Changing the Way You and Your Law Firm View Your Advertising Budget
It’s here, the “dog days of summer” are upon us. If you’ve been to Target lately, you’ve already seen the rollout of back-to-school supplies. Stores are displaying fall candles and Halloween decorations, and we just hit the month of August. It’s also the time of the year where law firms begin to really look hard at their marketing campaigns and how much they have spent year to date. We’ve got 5 months left in the year, if you include December, and with the holidays fast approaching and vacations, it means we have about 16 working weeks left in 2021. So, how many new cases did your law firm land this year from your marketing campaigns?
Look, if you’re taking the time to read our newest law firm marketing blog, or if you sat through Mr. Hewitt’s advertising video, then chances are you are looking for ways to attract new clients. Our goal isn’t to rank you on page one of Google. It’s not to dazzle you with “bs” reports and charts about how many impressions your website has received. We are not here to bore you with bogus data. Our job is to help your law firm make money, and to make money, we need to get you new cases. Period. We are not cheap, in fact, we are probably one of the most expensive ad agencies you could work with. But, that’s because if we can make you A LOT of money, you don’t mind letting us take our share. In fact, you’re happy about it.
Today, we’re going to talk about changing the way you and your law firm view your advertising spend. Mr. Gary Hewitt, our President of Media, has over 40 years of marketing and advertising experience. From helping Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey combine shows and become the biggest circus company nationwide, to working with National Broadway Tours. Mr. Hewitt has worked with the biggest companies and he has helped them all increase their profits through well-thought-out ad campaigns.
The goal of today’s article and video is very simple. We want to help you view your marketing budget as an investment, and not a spend or bill. Simply put, in order for you to have a successful campaign and land new case leads each month, you have to “invest” in your ads, not view them as a cost.
Investing in Your Law Firm
Investing in yourself and your firm at a time when you may have a ton of business because of the backlog coming out of the pandemic, makes sense. We have been hearing from our clients and from prospective clients that business is good as the courts have started opening again, people are traveling more, and normal life seems to be within reach. This is all good news. This is also the best time to start heavily investing in promoting you and your firm.
Conventional Investing Wisdom Says the Opposite
In traditional investing, most people hesitate to invest when they think the price of the investment is too high and the return may not be there, just think of the stock market and the housing market. We have all heard buy on the dips and sell at the peaks. In housing its more of a gamble as to booms and bubbles, the good news is that if you can hold out long enough profit can be made in the long run. These rules of thumb are contrary to investing in your firm or yourself.
Pedal to the Metal
When our clients tell us to slow down or prospective clients tell us they are too busy to invest in themselves, we always pause and have a conversation with them about the type of clients that they are looking for, what kind of “pipeline” of clients that they have, how long they think this will last and what do they think that their competition is doing? You see human nature is to relax when things are good, that is the opposite of what you should be doing right now.
Let’s look at each one of the questions posed above:
What type of clients are you looking for?
The answer is obvious, all clients want cases that pay off the best for themselves and the firm. These cases are the whales within all your other businesses. They come along mixed in with everything else. During normal business times when business is not as good as it may be now, you take those cases that will keep the lights on and wait for the bigger cases to tip the scales into the very profitable range. It is the normal times when you are most susceptible to taking cases just to keep the doors open. If business is good right now, then now is the time to invest in marketing to really get yourself and your firm noticed and for the phones to ring, why? Because you can pick and choose the cases you want without worrying about volume to keep the lights on. When times are good it is time to really put your pedal to the metal to bring in the business that you really want.
What kind of pipeline of potential law firm clients do we have?
Filling the pipeline with current and future clients now when things are good insures you from being caught off guard when business takes a downturn. Remember this pipeline will be filled with more highly qualified cases as you have had the luxury of being choosey. You are probably in a better position to invest more also which again gives you a greater opportunity to fill your pipeline.
How long will this last?
I don’t think that anyone has the answer to this, but it doesn’t matter, if business stays good that is great, but if it takes a downturn and you have listened to my advice there could be little to no impact on your business. Investing now will set you up for future downturns.
What is my competition doing?
Your marketing company should be able to help you with their analytics to give some clarity as to what they are doing, if they don’t that is another issue. My suggestion is that this in the long run doesn’t really matter. They are going to do what they do, you need to charge full steam ahead with a solid investment plan and reap the rewards. Bottom line, if you want to acquire more cases, you need to take them away from your competitors. We cannot manufacture, no marketing company can, new cases. All we can do is “gobble up” the people who are currently searching for legal services in your area, and then direct them to you and your site (instead of your competitors)
Grow Your Marketing Campaigns and Build Your Ads Now
There has never been a better time for you or your firm to invest in marketing your firm. Time is right to capture the market, fill your pipeline, and choose the quality cases that you want. If you would like to hear more just give us a call and we can do a free competitive analysis of your market and your website to see how we might be able to help you invest in your growth.
