Marketing your law firm in 2018 will carry many of the same principles as years past.
There are, however, some new strategies and activities you need to implement in 2018, to make your law firm marketing plan cutting edge and to outperform competitors.
Key Elements: developing your law firm marketing plan
With technologies and advertising channels constantly evolving, knowing exactly what should be included in your law firm’s marketing plan can be overwhelming. But whether you’re a seasoned veteran or brand new at marketing your firm, this guide will break down all the elements you should consider to market your firm effectively in 2018.
In considering what should be included in your marketing plan, a line should be drawn between online and offline marketing. While the principles are similar for both, the execution of a online marketing plan vs an offline marketing differs greatly because of all the advancements and technologies in the digital world.
Building an online law firm marketing plan
Let’s take a look at the digital strategy first.
Digital marketing has one chief objective: to put your firm in front of the client in the right place at the right time.
I’ll say that again: to put your firm in front of the client in the right place at the right time.
What this means is that your online marketing efforts must make your firm present to the client (i.e. brand awareness) on the platform they are using.
Your firm should build awareness on these platforms:
1. Search Engines: Google / Bing / Yahoo
As long as the Internet, search engines, digital devices and humans exist, clients will still be looking for answers, services and products through online search queries.
The best (and most valuable) part of SEO is that these are “wallets out” clients, meaning that they are searching for your firm’s services and are ready to buy.
The question is: will you be there when they are ready to buy?
- Content Marketing – As a part of a SEO-focused marketing strategy you will need to invest in building more “in-roads” to your website. And that’s exactly what web pages & blog posts are: pathways leading clients to your firm. A strategic content marketing plan should aim to create written and visual content that is:
- SEO Optimized so that searchers can actually find it
- Truly Helpful to whomever is looking for it (i.e. answers their question)
2. Social Media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn)
Yes, you really need to be on social media. Being on every platform is not necessary, but your firm should be on at least 2-3 platforms with a strong presence.
Because your future clients are on them. Because that’s where clients spend nearly 2 hours a day watching videos, looking at pictures, viewing ads, reading posts, sharing about their lives and learning about others. Be where your clients are. It’s that simple.
3. Attorney Directories and Business Listings (Avvo, Findlaw, Justia, Google My Business)
Same as SEO and social media, clients are looking for your firm’s services and we want them to find you. Attorney directories like Avvo, FindLaw, and Justia have built powerful “search engines” which categorize and rank lawyer profiles. Additionally, these websites show up high in search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo) results, which means that you can have more eyes on your firm.
Similarly, no listing is more powerful and valuable than your Google My Business listing which is one of the first things to appear for a search for a service (law firm) in or around geographic location.
4. Email Campaigns
Don’t forget about this one. Email is the oldest form of online marketing and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Email has been and continues to be one of the most effective ways to engage potential clients and re-engage current clients.
5. Advertising Campaigns
Advertising on any of the platforms above is a great way to stay present to searching clients and be there in the right place at the right time. Advertising on Google Adwords allows you to appear in front of clients for select “keywords and keyword phrases.”
Paying for a “top spot” on Avvo, FindLaw, or Justia is a great way to be present to clients who trust the platform. A well timed Facebook ad could be just right for an individual to see your firm.
Building an offline marketing plan
While online marketing is an essential side of holistic plan, offline marketing strategies also need to be employed to engage with clients away from digital devices (especially if part of your target market is less inclined towards technology).
Your firm should build awareness in these ways:
1. Business Cards
Tried and true, business cards are a simple, yet impactful, way to “leave your business” with a client. Keep a stack in your wallet, briefcase, car, desk, home, and anywhere else you may be regularly so that when your client needs it you can deliver.
Design a brochure that puts your best foot forward. Don’t skimp. Then distribute your brochure anywhere you can. Have friends who have a lobby in their office? Does the jail or detention center allow brochures? Have relationships with any clinics or counseling centers near you? Anywhere and everywhere–distribute them all.
