How to Adjust Your Legal Marketing Budget for Seasonal Fluctuations
Written by Leigh Ebrom
Many law firms experience slow seasons and learn how to plan their business around them. However, they sometimes forget to adjust their marketing strategies to match. If your marketing tactics and budget don’t align with the cyclical nature of your practice, you may be wasting time and resources.
At LaFleur, we know you need different legal marketing strategies at different times of the year, and we understand how to use your budget to maximize results. In this article, we’ll give you a roadmap for building an effective marketing plan that accounts for seasonal changes in business.
Identify Your Busy Seasons for Client Intake
Some practices area, like tax law, have an inherent and obvious seasonal component. However, most law firms experience seasonal fluctuations in business. For example, research suggests that most people file for divorce in the early spring and fall, after families have wrapped up the holiday season or summer vacation.
Many lawyers also anecdotally report a summer lull. And some practice areas, like bankruptcy and debt collection, experience booms during a recession or when unemployment rates are high.
However, when we talk about your firm’s “busy season,” we’re not necessarily focusing on when you settle the most cases or bill the most hours. After all, even though many insurance companies rush to settle claims before the end of the year, your relationship with those clients and their claims probably started months or even years before. Instead, we’re interested in when your client intakes and conversions hit their highest rates.
If you don’t know when most potential clients are searching for legal representation, you’re missing an opportunity. Take a look at your intake data and ask yourself:
- Are there certain times of the year when we consistently pull in more leads?
- Can we identify any factors that might be causing these high-intake periods?
- How much of our marketing budget do we spend during these high-intake times of year?
- Where are our leads during peak times coming from?
- How many of those leads do we convert into clients?
Hopefully, you can identify some of the triggers that lead to an influx of calls or an uncomfortably quiet office. Then, you can prepare for them and build a seasonal marketing plan around them.
Quiet Periods Give You Time for Goal-Setting and Website Improvements
During a boom, it’s hard to focus on website improvements and goal-setting — you’re too busy turning all those leads into clients! However, a seasonal lull offers a great opportunity to audit your website’s performance, evaluate site design issues, and identify improvements that will help you reach even more potential clients.
If it’s been a while since your law firm performed a keyword and competitor analysis, identified your best- and worst-performing pages and blogs, or evaluated your site’s loading speeds or usability, now is a great time to perform these essential tasks.
Then, based upon your findings, you can implement improvements, set marketing goals, and refine your year-round strategies.
Consider Incentives and Promotions During Quiet Times
A lot of marketing companies encourage lawyers to offer incentives or promotions during their quiet times. However, we think you should approach this strategy with caution.
First, free consultations are standard for some legal practice areas like personal injury, so there’s no way to get new clients in the door with a discount. Second, a poorly framed offer or incentive can damage your brand and value proposition. If you’ve marketed yourself as your city’s premier divorce practice and you specialize in property distribution for high net worth clients, then suddenly offering a bargain fee structure could undermine your brand.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s no way to create incentives for new and existing clients during slower periods. For example, if you’re an estate planning attorney, it may make sense to offer complimentary estate plan audits for both new and existing clients during a lull. These one-on-one meetings can strengthen your relationships, attract new leads, and convert those leads into clients.
Work on Community Building and Networking During Lulls
During your quiet season, you should take some time to improve your community outreach strategy, rethink your networking efforts, and build on your referral relationships. At LaFleur, we believe in the positive impact that community engagement has on marketing efforts. When you volunteer, offer scholarships, and engage with your community, you build goodwill and name recognition, all of which can lead to more referrals and conversions (not to mention good karma).
Start by considering your neighbors’ needs and how you can help. For example, years ago, when I was still working as an attorney, I realized a nearby community had unmet legal needs. While the city had robust programs for individuals with disabilities, it didn’t have a single attorney that focused on Social Security claims. Instead, residents with disabilities had to travel up to an hour to get high-quality representation, which many people couldn’t afford.
So, based on my urging, the law firm I worked with started collaborating with the community’s stakeholders, holding free Q&A sessions, and scheduling appointments in the local public library’s conference spaces. Within a matter of months, we had become the community’s go-to disability law firm.
During your quiet times, reconnect with your referral sources and meet with community members over coffee to ask them about the challenges they’re facing. Conversations like this can help you identify your city or region’s unmet needs and find a meaningful solution.
During Your Peak Season, Increase Your Paid Advertising
Most likely, your busy season matches up with the hectic periods of other law firms in your industry. So, during that same time, every one of your competitors is out there trying to wrangle every client possible. To compete, you need to target your ideal clients aggressively. Paid search and social media ads are a great way to reach them.
One 2014 study from Google found that paid advertising could result in an 80% increase in brand awareness. And business-to-business (B2B) paid advertising resulted in even higher growth. At LaFleur, we’ve found it most effective to use a multi-pronged approach that’s designed to build name recognition, promote informative content, and encourage conversions.
With paid advertising, you can push your law firm’s message to specific audiences based on their age, geographic location, interests, income, and many other factors. This degree of focus helps you communicate targeted messages to people who share characteristics with your most valuable leads and clients.
For example, banner-style display ads have relatively low click-through rates in the legal industry — 0.59%, according to WordStream. However, when you combine display ads with well-built paid search ads and social media campaigns, the cumulative effect of showing multiple ads to your most valuable potential clients can lead to much higher conversion and click-through rates.
Email Automation Can Streamline Client Communications
Automated emails can do much more than deliver monthly newsletters. You can build new client and drip campaigns that answer people’s most common questions and free up your team’s time for more pressing or high-skill tasks. This extra bandwidth becomes even more valuable during your peak season.
At LaFleur, we’re proud to be one of the few legal marketing agencies that is a SharpSpring Platinum Partner. Our email automation team can help you build seamless email campaigns that educate and empower your leads and clients without placing extra demands on your staff.
Produce Relevant Content Year-Round
Your digital marketing strategy should always include a strong content marketing component that emphasizes publishing high-quality content and nurturing early-stage leads. Research repeatedly shows that the long-term ROI on content marketing exceeds almost every other tactic. When you produce consistent, high-quality, and evergreen legal content, it will continue to attract readers month after month, year after year.
However, the one caveat is that content marketing rarely delivers instant results. But while paid campaigns can offer quick returns, a robust content strategy will build steam over time as search algorithms and readers discover your content. That’s why you need to write and publish original content on a consistent basis.
Help Maximize Your Marketing ROI With LaFleur
If you’re ready to strengthen your marketing strategies both in and out of your busy season, we’d love to hear from you. We’re committed to helping law firms improve their marketing strategies and understand their return on investment so they can make informed decisions. To learn more about our approach and get advice about strategies that can benefit your firm, complete our simple online contact form or call LaFleur at (888) 222-1512.
Bach, D. (2016, August 21). Is divorce seasonal? UW research shows biannual spike in divorce filings. University of Washington. Retrieved from https://www.washington.edu/news/2016/08/21/is-divorce-seasonal-uw-research-shows-biannual-spike-in-divorce-filings/
Content marketing ROI. (n.d.). Kapost / Eloqua. Retrieved from https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/mediaeloqua/documents/Content+Marketing+Kapost+Eloqua+ebook.pdf
Irvine, M. (2019, August 27). Google ads benchmarks for your industry. WordStream. Retrieved from https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/02/29/google-adwords-industry-benchmarks
Lam, B., & Verma, K. (2014, June). Search ads drive brand awareness. Think with Google. Retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/search-ads-drive-drand-awareness.html