The Role of Specialised Websites
Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW)
is a full service commercial law firm based in the City of London. The firm
has 80 partners, 180 other lawyers and 280 support staff and is rated in over 40
areas of expertise in the leading legal directories. We have chosen to operate
several discrete niche website services through separate brands for both
strategic and practical reasons.
by Lorraine Chapman, Field Fisher Waterhouse
Our strategy is to appeal to certain niche markets by offering a tailored
approach. The thinking behind this is that if you want to buy some jewellery, for
example, you wouldn't go to a supermarket, you would go to a jewellers. The
perception is that by going to a shop that specialises in the product you are
looking for, you will encounter better quality merchandise and staff who will
understand your needs more fully. We use a similar approach for the marketing
of certain areas of our firm's commercial practices. By offering specialist
branded websites for certain practices, such as travel and sports, there is a
better chance of appealing to existing and potential clients in these specialist
There are also a number of practical reasons for this approach. For certain
practice areas we have an abundance of material which we would like to make
available online for clients and potential clients as a value-added service.
Placing huge amounts of information on our main website could result in the site
appearing noticeably unbalanced. In addition, the information can end up being
hidden away as there are so many areas on the site. Displaying this material on
a separate website gives it greater prominence and makes it more readily
All our specialist sites contain free legal briefing papers and newsletters for
users to download, in addition to information on FFW's work, experience and
key lawyer contacts:
We have used a number of styles to appeal to the different needs and
expectations of various markets. For example, our public sector specialist site
has a simple understated design with a dash of blue and an image of Big Ben.
The main concerns for visitors to the site are that it looks professional and
contains lots of information which is quick and easy to locate. By contrast, our
site dedicated to the sports industry is much more colourful with animated
images and sports news on its home page. The site provides useful sector news
to sports clients in a format which is appealing to the sports business sector.
Marketing and Additional Services
From a marketing point of view it is easier to market a mini-brand in a
specialised sector. We can also promote specialist sites individually on printed
material and on internet search engines. Providing information online is also a
fast, convenient and extremely cost-effective way of promoting our firm to
We are looking into developing password protected areas of these specialist
sites for privileged client users and also paying subscribers. For example, our
travel sector website not only offers free downloadable briefing papers but also
the opportunity to subscribe to an online service, whereby users pay a set yearly
fee for online access to legal information on a range of topics which is updated
as and when any changes in the law occur.
Keeping a number of specialist websites up-to-date, in addition to the firm's
main website, can be a burden on the Marketing and IT Departments of a firm
if they are not set up in a way that ensures maximum efficiency. The amount of
administration involved in this could potentially lead to a number of marketing
and IT staff undertaking this role.
That is why we have implemented a user-friendly content management system
which allows non-technical staff, such as secretaries, to update information on
the specialist websites as and when necessary. These changes go into a
holding area in the system and are then checked by a member of the marketing
department to ensure consistency and quality before being loaded onto the live
web site. The advantage of this approach is that updates can be made easily
and quickly and the work involved in updating the sites is not duplicated by
having to be passed through several departments and stages before it can be
completed. We have developed much of the site in-house, using the content
management system, with additional assistance from our web site developer
Crossbow Media (www.crossbowmedia.com).
When it comes to measuring the success of these specialist sites it is not just
a matter of counting the number of hits or page impressions. In a specialised
sector, a relatively small number of page impressions can be regarded as
successful if they come from clients and potential clients within the target
market, whereas the same number of page impressions for a more general site
would be considered poor.
It is useful to look at the information which is downloaded most and this data can
then be fed back to partners to take into consideration when looking at how to
market and develop their own practices.
Lorraine Chapman is E-Marketing Manager at
Field Fisher Waterhouse.
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