The definition of law firm marketing is the practice of attracting new potential clients to your law firm. It can be made up of varied styles and channels such as SEO, digital marketing, blogs, social media, and various print and digital ads. However, there's a big gap between marketing plan and marketing execution when it comes to law firm marketing. Things are not so straightforward.
Unlike many companies, law firms aren’t offering simple goods and services in the way that a restaurant, a car dealership, or a housekeeping service are. Businesses like that can offer deals like discounts, BOGO offers, and other holiday and seasonal promotions.
Can you imagine a “Fourth of July Personal Injury Blowout Sale” or “Buy One Divorce, Get the Next One Free”? There are no coupons for legal services, and even if there were, no one would want a lawyer they hired with a coupon.
The lack of competitive pricing options in marketing is just scratching the surface, too. Most industries face only a few overall rules and regulations on what they can say and do in their advertising. However, the legal world needs to abide by a massive set of legal and ethical guidelines to stay out of trouble. Some are national and some are on the state level, while some affect one practice area and not another. A lawyer has to jump through a lot of hoops to advertise their services compared to most other businesses.
So is the effort worth the returns? Absolutely! Law firm marketing has moved from an advantage to a necessity as the world got more connected than ever.
A few decades ago, an ad in the yellow pages and good word of mouth was enough to keep your law firm busy with new cases. Things have changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more law firms popping up around your location to compete with. We're not even counting the large statewide and nationwide firms expanding into their territory and occupying the top search results. And now, with lead generation companies grabbing up leads to sell back to lawyers and laws passed in Arizona regarding non-attorney law firm owners, the lawyer competition isn’t even the only threat.
That’s why it’s vitally important to market your law firm to build a brand for yourself and set yourself apart from other firms handling the same kind of cases in your area. In five years, the only lawyers still working will be the ones whose identity has survived through the power of marketing.
In order to make sure you’re communicating your needs clearly, and that you understand responses from vendors and marketers, it’s important to know a few key legal marketing terms:
A lead refers to a potential client whose contact information you have received. Sometimes, the client provides it directly, and sometimes, they may have given their name to a third party like a lead generation company. These are people who willingly shared their contact information with you with a greater likelihood of needing your help than the average person.
When you get a number of leads, some will turn into clients and some will not. Your conversion rate is the percentage of leads that “convert” into clients from your total number of leads. So, if you have 50 leads, and from those leads, and you convert 5 of them into clients, then your conversion rate is 10%. Knowing these numbers helps you to calculate how much a case costs to acquire.
This phrase describes the part of your marketing that asks a potential client to take an action. Sometimes it could be calling a number or visiting a website. It could also be things like downloading an ebook or answering a survey to see if they’re eligible. You're trying to give a clear actionable step to your potential client. That is your call to action.
This describes a single-use web page designed to get potential clients to do one specific task. A landing page might be where a potential client goes to download an ebook, or they might go to a landing page to fill out a form about their case. Landing pages are designed to make it easier to track clients, with each landing page representing one kind of campaign. It allows you and your marketing team to accurately track where leads are coming from.
Often abbreviated as SEO, this is a process of building and expanding your website with intentionally-created content that will make it rank higher in the results of search engine sites like Google. The goal is to get higher in the SEO rankings to appear closer to the top of Google so that people will see your listing and visit your site. It is a slow and complex process, but one that is proven in the long run to get attorneys more organic clients from Google.
Return on Investment or Return on Ad Spend
The ROI or ROAS is a way of figuring out how much money was made from the money spent on marketing. The formula for establishing ROI is: net income divided by cost of investment x 100. For example, let’s say you spent $5,000 in a month on marketing expenses, and you got three cases from it. If those three cases are worth approximately $10,000 each, then you divide $30,000 by 5,000 and multiply by 100 to get an ROI of 600%.
This type of advertising, frequently abbreviated as PPC, is designed for clients to only pay when a potential client actually clicks on an advertisement. Unlike ads on TV or billboards, which charge a rate based on prominence and audience size but gives no guarantees of actual interaction from potential clients, a PPC ad only charges you when someone has clicked on your ad. The ability to track those numbers, as well as the ability to target ideal audiences for PPC campaigns by choosing ideal keywords, makes PPC an effective marketing avenue for law firms.
