The three ways a firm can achieve increased marketing results are:
- Quadruple the marketing budget
- Contact every client and prospective client every week
- Spend all waking or at least all working hours marketing to the exclusion of practicing law.
So said Gregory Brown, Esq. of the law firm of Kring & Brown, facetiously when he spoke at the January meeting of the LMA of Southern California.
Acknowledging that these methods were unrealistic, particularly in the current challenging economic environment, Mr. Brown went on to suggest some manageable marketing ideas. His viewpoints were of interest to the chapter because he is a founding partner in a mid-size firm with offices in Southern California and Las Vegas. The firm is known for their stylish ads in business publications and their Thanksgiving weekend charitable golf tournament.
The first step is to define your business. What type of firm are you? What type of work do you do? More specifically, what are your “key” practice areas? Which practice area do you want to expand? Whichcan you expand based on factors such as availability of desired work and the necessary expertise and manpower to handle the increase of clients and cases.
Next, list your goals, both short term and long term in writing , identifying specific steps to achieve each one. Share them with everyone in the firm. All attorneys and staff like to know what the firm's goals are so they can each contribute in their own way to reaching them. Most importantly, “don't bite off more than you can chew!” he advised. Be reasonable about your resources of time, talent and budget.
Define your target audience. Who are your potential clients? How do you reach them? What do they do? Where are they located? What do they read? What trade associations do they belong to? Who do they work with? And most importantly, why do they need you? Understand why your target audience truly needs YOUR services.
Don't forget your current clients. Everyone has heard of the 80/20 Rule: that 80% of business comes from 20% of your clients. Believe it and don't forget to cross market other services to your existing clients.
Make a plan. It should be a firmwide marketing plan with multiple contributors who will buy in to the stated goals. Also, the attorneys should write individual marketing plans. These should be fluid road maps referred to often but changeable based on what efforts bring the best results.
Make a budget. How much of your budget will be dedicated to advertising? Promotion of each practice area? Once you start tracking, you can eventually determine which practice areas provide the largest amount of gross revenue and best profit margin. Increased marketing affects the profit margin. Remember, no new marketing campaign makes money immediately. It takes time.
Focus your efforts. Don't attend a 2-day marketing boot camp training session and try to implement everything the first ten minutes you return to your office full of enthusiasm. Slowly introduce new things.
Track your successes. Determine how your marketing hours and dollars are paying off in new business. Keep your tracking simple:
· Responses from ads can be tracked by the receptionist.
· Referrals appear on a new client information sheet.
· Document responses from articles.
· Have a guest book sign-in on your web site.
· Collect business cards from speaking engagements and trade association participation.
· Allocate special event costs to whichever branch reaps the majority of the benefit.
Create a Buzz. Become a name your target audience recognizes. “It pays to advertise” within your budget.
Even if a solo or small firm can't advertise in a business journal, they can have a recurring ad in a well-targeted trade association directory.
Submit articles to the publications your target clients read. Speak at their organization meetings.
Be the expert they reference and remember.
Sponsor organization meetings, but be involved enough to create long term relationships that will lead to business or referrals.
Repeat contact will create recognition of your firm as the go-to attorneys for your key practice area.
Follow up. Recognize and respond to referrals. Minimize the effects of any lost dot.com clients or any other business areas in a current downturn. If you do bankruptcy work, market the practice more right now to take advantage of the current opportunities.
Don't be shortsighted. Cutting people or slashing budgets in this changing economy will not bring in more business. Increase your marketing results by being more selective based on your past successes.