Welcome to the Small Law Firm Marketing Blog. Here we will discuss all aspects of small firm marketing, both on and off-line, from newsletters to public events to working with referral sources to client retention plans. We invite your contributions, experiences and comments.
Let’s face it, being a lawyer is hard. Not only must you be technically competent at what you do (the only thing law school trains you for), but you also need to keep clients informed and happy, get paid for the work you do, bring in business, and, if you’re in a solo practice or small firm, manage the office. This blog will focus on only one of these jobs – bringing in the business – but if you don’t do that, you won’t have to worry about all of the other tasks of a practicing attorney.
To start, we’ll discuss four foundational concepts: opportunity, choice, continuity and leverage.
One of the biggest challenges for anyone considering what to do to market her law practice is the huge array of possible marketing activities available: community seminars, articles, newsletters, working with community organizations, joining professional associations, cultivating referral sources, blogging, website SEO, social media, paid advertising. Start by making a list of all of the marketing projects and activities that may be available to you.
Once you’ve made the list, you will need to make some decisions about what makes the most sense for you. This will depend on your interests, the time you have available for marketing, your best guess as to how effective each marketing activity will be, and how good you are at each type of marketing. However, on the last criterion, don’t sell yourself short. You might not think you’re good at public speaking, hobnobbing at social events, or writing for consumers, but with some practice and training, you might be great at all three, and even enjoy them.
To help make your decision about what marketing activities make the most sense for you, use the following chart by placing each activity in one of the four squares. I’ve filled them in with some sample allocations to provide an idea of how this might work.
|More Effective||Less Effective|
Cultivating referral sources
Law firm events for existing clients
Community association involvement
Professional association involvement
Once you have completed this exercise, it will be abundantly clear that you should start with the items in quadrant A. However, if you have no items in quadrant A or have completed them and have the time and energy to do more, then take a more careful look at the items quadrants B and C. (Eliminate the items in quadrant D from your list.) Consider their effectiveness, the amount of effort or cost, what you enjoy doing, and whether there are ways to move any of the items in quadrant B to quadrant A by making them more effective or those in quadrant C to quadrant A by making them easier (for instance by using the ElderLawAnswers client e-letter). I’d probably start with the activity or activities you enjoy most and then look at effectiveness. If you like the activity, even if it’s a lot of work, you’ll keep at it. If you dislike it, you won’t. And it may not be worth doing something easy if it’s not effective, but a big investment can really pay off.
One of the most important reasons to choose marketing activities that you enjoy is that the only ventures that work are those that you keep at over time. One e-mail newsletter, two blog posts, one contact with a referral source, showing up at only a few non-profit board meetings — none of these efforts will provide any marketing benefit at all. On the other hand, a monthly e-mail newsletter with an expanding list will keep you top-of-mind for clients and referral sources. Consistent blog posts will result in your website ranking higher on search engines. With repeated contacts with a referral source you will get to know one another well and develop a relationship. Working hard on the board of a community non-profit will enhance your reputation and enable you to meet and engage with people you would not otherwise know.
The need for continuity in any marketing effort is one of the reasons you need to be very clear and decisive in your choice of what activities you will and will not take on. You and your practice are much better off if you do one or two marketing activities well instead of 10 inconsistently.
Finally, use and reuse everything you do. When you give a talk, see if you can turn the same material into an article, a blog post, or a handout for other presentations. If you create a PowerPoint presentation for one of your talks, why not record it and put it on your website? We are all too busy and there are so many outlets for good content that it’s shame if we work hard on material and don’t deploy it in as many ways as possible.
By following these four approaches, you will maximize the benefit of your marketing efforts and realize significant results.