Law firm marketing is a complex process, but it can generally be broken down into ten steps that need to be accomplished:
There are recommendations that vary from using 2% to 20% of your firm’s budget for your marketing. The factors vary based on your geographic location, your practice area, and other considerations like how long your firm has been established, and what your competition looks like. However, most law firm marketers agree on one thing: marketing is not the place to cut corners on costs. When you have plants in your house, you don’t try to give them the least amount of water they can survive on. The same is true of business you want to see grow: you have to give them enough to thrive, not just survive.
A brand identity is a longer and more complicated conversation, but the basic concept is that you need to create an identity for your law firm that sets you apart from your competition. It needs to leave a strong impression on your public for them to approach you. A brand identity includes the firm name, the logo, a slogan, and most importantly, the overall message you want to share about your firm. This isn’t a quick or simple step. You need to identify your firm's core values, services, and unique selling points, and then find a way to shape that into your brand.
Most lawyers would be happy to take any potential client’s case, as long as they know how to handle it. The truth, however, is that there are ideal clients for your law firm. Some people are a great fit, while others are difficult to work with. Cases can stretch on for months or several years. A successful case is driven by a healthy partnership with your client. So you may appeal to only certain people even if you are unaware of it. However, the numbers don't lie. By looking back at your previous clients, you can see a pattern of the kind of person who becomes your client. You can see which ones were easy to work with and had the most success with. Demographics like age and race, as well as lifestyle circumstances like single parents or business professionals, might be a key target for your potential clients. You need to dig deep into your client files and find that pattern so you can use it to identify future potential clients.
If people can’t find your law firm, it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job. That’s why you need an online presence. A website is a 24-hour billboard on the information superhighway, always there whenever anyone is looking. It is a virtual representation of your business, so it needs to look great. Many lawyers have outdated or inexpensive sites, and those aren’t doing them any favors. If you wouldn’t go cheap on the office building you have your law firm in, then you shouldn’t do it on your website, either. It’s often the first place people interact with your firm, and if it doesn’t represent you well, it may be the last place they see you as well.
“Content” is a word that covers a lot of ground in law firm marketing. It can include information pages on your website, blogs, video content produced for YouTube and other social media, commercials and other types of ads, and other things like ebooks. The more content you have, the more opportunities you have to connect with potential clients.
No one knows everything there is to know about law firm marketing, which is why it’s always a good idea to connect and communicate with marketing people and other attorneys. The more perspectives you can take in about how to market your law firm, the more options you have and the stronger your marketing will be. It’s the reason we at BLG started the MasterMind program, where attorneys gather to share best practices, and the Billion-Dollar Coaching, where we work with and mentor attorneys who want to grow their firms.
The way we communicate has changed forever because of social media, in both good ways and bad. The greatest advantage for attorneys is that you can build a connection to potential audiences in a much cheaper way than before. You can create consistent, inexpensive content to post on social media to build a following and become a trusted brand online.
As you start marketing your firm, you’ll be taking on more cases, which means you will be busier. You could be losing precious leads and essential case work time by handling tasks that can easily be automated or delegated. You can use automation programs like Zapier to connect programs so you don’t have to monitor them yourself (like sending leads into your CRM program, for instance). It can also include hiring remote workers from overseas to handle tasks like printing reports, replying to reviews, and many other time-intensive tasks you need to get off your own plate. This leaves you more time to focus on your new clients. We discuss this more below.
Most of your new marketing efforts will not be free, so you want to monitor them to see which are working for you. If you can identify which marketing efforts are not returning on their investment, you can either work to fix them for better performance, or you can simply stop spending on them. That way, you’re not continually spending on new marketing ideas that aren’t bringing in new clients.
Once you see the performance level of your marketing efforts, you can make the adjustments necessary to improve their performance. These adjustments can take a number of forms, from changing the ad copy and imagery to altering the intended target audience on social media ads. Optimization is a constant process designed as test-and-result, where you try new things to see how they perform and measure the results to gauge success.
Most attorneys don’t like to think of themselves as working in customer service. Lawyers go to school for many years to gain knowledge and practice for a long time to gain the skills they have. They feel it’s an insult to think of themselves as simply customer service.
However, that’s the undeniable truth of it. There are no lawyers without cases, and there are no cases without clients. That’s why lawyers who take a client-centered approach to their law firm marketing get more clients who appreciate them more.
