What smaller law firms lack in resources, they make up for in responsiveness and creativity. This principal applies not only to how small and medium sized firms handle cases, but also to their marketing approach. Simply put, you cannot compete with large law firms on a dollar for dollar basis, but being smart about how you spend your marketing dollars will make them go further and provide the best return on investment. When considering the marketing budget, there are certain law firm marketing strategies that are more effective.
So how should you be allotting your firm’s marketing budget? J. Johnson Executive Search, Inc., commissioned a study, conducted by ALM Legal Intelligence, to examine the legal marketing trends of small and midsized firms. The most effective marketing tools, according to the survey, are (from most effective to least effective):
10 Effective Law Firm Marketing Strategies
- Client seminars and thought leadership events (with or without CLE credit)
- Proposals and presentations to potential clients
- Client interviews/satisfaction surveys
- Requests for Proposal (RFPs)/Requests for Quotation (RFQs)/Pitches
- Event planning and entertainment (i.e. meals, tickets, golf outings)
- Maintaining firm website
- Competitive intelligence and market research
- Email blasts
- White papers
- Public relations/press releases
Relationship-Building Key to Marketing Strategy
Nine out of ten firms surveyed have staff dedicated to marketing functions, and more than 75% have defined marketing processes and procedures. Non-staff marketing expenses increased by 44% between 2012 and 2013 and by 65% between 2013 and 2014. The message in these statistics is clear: firms recognize the value of marketing, and are increasingly anteing up for them.
Marketing dollars can be wasted, however, when they aren’t predicated on relationship-building. This old-fashioned approach to business hasn’t changed despite the advent of social media, smartphones, and other technology-based marketing strategies.
Nicole Angeline Cudiamat, Legal Publication Specialist at the National Law Review, says about the survey results, “The clear difference between the top five and the bottom five marketing activities is the opportunity for relationship building. The marketing activities that surveyed firms found the most effective were activities that physically placed them in front of potential clients. These interactions help build relationships that influence a potential client’s decision to hire a firm or attorney.”
Technology Helps to Build a Firm’s Brand
There are, of course, limitations on how much you can physically put yourself in front of potential clients. Technology, by giving you a presence in more places, can help overcome these limitations. Rather than posting ads in the newspaper, for example, you can now announce your brand via blogs, Facebook, e-mail, and newsletters, and make sure that your firm ranks well in search engine results with search engine optimization. You can also be more responsive to potential clients by scheduling consultations online and offering website live chat. “The Internet,” says Cudiamat, “provides a myriad of new means for law firms to broadcast their brand.”
But as the survey, “Small Firms, Big Marketing,” reveals, you need to strike a balance between newfangled marketing strategies and old-school networking. To achieve this, consider the holistic strategy employed by the Butler Snow case study highlighted in the report. Butler Snow has moved 80% of its print ads to electronic mediums, but focuses more on public relations than advertising. The firm complements its website and social media marketing efforts with political fundraisers, social get-togethers, and seminars about new laws.