John Lewis marketing blunder acts a sore reminder to follow protocol

The news that John Lewis has been ordered to pay damages to an individual who received marketing emails without having consented to receiving them is a stark reminder of the financial fallout that can result from a lack of due diligence in this area – something which law firms especially should not be falling foul of.

It can be all too easy to overlook the basics when it comes to rolling out a major or nationwide direct mail (DM) or email marketing campaign, but blindly sending out unsolicited mailers, emails and leaflets can cause a serious backlash.

The digital age has brought about a shift in the methods used by businesses and consumers seeking out the services of law firms. This means that the way in which legal providers market themselves is more important than ever. It goes without saying that reputation is everything in the legal services sector, so when all considered, law firms must begin to act like the brands that they are and prioritise a far wider spectrum of marketing activities than ever before.

Word-of-mouth is still one of the core ways of generating business, but this must be supported by varied but fully-integrated marketing efforts. Sporadically delivering a DM campaign here, and advertising campaign there, without thinking about a shared strategy to dictate their design and delivery only creates short-lived, if any, success.

The plethora of competing messages out there means that in order to stand out, there must be a regular and consistent flow of marketing activity that develops a ‘brand story’ which succinctly sums up the values, as well as operational, aspects of a provider.

It is a common misconception that this focus requires a large budget in order to drive genuine success or return on investment. This approach can be scaled up or down, depending on the size of a practice and their available budget. The key lies in making sure that marketing and communications activities are ‘joined up’ and reinforce the same business objective-related messages to a target audience – whether at a local, national or global level.

Reputation and adherence to the law go hand in hand when it comes to the way in which legal services providers sell themselves so due diligence surrounding something as straightforward as consent should be a given.

What compounds this issue though is the need for traditionally inward- facing law firms to take significant steps forward and use integrated marketing as a crucial tool in supporting other ways of generating business.

It comes down to selling capabilities in the right way, through the right channels and with the right shared messaging – although this takes a degree of time and commitment, it’s an approach that provides a clear return, so well worth the effort.

Rebecca Scully is managing director at Smarts PR