The SRA publicity rules (now contained in Standards 8.8-8.9 of the Code of Conduct and its associated guidance) say that unsolicited approaches to members of the public are forbidden.

‘Members of the public’ is not defined in the rules, and there is some confusion over whether it includes other businesses.

It does not. We have this in writing from the Professional Ethics team.

The SRA also confirmed that making unsolicited social media connections (e.g. LinkedIn) does not constitute an ‘approach’.

The rule is really there to ban ‘targeted and intrusive’ approaches to the public (i.e. individuals).

So yes, it is safe for lawyers to do business-to-business (B2B) marketing and make unsolicited approaches to targets – so long as your marketing materials are accurate, not misleading and so on.

Nothing is stopping you from employing a B2B sales team in your firm – from a conduct point of view, at least.

So why aren’t lawyers doing a better job of B2B marketing?

Part of the answer may be that the rules are ambiguous but, compliance aside, there must be other reasons.

We posed this question to Lara Squires of Consortium Business Solutions. She specialises in helping professionals improve their marketing results.

“From my experience, a lot of the time law firms don’t know where to start”, she said, “but B2B marketing doesn’t have to be complicated”.

Lara has 5 tips to help law firms with their B2B marketing:

Know your target audience Have an up to date target list including the name and email addresses for those businesses and contacts you want to reach. A recent Hubspot study showed that those who segmented their data achieve up to a 760% increase in revenue.

Solve a problemWhat is the issue or problem you can help solve? How can you help them and what’s in it for them? Very importantly, make sure you write in plain English and not legalese.

Personalise your communications Don’t blanket market to 100 people with the same message. Make sure you tailor your message and adapt it to your contacts, add in personal information if you know it. Use merge fields available in your email system and database for this. For example: “Hi John, I hope you had a good week off……”

Get engagement Have something for free or low cost to entice people to work with you. For example, a downloadable guide to T&Cs, or a blog on furlough.

In the last 12 months, 78% of marketers have seen an increase in engagement (Hubspot report 2020) which shows it is an activity you should be undertaking right now! And before you dismiss email marketing, consider this: Hubspot says that 73% of millennials prefer email communication when receiving marketing material and that 99% of people check their email every day.

Follow up, follow up, follow up We cannot emphasise this point enough! You need to follow up your communications, ideally with a call. Or it may be that your email is part of a campaign that means they will be receiving subsequent emails. However, you need at some point to follow up, and there is no better way of doing that than picking up the phone!

“As an aside, you will probably have data internally which means you can contact warm leads. For example, do any of your private clients have businesses? A person that has used you to purchase their house or a write their will may also run a business. You could then cross-sell to them your business legal services. Again, this is a massively underutilised opportunity that law firms have.” – Lara Squires

Thanks for the tips, Lara!