Against a rapidly changing legal landscape, many Solicitors and Barristers – both individually and as in firms or chambers – are now working harder than ever at promoting themselves and communicating their expertise to the market.
I’m sure you will agree that selling, marketing or promoting a legal service is a very personal business. People are buying into you as an individual – though, admittedly, the sophistication of some lawyers’ branding is becoming increasingly compelling and persuasive. But how many lawyers think carefully about their ‘personal brand’?
Let’s look at that crucial first point of contact in a new client relationship. That very first interaction will, in most cases, involve the client looking at your website. Plenty has already been written about websites: navigability, accessibility, design and so on but, for a moment, put yourself in the position of that potential client. He or she will inevitably click on your profile and look at the picture. What do they see? I’ll leave you to think about it for a moment.
I don’t think I’m being disingenuous when I say that much of the photography on lawyers’ websites needs updating. I recently looked at 50 randomly chosen law firms’ and chambers’ websites and considered 25 of them to contain profile picture that were in need of updating; 11 of them had missing profile pictures; 4 had no pictures at all.
I strongly believe that in order to really ‘connect’ with their audiences (and buyers of their services), legal professionals need fresh, relaxed, approachable, colourful and modern images to accompany their profiles. These pictures should engage the viewer and make them feel good about picking up the ‘phone. Of course, I’m not suggesting that this is the ‘be all an end all’ of how decisions whether to instruct are made – but it is an important factor, another box to be ticked, and an ‘easy win’.
The same goes for social media profiles. Many lawyers now use Linked-In and even, to a lesser extent, Twitter and Facebook to promote their expertise and exactly the same principles apply here; research has shown that a strong image can have a considerable impact on the number of people who want to connect. And a good many of those people could be sources of instructions.
So, how do you go about achieving the ideal profile pictures? Here are a couple of tips:
- Keep clear of pictures that look too staged. I often get chatting to subjects and snap away while they are in mid-conversation; it always looks natural and never set-up. You can spot a set-up shot of someone who’s been told to ‘act naturally’ a mile off and it rarely looks good!
- Please smile. We know you’re good at your job, you’re tenacious and perhaps even ferocious when you need to be. But you want our business and you need to make us want you. So, even if smiling doesn’t come naturally, even the merest hint of a smile will do.
- Be united! It look much more impressive, switched-on and generally ‘together’ if your whole team is photographed in a similar, coordinated style.
- Use a professional photographer. The ‘DIY’ approach may save a few pounds in the short term, but try to resist the temptation to ask ‘Alan in accounts’ to take some pictures because he’s a member of the local camera club and his Mum bought him a new camera for Christmas. The thing is, Alan may be perfectly capable of taking a great picture of a sunset or a fluffy kitten, but he’s almost certainly not capable of producing the high quality ‘corporate’ images you need. And, if you do decide to use a professional, find one who specialises in this sort of work. It’s just not worth risking your public image with anything less.
Photography for law firms’ or chambers’ websites
While you’re thinking about photography, there are other ways in which strong imagery can help promote your business, the website perhaps being the clearest example. You may be tempted to use ‘library’ or ‘stock’ images; we’ve all seen them – pictures of a handsome chap in wig and gown strolling along Middle Temple Lane or groups of impossibly good-looking people (usually American) in meetings. These library shots are in the public domain and can be purchased by anyone. Why risk having the same images as your competitors?
I regularly work with clients to produce bespoke imagery that is closely aligned to the style and culture (and, dare I say it, ‘brand’) of their practice and is for their exclusive use. Such imagery can help form strong impressions of your organisation and, as well as on the website, can be used in newsletters, brochures, at events and made into striking artwork for the walls of reception areas or conference rooms.
They say a picture paints a thousand words and, in the digital age when we are all on show to the world, it is more important than ever to allow imagery to influence how the world perceives you and your business. As one legal CEO said to me recently about photography, “Getting it wrong is easy. Getting it right is even easier – but how many of us do that?”
I specialise in lawyer portraits. If you think I can help your firm or chambers, please call me on 07948 528656.