships are being postponed or cancelled in response to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) virus outbreak.
Such decisions are no doubt well reasoned and considered but firms should be careful not to allow 'gaps' in their presence and client engagements to go unfilled. Leaner, more accessible or technology-driven providers are, justifiably, going to be interested in filling any gaps.
Face-time is always going to be a vital component of any law firm client strategy, this is not a problem and an approach which I fully endorse. Where firms need to be addressing potential softness, however, is ensuring that their physical presence is matched by their digital presence when it comes to talking and engaging with their current and potential customers. The joy of a consistent, robust and long-term digital presence is in its flexibility, scalability and relatively low cost.
Budget line-items for air travel, hotels, client entertainment, meals and mileage are not going away. I implore firms, however, to look at the benefits of reallocating a portion of such spend to developing and growing their digital presence. And no... this does not mean spending mega-bucks on a fancy website which clients simply won’t visit and high-fiving over a job well done.
I have previously explained the many benefits of a properContent Marketing strategy and encourage new readers to take a look at the practical steps outlined in this previous article to start on their journey towards reaping the benefits of such.
Some practical steps to consider to replace in-person engagements are:
Video Conferencing - there are a myriad of free-to-use solutions from WhatsApp Video to ZOOM and some already included in your usual software packages such as Microsoft ‘Teams’ and Google ‘Hangouts’. Replace your next phone call with a video-con and inject some of your personality back into a digital connection!
Digital content distribution - if your upcoming speaking engagement has been cancelled why not consider creating a short video piece-to-camera (you can even use your own smartphone and inexpensive camera stand) which covers off some of the points you were to talk on. For maximum benefit be sure to encourage questions and feedback from your audience, whether this be through social media or traditional email.
If video isn’t quite your style, put fingers to keyboard and get writing! Short, relaxed-style content can be a great conversation-starter. Remember, you wouldn’t bombard a potential prospect with your legal brilliance and bullet-points of what sets your firm apart at a client reception event or dinner so don’t do it digitally either!
It remains to be seen how long this particular travel and handshake-limiting threat will continue for but it will not be the last. I implore law firm leaders and marketers to start considering how developing their own consistent digital presence will protect them from the current and future business disruptors.
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