6 Law Firm Marketing Mistakes that Will Stifle Your Growth

Law firm marketing can be a challenge. Most lawyers have very little time to devote to marketing, and there are often many firms competing for the same clients, which increases costs. But marketing is not something you can overlook. In order to succeed and grow your practice, a proper marketing strategy is essential. In this post, we’ll cover six of the most common law firm marketing mistakes to help you get on the right track with your marketing plan.

Mistake #1: Not Using the Right Marketing Strategy

First and foremost, you have to know what marketing strategy you should even try. There are a ton of possibilities:

  • SEM/PPC ads
  • Facebook ads
  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • SEO
  • Email marketing
  • Lead generation services
  • Content marketing
  • Directories (e.g. Yelp, Avvo, Lawyers.com, etc.)
  • Physical ads (e.g. billboards, bus stops, yellow pages, etc.)
  • Networking
  • Hosting seminars and events
  • …and many more

Most lawyers are not marketing experts and may have limited knowledge about any of these strategies. That’s why one of the most common law firm marketing mistakes is not even knowing where to begin.

Using the wrong strategy will lead to wasted time and money, so it’s critical to understand the pros and cons of various marketing approaches, and most of all, which marketing strategies work best for which types of firms, and why.

Avoid this Mistake by Learning about Marketing

You cannot expect to see good results from your marketing if you are going in blind. Before you implement a marketing plan, you should strive to develop a basic understanding of common legal marketing methods.

Learn about how each one works, why it works, the amount of effort involved, what the costs are, whether you can outsource it, etc., and you’ll have a much higher likelihood of success.

To get a jumpstart, check out these posts we wrote specifically to help lawyers understand the basics of marketing:

Mistake #2: Having a Poorly Defined Target Audience

When you break it down, marketing is really just the process of communicating your message to potential customers with the intention of getting a response from them.

In order to do that effectively, your message needs to resonate. You’ve got to speak the language of your clients.

But, unless you know precisely who those people are, it’s challenging to engage with them and communicate in a way that they will make them likely to respond. It’s like talking into an abyss.

Failing to define a target audience before starting a marketing campaign is another one of the biggest law firm marketing mistakes, and it will reduce the efficacy of your strategy significantly.

Avoid this Mistake by Defining Clear Client Profiles

You should create an “ideal client profile” for every area of law you practice. Focus on some of the following questions:

  • How old are your clients?
  • What are their interests?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What socioeconomic class do they come from?
  • And most importantly, what problems are they facing that you can solve?

Before you start out with any marketing approach, ask yourself these questions, and write down the answers in order to create a clear picture in your mind of what your ideal client looks like.

That way, when you craft your value proposition, or your email subject line, or the title of your article, or the headline for your advertisement, or any other marketing message of any kind, you will write it as if you were speaking directly to that person.

Compare the two marketing messages below, and you will see exactly why speaking the language of your target audience is so much more powerful:

  1. “We help businesses solve legal problems.”
  2. “We help food businesses navigate complex laws around food safety and labeling regulations.”

See the difference? If you were a food business, which law firm would you contact?

For even more info, read our post about how to build a strong law firm brand.

Mistake #3: Hiring the Wrong Person or Marketing Agency

Most lawyers won’t have the time or desire needed to become an expert in marketing. But that’s ok!

In fact, it’s often smart to outsource activities that fall outside the scope of your core business, or better yet, to hire a staff member who is smarter than you in those areas.

However, hiring an agency or employee comes with significant financial risks and liability. If you don’t hire the right person for the job, it can be a major hindrance to your success.

Unfortunately, law firms are often taken advantage of by marketing companies, and they end up overpaying or being sold unnecessary services. This is one of the most common and costly marketing mistakes made by lawyers.

Avoid this Mistake with Proper Due Diligence

The challenge with hiring someone in an area that you know little about is that you cannot properly vet their abilities when you don’t know what to look for, or what might be a red flag.

It’s critical that you perform proper due diligence before making any marketing hiring decision. Here are some tips:

  • Ask for referrals from colleagues who have had success
  • Conduct extensive interviews and never hire the first person you meet with
  • Get references from past customers
  • Look at examples of their past work to ensure quality and attention to detail

It’s also important that you learn the basics of marketing before interviewing any potential candidates. The last thing you want to do is go into an interview uninformed and get oversold or pitched on services that you don’t need or that won’t be effective for you.

Ideally you should develop your own marketing plan, and then just pay the agency or employee to execute. Don’t let them dictate the entire strategy because they will never care about your business as much as you do, and unfortunately they may not always have your best interests in mind.

For more, see our post about the checklist of basic skills every law firm marketing person needs to be effective.

