Blog/Podcast: Gain a Competitive Advantage with These 7 Proven Marketing Strategies
There used to be a time when, if you were a capable attorney, you would get new business simply because there was enough out there. Today’s market is just too competitive for this approach to work. Law firms must use the power of marketing to survive.
Bill Bice, founder and CEO of Boomtime, a B2B and legal marketing consultancy, has dedicated his career to helping law firms grow. He’s identified the marketing strategies that work for his clients—and the ones that don’t—and shared his top seven on the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast.
- Treat marketing as a “technology problem.” In the digital age, we can have data on every single engagement with target audiences and every dollar we spend. This has created a problem of overabundance: how do we take all this information and turn it into something useful we can base decisions on? Rather than focus on what your marketing will look like in the end, focus on gathering and using data effectively. Once you know how to use the technology and data you have, your marketing will fall into place.
- Make a long-term commitment to marketing. One of the biggest marketing problems is firms failing to commit to a long-term strategy that they execute on consistently. Marketing is not something you try for a month or two to see if it works; it may take a year or more to determine whether your strategy is successful. This is why data is so important—the numbers can help you see that you’re on the right track, even when it feels like you’ll never reach your goals.
- Hire an outside expert. It’s difficult for a law firm to manage all of their marketing in-house. Lawyers have clients to take care of and marketing directors have lots of hats to wear, making it very difficult for them to give every aspect of the firm’s strategy the attention it deserves. This is even more difficult at large firms, where it’s harder to get practice heads to unify behind one strategy. Consider hiring an outside expert who can capture your firm’s voice and take the lead on efforts that keep getting put on the back burner.
- Don’t use lateral transfers as your only source of growth. The classic way for a firm to expand is by bringing in a new partner with a full client roster. Yet research shows that lateral transfers have a low success rate and poor return on investment. It takes an average of five years for a transfer to pay off for existing partners, so if your new partner leaves before then, your firm has just lost money. That’s not to say lateral transfers never work—they can be a strategic way to add a complementary practice area to your firm—but they’re not the easiest or most foolproof way to grow.
- Leverage the power of word-of-mouth referrals. One source of growth that is proven to work? Word-of-mouth. It’s a strategy that’s always worked well for law firms and it’s even easier to do now with digital technology. Referrals happen at the individual attorney level, so center your marketing around each of your rainmakers (for example, make sure you own the search results for each of your partner’s names). Once referrals are coming in, that’s a sign you have a good reputation in the market and it’s time to amplify it through thought leadership and content-driven marketing.
- Take advantage of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is like the perfect networking event, where you only meet the people you want to. Yet most lawyers just aren’t taking advantage of the platform, which is a huge wasted opportunity. LinkedIn is full of potential clients, and they’re spending more time on it than ever before, meaning you should be spending more time on it than ever before. If that’s too much of a time commitment, try giving an assistant or another staff member access to your account. They can reply to and filter your messages, so you spend your time only on the most important ones.
- Use content to grow your LinkedIn network. Content is the key to using LinkedIn effectively and it can help you in two ways. First, if you consistently share thought leadership pieces, you’ll develop a network organically. People will follow you because they want your advice and some of those people may turn into clients. The second time content comes in handy is when you make a connection request. Once you’re accepted, send a follow-up thank you note with a link to useful content you’ve created. It’s a great way to build a genuine connection without being salesy.