You know you need a marketing plan for your law firm, but you’re not sure where to start.
Business development for attorneys can be extremely challenging, especially for small and mid-size firms that want to compete in a crowded market.
Many attorneys and managing partners look to law firm marketing templates as a starting point. These can be an effective means of organizing tactics and creating a plan to market your firm to potential clients. However, a successful marketing plan involves more than downloading a template and tailoring it to fit your firm.
The difference between successful firms and firms that struggle to attract new clients is often in the strategic vision that guides their marketing strategies. It’s not enough to say, for example, that you want your firm to use direct mail marketing and paid search as marketing vehicles. Those may be part of your plan, but if you don’t take the time to form an overarching strategy, your firm may not see the results of your efforts.
Before you execute a marketing plan for your firm, we recommend asking yourself the following five questions first:
To answer this question, think about what sets your law firm apart. This is your brand, and you should view your firm as such. The more compelling your brand is, the more likely your potential clients will be to remember it.
Maybe you want to establish your firm as one that offers reasonable, transparent pricing to your clients. On the other hand, it may be unique experience that an attorney at your office offers. You may also want to be a firm that prides itself in offering unparalleled service.
Once you establish a unique differentiating factor, the more important question to ask is, “will my client care?” Think about who your clients are and why they chose your firm over your competitors. Your brand identity needs to align and resonate with your clients’ values.
For example, if you know your target clients are looking for the most reasonable fees, you may want to focus your branding efforts on the value your firm provides. If your firm represents more affluent clients or businesses, you might want to consider branding yourself as a boutique firm that provides the best service.
If you have an existing client base, you can use your clients to help you answer these questions. Simply send out a survey to gain insight into what clients’ experiences are really like at your firm. This can give you a new, more refined perspective that you can use to establish your brand.
You may wonder why the new law firm down the street always seems to have more cases than more established firms in your area. The answer may be that they’re spending more marketing dollars.
To set a realistic budget, you have to understand how competitive your market is, where your firm currently stands, and where you want to stand a year from now and beyond. For most marketing tactics, the cost is relative to your specific market. Before setting a marketing plan, you need to understand what your firm can afford to spend on marketing and determine what results are realistic within that budget.
However, there’s one more thing you have to budget: your time. As a marketing agency for attorneys, we consistently see better business results with lawyers who are actively engaged and involved in their marketing efforts. The more information we have about a firm’s business, the better we can do our jobs and optimize marketing campaigns.
Whether you hire a full-service agency or handle your marketing in-house, you need to budget time to review your marketing efforts.
Answering this question is essential in determining which marketing strategies your firm really needs. Some tactics like law firm SEO can take up to a year to produce results. Paid search, on the other hand, can bring new cases to your firm right away. In this situation, however, you may need to set a higher budget.
Assess your firm’s business and determine how quickly you need to bring in new cases. If you have an average case value and a target number of cases per month, your marketing strategies can be planned to meet your goals. For example, a firm that needs new business within the next month may want to invest in some paid search while SEO is ramping up.
Any law firm marketing plan will fall short if there are not clear goals set at the beginning. An obvious goal is to get more cases. However, you may also want to increase awareness of your firm in the community. You may also want to increase your profitability or aim to have your case volume be more consistent. You may also have goals around the specific types of cases you want.
The more thought and detail you put into your goals, the better the outcome will be. You will also need to go back to your budget and ask yourself if your goals are realistic. Aligning your goals, budget and timelines is a necessary step before you begin to create your marketing plan.
Your marketing plan should include the tactics you want to employ, their timelines, and an estimated budget. One problem we often see law firms struggle with, however, is the inability to accurately measure the results that their marketing efforts are driving.
Effective attorney advertising requires keeping a close eye on how your marketing strategies are impacting your business. In order to continuously optimize and improve your marketing, you need to have systems in place to measure the results. This may be call tracking or analytics, for example.
It’s essential for your law firm to have a marketing plan in place. But a plan shouldn’t be your first step. Before you discuss marketing tactics, your firm should establish a clear, realistic marketing strategy that you use to drive your plan.
Want to discuss your firm’s marketing strategy? Let’s talk.
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