Effective Marketing in the Shadow of COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”)

With the spread of the Coronavirus, the current global crisis probably won’t be going away in the near future, with new and increasingly restrictive guidelines coming out every day.

Like any professional field, we must prepare accordingly and identify how to adapt to this new reality and do our best to make the most of it.

In a time of uncertainty, communication plays a vital and central role. In legal marketing, there are three basic forms of communication that should be addressed individually:

  1. Communication between firms and their employees (internal communications)
    The HR Department or the firm’s Managing Partners should take responsibility for this aspect, with the goal of reassuring employees, translating the Ministry of Health’s guidelines into operational practices and communicating the continuation of work, while taking measures to minimize risk and being attentive to employees’ needs.
  2. Communication between firms and their clients 
    As with your law firm, clients are also experiencing a great deal of uncertainty and worry, particularly due to the fact that many businesses are hurting financially at this time. On the one hand, firms must convey the message of “business as usual” in order to minimize or try to prevent financial harm to clients’ businesses, and on the other hand, they must express empathy for the situation. In addition, firms must clearly communicate to their clients how their work routine will continue (for example: Is it “safe” for clients to arrive at the firm? What are the relevant precautions? What is the policy regarding out-of-office meetings and conferences? how they are adhering to the procedures and what forward-looking initiatives they are undertaking in order to continue with ongoing work. 
  3. Form of communication between firms’ attorneys and their clients
    This form of communication is perhaps most important because of the nature of the legal profession, which is personal and service-oriented. Clients, as mentioned, are uncertain and many of them are suffering financial and business setbacks. They are at a loss and frustrated (especially in sectors such as aviation, food service and technology), and this is exactly the right time for the personalized support that their attorneys can provide. To use slogans, this is value-added marketing and client retention par excellence. Partners who call their clients or even do one better and visit their clients’ offices or factories show that they are standing by their clients, understand the complex situation they are facing and are available and accessible to them – even in times of crisis. The purpose of these meetings or conversations is to first listen and understand the client’s difficulties, and then try to help professionally (and perhaps personally as well). With some preparation in advance, attorneys can also learn how their client’s sector is dealing with the Coronavirus, in Israel and around the world, and analyze the trends to give their client sound advice. Many foreign firms have sent updates regarding Coronavirus to their clients, and there are also those who have taken it one step further creating a dedicated page on their website with legal and business information regarding the Coronavirus divided by departments and sectors, in order to be accessible and available to their clients.

Alongside communication, which is vital, there are a number of other actions on the marketing level that can and should be taken by firms, regardless of their size or the sectors in which they operate:

Conferences and Webinars 
In light of the recent guidelines, there are many restrictions regarding conferences, especially those that are large and attract an international audience. The trend is to downsize as much as possible, and even to cancel or postpone conferences, in order not to take risks or to put clients in a situation that would require them to be quarantined in the future. Therefore, an alternative option is to switch to webinars, which are lectures given over the internet. There are many excellent platforms available today for executing webinars simply and effectively. Even though webinars are less popular in Israel, at this time when so many people are under self-quarantine, webinars may be a refreshing breath of air with significant added value for the organizers. Clients can benefit from taking part in a conference or lecture, all while sitting on their couches at home. They can be exposed to new content and take advantage of the time when they are in isolation and unable to work as usual to expand their knowledge. There is no doubt that this is a significant service that a firm, operating with a deep understanding of its clients’ needs, can offer. As mentioned earlier, firms can also visit clients at their workplace and bring the professional content of a conference to them.

Social Media 
All of us, especially Generation Y, are attached to our screens, particularly in times of emergency and crisis. Take advantage of having a captive audience to communicate messages, guidelines, relevant initiatives and more through social media. Employees who are under self-quarantine can also leverage LinkedIn to communicate with the outside world and build important relationships, as well as make use of the time to join relevant groups, or share professional, legal, and business information.

Client Retention
Section 3 above discusses this point, however due to its importance it requires a brief review. The Israeli economy and the entire world are in crisis, and clients are experiencing financial blows. This is exactly the right time to provide clients with empathetic and personal attention, from checking in on them and inquiring about their situation, visiting their offices, hearing about the state of their business and how they are dealing with the crisis, to providing added value by helping them with the tools at your disposal.

Newsletters 
Just as you expect to hear from senior health officials regarding the current situation, your clients also expect to hear from you about professional (and not just legal) business updates regarding the sectors in which they are active.

Colleagues at International Firms
While the official recommendation is not to travel abroad unnecessarily, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to be in touch with international law firms, which are probably experiencing exactly what we are experiencing. This is the time to check in with them and see how they are doing. Take an interest in their work and try to learn more about business trends in specific fields and understand how they can affect us in the future. Start a genuine and healthy conversation – one that may have been sparked by the current crisis but can also continue to grow and be mutually beneficial and fruitful in regular times (which will hopefully return in the near future). International attorneys will be happy to see you taking an interest in them for reasons other than referrals, which will greatly strengthen the relationships between the firms. 

In conclusion
While we are currently in a time of crisis, good and effective marketing maintains your brand’s value, and in the long run, helps to retain clients and more importantly earns their loyalty.

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Idan Nishlis
Idan Nishlis

Idan Nishlis is the legal marketing pioneer in Israel. Being the only professional in the country to have studied services marketing, specializing in legal marketing, Idan has the most diversified and comprehensive work experience in the field, having worked in the US and Israel. Idan founded the first legal marketing department in Israel at Herzog Fox & Neeman which he managed for over 4 years, before launching Nishlis Legal Marketing. Idan's core strength lies in strategy and branding.

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