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Law firm marketing: strategy led or tactics based?

law firm marketingEvery time I am asked for guidance on law firm marketing, the questions are the same. It’s the usual suspects:

  • How can I generate more leads from my website?
  • How do I show up higher on Google?
  • Is there a way to reach more people on Facebook?
  • Will using Linkedin in my marketing help me?

My responses to these types of question are always the same: “Why do you want to do that?”

Don’t put the cart before the horse.

Whilst these are not bad questions in themselves, they are not the key questions you should be asking.

Back in the early days of legal marketing, it was all brochures and advertisements. Agencies roundly exploited the marketing inexperience of the legal profession and sold tools that may or may not have generated new business. They made little attempt to understand legal businesses and to create a strong strategy before deciding upon which items to use from the marketing toolbox.

After the legal profession wised up, more strategic approaches developed. However, with the advent of modern, online tools, it looks as if things have come full circle. SEO, PPC, blogging, new website, social media, Google ranking etc.; these are the new buzzword tools. Think twice before going into partnership with a marketing supplier that focuses on only one or two of these tools. Develop the strategy first and then decide which are the appropriate tools to use.

You and your strategy should be driving the tools, not the other way around.

A practical example.

law firm marketing

Last week a solicitor friend of mine asked me a question: “How can I get my firm’s website to show up higher on Google without expensive Adword advertising?”. My response was: “Why do you want to show up on Google?” His answer was: “To get more clients.”

I suggested to him that there may be easier, cheaper and more reliable ways to get more clients. For example, the best kind of new business lead is one generated by a referral from an existing client. Creating a method of keeping in touch regularly with existing clients and fathoming out how to get the most from the clients you already have is far better and cheaper than spending money on Adwords and worrying about Google ranking.

That does not mean Google ranking is unimportant but, in this particular instance, it’s not the most direct means to the end. The information stored in your practice management software’s  Client Relationship & Marketing and Strongroom modules is free, reliable and easy to take advantage of. Always go for the low-hanging fruit first when designing a marketing strategy.

So, what are the real questions to ask?

Don’t start out by worrying about which elements of the extensive marketing toolbox to use. Try to answer more down-to-earth questions like these:

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • Where does your ideal client spend time? What media sources do they consume? What types of events do they go to?
  • What’s your brand – what does it stand for?
  • What makes you different to your competitors?
  • Who are your best referral sources and what is the best way to keep your brand foremost in their thoughts?
  • How many new clients/cases/matters do you need to win each month to meet your financial goals?
  • What is your maximum acceptable cost of acquisition – in other words, how much do you want to spend to win a new client?
  • How are you going to generate leads?
  • How are you going to build your brand?
  • What is the most effective way to stay in touch with prospective clients who haven’t hired you yet?
  • What is the best way to maximize referrals and repeat business?

The difference in approach is obvious. Once you have set out a clearly defined strategic approach and brand position you are two-thirds of the way there. The tools you then decide to use are easily determined from your budgetary, branding and audience answers.

Strategy determines which tools to use and how to deploy them. They are the servants of the strategy, not its master.

Mike O’Donnell, June 2018.

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