Law_Firm_Marketing_Planning_InfograpicMarketing is necessary for the longevity of a legal practice. A structured marketing plan will steer lawyers in the right direction of targeted clients and will make sure any time and money invested in marketing is well spent.

In developing the actual plan, lawyers must consider the impact of various factors such as:  the firm’s priorities regarding workload increases, client types and billing arrangements; funding and marketing support availability; and the timeframe for the implementation of the marketing plan.

 Based on these considerations, we suggest a planning workflow consisting of five steps:

  1. Goal definition,
  2. Status analysis,
  3. Market segmentation & target client definition,
  4. Activity planning and
  5. Implementation

Having marketing goals that are specific and measurable is key to developing a worthwhile marketing plan. Not only does precise goal definition give lawyers a better understanding of the level of engagement needed, but it also helps them to analyze and improve the actual performance of their marketing plan.

A status analysis in the form of a SWOT analysis creates a clear picture of a lawyer’s strengths and weaknesses concerning their current marketability. Additionally, it allows for the identification of marketing and business opportunities, as well as threats to business growth. The next step, segmentation and target client definition, serves as the foundation of the activity plan.  In defining their core practice services and characterizing their ideal clients based on demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral traits, lawyers can create a more effective platform for selecting the best marketing tactics for a target audience.

The objective of the activity planning and implementation stages is to develop an activity portfolio that delivers the most effective marketing message to the target audience defined in the previous step. For the purpose of this exercise, we divide legal marketing activities into three categories:

  • Relationship building activities (organizational involvement/memberships, client and referral source entertainment)
  • Content development and delivery activities (content marketing (blogging, social media, newsletter), speaking engagements, publishing)
  • Contact database management (app- or software-based contact management system)

After a weekly or monthly split of the marketing hours between these categories is determined, the implementation can be guided by a marketing & budget calendar to manage the frequency, cost and required support for the activities.

Lateral_4 Successfully transitioning a law firm to the next generation is imperative to the continuation of a law firm. Law firms must be able to retain longstanding clients and also consistently attract new business.  To do this, a law firm must often develop a strategic staffing process and expand its marketing approach.

Strategic Staffing:

Smart competitors will seize any possible opening in a client relationship. Ensuring that the firm is ready for these challenges is an advantage.  We recommend strategic client staffing to ensure that younger lawyers build the essential relationships among the firm’s current clients, which will make competitive challenges more difficult.

Senior partners should evaluate their client staffing assignments at least three years before any planned transition. If no existing resources are available, we recommend a targeted recruiting process.

Expanded Marketing Approach:

Modernizing the firm’s marketing efforts can also improve the chances of a successful transition. With the help of workflows driven by software applications, law firms can also use support staff in the marketing process.

New marketing techniques focus on reaching clients digitally with written content, webinars, video education, and blogging. The intent is to attract visitors to the firm’s website, where the firm has the most marketing latitude.

Many successful lawyers also create content rich blogs to support their value to existing clients and to build new relationships.  Often these blogs are hosted apart from the firm’s main website.  We like an approach that has some content hosted on a blogging platform and some on the law firm’s website.

Regardless of the content hosting method, we recommend that law firms commit resources to the following items, which are affordable for any size firm:

  • Web Development;
  • Search Engine Optimization;
  • Social Media Support;
  • Video Production Support;
  • Graphics Support;
  • Editorial Support;
  • Marketing Automation Software;
  • Research; and
  • Content development.

Building a marketing platform to assist lawyers and future recruits with their marketing efforts will better enable and incent them to commit to any transition plan the partners adopt.

Relying only on current clients remaining with the firm is typically insufficient. A marketing system that draws new clients to the firm, while hard to perfect, helps ensure that talented lawyers stay with the firm rather than leaving for better-equipped competitors.

Overcoming Resistance:

It is typical, however, to meet resistance to new styles of marketing. More experienced lawyers often prefer traditional marketing activities such as travel, entertainment, speaking, professional and trade associations, and some structured publishing.

Traditional marketing activities are all still necessary, but possibly to a lesser degree. A good marketing plan can combine traditional and digital marketing approaches to increase the overall effectiveness of the firm’s marketing efforts.