What Do You Mean You Didn’t Take Marketing in Law School?
Just kidding. No matter where you studied, they likely, and rightfully so focused on teaching you the law. But successful lawyers also need to learn the business of running a law firm. This means becoming proficient in bookkeeping, staff management, sales, and marketing, which aren’t typically covered in Torts 101.
After all – you can be a dynamo in court, but without marketing yourself —who’s going to know?
You need a legal marketing plan because that’s what’s going to attract clients, expand your reach, present you as the right attorney for the job, and ultimately yield more revenue. Just like any business, law firms need to identify what works, keep an eye out for what doesn’t, and know when it is time to reconsider their approach.
A legal marketing plan is your strategy for how you are going to turn your practice into a thriving business. It should be as detailed as possible and guide all of your marketing efforts, from SEO to web design, content creation, print and PPC advertising, and how you’re going to establish brand awareness.
Developing a marketing plan is a big part of shaping how your firm can grow and in what direction. Among the things you need to consider is your location and who you want to serve.
A personal injury lawyer in a smaller market may enjoy some immediate success because they are the only attorney nearby. But what happens when your pool of potential clients is exhausted?
No matter your practice area or whether you work with an agency, your marketing plan should ask:
Some of these are easy to answer and will be based on clear objectives, demographics, and market research. Others are more subjective and should be carefully evaluated, like what you can realistically devote to your marketing budget and the current landscape for legal services. For instance, are there already a lot of DUI firms in the area or is anyone addressing the legal needs of small business owners?
Once you have a general marketing plan, double-check to see if it truly addresses your needs and advances you towards the practice you envisioned.
Are you investing enough in yourself as a solo practitioner, while making sure the lights stay on? If you’re a large firm, focused on one practice area, that’s great, but maybe you’ll want to branch out. In which case, branding yourself as the ‘go-to’ car accident firm may create challenges down the line.
With your marketing plan in place and efforts in full swing, you’ll want to keep track of various performance indicators. These will be different for everyone, and some firms will care about some more than others. But remember, no one should support a marketing campaign that’s losing money or not getting results. Even if it is moving the needle, is it the right needle?
Without the right indicators, your firm might be making decisions based on misleading information. If you notice a trend of injury clients asking about the time it takes to resolve a claim, a campaign around how you get quick settlements may be attractive.
Will this generate more calls? Probably, but does the volume justify the spend?
A value-based campaign is likely to get a lot of engagement. However, it’ll probably also result in more calls asking about settlements for minor fender benders. If these cases won’t generate the revenue you’re looking for, a plan centered around high-dollar awards may be more appropriate.
Regardless of your budget or goals, make sure you isolate the indicators you care about and set up times to evaluate your progress. If your firm’s efforts have specific end dates, take time at the end of each campaign to assess their effectiveness.
This lets you make revisions based on your needs and market fluctuations. Consistent reviews also allow for readjustments without getting bogged down in something that’s not producing.
After a social media campaign with impressive results, you may want to revise your marketing plan to integrate more social media and online advertising. If your goals center around SEO, consistent reviews let you track changes in the rankings that account for algorithm updates, site improvements, and give search engines a chance to crawl the site. Remember, SEO progress can take some time, so it’s important to be objective with the data being reported.
For firms trying to capitalize on web traffic, you’ll need to stay on top of conversion rates. Your landing page may look awesome and follow best practices, but they’re pretty useless if users aren’t becoming clients. When traffic is high and conversions are low, it’s a red flag. It could mean simply making the CTA more visible or adding more persuasive copy, but your traffic to lead ratio needs to be assessed.
As a practicing lawyer, you are probably well aware of your page rankings, conversion rates, and social engagement. But these are not the only metrics that you should be tracking. While qualified lead to customer ratios provide great data, if you don’t know the value of the cases you’re bringing in versus the cost of your marketing, it is hard to gauge success.
To execute the most successful and cost-effective marketing campaigns, keep a close eye on your cost per case acquisition. Put simply, this is the cost of convincing a potential client to retain your legal services.
Cost per case is determined by dividing all the costs spent on acquiring more cases (marketing) by the number acquired in the period the money was spent. If your firm spent $1,000 on marketing this year and acquired 1,000 cases, then your firm’s cost per case acquisition is $1.00.
There are some caveats about using cost per case acquisition as a marketing metric. For starters, cost per case is all-encompassing and accounts for your total effort. Small factors make a difference, so it should not be your sole basis for changing course. In addition, cost per case may not be the best indicator of success in the early stages of long-term investments like opening a new office or just starting out in SEO, which won’t yield results until later.
There will likely always be some intermittent instances when your Cost Per Case ratio isn’t exactly where you want it to be. This happens for various reasons, but setting a baseline of what’s acceptable shows what you gained. You can also see what to reduce effort on, where to devote more resources, and what resulted in higher profits.
If your firm is monitoring this metric and has the same mindset/methodology as your other indicators, cost per case can be very revealing. For instance, when your cost per case accusation consistently falls outside of your acceptable range for several months in a row, your firm should definitely reconsider its marketing strategy.
Legal marketing is not meant to be a set it and forget it process. It must be evaluated and readjusted as needed. Like the arguments you prepared in law school, it should borrow and gain inspiration from various sources.
Even with all the tracking metrics in place and a well-defined strategy, putting marketing plans into action is incredibly difficult for attorneys who must split their focus with being great lawyers.
A marketing agency that puts the needs of lawyers center stage may be the answer. If you’re re-evaluating your firm’s goals or want to have a discussion about taking the business of your law firm to the next level, contact Postali for a free consultation.