How does your law firm plan an effective marketing budget? As an attorney, your primary focus is on your clients—but you also need to reach new clients. Unfortunately, marketing strategy is rarely taught in law school, and smaller firms may not be able to hire full-time marketing and outreach staff.
Fortunately, there are solutions. In a recent episode of my podcast Counsel Cast, I chatted with Michelle Hunter, partner at Conroy Creative Counsel. As a content strategists, Michelle helps clients develop a strategy, positioning and effective messaging for their specific firm.
If you’ve listened to the podcast episode already, you know that legal marketing is a long-term game. When you’re planning a marketing strategy, firms should be planning for a full year at a time. Developing quarterly goals allows you to consider an overall strategy, while ensuring that your marketing tactics serve those goals.
The following is an overview of what we discussed during the episode: read on, then listen to the full episode below.
Working through the ‘noise’
Legal marketing has necessarily changed over the years. Simple marketing tools, like phone book ads, websites, billboards and TV commercials still exist, but social media is often the best way to reach new clients. That means many lawyers now find themselves trying to figure out TikTok, YouTube and Twitter, on top of drafting wills or writing Pitchess motions.
There’s a lot of “noise” out there, says Michelle, and lawyers can get caught up in tactics rather than strategy. When planning out your legal marketing plan, it’s more important to know what you want to say, rather than how you’re going to say it (that is, which platforms you’ll use).
First, consider your goals. Are you looking to hire new attorneys for your firm? Do you want to position yourself as a national expert on a hot topic? Are you already established in your local area, or do you need to start small and get your name out to the community? Once you have a goal in mind, it’s easier to determine which tactics will meet your needs. For instance, if you’re looking to establish yourself as a Roe v. Wade and Supreme Court expert, publishing short videos on YouTube and TikTok explaining key points of law may help gain exposure. In contrast, if you’re trying to establish your firm locally, you’ll want to focus on ways to reach your immediate community first.
When determining your marketing goals, think of it like triage: you must address the most pressing issues first. That is, if someone’s bleeding profusely and has a sprained ankle, a doctor will take care of the bleeding before addressing a sprain.
Your marketing efforts should bring value, no matter what form they take. If you’re noticing that a certain marketing tool, like your website, isn’t converting visitors to clients, that’s a good place to start. Furthermore, while many lawyers rely on referrals for business, that’s like asking someone else to do your work for you—it’s not reliable and you can’t control growth. It’s wise to approach marketing in other ways, which you can control.
Tracking your progress
How do you know if your marketing is working? Just like referrals, if you can’t track what’s working, you won’t know whether you need to make adjustments. Your marketing strategy should include ways (key performance indicators, or KPIs) to determine how many website or advertising visitors are converted to clients.
Depending on who handles your marketing efforts—whether in-house marketing teams, you or Conroy Creative Counsel—the biggest mistake you can make is to set up a marketing plan and then let it roll for the rest of the year. “Set it and forget it” is for slow cookers, not legal marketing.
When Conroy Creative Counsel creates a year-long marketing plan, we build in quarterly goals. That makes it easy and convenient to reevaluate what’s working, and make adjustments if you’re not quite meeting your goals. While your ultimate goal might remain the same, we’ll adjust the tactics we use to get there. For example, if your YouTube videos aren’t getting enough views, but the response has been largely positive, we might suggest posting shorter clips on TikTok.
Ultimately, each facet of your marketing strategy should serve the overall goal—but don’t be afraid to make adjustments in order to reach that goal.
Establishing your expertise
One of the biggest challenges lawyers face is establishing trustworthiness, while speaking directly to clients. Three years of law school, the Bar exam and countless court appearances have taught us to think, write and speak like lawyers. Unfortunately, you’re not marketing to other attorneys: your marketing is to attract laypeople.
The difference between legal writing and copywriting can confuse lawyers. As attorneys, you have legal expertise and opinions—but your clients aren’t searching for in-depth commentary on Miranda protections. They want answers to their own pressing questions: are you qualified to represent my DUI case? What kind of estate planning tools will protect my children’s inheritance? Can you help protect my intellectual property?
In light of your client’s needs, it’s usually best to hire a copywriter for your marketing materials. Whether you reach out to a marketing consultant or handle your own marketing efforts, copywriters and consultants can “translate” the messages you want to convey into effective copy.
Don’t forget the budget
Budgeting for your marketing strategy can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. One of the most important things to remember is that every firm is different: what works for a Big Law firm in San Francisco may not net the same results for a small estate planning firm in Idaho.
Conroy Creative Counsel has developed a marketing assessment tool to help you plan for costs. Most firms consider marketing costs a total mystery—especially if their chosen methods aren’t bringing in new clients at the rate they’d expect. Our tool will help you determine a ballpark figure, based on your individual goals and needs. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the more you spend, the more effective your marketing will be. Instead, figure out your goals, then create a strategy and budget to meet them.
Get your own marketing co-counsel
You went to school to become a lawyer, not a marketing expert—so when you need help promoting your firm, consider outsourcing your needs.
Conroy Creative Counsel offers three different Marketing Co-Counsel programs for law firms. We’ll work with you to design and implement a year-long strategy, based on your specific needs. Whether you want to become a national thought leader, refresh your marketing efforts, or launch a brand-new firm, our team can help you get there.
Check out the episode on Counsel Cast to learn more about our effective, powerful marketing strategies.
Counsel Cast brings industry experts together for quick, impactful conversations focusing on answering one question. We’ll cover topics everyone is asking us, what everyone is getting wrong and how to fix it. We’re here to give savvy attorneys like you the insight and expertise needed to get more results.