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Updated: June 03, 2022

How to Plan a Law Firm Marketing Plan to Guarantee Success

Do you have a law firm 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 law firm marketing strategy. 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 develop a strategy 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 Strategy?

  • Define your law firms’ business goals.
  • Choose a target audience for your law firm.
  • Select which digital marketing tool you need to find your ideal client.
  • Decide how much to invest in digital marketing.
  • Know how you’re going to measure your progress.

Why Does Your Law Firm Need a Sound Marketing Strategy?

One of the common and most expensive mistakes many law firms make is treating their firm as a law practice and not a business. A practice typically amounts to a job for the owner, with a few support staff people. It is not worth much without a lawyer, and it can’t be sold for much when he/she decides to retire. Therefore, implementing effective online marketing for lawyers strategies is key to increasing a law firm’s income.

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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 law firms 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 strategy with achievable marketing law firm goals.

Marketing Planning

The Must-Have Law Firm Marketing Strategies for Any Attorney

In fact, a law firms’ marketing is the only business aspect responsible for attracting prospective clients, which makes it the #1 factor shaping most law firms’ income and business value.

Having said this, we understand developing law firm marketing strategies 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 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’ve created a very easy-to-follow process for implementing active marketing activities 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 law firm marketing strategy uniquely tailored to your law firm’s brand.

1. What are Your Law Firm’s Business Goals?

In most cases, the goals of law firms we talk to relate to growth: they want a higher client intake and higher revenue. But that’s not enough! You should measure this business development goal financially and attach a time frame to it. This makes 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, whether it’s to do with your overall legal services strategy, an email marketing campaign, or developing a new mobile-friendly law firm website.

What are your business goals?

Setting up your goals with the help of a law firm marketing agency helps identify the crucial factors that predict whether you will actually be able to accomplish your law firm marketing strategy.

1.1. Be SMART

You must’ve heard the SMART goals acronym a hundred times:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

A good example of a SMART goal is “Increase revenue by 50% by December 31, 2019”. In order to come up with such a goal, you should think about how much you’re making now and what you’d like to be making, what is your average revenue per client, how many more clients your firm can handle, etc.

1.2. Revenue focused goals

While you should consider the number of clients you can handle and your average income per client, your ultimate growth goal should be expressed in revenue growth. Think about how much you’re making now and how much you’d like to make, and what is the realistic growth you can achieve within a year, for example.

Setting revenue-based goals can help you estimate what your marketing budget should be and what marketing ROI for lawyers you should expect. This is important because if you don’t have your revenue goal, you can easily choose a marketing company that gives you a lower price without realizing that this lower price really means worse results and lower return on investment, and a lot of missed opportunities.

2. Who Do You Want to Serve?

First, think of whom, exactly, your type of clients are. Based on that answer, you can then start to hone your law firm’s marketing efforts to target more clients that fit your ideal profile. Even if you think you know who you want to serve and who they 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 what we call ideal clients in marketing:

  • Where are paying clients based?
  • How old are your potential clients?
  • What problem(s) do they want you to help them solve?
  • How are they most likely to try to solve 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  law firm 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 defense, personal injury, estate law, and others, make sure you put Google and YouTube on that list of marketing channels. Search engine results pages are 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’ve defined what 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, by e-mail, and even at dinner parties.

What kind of law firm website information would help your marketing strategy?

Don’t overlook questions and their answers, which may seem simple and obvious to you. Your clients don’t have your expertise. Law firm websites should answer frequently asked questions related to their practice area on their sites.

Using local keyword data to answer legal questions your ideal clients frequently search for online will make your website rank higher in Google searches. Additionally, it boosts your internal linking structure, which also helps improve your ranking on search engine results pages. Every bit of effort helps, considering Google uses over 200 ranking factors.

 

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 your business online. When a potential client visits your law firm’s 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:

A poorly performing law firm marketing plan will be more costly in the long run.

Cheap marketing is always expensive. It may be tempting to hire a cheap law firm 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 because they’re using effective marketing tactics. 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 is usually worthwhile because it generates a strong return on investment.

So, hire a proficient legal 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 financial investment in marketing is allocated to client retention. This is what will get you recommendations and repeat business from past clients who have already used your service. It is essentially picking the low-hanging fruit.

5.1. Cost per lead

Speaking of a marketing agency that offers lower costs: here is what you should focus on when you choosing the agency to work with:

When an agency explains what they are going to do for you, the questions to ask are “How many new leads would this generate?” and “How much would we be spending per lead?”

Number of good leads at a reasonable cost per lead is the desired outcome of the marketing spend, not the money saved on marketing.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate how the cost-per-lead metric can help you choose the agency to work with. If agency A tells you they charge $5000 per month and agency B tells you they charge $3000 per month for absolutely the same type of services, agency B seems like the obvious choice. However, ask them about how many leads you can expect (and they should know and be willing to share that information — if they’re not, that’s a big red flag) and the numbers may look different.

If agency A brings in about 100 leads per month, and agency B brings in 30 leads per month, that’s a cost of $50 per lead against a cost of $100 per lead. Now, what’s the obvious choice?

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

Planning is a great thing, but marketing plans must be acted on to achieve results. Go through all the steps we’ve discussed 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 to developing the right marketing strategy.

For example, you probably need to schedule a meeting with your partners to decide on your specific digital marketing strategy goals, as well as your marketing 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 marketing your legal services. You just update the tactics, speaking of which…

7. How will You Monitor, Report, and Continuously Improve Your Law Firms’ 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.

A reputable law firm marketing company will be able to showcase how their law firm marketing services will improve your business, as well as provide market research and online marketing reports to track your law firm’s progress.

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

  • Some marketing channels and legal directories 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 like social media posts might work better. This is why we always test various content marketing platforms with our clients before selecting 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 search engine results (the unpaid results below the ads) on Google for a certain keyword. You may think you’re done with SEO, but other law firms will eventually 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 challenging. Google constantly updates search results based on the authority of each website, plus they also regularly update their algorithms, meaning that marketing tactics to get a higher ranking yesterday may not even be valid today.

 

Google Maps

 

  • Accumulating positive client 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 search engine optimization (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 positive client testimonials, the better.

 

Accumulating positive reviews.

 

Conclusion

So, all you have to do now is answer the 7 questions above. To make your life easier, we have provided a Successful Law Firm Marketing Strategy template you can use to speed up the 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 should be doing, or you may end up wasting time, money, and opportunities.

Want to speak with a law firm marketing expert?
Want to speak with a law firm marketing expert?
Call us at (312) 265-0580

Comrade is a law firm marketing company that specializes in website design and marketing for attorneys and law firms. From social media marketing to law firm SEO and Google Ads, our comprehensive marketing initiatives guarantee new clients and increased revenue. 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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