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ABM – Always Be Marketing

The world doesn’t stop buying during the holidays…

One superstition lingers on in our industry: that to market yourself during the holiday periods at Christmas and Easter, or in the languid days of August when Europe goes on holiday, is to shout into the void, with nothing coming back but the eerie and disquieting echo of your own voice.

However, I want to explore this today, and my view is that it is not true or rather no longer true, and it is now time to lay this particular ghost to rest.

Yes, the audience for your BD and marketing efforts will be spending time with their friends and family during the holidays. But this is by no means all that they will be doing, and I would wager money that the vast majority of them are still looking at LinkedIn at least occasionally – even if they do happen to be queuing for a gelato or waiting for the turkey and potatoes to come out of the oven.

Perhaps, amidst the festivities of Christmas or while at the beach during their summer holidays, people are in fact using their break from keeping the plates spinning to take a step back and look at the bigger industry picture, and are in the mood to be inspired by thought-leadership pieces.

Or perhaps being away from the coal face for a few days gives them the necessary headspace to weigh up whom to instruct on that next big case that kicks off in January or September – a great time to remain front of mind with them. Or maybe they simply don’t want to miss out on any good and relevant content, even if they are officially not in work mode.

The only way to find out whether your content will still land with them during the holidays or other ‘traditional’ quiet periods is trial and error: give it a go and see what happens. Our data tells us that people are reading loads, even if they don’t immediately act on it.

For example, it’s no coincidence that we post this very newsletter on a Friday morning – it’s a decision we have arrived at through careful calibration based on our readership data: we know that you are more receptive to this kind of format at the end of the week, when the weekend has heaved into view. Many of you read it right away, while some of you circle back to it on Saturday and Sunday, when the distractions of the day job have fallen away and you return to content that piqued your interest during the week, all whilst mentally preparing yourself for the working week ahead – another reason why LinkedIn posts issued on a Sunday land well, by the way.

Or imagine that you are a divorce lawyer: perhaps the best time to market yourself is on Friday afternoon and Sunday evening, the two crunch points when estranged spouses are handing over the kids. Or perhaps not – I don’t know, but it’s surely worth the experiment to obtain the data.

What we do know is that there are three major spikes in deal and case instructions throughout the year: directly after the summer holidays, Christmas holiday and Easter holiday. (As an aside, there is also a flurry in the runup to Christmas, compounded by the fact that US law firms and clients have their financial year-end at the same time as the calendar year-end, creating a rush of work for harried UK lawyers just as they are dreaming of putting their feet up with a mince pie).

This is no coincidence: the preparations behind these instructions have been weeks in the making, and often take place over the holiday period, with decision-makers ready to press the button as soon as everybody is back at work. There is also the fact that financial dealmakers often go away on holiday with people from their work ecosystem: fellow private equity lawyers, financiers, fund managers, and so on. Guess what they talk about together on the pistes of Verbier? That’s right, work.

You may have other (perfectly good) reasons for not marketing before or during holidays, but the data tells us it’s not because of a lack of audience.

Thoughts from your colleagues and peers about holiday marketing

When it comes to the above, don’t just take my word for it – here are some leading industry voices sharing their thoughts on marketing during the holiday periods.

Heledd Wyn, Partner & Private Client Lawyer, Shakespeare Martineau

“I think it is super important that we keep up the narrative, as you never know who is listening! I’ve been able to make contacts and connections in the traditional down time, so it is a true 24/7 exercise! Summer holidays are always a good time to be available!”

Claire Farrelly, Senior Marketing Consultant at TBD Marketing

“Pitches and RFPs will often arrive at the most inopportune moments – end of year billing, a day before a major bank holiday or, as I’ve seen regularly throughout my career, during peak summer holidays. My view is that clients are often looking to test how lawyers will react and behave in such circumstances (tight deadlines, demanding questions and oftentimes, vague instructions), particularly if they are seeking to bring a new firm in or want to refresh their panel. The management and planning behind an RFP is immense, and from the various conversations I have had with clients in pitch debriefs over the years, a great deal of thought is put into both the design of the RFP and the way in which tendering law firms will be assessed and scored. None of this is incidental or last minute. My advice is always to act as though already instructed. Deliver as part of your pitch a commercial solution that is based around the needs of your client and their organisation, and keep in close (but measured) contact with the client and their key advisors for the duration of the process. Show them how much you want to win the work.”

Ben Giaretta, Partner & Commercial Dispute Resolution Lawyer, Fox Williams

“The analytics for my own posts suggests that posting at times when people are outside work (weekends, holidays, etc) can be effective – particularly for posts that are more personal. The recent post that I did about running a marathon, for example, has had very good reactions (344 likes and rising), and that was posted on a Saturday afternoon.

“So it can be a good idea to put out posts that are more reflective outside of work hours, and which might capture people’s moods better at that time. As another example, last Christmas I did a series of posts about the meaning of Christmas – and those all had very good reactions.”

