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Updated: August 11, 2021

How to Craft a Law Firm Marketing Plan to Guarantee Success [2021 Guide]

Do you have a marketing strategy?

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t. In fact, most marketing managers of law firms we talk to operate on a tactical level and usually give us a blank stare when we ask them about their planning. And, as Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."

The right marketing strategy is critical in generating new clients and, therefore, increasing revenue for any law practice.

You always make a plan before you go into a courtroom to fight for a client, don't you? So why overlook marketing planning?

How to Create a Law Firm Marketing Plan?

  • Define your business goals.
  • Choose a target audience for your law firm.
  • Which digital marketing tool you need to find your ideal client.
  • What is your investment in digital marketing?
  • How are you going to check your progress?

Why Does Your Law Firm Need a Sound Marketing Strategy

One of the common and most expensive mistakes lawyers make is treating their firm as a law practice and not business. A practice usually amounts to a job for the owner with a few support staff people. A practice is not worth much without a lawyer, and it can’t be sold for much when he/she decides to retire. A high-caliber law firm’s marketing plan is the key to increasing attorney income.

Consider this fact: a median income for attorneys in the US is $120,900, that’s after going through really tough law school and working for many years. Yet, the top earners make $500,000+.

What’s the difference? It is certainly not because the former have invested less money in their education or less effort in their careers. It is in having a high-performance marketing system in place, the foundation of which is a solid plan.

Marketing Planning

The Must-Have Law Marketing Strategies for Any Attorney

In fact, marketing is the only aspect of your business responsible for attracting potential clients, which makes it the #1 factor shaping your income and the value of your business.

Having said this, we are well aware that writing a marketing plan is a headache, and if you don’t know how to approach it, it could turn into a total waste of time. This is why we’ve created a simple framework to make things a lot easier.

How to Create a Marketing Strategy for a Law Firm

Marketing strategies for law firms can be incredibly complex, but it is the simple ones that are usually successfully implemented. So, we created a very easy-to-follow process for creating a marketing strategy for your law firm.

Whether you decide to do this in-house or are working with a digital marketing agency for attorneys, answering these 7 questions will result in a 1-2 page marketing plan for your law firm.

1. What are Your Business Goals?

In most cases, the goals of law firms we talk to relate to growth: they want more clients and higher revenue. But that’s not enough! You should measure this growth goal financially and attach a time frame to it, which would make it a SMART one: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.

For example, instead of saying you want more money, say you want your gross revenue to increase by $500 000 within the next 12 months.

A successful law firm marketing plan should always lead to setting and achieving a “SMART” goal.

What are your business goals?

Setting up your goals with the help of a marketing agency helps to know the 3 crucial factors you should ask about. They could help you predict whether you will actually be able to achieve that goal or not.

2. Who Do You Want to Serve?

First, think of who, exactly, your type of clients are. Based on that answer, you can then start to hone your law firm’s marketing strategy to target those particular types of people. Even if you think you know who you want to serve and who your ideal clients are, sit down and put it in writing. Here are some questions to ask yourself to get a better grip on your “buyer’s persona” — which is how we call ideal clients in marketing:

  • Where are they based?
  • How old are they?
  • What problem(s) do they want you to help them solve?
  • How are they most likely to look for a solution to the problem?
  • What questions or concerns are the most likely to have before hiring you?

Understanding your audience is crucial to reaching the people you want as clients.

3. How Do You Find Your Ideal Clients, and/or How Do You Want Them to Find You?

Ideally, you wouldn’t have to find them: you would make sure they find you when they need you. A marketing strategy for a legal website should include tools specially tailored to attract your potential clients.

Either way, the answer to this question should be a list of marketing channels to focus on. While traditional marketing for lawyers still works to a limited extent, we recommend investing most of your budget and efforts in online marketing (according to Clio’s 2018 Legal Trends report, a combined 78% of consumers look for lawyers online). It is more effective and makes it easy for you to see the specific results from your investment.

How do you find your ideal clients, and/or how do you want them to find you?

If you practice law where you serve consumers directly, like criminal defensepersonal injuryestate law, and others, make sure you put Google and YouTube on that list of marketing channels. This is where most of your clients go to look for answers to their questions and to choose an attorney to work with.

4. What are You Going to Say to Your Ideal Clients?

The right marketing strategy for your law firm also depends on your content and expertise. Now that you know your audience and you defined who you will attract them, you should focus on crafting your message. The best way to go about it is by answering the questions you get asked most often by prospective clients. You’re probably answering them over the phone, e-mail, and even at dinner parties.

What kind of on-site information would help your marketing strategy?

Don’t overlook questions, the answers to which may seem simple and obvious to you. Your clients don’t have your expertise. List everything you can think of, and you should end up with at least two to three dozen frequently asked questions.

What are you going to say to your ideal clients?

Next, think about the process your potential clients go through before they reach out to you. When they visit your website, they want to know that you have solved similar problems to the one they’re having. They may be intimidated by the process of hiring a lawyer (it is expensive, after all). They don’t know how to choose the best lawyer (hopefully, they choose you over your competitors).

When you know what information they need, you can make sure to provide it on a high-performance website and through your content marketing strategy. As long as you answer your prospects’ questions and calm their fears, you’ll be able to turn more of them into clients.