This one is easily overlooked but very important. Having an office that is hard to identify or (even worse) that makes your firm look unimpressive is a poor way to lose new clients. Again, invest in the best.
4. Gifts / Referral Strategies
Is there someone or several people who are always referring clients to you? Make sure to reward them generously for helping to build your firm.
Are you active at your church? In a local sports league? President of a club? Involved in your community? Whatever you are passionate about, turn that passion into natural advertising for you and your firm by sponsoring and getting your logo on a handout, shirt, sign, etc.
Building a LOCAL law firm marketing plan
Whether your marketing your law firm online or offline, you need to carefully consider how you are going to “local-ize” your strategy.
From a digital perspective, executing a “general” SEO/content/social media/advertising strategy may be highly effective if the competition is weak in your area or niche. But, if you are like the majority of attorneys, then you are in a landscape filled with other firms, most of which are probably employing a general digital marketing plan.
In order to beat them, then, you must be more present to searching clients, by permeating the market with “local” campaigns” and “local” messages.
Here are some examples of how to “local-ize” your online marketing:
1. SEO (and content marketing)
Getting a backlink (a link pointing from another website to yours) is one of the things search engines love most. So, getting a link from another attorney’s website is valuable. Even more valuable, though, is getting a backlink from a local online magazine or news source.
2. Social Media
Getting clients, friends, and even family members to engage your posts (like, share, comment) on social media is difficult. (That’s an understatement.)
Legal content lacks the allure that a “recipe video” or “cat photo” does; as a result, it’s challenging to get people to notice your social media presence. That’s why you should find something interesting to clients near you so that they can engage with your page. Find some local theme, or topic, that you are passionate about and integrate that into your social media strategy.
Here are some examples of how to “local-ize” your offline marketing:
Signage can be great way to get local clients to notice you. Is there something noteworthy about your office location (i.e. largest building, next to PNC bank)? Is there something remarkable about your firm (i.e. oldest firm in area, local staff)?
Ask yourself these questions and others to pinpoint some characteristic of your firm that is truly and genuinely different than your competitors. Then, highlight and accentuate that difference in the exact same style/verbiage across all platforms.
2. Sponsor a local charity, club, sports team, church, or scholarship
Sponsorships are a great way to accomplish a new number of goals simultaneously.
First, you will be doing something good. (Kudos.) Second, you will be seen by others (potentially clients) as doing something good. Third, local news outlets and bloggers love to share a stories like this which gives you a perfect opportunity to build awareness, generate backlinks, share an engaging story on social media, and “win” in just about every way possible.
How much does a law firm marketing plan cost?
The cost of a law firm marketing plan will, of course, vary from case to case.
Online marketing strategies, though, tend to structure around a monthly retainer based on the number of hours spent on SEO, the amount of content produced (blog posts, videos, infographics, etc), the volume of social media activity, and the time or adspend put towards email campaigns or advertising.
These plans often start as low as $800 (or $725 if you use lean marketing strategies like us) and can range upwards of $10K – $20K per month, especially if you are a personal injury firm or large firm looking to win big cases.
These plans are usually scalable based on tiered pricing where, for example, $1,000 per month would include 5 hours of SEO, 2 blog posts and 10 social media posts and $2,500 would include 15 hours of SEO, 5 blog posts and 25 social media post.
Offline marketing strategies are often more project based in nature, since you might design and print 5,000 business cards or brochures and then not more print more for 6 months. There are, however, cases where offline marketing is retainer-based, like an ad in a local paper or a sign at a local stadium.
Offline marketing activities will usually total between $150 – $2,500 per attorney connected to the firm.
In total, then, a law firm marketing plan for a solo practitioner or small to mid-sized firm will likely range between $750 – $50K per month.
Build and execute your plan today
There is no better time than the present to build and execute your law firm marketing plan.
Use the ideas above to structure your strategy and, if possible, continually look to personalize and “local-ize” the strategy.
What strategies have helped your firm grow? What strategies would you add to this list? Share your strategies and questions in the comments below.