marketing Q&a: shoosmiths
uK law firm shOOsmiths launChed a new brand identity
in early 2010, Clearly distinguishing its COnsumer
and COmmerCial Offerings. riChard brent speaKs tO
head Of COnsumer serViCes Judith dOrKins abOut the
praCtiCalities Of the prOCess.
what first prompted shoosmiths to With no recognised legal brand out what does it mean for the business
launch a new brand? there, we see a huge opportunity for those and those who work at shoosmiths?
who act now.
Three distinct things came together at the Across our consumer-facing businesses
same time. For a long time we’ve had three how will the change to ‘access we now work together much more closely,
highly successful consumer departments: legal from shoosmiths’ improve the and we’re much more consistent in the
personal injury and civil litigation, customer experience? way we look after clients. We understand
conveyancing and private client. Until our own offerings better.
now they’ve been run very independently, The changes we’ve made reflect what All our people are also much
and we recognised it was time to bring clients want, as revealed by our research. more informed about what our clients
them together, create a complete service It means our service offering is now much want and the focus of our people
proposition for the consumer, and so more holistic for every client. With one development is on constantly improving
maximise our opportunity to retain clients highly skilled central point of contact we’re our service proposition.
for life. able to ensure we can really understand
We have come to recognise that our the client’s need and place them quickly what were the main challenges in
consumer and commercial businesses and efficiently with the right person to help leading the brand launch?
complement each other well, but need to them. Our systems will also help us fully
present themselves independently if they understand clients and their longer-term The main challenge was delivering
are to reach their full potential, and a new needs, making sure we can offer help the project against an ambitious
brand was a way to achieve that. that’s proactive rather than reactive. deadline, while still achieving day-to-day
Changes to the legal landscape Our new brand also recognises that responsibilities. We also had a very tight
also mean it’s essential every law firm the modern legal services consumer budget and so had limited opportunity to
makes a decision about where it intends wants and expects a high degree of call on external resources.
to position itself. The market is talking free information so they can deal with This was an exciting project though, so
about change, but we decided the time some issues themselves. Our helpline it wasn’t hard to motivate the team. What
was right to talk to our target audience and website provide this for them in an was difficult was finding extra resources
and find out what it really wanted. It easily accessible way. Overall, the new to support them as they tried to juggle
was clear many consumers still want brand allows us to return to a much it with their other work. The project’s
a professional to undertake their legal more personal relationship with our success was down to the hard work and
work, while welcoming a modern, clients, creating a real point of help and commitment of the team charged with
effective proposition. reassurance, whatever their needs. delivery, but also the support of some of
marketing Q&a: shoosmiths
does. The launch of our website and visual
identity is only the beginning of the journey.
In the next 12 months we’ll be adding new
product offerings, developing our service
delivery, and refining our routes to market.
how is marketing to consumers
different from marketing
A business looking for legal advice is
already quite clear about what it’s looking
for. It’s also reasonably confident about its
choice of legal services supplier.
While businesses will use a website
to check credentials or get a feel for
an organisation, their selections are
based much more around the building of
relationships and the tender processes.
Dorkins: client surveys on service are useful, but market research is far more powerful The consumer, on the other hand,
is more uncertain about how to select a
their colleagues who took up some of their site is what we were after, and that’s legal adviser and not at all clear on how
usual workload. exactly what we’ve got. Crucially, it doesn’t to go about making that choice. They will
achieve that at the cost of functionality, be greatly influenced by recommendation,
who else worked on the project and which it also has in spades. but will also buy from a website, and
what did they do? as a consequence seek reassurances
another element is a 24-hour customer on quality, technical ability, price and
The project team included representatives helpline. is that a new addition? approachability from that site.
from each of our core legal product areas
and all our support areas, including design We’ve run a legal helpline for commercial what lessons have you learned
and marketing and information systems. clients for many years. The change about successful legal marketing in
We also had help from our human has been to introduce that as a core the process?
resources, corporate responsibility and component of our service offering to every
training teams. In the early stages we individual who contacts us. The most important lesson we’ve learned
split the project into the key areas of Ensuring the continuing availability has been about the power of market
product, service, technology, ethics and of your helpline is the most important research in assisting your own planning.
visual identity, and split our resources day-to-day challenge, but we now have Client surveys on service are useful, but
accordingly to focus on these topics. many years’ of rota and call management market research is far more powerful,
This made it easier to get the research experience to ensure we deliver this. as it starts with no preconceived ideas
and design right before we began the It’s also important to ensure the team is and really gets to the core of what your
implementation stage, which required the constantly up to date with legal knowledge customers are looking for.
coordination of all our support areas. across a very broad range of topics, so Personally, I’ve learned a huge amount
ongoing effective training is critical. about the science of website marketing
what creative factors were too; in particular, how crucial it is to
considered in deciding on the style of what else does the new brand recognise that it IS a science and should
your new website? itself involve? really be left to the experts.
