Our legal system is based on precedent. The predictability and stability that this brings to addressing any legal matter is critical and vital when running a successful legal practice. However, many law firms have also used precedent as a means to develop a marketing plan methodology. Henry Ford once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” As simple as that sounds it is powerful and true.
Law firms rely much too heavily on ineffective, expensive advertising and outdated marketing methodologies. Traditionally, lawyers don’t like spending too much of their time on their marketing plan. Time spent on anything but billable work is often frowned upon, especially in midsize law firms that rely heavily on their partners making the most of their time to generate revenue for the firm. Many attorneys feel that practicing law and marketing are completely unrelated. There is also the issue of ethics. Some attorneys think it is unprofessional to sell or market their legal services.
Many law firms marketing their services feel that traditional advertising techniques such as TV, radio, billboards, print ads, etc. are the only viable options for building awareness about their practice. And other attorneys are concerned over the message or the ethnical nature of performing more modern day general marketing activities such as blogging, sending out newsletters, or even hosting seminars on new legal ideas and developments for their clients.
The reality is, the general public needs help with a large variety of legal practice areas. Most of them have no idea how to find the right lawyer or how to go about qualifying one versus another. It’s up to you to let them know your firm exists and is truly the right fit for their needs. Because of this you need a law firm marketing plan that puts you in front of the right people who can use your help the most. A proper marketing plan serves this very purpose.
Traditional Law Firm Marketing Plan
Because of some of the issues raised above with respect to the reluctance of lawyers to market their practices, many attorneys often rely on old methods of advertising their businesses through Yellow Pages, Yelp, Billboards, Super Media, Lawyer.com, Avvo and others online and offline channels. According to a recently published online eBook the reliance on these traditional media advertising techniques are quite costly and many now believe that such strategies are not cost effective or generating any degree of measurable return on investment. The marketing landscape has changed considerably over the past decade. New methods of advertising have been ushered in through the evolution of social media and content and inbound marketing strategies. These changes do require a new legal marketing mindset. It’s critical for law firms to look carefully at what they are currently doing.
If your law firm is guilty of utilizing more traditional marketing methods ask yourself:
- What were the results of our last marketing campaign? Are the results measurable? If so, how?
- Do we think what we are investing in is working? How come?
- Based on our marketing costs, what are we spending to sign a new client?
- Are we able to determine the conversion rate of leads turned into clients?
- Can we measure the number of leads coming in at all?
Nearly every traditional legal marketer would say NO or they Don’t Know to every question above. The traditional model is not working. It’s time to update your approach.
New Issues in Law Firm Marketing Strategies
Marketing methods have become strategic in nature Experienced law firms have adopted some of the evolving marketing methods which differ significantly from the traditional methods. New methods have incorporated the best legal marketing structures which place more emphasis on the significance of market pull instead of product push strategies of the past. The following new techniques and methods have been incorporated by the healthiest law firms which adopt or draw from new techniques for the purposes of marketing their law firms.
Successful law firms now understand the importance of your name recognition and services niches which help them create a very strong identity, enabling them to better brand themselves and their services. Specialists dominate their markets while generalists fight to be heard and seen.
The Need for Competitive Intelligence
Today new emphasis is being placed on gathering new information from available internet sources on your competitors. This process is ongoing and may at times be tailored towards specific events and situations. Some midsize law firms have taken this a step further by creating the position of market analyst or researcher within their practice. Their role is to carry out these market research needs to gain competitive intelligence for developing a better legal marketing plan and strategy.
Client Loyalty and Retention
This is an important advantage often afforded to law firms which have developed programs to improve their ability to satisfy and retain many more of their clients. This is often delivered through Client Satisfaction interviews or surveys which have the potential to advance client retention and loyalty.
Building Sales Relationships
Many progressive and successful law firms do understand the important role of person to person business development. This is a very critical component in building better business relationship skills which can easily translate to more client relationships or at the very least keeping the clients you do have for much longer.