Mistake #4: Failing to Track and Follow Up with Leads

Most marketing strategies are not free, and some are very expensive. When you are spending money to acquire new potential clients, it’s important that you do everything possible to convert them in order to get a return on your marketing investment.

This should be obvious, yet so many law firms are failing at lead management, relying on unread emails in their inbox, sticky notes on their desk, Excel spreadsheets, or a variety of other unreliable systems for keeping track of their sales process.

This is one of the most easily avoidable law firm marketing mistakes, but we’ve seen it happen time and time again, and it creates a significant barrier to growth.

You need to spend time implementing a proper system to track and follow up with potential clients before you ever spend a dollar on marketing. Without the right system, you will inevitably let potential revenue slip through the cracks and allow your marketing budget to go to waste.

Avoid this Mistake by Implementing a CRM

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) is designed specifically for the purpose of tracking potential customers and helping sales teams close more deals. CRM software acts as the foundation of a good sales process.

Many lawyers fail to even realize that they are in sales, but law firms must sell their services to clients just like any other kind of business. Law firms can benefit tremendously from implementing a CRM to manage and follow up with their leads and streamline the intake process.

Also, while there may be some crossover in functionality, it’s important to note that a CRM serves a very different purpose from the traditional case management software that most law firms are using.

Case management software focuses on billing, calendaring, and storing data and files. In other words, the processes after someone becomes a client. A CRM focuses on the retention process, and on building and maintaining strong relationships with potential clients and other professional contacts.

So don’t try to make your case management software do something that it isn’t designed to do. You will inevitably see less than optimal results.

Learn more about CRMs and what they can do for your practice in some of our other popular posts:

Mistake #5: Not Measuring Key Metrics

Marketing is somewhat of an experiment. You can never be certain that it will work, and sometimes it works even better than expected.

Identifying a good strategy that will be cost effective and that will yield a sufficient amount of new business for your firm will take a decent amount of trial and error. But how will you know what’s working and what isn’t without data?

It’s impossible to know if you are getting a positive ROI from your marketing expenses, or how one campaign is performing compared to another if you aren’t keeping track of key metrics like ad spend, conversion rate, and ROI.

Many lawyers have largely overlooked the importance of leveraging data to grow their businesses. But failing to measure KPIs (key performance indicators) is a very common law firm marketing mistake that you must avoid in order to grow your firm.

Avoid this Mistake by Using Software to Capture Data and Generate Reports

At the very least, you should be tracking the following list of key performance indicators for every marketing campaign:

  • Total marketing spend
  • Number of leads generated
  • Cost per lead
  • Conversion rate (i.e. percentage that hired your firm)
  • Cost to acquire a client
  • Average revenue per client
  • ROI

You should use software in order to collect all the data you need to produce these metrics. Many CRM products will have built in reporting capabilities, which is nice because you don’t have to do any extra work to get the data you need.

By simply using a CRM to enter leads and manage the sales process, you should automatically have all the data points to produce reports on these marketing KPIs.

That way, you will know exactly how well any given marketing strategy is working, and you can make tweaks to your existing campaigns and observe the effects to get even more “bang for your buck.”

Related posts:

Mistake #6: Not Adapting Your Approach with Time

It would be ideal if you could just turn on an ad, let it run forever, and see a steady stream of new business. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Marketing requires constant learning and adaptation. What’s working today won’t work forever, as new trends emerge and competitors enter the scene and steal away market share.

The practice of law is a relatively high margin business, meaning the revenue earned per matter is normally much higher than the firm’s expenses. But this has led some law firms toward marketing complacency.

They end up relying solely on an inconsistent stream of referrals, or they fall into a “set it and forget it” mentality, running the same ads for far too long, never updating their website, and never posting to social media.

You can get by with this approach in a high margin business, but if you intend to grow your practice, this is a major mistake. You need to maximize your marketing ROI in order to grow your business, and complacency will have just the opposite outcome.

Avoid this Mistake by Learning from Your Data and Iterating Your Strategy

On a regular basis, at least monthly, you should do a recap of all your marketing strategies and evaluate how well they are working by digging into the data.

Take a look at the key metrics (the ones listed above) and take note of any numbers that are declining. If there is a consistent, downward trend, it’s time to make a change.

The change you make will depend on what marketing strategy you are using. It might be something simple like swapping out the imagery on a landing page, updating your profile in a directory, or changing the wording of your ads.

Or perhaps you will find that a certain strategy just isn’t worth any further investment of time or money, and you will decide to shut it down completely.

The point is, unless you collect data from your marketing, and use that data to gain insights and adapt, there’s a good chance that at least a portion of your marketing budget will go to waste. And failing to maximize the ROI on your marketing spend is the biggest mistake of them all.

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