The Largest Oversights in Law Firms’ Marketing
Law firms typically commit three critical mistakes when setting up their own marketing. They don’t fully buy into marketing as a demand generation resource to drive clients to their doorstep, they aren’t measuring the performance of their efforts, and they aren’t planning for their own success.
Often we’ve found that when successful firms notice a decrease or plateau in growth, they start to dabble in “marketing”. This generally stems from partners meeting to discuss how to increase revenue at their firm. Often, those meetings end in a group of partners wanting to try marketing because they’ve heard it can work, and then throwing some amount of money at the problem. Here are the largest oversights in most firm’s marketing efforts, and what you can do to solve them.
The firm doesn’t understand how marketing can effectively drive clients
Think of marketing as systemic demand generation. It’s no longer a group of suits gathered around a concept board, pitching taglines back and forth as they down their third Old Fashioned. Marketing is now about data, web developers, and strategic masterminds who are laser focused on who is going to pay for your legal services. It’s their job to drop that potential client on your doorstep so that your firm can start a relationship with them and see if they are a good fit as a client.
Paying someone to tweet a few times a week is akin to tackling a home renovation job with a screwdriver and hope. A screwdriver is useful, but only for part of the job. If your firm’s goal is to increase demand for your services, then ads or a blog along doesn’t make sense. Marketing strategies have to be holistic and built to be sustainable.
A great marketing strategy continues to increase in yield year-over-year because it is constantly being refined. Refinement takes work, but for firms that want to grow their client base, it’s worth it.
They aren’t measuring performance
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. It’s interesting to know what firms have tried in the past, but the majority of the firms my legal marketing agency talks to can’t tell us any of their key performance indicators.
KPIs are specific numbers that measure the success, or failure, of your marketing efforts. How much does it cost a firm to get a new client? Too often I hear firms say “nothing, I get all of my clients from referrals and word of mouth” ... But word of mouth and unoptimized referrals are unpredictable and cannot be the foundation of a scalable law firm. They are terrific when they happen, but every firm hits a point where their referrals are stretched thin, and if there is no predictable flow of potential clients, there’s nothing to fill the gap. Thankfully most firms understand that marketing keeps the predictable stream of clients flowing, but measuring performance remains a problem. Not only do firms have to know how much it costs to bring in a new client, but they also have to know all of the checkpoints that prospective clients reach along the way.
They aren’t planning for success
From the very beginning of a marketing initiative, law firms need to have a clear idea of the return they want from the money they spend. Is your firm planning for a 1x, 2x, or 3x return on your current efforts to grow your firm?
Successful firms can happen upon a somewhat successful mix of marketing through trial and error, but that experimentation is expensive, and the going rate for the positive outcome is significantly more expensive than it needs to be. “Dabbling” in marketing is pricy in small chunks. This isn’t woodshop, and social media isn’t a chisel.
Using marketing tools without a solid plan is like buying stocks at random because you heard from “someone”, “somewhere”, that you could make some money. If a firm looks at marketing as an investment, as any firm should, the expectations on return are automatic. Once a firm corrects the oversight of not having a concrete goal for their marketing, the rest of the correction falls into line. With a concrete goal (say 3x return on deployed marketing capital in two years) then a firm needs to create a path from start to finish. By having a goal that measures success and failure, a firm can judge ongoing marketing initiatives and adjust as needed.
Judging marketing initiatives by their yield, measuring performance with visible reports, and planning for success will bypass three huge oversights of most law firm’s marketing. This doesn’t make a firm’s marketing plan any easier. In fact, correcting these oversights makes a marketing plan significantly more difficult. But, the effort changes a firm’s marketing strategy from a hobby into a funnel of prospective clients. Marketing is an investment, and like any investment, it needs attention, analysis, and time.