An Exit Strategy That Spurred Rebranding and Business Growth
Outsourced CME Develops a Comprehensive New Corporate Identity for Prominent Walnut Creek Estate Planning Firm
Outsourced CME Develops a Comprehensive New Corporate Identity for Prominent Walnut Creek Estate Planning Firm
Founder and Managing Attorney
Absolute Trust Counsel
8 Years of marketing leadership and creative execution that affixed Absolute Trust Counsel’s authority at the forefront of the Bay Area estate planning marketplace and implemented a playbook of proven tactics and strategies for ongoing success.
The Rate of Success for All Tactics Resulted in Above Industry Averages:
• Email Marketing Open Rates and Conversions
• Social Media Marketing
• Public Relations
Absolute Trust Counsel is not your run-of-the-mill estate planning law firm. For over 20 years, Kirsten Howe and her legal team have been serving individuals and families in the greater Walnut Creek area with comprehensive, personalized California estate law. Step into the office on any given day, and you will see the team working with seniors, families in need of estate planning, those who have lost loved ones and are facing probate, families who have members with special needs, and families who are in need of nursing home assistance. The Absolute Trust team believes that comfort, specialization, and dedication translate into better results, but also a personalized planning experience you won’t find elsewhere.
Over the last few years, Kirsten Howe, Attorney at Law, had been dependent on selling estate planning services to build the firm via affiliates, referrals, events, and marketing tactics, among other avenues. However, it had finally hit its plateau. The current marketing tactics that were in place weren’t integrated to their fullest extent, meaning that they weren’t optimized for maximum results, which ended up slowing down business growth. In addition, founding and managing partner Kirsten Howe was looking ahead to the future of her firm and ultimately an exit strategy for herself within 15+ years.
Kirsten and team were in need of support and leadership from a marketing professional who could spur business growth and implement an integrated marketing strategy. We needed to work on crafting the firm’s sales funnel, driving more lead generation tactics, improving opportunities for sales, and positioning the firm’s authority. We also need to work on coaching and training the team, incorporating an exit strategy for Kirsten, and developing a new brand that the former and new audiences will know, like, and trust.
When I came on board, I knew that the firm was in need of a business-driving strategy, and we had a unique advantage because Kirsten was also looking ahead and thinking of her exit from the business. This meant now was the time to rebrand – before investing more equity in her firm. I immediate recommended a complete overhaul of the brand, starting with new name recommendations.
As I became more familiar with Kirsten and her team, I recognized how focused they were on two things: people and processes. I really wanted to acknowledge the personalized commitment and trustworthy approach that I observed as the team worked with clients. We went through several combinations and ideas but collectively decided that Absolute Trust Counsel was the new name. “Absolute” has the depth, meaning, intent, and refinement that represent the completeness of their processes and the complete trust that their clients place in them. And all together, the new name represented the firm’s long-standing value and personalized, focused approach to its clients continually throughout the years.
Kirsten was on the right track with her original color pallet of royal blue and yellow gold colors symbolizing responsibility, honesty, loyalty, etc. But we really wanted to emphasize the “best in class” and “trust” attributes of the firm, so we toned down the brightness to these rich gold and jewel-toned blue colors to symbolized these traits. The circle around the A symbolically represents “absolute” – a complete circle, the ease of use in the firm’s planning and processes. We also used a 3D effect on the graphic to symbolize depth – the commitment to detail and importance of trust in the firm’s estate planning.
When you create a new brand, that brand reaches across every touchpoint. My Q2Mark team and I proposed and designed special brand collateral that utilized a mix of the rich color pallet and the strategic logo components in different ways to drive brand awareness and accreditation – the collateral is fresh and effectively helped set the stage for the new Absolute Trust Counsel business launch and growth successes.
Far too often, consumers procrastinate on estate planning because they are afraid to face the uncertainty of their future – the reality of their eventual death – but in actuality, they don’t fully understand the estate planning process itself. Working with Kirsten, the firm’s intellectual value was apparent. Kirsten and her team are well versed in a vertical understanding of the field they serve backed by the positive relationships with their well-established client base. Tactically, I worked to capitalize on this by proposing and developing nine main lead magnets – six guidebooks and three reference guides highlighting informational content on key areas of the estate and trust processes that clients and potential clients would look to before, during, and after their own estate planning journey. These tools are also used across several different marketing mediums and in different strategies, ultimately working as sales funnels to drive leads back to AbsoluteTrustCounsel.com.
The Kirsten Howe website had lots of valuable information but was very outdated and wasn’t being used as a strategic tool to really drive engagement and leads. With a new brand underway, it was time for a new website, too. We started from scratch developing a new, more visually appealing site design. We wrote fresh, actionable copy for each page, incorporated key testimonials, worked to highlight the team’s extensive knowledge base that included over 200 blog posts, created a new free resource center for the lead magnets we developed, as well as Kirsten’s presentations, and incorporated a new medium – video.
In any major marketing strategy, you want to improve SEO, gain stronger consumer attention, increase the engagement rate and see stronger emotional connections. Video is a great way to do all of those things and was a big part of our strategy. We wanted the audience to get to know Kirsten and her team on a more personal level, understanding how knowledgeable she is on all facets of estate law.
The Q2Mark team and I created all video concepts from scratch and saw them all the way through final publishing across each Absolute Trust Counsel digital platform. To begin, I came up with a “Welcome to Absolute Trust Counsel” video followed by shorter videos highlighting each different estate law service that the firm offered. From there, the Q2Mark team and I worked on writing the scripts for each video and developing the storyboard. I spearheaded the search for a Walnut Creek videographer remotely while overseeing other projects at our Orange County office. And finally, I provided all creative direction during filming and post-production editing and branding processes. Then, we obtained the raw footage from the videographer to develop additional videos, including testimonial videos – expanding ROI and awareness.
