The KYC Of Legal Marketing: Know Your Competitors
In most areas of law, the number of potential clients is influenced by outside factors, not your marketing. You cannot control how many businesses HMRC investigate, and you cannot influence the number of serious organised crime cases. These are not awareness based, and they represent an immediate need for legal representation.
Therefore, there are a finite amount of potential clients available at any one time. It is – essentially – zero-sum game. That is, your firm’s client gain is technically only possible at another firm’s expense.
In a marketplace where this is true, it is essential to know not only who, but also deeper metrics, about your competitors. We call this competitor analysis, and use it to find your competitors’ weaknesses and turn them into your competitive advantage.
A valuable insight into your competitors’ marketing
If you are already using Google Adwords, there’s a hidden tool built in to help you with this: Auction Insights. The data available is invaluable and can show you weaknesses, strengths and even let you turn the tables with ease.
Let’s look at an anonymised report from one of our clients:
I will only visit the most generally useful information, and some of this is a little complex, so you’ll have to bare with me.
You’ll see that our client (represented as “You” below) has the highest impression share. This is how often a competitor received an impression, as a proportion of the auctions in which our client was also competing.
In simple terms, picture it as this: If someone searched, for example, “pears” and 4 companies were advertising with everyone showing up, we would all have 100% impression share. However, if one company had run out of budget or wasn’t targeting their location, they would have 75% impression share.
This metric can be used to feel out their budget, and whether you may be advertising in ineffective locations or times of day.
Next, Average Position. This is particularly pertinent because we can specifically target to always show above your competitor, but we’ll revisit that later.
Your ad’s position relates to where it shows in the ad results on average. Too low, and potential clients might not see it and sign with a competing firm. Too high, and clients may skip over your ad all together despite you bidding more.
An offensive strategy, built right into Adwords
If you see in this column that your average position is considerably lower than that of others, there’s a trick built into Adwords that could help you win more clients.
Relating to the above screenshot, imagine you are “stephensons.co.uk” with an Average Positon of 5.7. You know that marymonson.co.uk (2.4) is winning good clients from the same searches, but perhaps you are not.
This is where you can bid for “target outranking share”. That is, you can automatically bid for your ad to show above marymonson.co.uk. Of course, the auction system still applies and you will be paying more – but you don’t have to write a blank cheque. “Maximum Bid” can be used to make sure you don’t pay more than you are comfortable with.
After 7-14 days, you may want to revisit because it isn’t working out for you – this would indicate a deeper issue. However, you may find your only problem was a low position and become inundated with quality enquiries – as mentioned earlier – at the potential expense of your competitor.
A useful strategy, but proceed with caution
Of course, whilst your firm can benefit from this, it’s not just you. Your competitors can do the same – or better. Where this is possible, knowing your competitors isn’t only useful for marketing on the offence. You can also better consider the possibility of a competitor also taking an offencive approach.
This is why Adwords isn’t the only element of successful law firm marketing. Arbitrary updates and relative competitive risk is best managed outside of Adwords. Providing value and perceived expertise to your clients and potential clients is much harder to emulate, and secures your market position above competitors.
We do this by taking the “help first, convert second” approach. Why would a potential client sign with a firm who doesn’t first attempt to help, before urging contact? It’s an ethos that can be applied to your website copy, design, as well as on the phones. You might be surprised how well it can work.
Your competitors are both your greatest virtue, and your most significant risk. Knowing Your Competitors minimises risk and maximises opportunity. Use it wisely, and you can thank me later.