Paul Sams, Managing Partner, Dutton Gregory Solicitors

“When the Covid lockdown first hit in March 2020, every other law firm I knew locally and further afield furloughed their marketing staff. At Dutton Gregory, we kept them on. There was a lack of ‘noise’ in the marketplace, and we filled it. It was short-lived, but it definitely got us attention, which did result in new opportunities.”

Richard W Smith, Director, GSJ Consulting

“Cliche: Business development is like going to the gym, the best results come from consistency. I also use: Business development is like compound interest, it pays dividends over time.”

Jon Gregson, Partner & Employment Lawyer, Weightmans

“I think there is absolutely the need to carry on, even when your audience might be distracted or not ‘at work’. If I look at some of the things I’ve posted around holiday periods, they’ve perhaps been some of the best posts I’ve done.

“Holiday periods as a whole are great times to do something really different. I’ve just done Lawyers as Easter Eggs and that exploded (in my small world) and got some great exposure at a time when you know attention is easily distracted elsewhere.

“You just need that one person to see what you do and take an interest. You never know if others are ‘offline’, it might just be the opportunity for someone else to stop scrolling and see what you have to offer.”

Matt Schwartz, US Finance Practice Group Leader, DLA Piper

“Many people believe that holidays, breaks and long weekends are the perfect time to take a break from posting on LinkedIn, but I strongly encourage folks to reconsider that approach.

“First of all, during those times, people are MORE likely to be scrolling through their LinkedIn feed, and there is also likely to be less content; thus, the chances of your content being seen and engaged with increases dramatically.

“More importantly, holidays and breaks are the perfect time for you to post truly personal content relating to the specific holiday or time of the year that is being celebrated. Personal stories from your childhood, family traditions and/or vacation plans are a fantastic way for you to post personal content that will connect with your audience in an authentic way with ease.

“So while conventional wisdom may say that you shouldn’t post while your audience might be otherwise engaged with outside activities, those are the perfect times to dig deep and give your audience a glimpse into your authentic self without reservation. You won’t regret taking the leap.”

Victoria Walker, Family Lawyer, Moore Barlow

“I’ve always been taught to focus on my pipeline even when I’m busy. Easy to say, not so easy to do when you are clinging on by your fingernails.

“I’m well aware that successful marketing/BD means leaving an imprint. You are trying to be the person contacted when needed, not knowing when that will be.

“You can only leave an imprint by being visible repeatedly and building and maintaining relationships. That has to go on all year like a gardener tending their garden.”

Matt Skipper, Head of New Business, Mills & Reeve

“For me, it’s about maintaining a consistent message that shows you are active and available. If there is a client need, we should be forefront of minds whatever time of year, and putting the brand in front of people supports that.

“We all generally work in a flexible way and, invariably, clients and contacts will be picking up content from a variety of channels in those periods – so when there is potentially less noise, it’s a good time to make some.”

Kate Upton, Senior Manager – Marketing & Business Development, Browne Jacobson

“We have often found that tender requests or informal capability statements land at the beginning of Easter/Summer or Christmas holidays! I think sometimes it is a case of clients and work referrers being so busy with the day job that they don’t get to these things until they have a little more bandwidth before the holidays.

“Similarly, when we have sent out invitations for events immediately before what are usually ‘quieter’ periods, we often find a lot of responses coming in during said break – for the same reasons as above. I think a lot of people in all areas of business use these times as an opportunity to catch up on the non-urgent workload and emails.”

Colin Smith, Director of Business Development, Field Seymour Parkes

“I’ve always tried to avoid the blanket ‘no marketing activity during the summer months or Xmas, rule, as that takes out a quarter of the year and I want to maintain touchpoints throughout the year.

“I always believe that those times work especially well for ‘1 to 1’ or ‘1 to few’ activities with your known contacts and connections – I think it’s particularly appreciated when other activities are either a) non-existent or b) part of the (hard to differentiate) silly season bun fight of Henley, Ascot, Lords, etc. (which isn’t right for everyone – due to personal or company policy reasons, of course).”

In other news

Axiom Ince’s former Managing Partner faces bankruptcy petition

As reported in The Lawyer this week, Pragnesh Modhwadia has been served with a petition seeking to force his bankruptcy, so that his assets can be seized and sold to pay the administrators of the stricken Axiom Ince, which collapsed in August last year.

Gift of the gab

At the risk of seeming a bit me, me, me, at 1 pm next Monday (29 April), the guys from the Legally Speaking Club will be hosting me for a LinkedIn Live session titled Amplify Your Legal Brand – Winning Strategies for Lawyers. Among many other things, I’ll be talking about the power of LinkedIn in attracting clients and building a robust personal brand; tailored digital marketing strategies that resonate with both lawyers and law firms; and common pitfalls in legal marketing on social media and how to sidestep them. You can sign up to attend here.

Legally Lesbians featured in DIVA Magazine

Founded in April last year, Jacqui Rhule-Dagher’s Legally Lesbians initiative gives visibility to lesbians within the legal profession. This Wednesday, Diva Magazine published a feature-length article about the initiative written by Jacqui, with a foreword by Baroness Brenda Hale and celebrating 25 lesbians working in this sector.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s edition!


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