Digital marketing is the answer to the question: “How to Get on an Insurance Panel in 2021.” The adage “out with the old, in with the new” is true for any marketing effort to become panel counsel for a P&C insurer in 2021.
Experienced rainmakers at insurance defense law firms are finding that the old ways of attracting clients—word of mouth, conferences, speaking engagements—no longer apply due to the pandemic.
Five Steps to Insurance Panel Counsel Marketing in 2021
This article outlines how to become panel counsel for an insurance company using five digital marketing strategies.
- Marketing communications for client retention.
- Lead generation campaigns.
- Website marketing.
- LinkedIn social media marketing.
- Webinars and conferences.
#1. Marketing Communications for Client Retention
Current clients represent 100% of your revenue base, yet many insurance defense law firms overlook the need to stay top-of-mind with clients and stand apart from competitors. Emphasis is often placed on the day-to-day demands of keeping claims files moving forward.
A e-newsletter serves as the foundation for a powerful client communications campaign. News items can include the following:
- Favorable case outcomes. Claims professionals are encouraged when they learn that a defense verdict has been achieved.
- Precedent-setting cases. Noteworthy cases, particularly at the state appellate level, can alert clients to the need for new defense strategies and perhaps even policy changes.
- News items about credentials that the law firm or its members receive, like U.S. News / Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, or Martindale-Hubbell.
- Staffing news. If the law firm is growing, that’s a good sign that additional resources are now available to handle more cases in certain practice areas.
- Professional activities. News of speeches, articles, bar association leadership roles, and community support all work to demonstrate the firm’s leadership abilities.
- Continuing education programs. Webinars play an increasingly important role in maintaining relationships. See below for more details.
Recommendation: Send a newsletter monthly to your firm’s list of email addresses for clients, prospects, and referral sources. Your news items should also be posted to the law firm’s website and LinkedIn company page on a regular basis.
#2. Lead Generation for Business Development
Target in-state or regional insurance companies. Many insurance defense law firms rely on a relatively small number of national insurance carriers for the bulk of their business. This can be a profitable yet risky strategy as national carriers tend to consolidate panels periodically, leaving unprepared law firms exposed to hazardous revenue swings.
Compiling a list of specific companies that the law firm wants to target for panel counsel in 2021 will help to focus your business development efforts. Ideas include insurance carriers that were recently admitted to the state and carriers on the NAIC market share report that the law firm is not currently serving.
Research panel opportunities with self-insureds. Some national retailers and restaurant chains self-insure for premises, auto liability, or workers’ comp claims under a certain dollar value. Bankruptcy filings due to COVID and changing consumer purchasing patterns are creating a lot of turmoil in the retail market, however. Identify the national or regional brands that are succeeding, like Amazon or Panera, and plan your business development efforts accordingly.
Recommendation: Compile a list of at least 10 to 20 targeted panel counsel opportunities that you want to actively pursue in 2021. This will help to narrow your focus, make better use of your time, and enhance your business development efforts. Create a written plan for HOW you will reach out to these prospects and WHO will take the lead for each potential new account. Set a reasonable timeline for your outreach efforts. I tell clients that business development is like dating; it takes time to develop the relationship.
#3. Website Marketing
Your law firm website serves as a foundation for all your business development efforts, whether in the form of digital marketing or in-person networking.
Launching a marketing campaign with an out-of-date or static website is a waste of time and money. It may be time to refresh your website if it hasn’t changed much in the past two to three years.
Make sure that your website uses HTTPS security (you will see this in the URL line on your home page) and is “mobile friendly” (see the Google mobile friendly test). Compare how your website compares to that of your competitors, and how your firm turns up in the search engines.
Recommendation: Post a new item to your website at least once a month, and once a week is even better. See the “marketing communications” suggestions above for ideas on what to post.
#4. LinkedIn Social Media Marketing
There are many forms of social media marketing, but we focus on LinkedIn because it is the most widely used network that unites attorneys and insurance panel counsel managers. This giant social media site represents a golden opportunity for law firms and individual attorneys to promote their practice in a proactive yet professional manner. It’s also free and easy to use.
One 25-attorney law firm in a Mid-Atlantic state lamented during a LinkedIn session I was conducting that a significant part of business development now takes place online—specifically on LinkedIn—and they are out of the loop. By not maintaining current attorney and firm profiles on LinkedIn, and not building connections, they have less ability to promote their practice.
The good news is that it can be fast and easy to create and maintain a LinkedIn account. There are so many ways to gain visibility on LinkedIn, such as expanding your network and posting free status updates.
Recommendation: Start with updating your personal profile page and activating or refreshing your law firm’s “company page.” There is so much to say about LinkedIn that it goes beyond the scope of this article! Contact insurance defense marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela at 866-417-7025 or via email to discuss how to increase LinkedIn visibility for your law firm.
#5. Continuing Education Webinars
Offering a continuing education (CE) seminar for licensed claims adjusters remains an ideal way to retain current clients and attract new prospects. The opportunity for person-to-person interaction (even digitally) in this educational, non-sales format facilitates longer term relationships.
Continuing education is now conducted via webinar, most often over Zoom. The trend for adjusters to work remotely was taking place prior to COVID, but the pandemic made it final and, most likely, permanent. Now webinars are offered online.
Recommendation: Compile a list of 5 to 6 continuing education webinars that you have ready to offer to clients. Topics might include “Litigation 101 for Adjusters,” “Auto Liability: Significant Case Law Review,” and “Defending COVID Claims in the Workplace.” Aim for a 50-minute presentation, which is the typical length of a 1-credit course.
Webinars can be offered directly to clients, as well as through organizations where your law firm is active. If you belong to the local Chamber, for example, consider a webinar on litigation avoidance for workers’ comp or employment practices liability claims.
If your state requires advance approval for CE credits, start early to create your webinar materials for certification.
Summary for How to Become Panel Counsel in 2021
It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a personal relationship with some of the large P&C carriers. Some law firm managing partners have told me that while they may get a steady stream of incoming files from an auto carrier, for example, they would not even know who to contact at the insurance company about the overall relationship. This is due in part to reorganizations, office consolidations, and other corporate changes over time.
The biggest mistake law firms make in trying to get a new client is to stop selling too soon! It can take multiple outreach efforts to gain attention, so don’t stop at just one attempt.
Rainmakers who are wondering how to become panel counsel in 2021 can benefit from this simple five step insurance defense marketing strategy. Have a plan and work the plan! Contact insurance defense marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela at 866-417-7025 or via email to schedule a free marketing consultation.
Insurance Defense Marketing Consultant for Law Firms
If your insurance defense law firm is asking how you can improve your marketing communications and business development efforts, give us a call. We have helped more than 200 insurance defense law firms in 40 states pursue new client opportunities.
Legal Expert Connections, Inc. offers three key benefits to insurance defense law firms nationwide:
- We are the leading U.S. legal marketing agency specializing in the insurance defense market. We make it our business to identify who you need to contact at an insurance company, corporation or municipality to be considered as a panel counsel member. We accelerate your business development process by helping you focus on introducing your law firm to new prospective clients.
- You get a structured business development process. We guide your law firm through a proven three-step campaign that brings discipline, focus, and productivity to your marketing efforts.
- Increase revenue with professional, Bar-compliant legal marketing campaigns. We do the research to identify insurance panel managers, so you can focus your time on the business development process.
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This article is provided for educational purposes only. It is not to be interpreted as legal advice or an opinion in regard to any topic discussed. The article should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Every situation is different and circumstances vary widely depending on the governing state law, policy provisions, and related considerations.