We spoke about this in the “Before you start!” section, the costly and simple option is outsourcing this to a marketing services company – but in this article we will address what is needed to have an effective marketing machine using your own staff.
Marketing an exciting consumer product properly is not easy, marketing a niche legal service to market segments is more difficult, abiding by the laws laid down by the Law Society of South Africa and being effective is super difficult and time consuming.
So let me say it before we start, the first prize in effectively marketing your law firm is having your own marketing department. Most of what we will cover here will be about using existing staff as part of their daily job, but there will be take-away tips for law firms with their own departments and also firms employing marketing companies to handle their marketing.
This decision must be vetted by all of the decision makers in the firm – as I said earlier, the job is difficult, having to fight internal politics in addition to marketing a law firm will end up destroying your marketing efforts and most probably losing a valuable staff member.
Look around your firm and find a staff member that is not already 100% busy and has the following characteristics:
If this person is going to be used in addition to your fee earners to go out and find new business, they have to be confident, outgoing and mix easily with any type of person.
Able to work without supervision
This person is going to have to be able to get on with the marketing job, while only being given broad brush stroke instructions from the managing partners.
Not a clock watcher
In a small law firm, especially where the person is time segmenting with other daily tasks, they are going to need extra hours – overtime is inevitable. Also events and function are going to come up - unless they are really useless - your marketing person needs to be present. I highly recommend paying this person for the extra time they put in - monitor the overtime, agree on a rate and pay them at the end of the month.
It is not expected that this person should be a brilliant graphic designer, but they should have creative ideas that they can share with a graphical expert to produce what is needed. Not the nitty gritty, but the overall understanding of using creativity to get results.
OK, now you have found your staff member to manage your marketing efforts, the next step is deciding how to free up their time and for them to manage the separation of time effectively.
Split days, not split weeks
If you split the week, so that this person works on the regular (non-marketing work) on certain days of the week and then marketing for the balance – you are going to irritate clients as well as create extra stress for your marketing person having to handle irate clients.
Split the day into two halves – for example, the morning for clients and the afternoon for marketing.
Here are a few tips on segmenting the time:
- Ask the receptionist to hold calls for marketing until the afternoon and vice versa for the daily work in the morning. This will not be perfect, but will stop the majority of calls.
- Make the split after lunch, so that this person and fellow staff have a reminder of the role change.
- Have a separate email address for the marketing person, so that in the afternoon they login to that email and the emails only start flooding through when they login to that account.
- Allocate this person a “helper”, so they can pass stuff onto them if things get out of hand. Maybe the helper can take client and partner calls in the afternoon.
- Use a Client Relationship Management (CRM) tool, like inSightly or anything really – the reason is that when this marketing person is unavailable, other people can pick up where they left off – it also makes it a lot easier to manage your clients and future client records.
Managing the time split as a marketing person:
- Don’t attend to any emails unless in the designated time.
- Do not schedule appointments not in their half-day segment.
- If you do get a call, ask to call them back when available, instead of taking action right there and then.
- Have a “half day close-off” period just before your daily session ends where you set your objectives and tasks for the next day. Seeing you work two different jobs, with half the time for each, make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
- Be diligent about working in a CRM system – documenting the client and prospect information is vital to being successful as a marketer.
- Have “role” in-trays on your desk, if something comes in during the unscheduled time it goes straight into that tray for later and make sure all staff know this as well.
This is not easy, nor is it a perfect scenario, but for your law firm to start marketing effectively you are going to have to start somewhere. Although difficult, it is a big plus having somebody who knows the firm, the business and market already. An outside contractor, or a new staff member handling marketing will have to get to learn these aspects before being effective.
If this starts working for the firm, the half-day position will have to grow to a full-time post, whether it be your existing person that has grown, or a new staff placement – obviously the former makes more sense as they would be the ones who have succeeded in promoting your firm and they understand the product.
Who knows, you may unleash a marketing genius who grows your company to great heights!