When it comes down to it, the law can be very dry and confusing, and many potential clients or business leads don’t know what they need or want until a solution or valuable piece of information is right in front of them. Through many years of practice, Kirsten has honed her ability to make the estate planning process as simple and straightforward as possible. She also had so much valuable information to share, things that people don’t know about estate law and planning for their futures but should. Tactically, I worked to capitalize on this through implementing a social media strategy that packaged this valuable content in a way that was designed to engage, educate, and resonate with target markets. I also worked to craft the firm’s social media policy and then implemented rebranding efforts across each platform, again developing actionable new descriptive copy, updated graphics, and imagery – including Kirsten’s new headshots from the professional photo shoot we held – portraying a fresh, updated, and warm appearance.
Thinking big picture, our goal is to drive business and boost revenue, so of course, that meant addressing the firm’s pricing structure. We did some insightful industry research and some competitive analysis to propose pricing to better fit the professional services that the firm offered to clients. In addition to a new pricing structure, I proposed and developed tools to help sell its estate planning program and worked one-on-one with the sales team training them on new sales and customer service-related tactics.
The people who make up your business are the culture of your business, so no matter what department they are in they need to be trained at every touch point. I assessed all ways that customers interacted with Kirsten and her team and executed team training on everything from telephone calls to email campaigns to social media strategies and tactics.
When I first came on board, the team needed to hire new staff members. I assisted during the hiring process and in turn used this as a PR and marketing opportunity looking to gain more visibility for the firm.
Kirsten has done a lot of presentations and public speaking on the topics of trust and estate planning. She is quite prominent throughout the Walnut Creek community in that regard, but she was in need of some fine-tuning. As part of my business strategy with Kirsten, I implemented public speaking coaching, bringing fresh tactics and perspective to how she delivers her message and how she interacts and engages with her audiences. I also combed through her digital presentation files and worked to make them fresh, streamlined, and more visually appealing – an engaging accompaniment to her appearances.
With Kirsten’s deep knowledge of her field, I saw great opportunity in getting her on the East Bay’s media radar. I developed several concepts on how to drive print, TV, and radio appearances. To start, we curated press releases surrounding timely celebrity estate news, worked to secure radio show interviews, and pushed firm business news with the hiring of new employees and ultimately the launch of our new brand.
Today’s consumers are always connected and regularly consuming information. A question for us marketers, in general, is how you can continuously capture the attention of your audience, especially when they are always on the go or multitasking. The answer? A podcast. This type of media is mobile and personal, and it drives engagement.
Once again capitalizing on Kirsten’s broad knowledge base, I proposed Absolute Trust Talk. This is not 20 or 30 minutes filled with legal jargon, but a half-hour show filled with tips, strategies, stories, tactics, and discussions with like-minded business professionals who work to coach and encourage listeners to make educated and informed planning decisions for their futures.
After pitching and Kirsten approving this new tactic, I helped brainstorm topics and worked to reach out to potential guests for our one-week high launch. I worked to develop the internal processes and procedures, from brainstorming to recording to promo production, editing, and a full formula for launching each promotional piece. I also developed email campaigns that kept me in contact with guests throughout the production process to help train them on how to share our promos for maximum exposure and benefit to the guest and Kirsten.
Built into our marketing program for the Absolute Trust Talk podcast is the opportunity for Kirsten to interview other thought leaders in the Walnut Creek area. With each interview, we develop marketing tactics to promote the episode. Once approved for distribution and we launch the interview, we provide the show assets to the guests along with educational directions to help promote the interview on the guest’s website, email marketing, and social media. This strategy has yielded leads for Kirsten and her guests, SEO benefits, and more media appearances for all participants.
Businesses always tend to have that particular time of year when work slows down. Looking to keep our momentum going and the leads rolling in, I proposed we look into developing Facebook advertising campaigns. Kirsten and her team thought it was a great idea to keep the brand and her services top of mind. The Q2Mark team has develop Facebook advertisements that offered free access to our lead magnets and free consultations with Kirsten. We’ve directed traffic to a sign-up form so we can weed out potential customers from those just passing through, because people who follow through with filling out the sign-up form were most likely to be interested in Absolute Trust Counsel services.
I brought creative marketing and consulting services that cemented the firm’s field position and boosted alliances, and I have implemented a toolkit of resources and tactics for continued business success moving forward.
Extensive PR and media outreach resulted in securing several events and firm news pickup in the local Patch, Diablo Magazine, and East Bay Times, and a guest appearance on the Greg O’Donnell Financial Hour Money Matters radio show.
Simply put, branding is a promise to your customer, and when you brand yourself the right way, it gives you a significant edge. Rebranding Kirsten’s firm was unique because we knew her eventual end game was to leave, but we still wanted to highlight all of the hard work, successes, and experience she put into building her business. I’m proud to say we’ve started out strong, successfully launching a new corporate identity that represents specialized estate law, quality work, and personal dedication to clients.
To date, Absolute Trust Talk has over 3,500 unique downloads, and we’ve just celebrated our first anniversary of the show. We’ve worked hard to produce Absolute Trust Talk, perfecting all production processes required to make a successful podcast. I’m honored to report we have nothing but five-star reviews on iTunes, and we are successfully streaming on Google Play, Stitcher, and Libsyn.
By offering proven and actionable expertise to potential clients, we have been able to open eyes to the importance of future planning to protect loved ones. With each success, we continue to expand our efforts. Recently, Facebook reached out to us to recognize our marketing efforts and worked with us to build a case study. We’re driving traffic to AbsoluteTrustCounsel.com every hour of every day – this is rare for a law firm this size.
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