Legal Marketing

5. Dissecting The Competitor Playbook

5. Dissecting The Competitor Playbook

5. Dissecting The Competitor PlaybookWho Ranks as True Competition?5. Dissecting The Competitor Playbook

The rival set goes beyond similar-sized regional peers to include larger national full-service firms, online self-help tools, accounting and consulting firms, and other alternate providers vying for legal market share.

Group key competitors into categories based on identifying unique skills, reputation factors, client type focus, marketing messages, and more. This facilitates apples-to-apples analysis of positioning and engagement tactics.

The following is a dramatization and is not an actual event: McGuireWoods compared itself to the largest 100 law firms in the country to see how its use of client web portals for workflow visibility measured up. It looked at the top national firms rather than just the regional firms in its area.

Critically Evaluating Current Digital Marketing

An objective audit of digital engagement surfaces your weaknesses but also can show where competitors struggle. This reveals open opportunities.

For example, assess the share of website visitors driven through owned online content versus ads or search rankings.

Similarly, compare social media follower ratios across businesses, individual partners, and across platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

The following is a dramatization and is not an actual event: Cozen O’Connor found out that top firms’ blogs didn’t have easy-to-understand articles. So, they made a series of simple articles, which led to a 22% increase in people visiting their website.

Map the Competitive Landscape

Want to understand your competition better? Create a simple chart that compares different law firms and service providers. Include things like the range of services they offer, how well-known their clients are, their areas of legal expertise, how innovative they are, their use of technology, the way they price their services, and how they market themselves.

This will give you a clear picture of where you stand among your competitors and how you can improve.

Group together peers demonstrating strengths in areas you aim to lead in. This zone is your true competition – don’t limit comparisons to firms nearest in size or location only.

The following is a dramatization and is not an actual event: Barnes & Barnes, known for M&A in the retail sector, compared itself against niche practices within full-service firms rather than limiting peer analysis to fellow boutiques.

Evaluate Digital Marketing Maturity

Once competitive groups are established, conduct an in-depth audit of their digital engagement across:

  • Owned media content quality and performance
  • Ad placement and spending
  • Search engine rankings and optimization
  • Social media follower ratios and engagement
  • Website functionality, CX, and analytics
  • Client portal, app, and integrated technology usage
  • Interactive formats like video, podcasts, assessments
  • Personalization and segmentation capabilities

Identify precise areas where top competitors excel and currently surpass your capabilities. But also reveal gaps all seem to currently overlook.

Assess Offline Positioning

Balance digital marketing competitive analysis by gauging traditional outreach:

  • Event, conference, and trade show participation
  • External firm awards and rankings performance
  • Print collateral materials and direct mail sophistication
  • Referral networks with intermediaries
  • Sales team sophistication around CRM usage

Firms matching your digital prowess likely lag offline. This highlights avenues to lead across both spheres.

Turn Findings into Action

Use competitor analysis for inspiration rather than imitation. Surfacing their unmet client needs, and then creatively addressing them through your firm’s unique strengths, creates a durable competitive advantage.

Ongoing Monitoring of Competitors

Treat competitive intelligence as an always-on initiative rather than a one-off assessment. Dedicate personnel to ongoing monitoring of key rival firms’ digital activities, publicity, client rosters, service evolutions, and more.

For example, set Google News alerts to flag competitor mentions, recently published content, and interviews. Similarly, monitor digests of new trademark applications by rival IP practices to detect new client engagements or emerging specializations.

Social listening tools like Buzzsumo provide a snapshot of trending competitor content by engagement, while chat forums and review sites offer candid client sentiment towards their experience.

The following is a dramatization and is not an actual event: Haynes and Boone LLP noticed several regional rivals launching international trade policy blogs and alerts amidst regulatory changes. In response, they invited select journalists to an off-record discussion positioning the firm as the foremost expert voice on implications.

Automate Monitoring Where Possible

Technology allows scaling intelligence gathering to more opponents while eliminating manual search and monitoring. AI-powered market intelligence platforms can track specific firms’ digital activities based on configured priorities – alerting advisors of significant updates warranting action.

The workflow then presents relevant events to inform strategy adjustments and counter-campaigns. The speed and consistency of automated tracking create an unfair visibility advantage.

Conclusion5. Dissecting The Competitor Playbook

An intimate understanding of competitors uncovers their client appeal while highlighting differentiators for your firm. Resisting inward focus builds respect amongst clients as the authority monitors the landscape they operate within.

Ongoing competitor intelligence also inspires marketing innovation. Observed gaps in rival content formats, delivery channels, or messaging themes prompt ideation around addressing unmet needs through the strengths unique to your practice.

The following is a dramatization and is not an actual event: Noting few firms dedicated research to the risks of AI bias and discrimination, Davis Wright Tremaine launched a dedicated advisory panel and podcast series cementing its reputation as a leader on emerging technology policy issues.

Rather than reacting, elevate your perspective to track trends, dynamics, and disruption opportunities before they surface. Combine technology with human insight to form a competitive intelligence unit as vital as any client-facing team.

Turn knowledge into impact by taking bold action first where the pack remains passive. Competitor activity offers rare transparency to calibrate content, positioning, and capabilities for increased visibility and trust.


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