Planning law firm marketingAnd we are off! Most people launch into marketing before making some very important decisions. Almost like going to the movies without any idea of the show times, what’s on and whether you have enough money to pay for a ticket.

1. What should a law firm spend on marketing?

I can just imagine the financial partner responding with, “As little as possible!” with a little smile, but we all know deep down that that is exactly what they mean 😉

Marketing experts say that 10% of the business revenue should be spent on marketing – A 2014 Gartner Research study, “companies spent on average 10.2% of their annual 2014 revenue on overall marketing, with 50% of companies increasing this in 2015 to 10.4%.”–eye

That is quite a bit of your hard-earned cash, but it does not mean you have to spend 10% – you can start with 1% if you don’t have a budget set already. You must have a budget for your marketing spend, otherwise going forward you will not know how much to budget for in future years.

In short – Budget your marketing spends.

2. Planning your marketing

Planning will evolve as we move forward with marketing tips and ideas – the plan will obviously grow. But for now let us start with the basics in planning your law firm marketing.

Implement the 4Ws strategy – who, what, when, where

2.1 Your target market – Who
Who exactly is your target market? Is it young married couples, is it retired couples, recently divorced people, graduates, school leavers etc. Are you going to target a certain area, which area is this, which areas will you refer business to other firms?

2.2 Which service are you offering – What
Which legal services are you going to offer this market – even more important is which part of that legal service are you focusing on. Is it medical malpractice, or Road Accident Fund claims, or conveyancing for retired people, or transfers conveyancing.

2.3 When is each campaign going to start and end? – When
Some campaigns will run throughout the year, others will be seasonal, or you will end a campaign to see if you get better results from trying another type of campaign or the medium may be too expensive to run through the year – or you will be promoting a certain event.

2.4 Which marketing medium are you going to use? – Where
There is a little more to this aspect than meets the eye. Find out where your target market is, or what they read, or what they watch or where the spend a lot of time. For example, if your target market is young married couples – it may be an idea to take a banner at the junior school field, so that you get exposure at all the sports events. Ask your target market in a short survey that you ask them to fill out – or complete after they have finished signing documents at your office – ask them when you chat to the socially.

3. People Resources

3.1 Outsourcing to a marketing company
This is the easiest option as somebody else will do it for you and charge you a fee. Easiest is not always the best. If you are going this route, try to find an agency that either does marketing well for other law firms or one that really understands how a law firms works, where the market is and knows the make-up of your firm. It would be great if you found someone that had worked in a law firm for a few years and now was in the marketing game.

3.2 Staff up
Employ a new person or persons to handle the marketing of your law firm – these are rare skills to find, the personality of a marketing person is one of a creative mind, and creative minds tend to find creative companies to work for, not generally a law firm which is seen to be rather clinical and rigid. Also it would be good to find somebody who has law firm experience and has branched out into marketing. Somebody who worked at a law firm, left to start their own business and marketed their own business, would be a perfect match.

3.3 Use existing internal staff
Simple to do, easy to assign a staff member and then kick their butts when things don’t work out, but be very…very careful here.

Most of the time people put staff in charge of marketing who don’t have a clue and doing this just sinks the marketing boat before it has done the maiden voyage. Or the person you assign is too busy to handle marketing and the day to day tasks take preference.

Assigning a partner to do this will have the other fee earners despising this marketing partner, as they will not be writing fees while they market the firm.

Choose the best person in your staff for this position, somebody who has a flair or knowledge of marketing, somebody who you will create free time to allow them to work on marketing.

This person must segment time for marketing each day – during this time, this person must do nothing but marketing.

By the way, the most active person on Facebook in the office does not make the most effective marketer for Facebook and other social media. If there is a toss-up between somebody with marketing flair and a Facebook junkie – I would choose the marketing flair.

4. Track and monitor

Setup a cost centre for marketing, create a spreadsheet of marketing costs or write it down in a marketing spend book – just make sure you know the exact costs of your marketing campaigns.

Make sure you find out from your new clients where they heard about your firm. Have systems in place that track new business – like clicks on your website, like new likes on your Facebook page. If you don’t track these wins, how will you know if your marketing is working or not. Also how will you know for next time what it cost to get one new client via marketing.

Tweak your campaigns all the time, even to the extent of changing colours of sign-up forms. Most marketing needs daily monitoring.

5. Communicate

All staff must be aware of what marketing campaigns are running at all times. Nothing like losing a new client by your staff not knowing what marketing campaign attracted them.

Get 100% buy-in from the partners of the firm, this is a cost to the firm, but given a little time and effort will be a huge business generator. Guaranteed that they will be asked to do something for the marketing team from time to time – after all they are the essence of the product the marketing department is trying to sell.

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