As we’ve discussed in previous posts, marketing is not typically an area were lawyers tend to excel. For that reason, small firms and solos rely mostly on word of mouth. As these firms grow, they usually end up paying some type of marketing company to help bring new leads in the door. There are ton of paid marketing channels out there, some better than others. So before you jump in and spend any of your hard earned revenue on marketing, it’s important to have a good strategy in place. Here are the 3 things to do before you pay for law firm marketing.
3 Things to Do Before You Pay for Law Firm Marketing
1. Do Your Due Diligence
Not all marketing is created equal. Not only that, but the marketing industry as a whole has its fair share of questionable tactics and shady companies. Due diligence is a necessary first step.
The type of research required will depend on the type of paid marketing. We’ll break it down into three broad categories and provide some tips for each.
There are many different lead generation services for lawyers, from state bar referral services, to websites like LegalMatch or TotalAttorneys, to call center/answering services and more.
The biggest thing to find out before signing up is how you will pay for the leads.
Licensed attorney referral services typically take a percentage of your fees in addition to a monthly rate. Non-authorized lead services may charge a flat fee per lead, a monthly subscription fee, or some type of hybrid fee structure between the two.
You should also be aware of the types of practice areas these services specialize in, and make sure that they align well with your own focus and pricing structure.
For certain practice areas where case values are potentially very high (e.g. personal injury or class action lawsuits), it may be worthwhile to use state bar referral services and pay a percentage of your fees. Other types of legal matters like DUI or criminal cases may be better suited for a pay-per-lead model, while more transactional practices may not find any of these lead gen services to be cost effective.
There are countless different advertising channels for attorneys to consider, from the classic phone books and park benches, to the modern day Google and Facebook ads. The biggest thing you must think about before starting to advertise is who your target clients are, and where they are spending most of their time.
If most of your clients are younger, tech savvy people, you should think about advertising online and invest in a good website that converts. If you work with older people or those in rural areas who do not utilize technology in their everyday lives, maybe a bus stop or newspaper is the way to go. If your clients are members of a particular ethnic group or socioeconomic class, maybe advertising on specific radio stations or magazines would work.
The effectiveness of advertising lies in your ability to reach the right people at the right time. This is why knowing your audience is so important. So before you decide to invest money into an advertising campaign, spend some time thinking about who your ideal client is, and doing research into which advertising channels are likely to target them best.
Many marketing agencies will promise the world and claim to be your golden ticket to law firm growth. As you might expect, some of them won’t live up to their own hype. So before you hire one, there are a number of factors you should consider.
For one, the biggest concern to be aware of is cost. The last thing you want is to lock yourself into a $5,000 per month marketing deal unless you know it will yield more than $5,000 in monthly revenue for your firm.
Some marketing companies (particularly those who focus on SEO and other digital strategies that most lawyers aren’t as familiar with) will try to take advantage of their unknowing clients. They’ll charge a high monthly retainer, because “lawyers have money,” but provide minimal effort.
Before hiring any marketing company, ask about their experience doing law firm marketing. You may even try to find a firm that focuses exclusively on law firm clients, as they will understand your needs better than an all-purpose type firm (we recommend One-400).
You should also ask them for references and other proof of their effectiveness. Find out who some of their existing customers are and ask for case studies or success stories if they have them.
2. Create a Plan of Action
Having done your research into different marketing channels and options, the next step is to decide which makes the most sense for your firm’s needs and come up with a strategy.
If your plan is to use lead generation, you should plan to implement good processes for lead tracking and follow up.
Lead generation services tend to produce a high volume of leads, but they’re not so great for conversions. You can improve your conversion rate by actively communicating and following up with each lead frequently, as we discuss in our guide to the legal sales process.
If advertising is your chosen approach, and particularly digital advertising, your plan should involve lots of testing and iteration.
In order to get the most out of an ad campaign, it’s important to test different types of advertising messages, language, photos and imagery, etc. to see what converts best. Facebook, Google, and the other major online advertising channels all include built in analytics tools to measure this type of data.
If you plan on outsourcing and hiring a marketing company, that doesn’t mean you should plan to take a hands-off approach.
You should remain actively involved in the decision making and keep tabs on the work that’s getting done, as well as the results it’s producing. Good communication with your marketing company is key.
3. Establish a System to Measure Effectiveness
The biggest problem law firms have with paid marketing is that they tend to have a “set it and forget it” mentality. In fact, this is the exact opposite of what you should do.
Once you’ve made a decision on what marketing channel makes the most sense for your firm and done your due diligence, the final step is to implement a good system for measuring the effectiveness of your efforts.
You need to have a way of tracking and analyzing data. This is why utilizing a law firm CRM is so important for firms that pay for marketing. Here are the major data points to keep track of:
- Where each new lead comes from, i.e was it actually a direct result of your marketing campaign?
- How well your leads are converting, i.e. is your marketing attracting leads with real legal issues that are likely to hire you or people who just have questions?
- How much revenue those conversions produce, i.e. are they high value clients and what is the average value for each lead?
- What is your ROI on marketing spend, i.e. how much excess revenue is your marketing strategy generating beyond what it’s costing you?
Without a good system in place to measure these kind of stats, it’s difficult to assess whether your marketing efforts are worthwhile, or whether you should think about trying another strategy.
We built Lexicata to address many of the challenges involved with managing leads and analyzing this type of data. When you have a good system in place, paid law firm marketing is no longer a shot in the dark. It becomes a strategic, deliberate effort with a tangible impact on your bottom line.