How to Support Your Community and Be a Hometown Law Firm
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainty and more than a little fear. Yet there is also a swell of compassion, neighbor-helping-neighbor, and a focus on “doing good.” While many things are out of our control right now as we’re staying home and social distancing, it has created the time and inspired many lawyers to revisit their overall marketing initiatives and get pumped up in anticipation of the eventual opening up of their communities and the nation.
With more time on our hands, aggressive attorneys are making the most of this opportunity to get creative and plan a future marketing strategy that includes community involvement aimed at a “new normal.” One thing’s for sure, we won’t be doing business as usual. So we can ask ourselves, “What will Thanksgiving look like?” and “What are my law firm’s outreach goals for Christmas 2020?” Now is the time to think about these things.
Community involvement will always be a powerful marketing tool, it’s just going to look a little different in 2020 and beyond. While we may be stuck at home now, it’s a perfect opportunity to envision future community outreach and how to make a difference in this “new normal.” While your law firm likely won’t be able to sponsor a summer softball team this summer – it could be the first year you commit your entire firm to volunteering at a local food bank every Tuesday in August. The possibilities are endless. It’s also a way to get your staff fired up so they can feel like they’re contributing and making a difference.
Investing in your community can be a powerful brand-building endeavor and go a long way in creating goodwill for your law firm. Particularly if it is done with caring, enthusiasm and hometown pride. Whether it’s getting involved with the Kiwanis Club, sponsoring a Little League baseball team, contributing to local charities or sponsoring a 5K run – all of these activities signal to your community that you’re invested in people there and deeply appreciate their patronage.
Community service can be particularly effective if it’s in a realm that you already have a passion for. For example, if you have your private pilot’s license, why not sit on the board of the local airport or aviation club? If you have a child with juvenile diabetes, what could be better than sponsoring a fund-raising bike ride that supports medical research through the national Juvenile Diabetes Foundation? Or if you have a particularly big heart for furry critters with four paws, why not contribute as a firm to the local Humane Society?
The possibilities are endless when you look around your hometown and find out where the needs are. Talk to professional colleagues, non-profits and the local media and find out which causes are under-funded and which ones speak to your heart.
Authenticity and a genuine spirit are key to community involvement because residents can sniff out any organization that is getting involved only to further its own agenda. This approach can backfire, causing resentment among residents.
This doesn’t mean that your law firm won’t enjoy the benefits of higher visibility, positive publicity and a strong local SEO. It just means that marketing can’t be your overriding or sole reason for getting involved in your community.
Some of the benefits of community involvement include:
- Higher visibility and positive publicity
- Increased website traffic (particularly if registration for events is located on your site)
- Stronger local SEO for your website
- Word-of-mouth buzz about your firm’s contribution and activities
- Television, newspaper or radio coverage of your events
- A deep sense of personal satisfaction
- Employee involvement and empowerment
- Growing your professional network
- Increasing business and your bottom line
Why Does Community Involvement Matter?
By their very nature, human beings like the feeling of doing business with people who care. They also like doing business with firms that are going to stick around and still be investing in their community 15 years from now, rather than fly-by-night enterprises or large national chains.
Forbes magazine clearly articulates the importance of community involvement by writing:
“Getting involved in the community is a great way for any organization to build relationships and boost visibility and brand awareness. Whether it’s by sponsoring or taking part in community programs, or by enabling employee volunteerism, companies that encourage involvement in the community stand out among their peers and see multiple benefits as a result, such as a happier workforce or a more loyal customer base.
Roughly 82% of U.S. consumers actually consider corporate social responsibility when deciding what services and products to buy and from where. Similarly, a survey of millennials’ work habits indicates that 86% of Generation Y workers greatly value their companies’ corporate social responsibility programs and would quit their jobs if those programs started to slip.”
Forbes goes on to give the following six reasons why community involvement matters:
- It’s the Right Thing to Do
- Local Roles, Local Talent
- Community in the Front, Business in the Rear
- Improved Collaboration
- A Better Community, Higher Employee Morale
- Team Building and Talent Attraction
All of these are huge positives for your law firm, and they often cost much less than you might think. Every small and medium-size firm has a limited marketing budget, but community involvement is an area where you can reap ten-fold rewards compared to your initial investment.
