Six Key Steps
Managing your firm is always a challenging task. Whether your most pressing issues are personnel, work-in-process, client concerns, vendor relations, or finances, it seems like there is always something that keeps your schedule full, right? With all of these consuming functional areas of your day-to-day work, marketing can often be set aside until you “have some time to do it” which often is far too little time needed to do it right.
Neglecting marketing can dramatically affect your firm’s revenues. Recently, I met with a client who confessed that the above scenario was directly on-point to his firm’s situation. The firm had been very busy for months but failed to do any marketing. As a result, revenues had not only flat-lined but unless something changed quickly, he was going to face financial cutbacks.
Likely you’ve heard the same story from your colleagues, some of whom had to “close shop” or join another firm in order to survive. You know that you need to avoid this scenario but aren’t sure exactly what to do to stay out of it. So, what marketing steps can your firm do to help make it a success?
1. Make marketing a top priority
Marketing is your firm’s lifeline to survival; without it, a firm will likely eventually shrink and die. Through marketing, your firm can reach new clients and achieve additional revenues from existing and previous clients. Realize that marketing is an investment, not just an expense. Commit to doing it regularly.
2. Develop a Strategic Marketing Plan
Most firms that have long-term success take the time to plan. It is important to realize that there is no such thing as an effective “canned marketing program” for all firms. A successful firm will have a “Strategic Marketing Plan” written specifically for its unique parameters. Hire a marketing consultant who specializes in serving law firms to research and prepare your plan. If you don’t, you’ll likely end up wasting time and money.
3. Allocate a committed budget to marketing
For marketing programs to be consistent and objective-oriented, they require an established budget. Discretionary budgets are devastating to the effectiveness of any marketing program. Don’t cut your marketing budget — let your competition cut theirs. If your competitors cut back, your “share of market voice” grows even stronger.
4. Maintain consistency in marketing
Marketing programs should be consistent, year-round efforts because “stop-and-go” marketing always bring mixed results. This can be particularly difficult for smaller firms, since those attorneys involved in marketing activities also have significant client obligations. However, it is crucial to have consistent implementation, since this will maximize your efficiency and effectiveness. It is also easier to rate the productiveness of an activity if it is carried through to completion.
5. Outsource Your Marketing to Experts
Consider outsourcing your marketing needs to highly-qualified firms who are knowledgeable, efficient and productive. At The Specialists in Law Firm Marketing™, we started this approach in 1991 and have been helping clients with their outsourcing needs ever since. For those who need regular support, we offer a “Part-Time Director of MarketingTM“which allows outsourcing of all your marketing needs, avoiding the fixed payroll expense yet providing highly experienced, specialized strategic and implementation assistance (Click here for a detailed article on “How to Select a Marketing Consultant”).
6. Add Value
Take the time to understand what your targeted market wants and then make the extra effort to exceed their expectations. Whenever possible, try to sell based on value, not price. Clients and prospects always want to know what your firm can do to help them be successful, so going beyond the “business as usual” approach will be appreciated – and may result in increased billings from existing clients and referrals to new clients.
Create Success for Your Firm!
For many firms, it pays to bring in a marketing expert to help. At The Specialists in Law Firm Marketing™, our services are designed to help improve your marketing success. Contact us to discuss your marketing needs.
About the author:
Kevin W. Brown, M.B.A. is president of The Specialists in Law Firm Marketing™. Prior to starting his own firm, he was Director of Marketing for Deloitte in Orange County. His firm specializes in marketing for small to mid-size law firms across California and the country.