Too often lawyers forget that they are in business. It is not enough just to set up shop and expect clients to somehow find you. It takes a lot more to let the world know you exist, that you have great skills and will do an excellent job for your clients.
But, unfortunately you can’t do a great job for clients that don’t know about you. This is where good marketing comes in. When you look around and see successful practitioners in your field, you can safely assume they have effective marketing methods that helped them build a viable practice.
The most effective method of building and sustaining an active business is a mix of networking, referrals and marketing. For most lawyers, the first two-networking and referrals are the most natural to manage. Marketing, however, is more difficult to master and many lawyers don’t know how to do it well. Indeed, many make mistakes that can cost them time, money and clients.
Below is a list of 10 problems and sometimes mistakes lawyers make in marketing their practice:
1. Not devoting enough time spent on marketing
As in every “self- employed” business, practitioners need to devote a certain amount of time in bringing in new clients. Marketing is a part of that equation. A question that needs to be considered is how much time to spend on marketing? Consider allowing at least 200 hours a year for marketing. If you break this down by week, it’s about four hours during your work week. Your marketing can be done during a business lunch or at a professional conference. It is not difficult to weave those hours into your day if you plan ahead.
2. Counting on industry exposure
Speaking at conferences, doing interviews, writing articles or doing radio interviews isn’t enough. Simple industry exposure alone will not count towards explicitly planned marketing efforts. Marketing is not an “organic” process. If you do have an interview, whether it is radio, TV or a podcast, be sure to put it on your website. Roughly 30 percent of the population has grown up with the internet always present in their lives and video is a big part of how they look for services. If you don’t already have video on your site, you need to add it. It’s an excellent opportunity to show your best skills in how you represent your firm and impress future clients. It’s a great business-getting technique. Live interaction on your website can certainly count towards your marketing efforts.
3. Not sure of your target audience
Who are your clients? If you are not sure, then your advertising and marketing efforts are a waste of your time and money. You need to analyze very carefully and clearly who wants your services. Otherwise, you will waste time and energy on the wrong prospects. Once you have identified and analyzed your target client, will your advertising and marketing efforts be more effective, when you do have your ideal client, that client will be an excellent advocate for future clients. Just as referral business is always ideal, directing your marketing efforts towards the right client base to produce a more optimal result. You can meet your ideal client anywhere, especially when you know where to go to find them.
4. Failure to measure marketing results
How do you know your marketing plan is working if you don’t measure the success or failure of your campaign? Line up the specific actions you have taken and see which ones are getting the most action. Even if some are not getting the same level of response does not mean you trash it. What measuring does tell you is which areas to beef up. Like any advertising or marketing fishing expedition, you want more than one line in the water. Take a look at the response to your blog, for example. See how many people visited or commented.
Law firm marketing is relationship-based like most other service industries. It is how sales originate. One option for measuring is to look at the elements that can be measured and will have easy to identify metrics. Some of those include:
Open rates on your email
Click-through on your website and analytics
Results from client satisfaction interviews
Rates than win proposals
Events that gain repeated attendance
Business from seminars and CLEs
Good placement for your articles
5. Lack of a clear marketing message.
Too many law firms get disillusioned and have a negative attitude towards marketing. One of the problems is that they don’t have a clear idea of what their marketing message should be. A half-hearted approach or lukewarm effort certainly won’t work. If your method is good but the message is vague, then you have a problem. If your message isn’t clear, then chances are the entire campaign will fail. Be clear on your message before you create a program, make sure you create a competent marketing message. A good message is critical to a good marketing method. You must have both to succeed
6. Poor website design
Your website is a reflection of you and your brand. It is an important venue for your public relations reputation. Your website is your marketing image and platform. In terms of your public relations component, your website offers the opportunity to position your firm securely as an expert in your field. If there is a case in which there will be media attention, your website will gain significant attention both from the media as well as the public. Consequently, you need a good design that is easy to navigate and matches the personality of your typical client. According to the top law firms who rank high in the web design world, the overriding recommendations suggest keeping it clean and simple. Content should be informative, engaging and highly readable. Visitors should be able to easily find what they are looking for without having to leave your home page. Tabs should indicate where on the site the visitor can find specific information as well as a way to send a question via “contact us” page.
7. Poor business development
Marketing is more than advertising and getting the word out about your practice. Business development should be part of your marketing plan. List every way you plan to develop your practice. Start your plan with clients you know you will win and work from there. Build a reputation and have references. These should be people who know and trust you. In fact, these clients will be a very important part of your marketing operation. These are the clients that you can count on to send you new business and keep you informed of current issues in your field of practice. A business development plan is something you can measure. Create a file of every part of your practice where you plan to grow your business. From that measure how many times you “touched” a client. For example, how many times did you have lunch, talk on the phone or received a referral from that client. How many clients did you gain from a networking event, professional meeting or lecture?
8. Trying to do everything at once
Marketing ambition is a good thing. Certainly it is better to be enthusiastic about marketing your firm, but stay focused and accomplish each task fully before jumping to another. Focus on one strategy at a time. You can begin with your website.
Create and launch a newsletter
Join some networking groups
Investigate effective advertising options, such as a pay-per-click plan on Google
9. Not using social media
If you do not have more than a website, no one knows you exist. It’s not enough just to have one presence online. Even if prospective clients see your website, they will also be looking for you elsewhere to get to know you better. Create a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Google+ page, Twitter account and record some lectures you gave and put them on YouTube. Social media has changed the marketing balance. Today it is about building relationships and communicating with the world via an online message. Your future clients want to feel they know you and they do this by seeing your persona online. Now the emphasis is on building direct relationships and developing a conversation with the people you want to reach.
10. Ignoring the world of mobile technology
More people find what they are looking for from a mobile device than even a laptop computer today. Every part of your online presence must have a mobile component to it. Research has found that 84 percent of Americans use smartphones, and for about half of those people, their smartphone is their main connection to the Internet. A recent study from Portio Research found that mobile applications will exceed 200 billion per year by the end of full year 2017, and revenues in 2017 will reach 63.5 billion US dollars.
Mobile computing and searches have far exceeded desktop for several years now. In fact, 70 percent of all online searches come from mobile devices, far outnumbering desktop and laptop. Of that, 31 percent of searches to law firm websites comes from mobile search. That means that about half of all of your web traffic is coming to you from a smartphone or tablet user.
Marketing mistakes can derail even the sharpest law firm. A lawyer can’t exist without clients and clients can’t find you if they don’t know you are in practice. It is just a fact of the business world that effective marketing practices are necessary to let the world know you exist.