Being a managing attorney at a midsize law firm is no easy task and it takes hours upon hours of dedicated service to keep it functioning properly.

From keeping up to date on changing policies to building the strongest case for your clients, it can sometimes seem as if there are simply not enough hours in the day. Due to this, the idea of spending non-billable hours, on marketing your law firm, can seem like a gross misuse of your time. With the importance midsize firms, in particular, place on billable hours, it can be a hard sell to convince them of the necessity for marketing their services.

Finding a law firm marketing plan that can keep your firm focused on client needs while still expanding your client base, is of utmost importance. To do this, first you must understand the available choices a midsize law firm has in order to ensure the future of your firm’s growth.

Which Law Firm Marketing Plan is Right for Your Firm?

There are an overwhelming number of marketing options you can consider when expanding the reach of your firm and it can seem nearly impossible to navigate towards the right decision. Since more traditional routes such as TV and Radio advertisements have proven to be ineffective, costly, and difficult to quantify in terms of their success, many firms have chosen to abandon most marketing efforts and instead focus on their current clients and practice. Too many attorneys have the mindset that if they dedicate 100% of their time on their case work, it will naturally lead to more clients as a result. Unfortunately, today’s market is oversaturated and clients simply dropping out of the sky is rarely the case. Marketing your firm has now become more important than ever. With less and less midsize law firms in existence every year, your law firm cannot afford to neglect taking necessary steps toward expanding its client base.

While it is noble to focus your efforts entirely toward your clients, imagine if you could convert some of that passion toward increasing your firm’s credibility, appeal, and exposure through marketing. When implementing an ethical marketing approach that naturally brings in clients who are specifically in need of your services, as opposed to a wide-net approach that tries to lure anyone in, you can reach better qualified prospects who need help the most. After all, there is no sense in throwing money away by advertising to individuals who have no interest in what you are offering. Targeting an audience that is genuinely interested in what you offer or have to say, allows your firm to both stay competitive and functional while increasing your ability to serve the people you have sworn to protect. Thankfully, “inbound marketing” provides this exact marketing solution.

Marketing Your Law Firm Through Inbound

The concept of “inbound” refers to marketing efforts that naturally bring prospects to your law firm, as opposed to “outbound” methods that reach out in hopes of grabbing their attention. Inbound marketing focuses on creating engaging web content that invites clicks and will attract prospects that are already in need of your service. Just imagine the difference between a website that talks only about your firm’s qualifications and previous cases, versus a website that provides answers and solutions to questions and problems your prospective client typically has.

Keep in mind, think about this from the mindset of your client, not as a managing attorney for your practice.

So, for example, if your firm specializes in criminal law, and creates a comprehensive article on the “necessary steps you must take if arrested on dui charges,” imagine the benefit a piece like this will have for the accused. Or perhaps your firm practices family law. There are an endless number of topics a mother or father might need to research regarding custody, alimony, steps to filing for divorce, and more. Your clients need solutions and answers and who better to give it to them than you, the licensed expert!

Content generated for those you aim to serve, has the greatest return on investment possible.

This approach also helps reshape your firm’s attitude regarding how it acquired the client. They found your firm because you provided a solution or answer to a problem. This prospect, prior to even speaking with you, now has a greater respect for the value your firm provides and is much more confident in your ability to see them through their legal matters. Additionally, using content to drive leads to your business is extremely measurable, unlike TV and Radio ads. Content marketing enables you to easily track the number of visitors to your website and the percentage of those visitors that become legal prospects. With inbound marketing virtually every click will be recorded, allowing your practice to see the exact return received on your investment.

Inbound marketing strategies can be implemented by anyone inside your firm who has marketing experience or you can hire a specialized company to ensure your campaign strikes with maximum efficiency. It takes a great deal of on-going effort to implement a content-based marketing strategy and often, midsize law firms are just too busy and focused on clients to take time out to strategize in a new marketing method they are unfamiliar with. Most will hire an inbound marketing specialist. Their expertise and experience will help to create a law firm marketing plan that will target the right audience(s) which will generate the most qualified traffic to your site. In the long run, more traffic and better traffic equals more clients and increased revenue for your firm.

Attorneys are both logical and analytical and because of this, are often hesitant to take on any approach that (in their experience) has not already been shown, without a doubt, to be effective. Most of the decisions and actions managing attorneys make are based on past precedent. This of course is what makes attorneys so good at navigating the muddy waters of legal procedures. Without this natural skepticism, they would lack the skills necessary to build a successful midsize law firm in the first place. Thankfully, the immense benefits of inbound marketing are evident and the success stories are easy to find.

Financial Benefits of Attorney Inbound Marketing

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of inbound marketing is the cost or shall we say savings. Despite that inbound has consistently been shown to be more effective than traditional advertising, the price of hiring an inbound team, by comparison, has not skyrocketed to unnecessary premiums. In fact, inbound leads end up costing your firm an average of 60% less than alternative outbound methods. For midsize law firms looking to expand their client base without breaking their budget into pieces, affordability is a must.

When working with an experienced team of professionals to create your legal inbound marketing strategy, you will be able to focus specifically on your target audience. This targeting is so intense that content created and tailored for your specific audiences often generates up to 67% more leads per month than those that cast a more general net of influence. Advertising to the general public is throwing money down the drain. You want to attract only those clients that need the specialty services that you can provide. Do not waste advertising dollars on bringing in prospects that are not a good fit for your firm.

When aligning your website with an inbound marketing methodology, you will allow potential prospects to get more familiar with everything you have to offer them on their own terms. By all means they should be able to learn more about your practice, case history, experience, etc. But this should be integrated along with other meaningful, useful content. You can even choose to create targeted campaigns around multiple practice areas or multiple lawyers within your firm. It is typical that building inbound campaigns around specific practice areas can yield the greatest results. Statistics show that when websites utilize inbound marketing, they often see up to a 400% increase in pages indexed in major search engines. This means when your prospects do a web search for services relevant to your firm, you are much more likely to show up on the first page of results.

Dispelling Marketing Assumptions & Speculation

Despite this wealth of information supporting the usefulness inbound marketing delivers to midsize law firms, many attorneys may still feel uncertain. It is common for law firms to have difficulty seeing past traditional marketing methods and why focusing solely on the firm’s expertise and case history as a “differentiator” can be damaging for growth. It is also common for managers dealing with business operations in a wide variety of industries to make assumptions about their client base or speculate about their behaviors. We often hear law practices say, “our clients do not look for answers online, they call us for answers” or “clients are contacting the first lawyer they see on the page, not reading blog content.”

While that might be true to some degree, making assumptions about all your potential prospects is unwise. After all how many exigent calls are you receiving week to week? This is probably the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, the assumption that customers are not doing research online prior to contacting a law firm is false. Clients are in fact searching online and more interested in solutions and answers than they are with your case history. Speculation on client behavior can be damaging to your firms growth. Inbound provides not only a measurable approach, but one that enables you to make marketing decisions based on actual documented behavior patterns, instead of mere speculation.

The Bottom Line

Midsize law firms need help.

That becomes more apparent every day as we see more and more midsize firms going away. The problem, after all is not in the size of the firm or the services it provides, but rather in its ability to generate sustainable growth and revenue. That is a marketing problem, not a business problem.

When entrusting your firm’s future to a reputable marketing agency, it enables you to continue putting in the long hours of dedicated casework for your clients while making a side investment toward bringing in new clients with whom you will be able to build lasting and worthwhile relationships as well. Think of all the previously underserviced members of the public out there just searching for the right firm to take care of their legal matters; by marketing directly to their pains, questions, issues, etc. you are creating a real opportunity to connect with the best potential pool of prospects imaginable. Realistically, there is no better investment a midsize law firm can make in today’s market.

Avoiding less effective and more costly attorney advertising strategies, hiring a marketing agency that specializes in law firm marketing, and focusing primarily on the client’s needs, will create massive gains for your practice. A choice in inbound marketing is a choice for keeping your time focused on your clients while ensuring that you will still be around 10 years from now to serve them. Make the investment in a solid, long-term marketing strategy. As David Maister, an expert on time management for professional service firms states, “your billable time is your current income… your non-billable time is your future.”

Key Takeaways

You found this article because you wanted to learn more about a marketing strategies for law firms. If you are a managing attorney, than the onus is on you to do what is best for your practice. And if you are operating a midsize law firm, there are a significant number of partners and employees all depending on the choices you make for better long-term growth. Here are some key points to remember about what you’ve read:

  • Time is your most valuable asset. Taking time away from your client’s needs, or using non-billable hours to build your business is counterproductive and a risk.
  • Adopting an inbound marketing strategy can significantly increase the number and quality of leads through your website.
  • Focusing on marketing strategies that align your firm with the concept of providing solutions and answers for prospects, in hopes of drawing them in, will produce higher quality conversion of leads, build trust earlier in the vetting process, and generate prospects that are an ideal fit for the specialized services you provide.
  • Inbound marketing strategies when implemented by marketing professionals can provide you with measured, quantifiable data and results that can be used to make better long-term business decisions for the benefit of your practice.

If you want to learn more about some of the biggest legal marketing challenges we commonly hear about from our clients, download a free copy of our eBook: 7 Key Legal Marketing Challenges.

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci is a Small Business Consultant and Strategic Branding Specialist. He calls Monterey, CA home and is a life-long musician who spends his free time writing, composing, and producing music. He has also co-authored two books, and is working on his own upcoming book titled, “Small Business Pricing Mastery – Creating effective pricing and defining value for today’s products and services.”

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