When you’re just starting a new business, your excitement is at its peak. You’re happy to put in the extra work required to get off the ground and start bringing in your first clients. But with time, the excitement wears off as you get caught up in the day-to-day grind. You stop fantasizing about growth and strategizing for the future, and your business starts to plateau. Growing a business is not easy, and this is especially true for law firms. Because law is a service business, it is very difficult to scale. But, that doesn’t mean you should settle for mediocrity. In this post, we’ll explain a few of the most likely reasons why your law firm isn’t growing to help you break through the plateau and get to the next level.
Reason #1: You Don’t Understand Marketing
Marketing is by far one of the most critical components of a successful business. But, marketing tends to be one of the weakest aspects of many law firms. If your law firm isn’t growing, there’s a strong likelihood that your marketing strategy (or lack thereof) is the culprit.
Why Marketing Matters
Law firm marketing is the process of creating awareness for your firm and establishing your credibility amongst a targeted group of potential clients.
Relying on referrals can only get you so far because they are unpredictable. If you really want to grow a law firm, you need to invest in additional marketing channels to increase your exposure and build up a larger network of prospective clients.
A lot of firms fail to grow because they are hesitant to pay for marketing, or they don’t know where to invest their marketing dollars. This hesitancy is sure to hold you back from achieving your growth goals.
Haphazardly throwing a bunch of money at marketing isn’t a solution either. Sure, it may bring you a few extra clients, but you’ll probably end up wasting a lot of your budget. That’s no way to grow a business.
Effective marketing requires careful planning, execution, and analysis. There really isn’t a “set it and forget it” approach. To succeed, you need to go into it with a plan, constantly measure your results, and optimize over time.
How to Market for Growth
The exact marketing process that works for you will depend on who your clients are, and what types of services you are offering them.
There are a ton of places to allocate your marketing budget, from Google ads, to SEO, to social media, to offline advertising. We recommend that you read our post on the law firm marketing spectrum to find out which marketing channels are most effective for a particular law firm, and why.
Once you have determined which channels are likely to be a good fit for your firm, the next step is to design your marketing funnel. A funnel is the complete journey that a prospective client might take from any particular marketing channel, to their initial contact with you, all the way up until retention.
Mapping out this process in detail is the most important step to creating a growth marketing plan. Creating a structured process provides the following benefits:
- Ensuring each and every prospect is properly tracked and followed up with to minimize lost revenue.
- Enabling you to take an analytical approach, as opposed to aimlessly throwing money around.
- Producing key data needed to calculate your ROI and assess the efficacy of marketing efforts.
- Helping you identify possible areas where you can improve in the future.
This process of funnel analysis and optimization is how you achieve steady law firm growth. Once you find a system that produces a healthy profit, you can throw fuel on the fire and ramp up your marketing budget with confidence, knowing that you’ll make your money back and then some.
Reason #2: You Are Resistant to Change
Due to the increasing role of technology in today’s world, the business landscape is changing rapidly. Billion dollar industries are being disrupted by tech startups like Uber and Airbnb, and it’s practically happening overnight.
The biggest change, which we are seeing across many industries, deals with the expectations of consumers. People don’t want to wave down a taxi from the street anymore or call someone on the phone and wait on hold to reserve a hotel room. They expect things to be easy, efficient, and available on-demand. They carry around a smartphone virtually every second of every day to facilitate these needs.
Customers also expect greater transparency and better service from every type of business, and they want insight into those things before they make a purchasing decision. If you fail to live up to their expectations, you will be held accountable as people blast you with negative reviews online for the whole world to see.
Embrace the Changes
If you aren’t constantly adapting your business to the changes happening in the world around you, you’re just asking to be crushed by your competition. It hasn’t always been this way in the legal industry, but the times are changing, and competition in the market is heating up.
One of the most important things you can do to break through a growth plateau and take your business to the next level is to simply provide a better experience for your customers.
The vast majority of law firms are operating the exact same way they always have, failing to innovate or improve their operations. This presents a perfect opportunity for you to get a head of the competition by doing something different.
Take note of some of the big trends mentioned above: on-demand services, mobile accessibility, transparency, customer service, the importance of online reviews, etc. What can you do to tap into these trends right now?
Maybe you can optimize your processes to be more mobile friendly. Maybe you focus on building up a presence on Yelp, Avvo, YouTube, etc. to create transparency and give the world insight into your practice. Or maybe you use drip emails to automate and improve communication with your clients
Waiting around and being reactive to changing market conditions is a big mistake. If your law firm has hit a plateau, you should be proactive in seeking out better ways to serve your clients.
You can do so by embracing the changes happening around you and using them to your advantage rather than ignoring them.
Reason #3: You Are Afraid to Take Risks
This is essentially an amalgamation of the other two reasons above, but it’s so important that it must be reiterated. You have to be willing to take some risks in order to grow your business.
You inevitably took a risk when you started your law practice. But as the time passed, you probably got comfortable and became a bit more risk-averse.
Investing in marketing requires risk. Investing in technology requires risk. Trying out new business models requires risk. But, if you are not taking those risks, your business will inevitably become stagnant and your growth will slow to a halt.
If you want to grow your law firm, you must constantly invest your resources into new mechanisms for driving growth. Being complacent is actually one of the biggest risks you can take.
An Example of A Typical Risk-Averse Mindset
Lawyers often come to us looking for a solution to track and follow up with prospective clients. Their current system of Excel spreadsheets and unread emails just isn’t working anymore. People are slipping through the cracks, and the firm is losing potential clients to their competitors.
We show them Lexicata, which offers a suite of tools for not only managing leads, but also converting them into clients with a streamlined intake process. They like the product and they know it can help them.
But, when it comes to actually pulling out their wallet and purchasing the software (which is not very expensive by the way – a 3 user firm would pay less than $30/month per person), they hesitate: “I just don’t know if I can pay $100 per month for my entire law firm to use this product. That is a lot of money.”
What’s Wrong With This Thought Process
Sure, $100 may seem like a lot of money out of context. But the problem is, these attorneys are only focusing on the risk of losing $100. They completely fail to consider the upside, which happens to be huge.
If this attorney bills at $300/hour, and the software saves just four hours of time over the entire next year, it pays for itself.
If the firm retains even a single client that would have otherwise slipped through the cracks over the course of the next year, the software probably at least doubles the $1200 investment. ONE CLIENT!!
That probably seems obvious to you right now. Yet, we see this exact fear holding law firms back on a weekly basis.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not supposed to be a sales pitch. Our product doesn’t work for everyone, and there are sometimes very good reasons for not purchasing it. I’m also not trying to generalize all lawyers, because there are many who are actually quite business-savvy.
The point is, if you aren’t prepared to take some risks and invest some of your hard earned money into marketing, technology, and innovative business approaches, there is no reason to expect your law firm to grow.