One of the keys in transforming both your firm and your marketing to center the client is to balance two elements equally: results and experience. Many attorneys and firms put all their effort into the result that they will get a client in their case. Obviously, that is vitally important for individual cases and for the overall reputation of the firm. You absolutely need that. However, the focus on results can accidentally lead to a lack of focus on the experience of your client.
For example, you may be hard at work on a client’s case, but you may not be communicating your progress to the client well. If a client feels uninformed or left out, that will be the experience they go away with, even when you may be doing a great job getting them a result. You need to make them feel involved and assured that their case is heading towards a positive outcome.
The same is true for your marketing. If a client can’t see themselves reflected in your marketing, they will have no reason to listen, care, and reach out to you. We’ve all seen the ads where attorneys mention the school they attended and the industry awards they’ve won. That may seem impressive, but it actually only means anything to people in the legal industry. The average client doesn’t know the difference between law schools, and they’ve never heard of those legal awards.
Most people don’t actually know what they want or need in a lawyer. They’re not going based on any clear understanding of the legal system. They’re using their gut because they have nothing else. Ultimately, they want to believe that you know what they need and you can provide it. When you talk about yourself and your accomplishments, it doesn’t address their real needs.
So what should you put in your marketing to capture the client’s attention and appeal to them first? Two things: identification and action.
Identification means speaking directly to your ideal client so they feel seen and will pay attention. Your marketing should speak to your ideal client front and center before anything else. Examples would be openers like:
Once you have properly identified those potential clients, you can move onto the action portion. This is exactly what it sounds like: you discuss what is happening and what can be done about it. You don’t need to go into complicated legal details. In fact, the more you do that, the less likely they will understand and connect to you. What works best is simple: include and conclude. Here are some examples of that:
When you point your marketing towards your client instead of your firm's qualifications, you’ll see a major difference in the reception it receives.
Many lawyers become overwhelmed when they start marketing their firms because they try to do everything at once: SEO, PPC, social media, billboards, TV, radio, and the list goes on. The reason they try it all is because they don’t know what will work, and they need a steady flow of new clients. However, a broad, scattered strategy is directionless. That's why it often ends up being fruitless and leads to unnecessary financial damage.
The better strategy is to roll out marketing activities in specific areas first, giving yourself time to test material and optimize one kind of marketing before moving into another.
There is a parable about a man who needed water and decided to dig a well. He dug down one foot and found no water, so he moved to a new spot and dug down one foot again. Still, no water. He tried this eight times, and then he gave up, saying there was no water to be found. But the truth was, the water was eight feet deep in the ground. If he had simply stayed in the first hole and kept digging, he would have found water. But he changed course too often, and because of that, he missed out.
It’s always possible to expand to new marketing strategies once you have successful ones in place that are bringing in clients and new revenue. For instance, you could begin by using PPC ads on Google, since PPC ads have a fairly quick turnaround to convert into cases. Once you have that optimized and performing well for you, then you can start to invest in longer term strategies like improving your SEO and creating organic social media content. That way, your successful marketing strategies are helping to pay for the ones that are still in their growth phase.
When you have a law firm thriving with new cases and clients from your marketing efforts, you’re going to have no time to devote to things you once did yourself, like certain aspects of the legal process and even some of the marketing processes. That’s when it’s time to consider outsourcing and working with vendors.
Important but time-consuming parts of the legal process, such as requesting medical records or drafting documents, contacts, and agreements, can drain your internal resources. However, finding an outsourced solution frees up your time for higher-level work without adding exorbitant costs.
Additionally, when your firm has a higher volume of cases to deal with, you won’t have the time to focus on the marketing efforts that brought them in to begin with. That’s an ideal time to connect with marketing vendors who offer a steady hand, a consistent presence, and an eye for detail that will keep your marketing efforts running uninterrupted.
Brain Trust Legal Group created their Billion-Dollar Coaching program and MasterMind program because legal marketing is one of the most complicated and expensive areas of marketing. It’s vital for attorneys to know, but many people in the world of marketing don’t understand the intricacies of the law.
The power of a coaching program like ours is in its focus on learning from other attorneys and law firms. Marketers understand theory, but lawyers live the reality every day. If you have to take advice from someone for the marketing success of your firm, it makes sense to choose an attorney who has already found marketing success in their own firm.
If you’re interested in learning more about BLG’s Billion-Dollar Coaching program, email us at [email protected] for more information.
"*" indicates required fields