Lead generation: the result of a sound marketing strategy

Personal injury attorneys need a well-thought out legal marketing strategyAs any business owner knows, it’s not sufficient to have enough clients this month. You need to ensure that you have a steady flow of new customers coming through the door every month in order to make payroll. Hoping for referrals or recommendations from past clients is hardly ever enough to sustain or grow a law firm. Personal injury attorneys will need a sound legal marketing strategy in place so that their legal practice is capable of delivering a predictable stream of revenue.

Failing to develop a consistent marketing strategy, no matter how basic, will severely limit your ability to develop your practice. According to the Institute of Legal Reform the personal injury legal services market is becoming increasingly competitive. Broadcast advertising alone grew by 68% from $531 million in 2008 to $892 million in 2015. It is therefore more important than ever to think strategically about how to market your firm to gain visibility in the marketplace.

The task seems daunting, particularly considering that large firms such as Morgan & Morgan or Pulaski & Middleman are spending way over $20 million just on TV advertising alone! It does not help that many lawyers consider marketing to be an entirely foreign language – particularly when it comes to digital or online marketing.

What follows is a step-by-step guide which we hope will help you devise the best marketing strategy for your law firm.

Do you need a Business Plan?

If you haven’t done so yet, set some time aside to create a basic business plan. Think of your business plan as a road map for your firm, aimed at guiding all your future decisions, including your marketing decisions! Without a business plan, your legal marketing efforts may or may not support the right business goals.

Structuring your business plan

Here are the main components of a business plan for a law firm, according to the The New York City Bar Association:

  • The Executive Summary
  • Analysis of Your Market
  • Description of Your Firm
  • Finance
  • Competitors
  • Your Marketing Strategy and Plan

Your Marketing Strategy  – a key part of your business plan

As you can see, an important section of your business plan describes your marketing strategy and plan.

The first thing to define in your marketing strategy are your marketing goals. Ask yourself this question: What do I want to accomplish with my marketing efforts? You might want to increase the number of clients. You may be planning to expand into a new practice area. Or you may want to gain market share in the Hispanic market. Regardless of the nature of your specific marketing goals, we recommend making each goal a SMART goal. Smart goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.

Next, you’ll need a marketing plan that describes how you will achieve your marketing goals. The plan should include:

  • a series of measurable tactical objectives geared towards achieving your strategic marketing goals
  • an action plan to achieve your objectives
  • a timeline
  • a budget

Your marketing plan will also include your marketing mix, which is your specific way of bringing your service to market.

How to define your Marketing Mix

The 4Ps is a well known methodology of defining the marketing mix for your law firm:

  • Product (or Service): Your legal service creates value for clients. The value proposition offered by your firm should be at the core of your marketing efforts.
  • Price: Once you have established the value of your services, you are then in a position to price them.
  • Place (Distribution): After determining your service offering and pricing each service, it is time to determine the channels through which your services are offered to customers. In the case of a law firm, the obvious distribution channel would be the offices of the firm. But you could offer online legal services as well, for example.
  • Promotion: Once you have clearly established your value proposition, decided on your pricing, and picked your distribution strategy for your legal service, you need to promote it through various channels.

The focus of this guide is on the P for “Promotion”, which details where, when and how you’ll get your marketing messages across to your target market.

You will need to decide first which messages you want to communicate. Then, choose the mediums you will use to communicate with clients. You could advertise to your clients online. Or you could pay for TV ads. Or perhaps you could set up billboards…The choice of marketing communication channels is endless!

What do you need to spend on Marketing?

Personal injury attorneys need a well-thought out legal marketing strategyOnce you have a business plan in place and your have clearly established your marketing goals, we can almost guarantee you that you’ll get stuck as soon as it comes to formulating a specific marketing plan to achieve these goals. Why? Because any marketing plan will invariably need to operate within significant time and money constraints.

Time is money, so whether you express your marketing budget in terms of dollars or in terms of hours, you’ll have a limited supply of both.

The obvious next step then is to quantify your treasure chest of available time and money, so you can build up a realistic marketing plan.

How much time do I need to spend on marketing?

When it comes to time, factor in your own time and that of available employees that may have an inclination to pursue marketing activities within the firm. Recent studies show that

  • a full service firm spends 44% managing and marketing the firm, while
  • a boutique firm spends 17% of their time managing and marketing the firm.

That’s a significant chunk out of your day away from generating billable hours. If you have ambitious plans to grow your firm the amount of time spent on drumming up new business and keeping up with the competition could be even higher.

How much does the competition spend on marketing?

Once you have determined your time budget, zero in on what your competition is spending. This will give you an idea of your minimum required marketing spend.

Let’s look at how much law firms are spending on marketing: According to marketing expert Dustin Ruge, the typical attorney in the US today will spend around 4% of their total “expected” annual revenues on marketing. For highly competitive practice areas such as personal injury the benchmark percentage should be significantly higher. In fact, it could range between 6% and 12% or more, depending on the level of market competition and expected growth of the specific law firm.

As you can see in today’s competitive environment it is crucial to dedicate a significant amount of time and money to marketing and business development. This is a challenging proposition, particularly for small to medium sized businesses with limited resources!

What are your marketing strengths and weaknesses?

Personal injury attorneys need a well-thought out legal marketing strategyLegal advertising costs have been aggressively rising over the past ten years, despite the recession and despite shifting consumer trends. If your revenue growth has been flat and you have calculated your marketing budget as a constant percentage of revenues (a typical scenario in many law firms) your marketing dollars will invariably yield a diminished return on investment. You will be able to buy less and less visibility in an already crowded market.

Faced with an endless variety of marketing techniques, a limited time and money budget, and a diminishing return on your marketing investment it becomes paramount for any law firm to optimize both the time and the money spent on marketing. The key to allocating your limited resources wisely starts with assessing your marketing strengths and weaknesses.

Here are a few ideas on how to go about conducting a thorough analysis of your marketing strengths and weaknesses.

Take inventory of your online and offline marketing efforts

Make sure you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your online and your offline marketing initiatives.

Online marketing or internet marketing includes:

  • Website development
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • PPC (pay per click advertising)
  • Email marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Content marketing (blogging, writing articles etc.)
  • Social media marketing.

Offline marketing is any marketing conducted outside the Internet. Offline campaigns can include:

  • Radio advertising
  • Print advertising (magazines, newspapers, billboards, signs, pamphlets)
  • Telemarketing
  • TV commercials

Many firms struggle with the online component of their marketing program. According to legal marketer Ken Matejka, creating brand awareness through digital marketing is particularly hard to achieve in thin markets such as the legal service market. Consumers aren’t regularly interested in your service, but require your help maybe once or twice in their lifetime. That is why massive investments into skillful Google Advertising are often the only way to get your brand in front of the consumer at precisely the moment where he or she is searching online for legal help.

Likewise, offline marketing has become a challenge because of rising TV advertising costs, with small and medium firms lacking the funds to compete for air space on national or even local TV channels.

Identify in house marketing talent

Identifying in house marketing talent is a common sense approach to getting marketing initiatives done in a cost-effective way. But it’s not enough to have employees with some free time to all or part of the job – do they also have the talent and the marketing skill set required? Is your paralegal skilled at social media marketing, content marketing or SEO? Does one of your attorneys have an incredible talent at blogging for the firm? Remember also to factor in your cost of opportunity, that is, ask yourself if it is worth diverting your employees’ efforts to marketing if they could instead be generating more billable hours.

Evaluate the potential of your strategic marketing partners

Former clients and other sources of referrals are strategic partners, who will often happily do marketing on your behalf. Start looking at your network of trade associations and professional bodies that you may be a member of as a network of potential marketing partners. You may be able to piggy back on their marketing efforts or use their influence to amplify your own marketing message and generate new leads.

Other posts in this series:

Marketing for Personal Injury Attorneys – Is Outsourcing an Option?

Marketing for Personal Injury Attorneys – Content Marketing for Law Firms.

Marketing for Personal Injury Attorneys – Social Media Marketing for Law Firms.

 

 

Contact us to grow your practice

 


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