5. How Much are You Going to Invest in Marketing Your Law Firm?

Budgeting for marketing can be difficult for law firms as there is no clear guidance most of the time. Here is what’s important for you to know before you decide on a marketing budget:

Why will a bad marketing strategy be more expensive in the long run?

Cheap marketing is always expensive. It may be tempting to hire a cheap marketing agency ($500 -$1,500 per month), but not only will you waste money (an agency cannot deliver many services for this little money), you’ll lose opportunities.

That’s right, your competitors, who have hired proficient marketing companies, will attract and get the clients you wanted. And, considering the compound effect of having this happen month after month, this can be incredibly expensive.

On the other hand, a top digital marketing company for lawyers may seem expensive to you. Still, it usually comes out free because it actually generates a strong return on investment.

So, hire a proficient marketing agency, and invest a reasonable amount to achieve your growth goal; typically, 7 to 11% of your revenue.

How much are you going to invest in marketing your law firm?

Make sure that a portion of your marketing budget is allocated to client retention. This is what will get you recommendations and repeat business from people who have already used your services, so it’s like picking the low-hanging fruit.

You can read more about how to form a marketing budget for the legal industry here.

6. What Needs to Be Done for You to Achieve Your Goals?

Planning is a great thing, but plans must be acted on to achieve results. Go through all the steps we’ve discussed by now and write down what you need to do and in what order you need to do it so that you start seeing results.

Business goals are also key in making the right marketing strategy.

For example, you probably need to schedule a meeting with your partners to decide on your specific goals and a budget. You may also have to do some brainstorming to understand who your ideal clients are, write down what legal problems keep them awake at night, and then answer those questions.

What needs to be done in order for you to achieve your goals?

Of course, the best thing to do is hire an experienced digital marketing agency for lawyers, especially if you’re working in a high competition area like Chicago, where the wrong marketing decisions will really cost you. Don’t forget that you never stop doing marketing. You just update the tactics, speaking of which…

7. How will You Monitor, Report, and Continuously Improve Results?

Marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of deal. To see the results you want, you need to look at how your campaigns perform and adjust as needed.

If you are working with a digital marketing agency for lawyers, they should explain how they do this. If they can’t, or won’t, it’s best not to hire them or to end your contract with them asap.

Here are just a few reasons why constant monitoring and adjustment of your marketing approach is necessary:

  • Some marketing channels work better than others. A good example of this is the use of online platforms for lawyers to boost visibility. While Avvo is the largest platform for lawyers and gets the most traffic, this doesn’t mean that it is the best platform for your law firm. Depending on where you are based and your law practice, something else may work better. This is why we always test various platforms with our clients before getting to the one that consistently produces good results.

How will you monitor, report and continuously improve results?

  • The competition never sleeps. Say you’re in the top three organic results (the unpaid results below the ads) on Google for a certain keyword. You may think you’re done with SEO, but a competitor will sooner or later dethrone you if you stop working on it. You see, while getting the top spot on Google is difficult, keeping it — especially for the most competitive keywords and most competitive areas in the country — is even more difficult. Google constantly updates the results based on the authority of each website, plus they also regularly update their algorithms, meaning that what you’ve done to get a higher ranking yesterday may not even be valid today.

Google Maps

  • Accumulating positive reviews. Online reputation is important for any business but is absolutely crucial for lawyers. We live in an age when you can’t escape getting some online reviews, and chances are they will be negative. Why? Because people tend to share their problems more often than they share their positive experiences. Luckily, there is a way for you to get more positive reviews, and you should start working on that as soon as you can. Just like with SEO, your competitors are probably already doing as much as they can to get their clients to leave positive reviews online, so it’s a constant battle. The thing is that if a client sees a law firm with 50 reviews and a 4.5-star rating (out of 5), they’re much more likely to choose that firm over another with 3 five-star reviews. So the more, the better.

Accumulating positive reviews.

Conclusion

So, all you have to do now is to work on answering the 7 questions above, and, to make your life easier, we have provided a simple Successful Law Firm Marketing Plan template. Use to speed up your marketing strategy write-up process.

If you decide to hire a digital marketing agency to do this for you, it’s important to know how to choose the right one and what exactly they would be doing, or you may end up wasting time, money, and opportunities.

Need a high-performance website for your law firm?
Book a 15-min call to discuss

Comrade is a Chicago-based digital marketing company that specializes in website design and marketing for attorneys. Read more about our content marketing service for law firms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do law firms need marketing?

Traditional advertising practices are used less these days, and we're starting to see several ground-breaking companies experiment with online marketing. First of all, law firms are businesses, and any business plan should involve growth: all of the company's operations should have the underlying aim of expanding the company and building reputation. That's when law firm marketing becomes important.

How much should law firms spend on marketing?

The average law firm spends 6.7 percent of gross profits on advertising, according to a collaborative report by the Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law published in 2018. That means that for every $1 million in revenue, a company spends $67,000 on ads.

What makes a law firm successful?

The most popular businesses go to great lengths to ensure that their offerings are reliable and delivered on schedule. It is not enough to pay lip service to customer care rather than genuinely offering it. Set up processes that will help you to handle your clients' expectations. Excellent customer service is a primary differentiator.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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