Choosing Beta Over VHS: Don’t Ditch Your Law Firm’s Database in Favor of Social Media

Recently, I’d found myself second-guessing one of my core marketing beliefs and something that I have always espoused — namely, that your database is the core of your marketing program, whether you’re a law, financial services or real estate firm. By “database,” I’m referring to your email list – the current, prospective and/or former clients as well as referral sources you regularly email, because you want to remain top-of-mind, all the while providing worthwhile information.

But, I wondered, had the strengths of social media effectively numbered the database’s days?  Was I holding on to the equivalent of a VHS method of marketing? Occasionally, I wondered if the database had become obsolete in the world of marketing a law firm or other professional service.

Database Strengths That Social Media Still Can’t Beat

I knew of course, it had not, knowing that there’s a place for both your database as well as social media. It helped to visualize them working as two gears that mesh together to make a stronger marketing program.

Consider that on social media, participants intentionally choose to connect with you. At the same time, there are a lot of prospective, current and former clients, as well as referral sources who you want to communicate with regularly, but who have no idea who you are, who aren’t active on social media, who only use it for personal purposes, or who only check their news feeds sporadically. In other words, focusing exclusively on social media leaves a huge untapped market, that at some point will be needing your legal, financial or real estate services.  How do you reach them? The answer is through your email list.

Other timeless benefits stand as testament to the usefulness of your database/email list. For example, there’s no substitute for your law firm owning its email list and being able to choose who you relay specific messages to. Not everyone in your database may be appropriate recipients for certain messages, so you can create targeted lists within your email list.  With social media, the message you deliver is more of a one-size-fits-all message.

Database + Social Media = Match Made in Marketing Heaven

Obviously, social media has its own benefits, but it needs to be used in conjunction with your database/email marketing for maximum effectiveness.  That is, both strategies should be considered pieces of the same puzzle, which each play a part of the “whole.” Putting it another way, with social media, others are choosing to connect with you, but through your database, you’re choosing to connect with others.

I found my reasoning validated recently via podcasts of other marketing professionals who emphasized the need for a database, as well as a social media presence. This confirmed beyond any shadow of doubt, that social media clearly has its strengths, but the heartbeat of the database will continue to live on.

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