We asked clients what they wanted from On a practical level we’ve changed all how will you measure the success of
a website and took professional advice on our marketing materials and messages. the initiative?
the right way to deliver a successful site. We’ve altered the focus of our marketing
The colour and design was formulated activities, and of the key partners we Success will be measured by the increase
in light of all this information by our own consider necessary in our plans for growth. in independently sourced work we get.
extremely talented creative design team. In We’ve also defined our product range It’s also crucial that our proposition is
part, our decision to stay with blue as the much more clearly and recognised how delivering what clients want, and that will
core brand colour continued an extremely they all fit together. be measured by our ability to build lasting,
important link to Shoosmiths. Most importantly, we’ve begun an traditional relationships with them, and of
It had to look ‘friendly’ and accessible, internal cultural change that places clients course through steady improvement in our
too. A bright, lively and instantly engaging at the heart of everything every one of us customer satisfaction surveys.
54 managing partner, may 2010
see this as a market worthy of investigation
and will be able to provide a proposition
for their customers at point of contact.
What is less clear is whether that service
will still be provided by solicitors behind
It’s also clear that not every consumer
welcomes commoditisation of professional
services and a market will remain for
independent professional firms.
For firms to succeed in this new world
they must decide which part of the market
they wish to focus on, and then adapt their
business plans to enable them to deliver to
their chosen sector. It’ll be extremely hard
to deliver a proposition suitable to every
market entry point.
how do you see the new brand
helping shoosmiths to compete in
The most important thing is that any
provider of legal services has a clear
proposition and understands the
segment of the market they wish to
support. The legal market is huge and
so diverse. The key would seem to be
The new Access Legal from Shoosmiths homepage.
not to try and support every area of
We’ll also be looking to develop Of course, a lot of awareness will also This project has helped us understand
‘Access Legal from Shoosmiths’ brand be developed on the back of day-to-day what clients want, what we can deliver,
awareness over the course of the year. mentions when we regularly talk to the and therefore which client groups we can
media about the work we do. support most effectively. That has enabled
how are you communicating the us to create clear messages to our
change to current and potential clients what do you make of the findings in targeted audience and a highly focused
and the market in general? your market research that customers approach. We now understand how our
wanted more varied contact with their strengths match market demand and this
Our initial launch included communications lawyers? makes the definition of your own unique
to all existing clients about the changes selling proposition easier.
we were making. In the next year we’ll also There is no doubt that general service
continue a series of communications, as experience has led clients to expect how has the consumer services
further service changes and innovations more from their legal advisors. They now department’s experience grown in the
are delivered. expect basic information to be provided past year?
The new basis of our relationship with free, and demand modern standards of
clients provides us with a series of ‘touch service delivery using technology as well We’ve seen conveyancing affected by the
points’ for communication about our brand as price transparency. However, many also decline of the housing market, but during
proposition, along with opportunities to still want the reassurance of a personal the past 12 months business in this area
check their experiences. relationship with a professional advisor. has been strong for us.
We’ve had a positive response from For our traditional private-client
those publications that have carried news what do you think the full business there was a fall in tax and estate-
of the launch, both in the legal sector and implementation of the legal planning work for a while, but political
the specialist ones we operate in. We’ve services act will mean in the uncertainty is now seeing it increase
also prompted some lively exchanges on consumer legal market? again. For litigation, the market is largely
websites, and were particularly encouraged unaffected by recession, and our changes
when one blogger suggested other law The landscape is already altering as have had more to do with the decision to
firms should follow our lead, saying ours organisations anticipate change. There’s reposition ourselves as an independent
was a great example of a consumer website. no doubt that some external players will player in the market.