How to Select the Right Marketing Strategy for Your Law Firm
There are a lot of opportunities to market your practice. A comprehensive, detailed list would be many, many pages long. It’s an “embarrassment of riches,” so to say. The problem with all these choices is it’s hard to choose which option is right for you. After all, there’s a big difference between what looks or sounds good at first blush and what will actually be effective. I’ve heard plenty of sultry-sounding pitches from marketing vendors eager to wow me with the next great idea. And if my guard was down, the proposition would certainly tempt me. However, since I have a set of basic criteria to use and am aware of things you never want a marketing vendor to say, I avoid mistakes by simply saying “no” to bad ideas.
Members of Great Legal Marketing are encouraged early on in their journey to identify negative marketing expenditures and purge them from their books. (It’s a quick way to get more profit if you’re looking for some money in the practice.) We ultimately want you to use that money more effectively – spending on marketing is a good idea overall. But the first problem to solve is stopping the bleeding. Then, you need to employ the following three criteria to select the right marketing strategies for yourself going forward.
3 Critical Criteria for Your Next Law Firm Marketing Strategy
1: Play into a Strength, Not a Weakness
If you are strong writer, write web content and look into direct mail. If you are a good speaker, put on events, record audios, and shoot lots of videos. If you are a natural people person, find events where you can connect with potential referral sources.
There is a lot of value in investing in your strengths. It is, on average, much more valuable than propping up a weakness – particularly with marketing. By the way, it’s worth noting that what you’re good at may not always be the thing you like the most. There are plenty of great speakers out there who would be much happier clacking away all alone on a keyboard, but they get more value out of speaking, because it is their greatest strength.
With so many options, why not put your best foot forward? Take your talents and put them to work. Good speakers can reach out to local organizations, such a civic clubs, to get opportunities to speak. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to crank out a direct mail piece.
It’s also a lot easier to provide guidance to vendors if you actually understand the basics. For example, if you hire a copywriter but don’t know good writing from bad writing, there is increased risk.
Let me attach a big disclaimer here at the end: this doesn’t abdicate you from learning about and improving other parts of your marketing. It just means you should start with strengths. People who write a lot of web content because they are good writers eventually need to branch out into other mediums, just as speakers will need to eventually create written content to compliment the audios and videos they create.
2: Return on Investment
Honestly, this is even more important than the first item. Use one simple mantra when judging marketing ideas: “Show me the money!” When I talk about our Ultimate Referral Letter program, which we send as a free bonus to new members, I always emphasize the very real results achieved by attorneys. I know the range of return on investment, because I know the numbers. You need to monitor and know your numbers as well.
Don’t be misled by false return on investment from “free” marketing sources such as online content and social media. Free sounds good, but you end up spending a lot of time to make them work for you. The other problem, particularly with social media, is that you can spend a lot of time doing the activity without getting much accomplished. At least with direct mail, you can confidently know your letters are delivered. With organic social media, the algorithms and behaviors of others dictate your success of just getting in front of them. This is different from something like Facebook Ads, where you pay for targeted exposure and have greater control over the outcome.
By accumulating data such as your cost per lead and cost per acquisition, you can rapidly scale up your marketing. After all, it just becomes a formula of investing X dollars and getting Y dollars back.
3: Can (and Should) It Be Done Over and Over Again?
I loathe “one and done” marketing. For example, I’ve seen many times when a law firm gets excited about some community event, purchases a bunch of signage for the booth, and then never uses the signs again, even if the booth was a smashing success. Part of this comes from the first two criteria. If you don’t connect with the strategy or see a return on investment, you are unlikely to do it again. This means your upfront costs are just a burden, instead of averaging out over time as you repeat the strategy. The other problem is law firms choosing to purchase just a single ad space with no intention of repeating. It makes advertising seem affordable when you purchase just one week worth or radio spots or a print ad in just one issue of the local newspaper. However, you need to stay committed to an advertising space in order to yield its maximum benefits. Mike Mastry, an estate planning attorney in Florida and member of Great Legal Marketing, used a multi-month run of magazine ads to make sure he received a positive return on investment.
Many attorneys who are newer to marketing shy away from bigger commitments. And I think there is some wisdom in caution! You just don’t want to hamstring your advertising by hopping from one idea to the next and not giving an opportunity time to be realized.
Where to Go From Here…
These criteria are surefire ways to improve your odds at successful marketing. But marketing is always about the odds. There are no guarantees. You need to keep trying new strategies until you find what works. By making smarter choices using the above criteria, you narrow the field of options to those with the greatest chance at succeeding. This is how an entrepreneur like you needs to think! After all, you were willing to take the risk of opening your practice, and it was one of the best choices you made. Now it’s time to use the same idea of “calculated risk” to get more out of your marketing!
Most attorneys start their firms assuming that being a really, really good attorney should, in and of itself, be a marketing advantage. Those attorneys believe that joining a whole bunch of committees and putting their name in lawyer directories is “marketing,” and they never bother to ask if there is a better way.
Attorneys are catching on, however, and those who succeed learn to leverage their current resources to create effective (and ethical) marketing. What they discover isn’t a magic pill or silver bullet but a different approach to marketing that your competitors haven’t considered.
by Charley Mann
Charley is the Chief Marketing Officer at Great Legal Marketing and believes in results, Results, RESULTS!