While many law firms have recently finalized their marketing plans for 2014 other firms are just beginning to develop their plans and programs while other firms have not even started. Here are five ideas that might be helpful in your 2014 planning.
IDEA #1: GET ALL PARTNERS AND ASSOCIATES TO MARKET AND DEVELOP
Start by creating the culture and environment. Marketing and client service needs to be incorporated into the culture of the firm. All attorneys should have a role in marketing. Staff can have roles as well. All partners must walk the talk and consistently build and reinforce the marketing goals of the firm. Marketing goals and action plans should be formulated for all attorneys and they should be held accountable.
A few suggestions:
Changing the culture of the firm will take time – however over time a marketing mindset will emerge.
IDEA #2: KEEP CLIENTS HAPPY
Based upon client satisfaction surveys (telephone interviews) that we have done for law firms we find that one of the biggest problems is that the attorneys are doing a poor job of managing client expectations. Your clients get frustrated when you promise one thing (timeline or fees) and the result is very different – especially when the work takes longer than promised or the fees are higher. Even though you don’t structure it as a promise your clients take it that way. The key is to under promise and over deliver. I suspect that upon the initial client meeting you are under estimating the timeline and low balling the fee range. Reduce the promise – increase the – timeline and fee range and then shoot to deliver under that range. This will do wonders for improving the client relationship.
IDEA #3: MAXIMIZE RESULTS FROM MARKETING INVESTMENTS
Studies that have been conducted indicate that law firms that provide services to business firms (B2B) spend approximately 2.4% of fee revenue on marketing. However, law firms that focus on individual consumers (retail law if you will) spend much more – 10%+ of fee revenues on marketing – especially if strong referral networks are not in place. I have several PI, SSDI, Elder Law and Estate Planning firm clients that are spending 10%+ of their fee revenue or greater on marketing. I have some extremely successful PI firm clients spending 20% of their revenue on marketing.
The amount of appropriate investment can depend upon referral networks in place. I have successful PI and Estate Planning firms that are spending very little on marketing, are getting all of their business from their referral networks, and spending next to nothing on marketing and advertising. (By referrals I am speaking about professional referrals not involving a referral fee and client referrals. If referral fees are involved they should be considered a marketing cost) So it depends upon your situation, the type of cases you are going after, etc.
Measure Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)
As important as the amount of your marketing investment is to your program – you must constantly measure the effectiveness of your various marketing program activities and know at all times your ROMI (return on marketing investment). Then you determine what is working for you and what it now working – then fine tune your program.
Implement Effective Inquiry/Lead Management and Client In-Take Systems
Many firms spend enormous amount on marketing and then drop the ball on managing and processing prospective client inquiries. Inquiries that are generated thought the internet or advertising are colder leads than referrals from other clients or referral sources. Cold inquiries expect 24/7 response – often you only have a two hour window to get back with these inquiries or they will contact someone else. Before you make major investments in TV, Radio, Pay-Per-Click, or Internet Referral Programs insure that you have put in place the appropriate inquiry/lead management and client in-take infrastructure and staffed accordingly. Otherwise you may find that you are getting the inquiries/leads but are not being successful in converting them into paying clients.
IDEA #4: GEOGRAPHIC EXPANSION – ADDITIONAL OFFICES
For some practices geographic expansion may be an appropriate strategy. Spending more marketing time and money targeted in the same area won’t help if there is no more work to be had. Here are a few thoughts:
The cheaper you can launch and maintain remote (branch) offices the more markets you can expand in to.
IDEA #5: IMPROVE ADVERTISING RESULTS FOR AN ESTATE PLANNING
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D., CMC, is a Certified Management Consultant and the president of Olmstead & Associates, Legal Management Consultants, based in St. Louis, Missouri. The firm helps law and other professional service firms improve the operations and management of their practices and the lives of their practitioners. The firm, founded in 1984 serves clients across the Globe assisting them with implementing change and improving operational and financial performance, management, leadership, client development and marketing.
Dr. Olmstead’s assignments have covered the spectrum of management issues. However, in recent years most of his time is focused on engagements helping firms with:
Dr. Olmstead is the Editor-in-Chief of “The Lawyers Competitive Edge: The Journal of Law Office Economics and Management,” published by Thomson West. He is currently serving as Past Chair, Illinois State Bar Association Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and as a member of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Research Committee. Dr. Olmstead may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional articles and information is available at the firm’s web site:
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