When Marketing Your Law Firm, It’s Best to Begin at the Beginning
Are you advertising and distributing marketing content for your law firm without a clear marketing strategy? If you are, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In fact, 26% of marketers have no clear strategy in place. This means that more than a quarter of marketing professionals are blindly using valuable resources with no plan at all.
If 26% of marketers don’t have a clear strategy, that means 74% do; however, it doesn’t mean their strategies are successful. More than 70% of marketers with clear strategies still fail to meet their revenue targets. Knowing why marketing plans fail and how to create a strong marketing foundation are essential components toward developing a successful strategy.
Common Marketing Plan Failures
There are two primary reasons that marketing plans fail. The first is that they are too tactic-based. Strategy, not tactics, should drive marketing initiatives. If a tactic does not align with or further the strategy, it will likely fall short of its target. The second is that they tend to copy the competition. While your competition may be successful in certain ways, you must remember that you are not your competition. What works for them will not always work for you. Knowing what the competition is doing is critical to creating a strategy in that it will set you apart from them.
One of the ways to evaluate your competition and your firm is to conduct a SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Through a SWOT analysis, you will be able to know where to focus your energy and how to better position yourself against your competition.
- Strengths include anything your firm excels at or differentiates you from your competition, such as extensive experience with certain types of cases, successful trials, brand recognition, excellent customer service, loyal employees, or local philanthropy, among others. Each practice is unique, and there are often specific reasons that clients cite for why they choose a particular firm. These reasons are strengths and need to be used to your advantage.
- Weaknesses are anything your firm could improve upon. For example, is your online presence up to snuff? Is it difficult for potential clients to find your offices? Is your office dark and unwelcoming? Do you have enough staff and other resources to accomplish your firm goals? If the answer to any of these questions (or any similar questions) is no, then you’ve found your firm’s weaknesses.
- Opportunities are prospective activities or actions your firm could take to advance your business or presence in the community. Could you sponsor or support any non-profits or events? Do you have the budget to hire another paralegal, attorney, or support staff to improve client experience? Is there a specific community need you could fill? Taking advantage of opportunities will help your firm continue to grow at a consistent pace.
- Threats are risks to the success of your firm. For example, bad press, fierce competition, evolving community culture, changing client needs, or lacking technology, are just a few examples of threats. Keeping tabs on threats to your firm will help you mitigate negative actions while helping you focus on further growth.
Taking time to honestly assess and analyze the position of your firm will give you the best foundation for creating a marketing strategy that works. Be sure to keep detailed notes of this analysis for future reference.
Consider Your Current Business Strategy
If you already have a business plan, it’s time to evaluate it to make sure it aligns with your current values and goals. This is important to do before considering any marketing action or strategy. A successful marketing strategy always aligns with and enhances the business strategy. If the goals are misaligned, both strategies are likely to fall short of their target and will reduce any potential return on investment.
Consider Your Brand
Do you have a brand? Does your brand accurately represent your firm? A brand is much, much more than a logo; it is the message and promise you make to past, present, and future clients. Your firm’s brand should be accessible and consistent.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when beginning a branding exercise.
- Does your logo convey your firm’s personality and the services you provide?
- Is your firm’s name consistent across all media touchpoints? Remember that Smith Law Firm, P.C. is different from The Smith Law Firm. Failing to settle on one consistent name will confuse potential clients and make it difficult to find your firm online.
- Do clients identify with your brand? Can they relate to it when they are in need of your services?
- Does your firm have the same look and feel across all media? All marketing collateral — from advertising to your logo, business cards, and website should provide a sense of consistency.
Authenticity is an incredibly important aspect of branding, with 80% of consumers listing it as the top reason to follow a certain brand. If your firm is lacking a strong, identifiable brand, then you risk potential clients not recognizing or identifying with your business. So, before you start thinking about overall marketing strategy, it’s essential to make sure your brand will resonate with the public.
Consider Your Target Audience
Knowing who your target audience is and what their needs are can help you position your firm as a viable solution to their problems. This knowledge will also help guide how you spend your valuable marketing dollars.
Advertising to a broad audience is not effective if a majority of them do not need your services. Conversely, communicating the wrong message to your target audience can also be a poor use of resources. Getting the right message to the right group of people is essential.