Role of Better Communications
There is greater internal and external communication in law firms that succeed compared to those lagging behind. Through greater external communication, much marketplace awareness is generated and through internal communications information about the company’s activities is shared. This can come in the form of marketing, building awareness about the firm, it’s services, as well as simply providing useful content which helps answers questions and presents solutions to problems expressed most by your target audiences.
Uses of Technology
Many law firms successfully employ technology to unearth hidden sales opportunities. For example, engaging with followers on Social media, newsletters, email marketing communications, blog subscriptions, etc you can use technology to keep in touch with your client-base whenever you come across useful information that would be of interest to them.
Business development is one good way to train lawyers on best industry practices. It can also help in the training of marketers and other staff members in line with the firm’s goals and objectives. You can be both a great lawyer and a great marketer with the right knowledge in place.
This is the biggest important factor in law firm marketing strategy today. Content marketing is still a relatively new concept to many law firms but is one of the most effective ways to attract new clients. Publishing great content that is significant and relevant to your target audience naturally will drive better leads to your website and improve your search engine rankings. The law firms which have transitioned to these new marketing techniques are best positioned to continue to attract more clients and sales in the coming years. Since content marketing drives traffic to your website it become much more measurable than traditional advertising methods. And, that is a big part of the problem with traditional advertising. It has been much more difficult to evaluate in terms of ROI and its success in attracting new clients to the firm.
There is no doubt that the process of buying and selling has dramatically changed. The sales process is no longer the first contact point for your new buyer. As these stats about traditional outbound marketing will show, the traditional marketing channels including television, radio print ads, and cold calling methods are no longer as effective as they were thought to be in the past.
Traditional advertising in general is invasive and impersonal. It’s meant to grab your attention, distract, lure, or entice you to take action. Often, it’s interruptive such as commercials or telemarketers, or even presumptive in nature, assuming you might be interested in a particular service even though you never indicated that you were.
Similar to relying on past precedent for making new marketing decisions, law firms also tend to mimic and follow marketing models being used by their peers and competing firms assuming if others are utilizing these methods and finding success, you will too. Nevertheless, emphasis is beginning to change and many firms have begun to abandon traditional marketing strategies in favor of an inbound buyers’ market model. There is also the issue that many law firms are transitioning to non-hourly billing which is anticipated to help facilitate changes in the legal industry in the direction of non-trial law.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Inbound marketing, similar to content marketing, has flipped the marketing world upside down. For any business or service provider with a well-defined target audience there is no other marketing method more powerful than inbound. This strategy focuses on generating amazing, useful content that is published where your target audience can easily find and use it. Inbound marketing strategies look to convert complete strangers into paying clients by appealing to their needs, pains, questions, and problems early on in the buying process. By developing a powerful legal inbound marketing strategy your content becomes the first thing your target audience sees online when searching to solve a problem or get answers. This, in turn, keeps your firm top-of-mind and helps you build awareness, credibility, and authority for your firm directly to those who need your help the most. Law firms love inbound marketing because it crosses no ethical boundaries. It is a gentler and permission based approach to marketing. Inbound marketing is internet based using your website as the hub to measure and qualify leads as good prospects for your firm. Inbound marketing has enabled the law firms using such approach to gain more client market share and sustainable revenue than traditional marketing at almost always at a fraction of the price.
You found this article because you were looking to learn more about a why your traditional law firm marketing plan needs an overhaul. Marketing success should be measurable. Highly measurable. And often, relying on older marketing methods it is not. If you cannot prove ROI for your current approach than something has to change. Some might take that to mean, you just need to throw more money at the problem but in fact the opposite might be true. Modern day marketing can cost a fraction of older marketing methods and prove to generate much more of a return on investment.
Want to learn more about some other critical marketing challenges to avoid for your law firm? Download our eBook and learn about the 7 key legal marketing challenges to avoid.