Entrepreneur magazine writes in an article titled “The Power of Giving Back: How Community Involvement Can Boost Your Bottom Line”:
Companies that encourage community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors, and see many benefits, including loyal customers and happier employees …
“I’ve found that customers really want to know how you’re making the world a better place,” says Erin Giles, an Aiken, S.C.-based business philanthropy consultant who helps entrepreneurs find causes they’re passionate about and incorporate their message into their business. Moms and millennials are particularly interested in a business’ corporate social responsibility platform, Giles says.
As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one! Residents love knowing you care about your hometown. An additional benefit of the positive vibes created by community investment is that residents are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt if your firm experiences a set-back or a brief moment of bad publicity in the future. Building goodwill is kind of a corporate insurance policy.
Community Involvement Strengthens Your Local SEO
Approaching community involvement with enthusiasm and a drive to connect to your community need not be devoid of a business perspective. Pursuing community involvement creates opportunities to pursue backlinks to other area organizations’ websites, which will strengthen your firm’s local SEO. The stronger your law firm’s local SEO, the better.
Once you consider what charities and organizations best fit with your firm’s interests and brand, evaluate the list from an SEO perspective to differentiate between them. The driving factor in that choice is whether or not there is an organizational or event website with a sponsors’ page. Typically, these include logos that link to the sponsors’ websites. Such a backlink has doubly strong SEO value.
Backlinks, in general, provide your SEO a boost. Local backlinks send Google a signal that you are a business located in XYZ city, thus you have particular relevance to people doing Google searches in that local area. The stronger your website’s local SEO, the more apt you are to rank high on the list Google generates in response to a local search.
If you’d like to learn more about how community involvement can boost your local SEO, our Gladiator team would be happy to discuss this with you and offer recommendations about which local organizations in your area offer the strongest SEO value to your firm. Call us at 888-683-3212.
Examples of Exceptional Law Firm Investments in Their Communities
Needing some ideas about how to get involved in your community? Giving away food is a popular idea, but so is offering internships to college students, sponsoring charitable events, sitting on local boards of directors, and pitching in to help build houses for those families in need. Consider initiatives pursed by the following law firms:
Hanna Law Firm / Abilene, TX
Who doesn’t like a big-hearted giveaway at the holidays! Hanna Law Firm provides breakfast with Santa and a delicious giveaway to local residents in Odesa, TX as a way of saying thank you to the community. People line up around the block an hour in advance in December because the first 100 receive a free turkey.
“We want our community to know us, not only as an extraordinary law firm, but as an extraordinary neighbor,” says attorney Jon Hanna. “Our families sleep, eat, shop and go to school in our community. Anything we can do to raise the level of local awareness of safety, health and kindness is more than just good business. It raises the quality of our lives along with that of our neighbors.”
Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana / Foley, AL
The partners at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana know how to treat the residents of their hometown right. This law firm believes that community involvement helps build up their city and is good for business.
“Having grown up in Foley, the partners at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana have a special place in their heart for the community,” says Sandra Grice, director of marketing at CWA. “Each month, CWA conducts a giveaway that will bring a smile and exude team spirit. And even more importantly, it spreads a little cheer to families who otherwise might not be able to enjoy a holiday dinner.
“From giving away New Orleans Saints tickets to free turkeys and holiday hams, Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana takes pride and joy in sharing with their community. We all know the benefits of community outreach: growing your network, generating leads, and gaining brand exposure. And for the relatively inexpensive efforts, the benefits come back to us tenfold.”
We couldn’t agree more!
Here’s the Takeaway
In these very uncertain times with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to stay positive and focus on the future. Yes, the months to come will be a “new normal,” but there can be opportunities in that. Start thinking now, while you have time to plan, about your law firm’s marketing and community involvement strategy for the balance of 2020 and beyond.
Getting involved in your community not only makes you feel good but it can also have positive benefits for your law firm’s brand and visibility. Moms and millennials are particularly interested these days in corporate social responsibility and want to see how individual firms are making the world a better place. Whether it’s offering scholarships and future internships to college students, sponsoring a charitable food donation or giving away holiday goodies, there are hundreds of ways to get involved in your hometown and build a sense of local commitment among your employees and clients alike.
Volunteerism is hugely popular in the 21st Century and employees enjoy serving at a food pantry or cleaning up a local highway one Saturday a year. If you want to outshine your competitors, look for ways to contribute to the hometown you live in. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense!
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