Personal injury faces tough year as whiplash reforms approach

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This year is going to force many personal injury businesses to carefully consider their strategy as the whiplash reforms challenge existing business models, writes Andy Cullwick, head of marketing at First4Lawyers

As an industry, we experienced unprecedented change last year, and while we’d like to be able to say that it’s nearly behind us—that’s unlikely. Even though it might not feel like it now, the year ahead is likely to see the pandemic recede as vaccines start to become more widely available, much to everyone’s relief, but for personal injury, as one door closes, another opens. And as far as 2021 is concerned, that door is marked ‘reforms’.

It may be two years late, but the government has made clear its intention to introduce the whiplash reforms in April 2021. Although still—despite all the time that has passed—the pre-action protocol and practice directions governing the new regime have yet to be published. So, we all now find ourselves in the position of having to prepare for the changes without having the detail. 

Even so, it is clear that the personal injury market is only going to get more competitive. If the reforms push firms out of low-value road traffic accidents, then there are going to be even more eyes turning to other areas of personal injury. Add in the regulatory pressure to encourage consumers to shop around and getting them just to look at you in the first place is only going to get harder.

So, if you are going to attract new claims, you need to be smart, strategic and stand out from the crowd. 

Your marketing strategy is more important now than ever before and needs to be carefully tailored to ensure that the money you are spending is directed at the right tools to reach your potential clients. Your marketing budget can disappear very quickly without achieving the desired results if you’re not careful. And even if it appears to be delivering, are you sure that you are making every pound work for you? 

Take a look at your existing marketing activity

Review your existing marketing plan (and if you don’t have one, now is most definitely the time to put one together). Do you know why you do what you do? Is there a coherent, client-centric strategy? Is the impact of your activity measurable and how often do you monitor the results? Listen to the experts—just because you are an expert in your field, doesn’t necessarily mean you know best.

Work out who you are

Identify your brand and personality so you know what the message is that you want to send to potential clients. Look beyond the attributes everyone else would claim, such as providing good service, and determine what is special about your practice, and what you can offer to make a client’s experience as smooth as possible.

Review your website

There are simple measures you can start looking at such as ensuring there are clear routes on your website, which direct customers to key areas such as online quote tools, information about your services and experience, and online chat functions. However, website design is a seriously specialist skill for consumer-facing businesses nowadays. You will probably need to appoint external experts to make sure it sends the right signals and is optimised for search.

Create an action plan for improvement

Map out step-by-step the actions you need to take, along with the people in your team who are going to take responsibility for them and a deadline for completion. Issues to consider include marketing channels, how you are going to establish trust in your brand, and how you will track outcomes.

Implement your plan

Be sure to celebrate your successes with your team but keep a very close eye on performance. Don’t rest on your laurels!

This year is going to force many personal injury businesses to carefully consider their business strategy as the reforms challenge existing business models and marketing strategies are going to play a hugely important role in a shifting landscape. Take time to start investing in yours as early as possible.

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