For example, let’s say you operate a family law firm in Atlanta that focuses on child custody cases. If you begin advertising on Facebook with a general “contact our firm” advertisement to anyone within 25 miles of your office, you are casting a wide and unfocused net and may not see a return on your investment. If you know that your ideal clients are married women in their 30s, you can create a custom ad about child custody and then set specific parameters for a targeted demographic. You will reach fewer people, but everyone who sees your ad will fit into your target audience and thus be more likely to become a client.
One way to figure out who your target audience is to think of who your ideal clients are. Make a list of characteristics your ideal clients share and what their thought process might be when searching for the services you provide. Creating client personas is a great way to figure out who your target audience is and how they think.
Consider Your Website and Online Presence
Websites are critical to the success of your firm and any marketing strategy or tactics you employ. Today’s consumer will almost always research you online before they contact you. They will be looking for reviews and testimonials validating previous clients’ experiences with your firm. In addition to your website, they might discover relevant news articles or your social media profiles when performing their searches.
More than half of smartphone users find new companies or products that are useful to them by searching in their smartphone’s browser. So make sure your website is mobile-friendly and easily accessible and that your online reputation is favorable and robust.
Enter your firm’s name as a search query in a private browser window to see what prospective clients might see when searching for your practice. Will they like what they see? Will they be compelled to contact you based on this information? If not, you will need to incorporate online reputation management into your marketing strategy.
Consider Your Resources
Using resources effectively and efficiently is essential to a successful marketing strategy execution. The most important and common resources are budget, time, and personnel, and most often, these are the most challenging resources to secure. Just over a quarter of companies cite a lack of budget as one of their biggest marketing challenges, while 17% of companies say hiring and retaining talent is their biggest challenge. Accurately and honestly assessing the resources you have available will help you create a marketing strategy that is sustainable and effective.
Finally, it is important to be realistic about what your firm and marketing strategy can accomplish. While it is important to have ambitious goals to grow your firm, you need to make sure they are achievable and realistic. Here are some examples:
- If you want to increase your website traffic through blog posts, make sure you have the personnel to create an editorial calendar, write the content, and post the blogs consistently to your site. Posting quality and authentic content on a regular basis is imperative to increasing website traffic.
- If you want to rank within the first three positions in Google for the search term “Atlanta Divorce Lawyer,” for example, you will have to scale back your expectations. Those types of rankings cannot be guaranteed. However, improving search engine rankings for any given search term is achieved through quality content, consistent Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and constant website evaluation.
- If you want your marketing strategy and plan to serve multiple purposes, you run the risk of spreading yourself and your resources too thin. This reality may cause you to fall short on case and revenue targets and returns on investments. If you feel that the goals you’ve set for your firm will require more resources than your firm can spare, you might consider partnering with an experienced and reputable marketing firm like LaFleur Marketing.
LaFleur Marketing: The Smart Approach to Legal Marketing
We know how important an effective marketing strategy is to the success of your firm. Even though it requires a lot of planning and brainstorming, establishing a solid foundation before creating a marketing strategy is essential to your firm’s long-term prosperity.
Here at LaFleur, we understand the multifaceted nature of working as an attorney: the complexity of cases that come across your desk, the fierceness of your competition, and the time it takes to serve each client properly and successfully. That’s why we offer a variety of marketing services, including branding, paid search, and content strategy, among many others. You have enough on your plate, the last thing you want to be worrying about is creating and executing successful marketing tactics and strategies.
As your long-term marketing partner with a proven success record, we are here to help you build a solid foundation for a strong and effective marketing strategy. If you’re interested in discussing the services we offer and that your firm is looking for, please contact us today at (888) 222-1512 or complete this brief contact form to get started.
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Durant, J. (2015, October 6). 15 crazy branding stats you need to know. Bop Design. Retrieved from https://www.bopdesign.com/bop-blog/2015/10/15-crazy-branding-stats/
Kramer, S. (2015, March). Six reasons your marketing strategy is failing [and how to fix it]. Conversion Conference Blog. Retrieved from http://blog.conversionconference.com/six-reasons-your-marketing-strategy-is-failing-and-how-to-fix-it/
The ultimate list of marketing statistics. (n.d.). HubSpot. Retrieved from https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics