Employment law marketing strategies

Figures from the Ministry of Justice, published in September, showed a 70 per cent fall in individual employment claims for the quarter April to June compared to the previous year, following the introduction of tribunal fees. This has hit many employment law teams hard, so what can be done to generate new business to replace the claims that have been lost?

Employment law marketing is one of the most competitive areas of legal advice to businesses, and if you want your firm to outperform your competitors then you need to understand the market, how you can gain a competitive advantage, and how you can define your unique selling point.

Start by having a good look at what your key competitors are doing. Rather than copying their activities ( an all too common marketing strategy amongst law firms) identify what they are not doing well, where you know that there is a need. Talk to your commercial colleagues and other professionals locally to see if you can identify a specific opportunity in your area. This may be a practice area, a geographic catchment area or a market sector.

One such firm that has carved out a strong niche is DID Law which focuses on disability, illness and discrimination, which was set up by Karen Jackson in 2006 following successful heart transplant surgery.

Whilst you can turn your hand to any employment issue, many different businesses do have particular characteristics and distinctive needs. For example, the hospitality sector relies on seasonal staff, casual workers, zero hours contract. The care sector has specific considerations regarding patient care and issues surrounding staff handling drugs. Partnerships bring their own employment law challenges. All industries have their own language, and like to be understood.

There are a number of firms in the City of London that have successfully differentiated their employment law team because of its expertise within the regulated financial services sector, understanding the specific rules regarding codes of conduct and the intricacies of banking bonuses.

Having defined your market opportunities, it is important to develop your core messages and plan out a consistent communications programme in advance. Don't just wait until you get less busy, or you will always suffer from feast and famine. If you get busy, then you should be able to afford to buy in some assistance to ensure that the programme maintains momentum.

As an employer, we often get invited to seminars by the employment law subscription companies – usually three or four times per year. Often we will receive a hard copy invitation, a follow up by phone and email before and after the event. Whilst their sales approach may not sit comfortably with many lawyers, the consistency clearly yields results. One hapless telemarketer clearly did not check our website before calling and merrily explained how they offer their seminars freely to firms of accountants for the benefit of their clients!

Solicitors often complain that the big employment subscription companies do not provide as good legal advice as they would. But this argument is academic, as unless lawyers step up their marketing to win those clients, the client may never be in a position to compare their options.

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