Investing to Get More Law Firm Clients
I have been writing a series of articles about making the best investment you can make where the return on that investment sounds too good to be true, the truth is that it is not. I have posted this question in past articles and in case you have missed it, I ask; What is the biggest investment that you have ever made? Most answer, their home or even the buy-in to their firm. Those can be large investments, but they don’t compare to the investment that you made in yourself to become an Attorney. Just think about all the time and money you put into your education to get to where you are, you see, you are your biggest investment.
Making It Rain and Growing Your Law Firm
When you first started out your bosses and partners made it to that position because they were the firm’s “Rain Makers”. Meaning that they brought in the business for the firm. You saw how much time and effort went into building relationships for referral business from other Attorneys, soliciting companies, and individuals that could potentially turn into business. It seems as though the rainmaker’s time was consumed with making it rain and not practicing law. Now that you may be a “rainmaker” you know how much time and effort that you put into making connections for referrals and prospecting for new clients. Let’s say that you bill $300 per hour, and you spend 15 hours per week working to get new clients through referrals, networking, and outreach. That means that you are investing $4500.00 weekly of your time to get new clients. That is $18,000.00 per month that you cannot bill for as you are not working for a client you are working to get clients. If you had billable hours to fill instead of prospecting that means you would be $18,000.00 plus versus $18,000.00 non-billable, a swing of $36,000.00!
I realize that no matter what you will always need some time to network and prospect, it is part of the job, in fact, it’s vital to the success of your firm.
Networking, Referral, Outreach
The tried-and-true methods of getting new business still work and are an unavoidable part of what you must do every day. Your reputation, community involvement, and ability to network with those around you often are a major source of new business for you. If this is how you get most of your new business then just think about all the hours you are putting in to get clients instead of billing clients.
Looking At How You Get Clients
If you are like most firms, you may track how new clients get to you, but have you ever really looked at those pathways analytically and understood the cost? Here is an example of one of our clients that keeps exceptional records:
May 2021/New Clients/Cases
4 clients from Attorney Referrals (Networking, Client Currency)
6 from Client Referrals (Gift that keeps on giving)
4 from Word of Mouth (Your reputation, reviews)
5 Repeat Business (Clients coming back for more)
8 In-House Attorney Marketing (Networking, Civic Activities, Local sponsorships etc…)
This firm got 27 new cases from the sources outlined above, if you notice the 2 categories that the Attorneys put their efforts into were Referrals and In-House Marketing. The other categories especially the repeat business and Client referrals were from their significant efforts and outcomes for their clients.
The Attorney Referrals have taken years to create, and those referrals are dealt around by those referring firms, meaning they are keeping a few firms happy because they too are looking for referrals. We refer to this a “client currency”. Client referrals are a gift that keeps on giving, happy past clients sending in their friends and family is wonderful as these just bring down the new client investment over time. The best type of advertising is Word of Mouth, this means that whatever you have done in the past has created an impression on your community or area of influence and that people remember you. It is almost better than an endorsement. Word of Mouth could have also been created by past marketing campaigns that people remember. Repeat business is also the gift that keeps on giving as again your past clients continue to need you and come to you.
What is Missing?
As we outlined above Client Referrals, Word of Mouth and Repeat Business are from past efforts. As these categories of new cases come in, they need to be subtracted from the original cost to acquire the new case. This can be cumbersome and because original notes may not be correct it is hard to determine and track properly. We always work with our clients to help them set up the proper new case coding and tracking so that the acquisition investment’s appreciation can be tracked. When you have your new case tracking in place it is then easy to see how much your firm is investing in acquisitions and what percentage of new cases are coming from where. It has been our experience that you want to be able to continually feed the category of Client Referrals, Word of Mouth, and Repeat Business through as many money sources as possible as these drive up your initial returns on investment.
The categories above with our most successful firms combined are between 50-60%. So where does the other 30-40% come? It comes from marketing. Marketing on Google and other search engines, Traditional Media. Social Media and SEO should account for the missing percentage. The investment to get new cases based against what you are investing internally should be less and if you are accounting properly for what you are investing internally you will soon be seeing the investment to acquire new cases through marketing going down, giving you and your associates more billable time, and increasing the firm’s bottom line.
If you drill down and find that you and your associates spend 15 hours per week marketing and networking, that is costing the firm $4,500.00 per week if the average billable hour is $300. That is $18000 per month and given the numbers we looked at above that comes out to $1,500.00 per new case from internal marketing efforts. If your marketing efforts from digital and tr4aditional sources are working properly the investment to acquire will be less than your internal efforts, sometimes by a great deal.
Stop Looking at Your Marketing Spend as a Cost
Your account may put marketing in this column, but it is not a cost for you. You are investing in your today and your tomorrow. Remember those 3 categories that are the “gifts that keep on giving”? Those categories if tracked properly will over time decrease the initial investment of acquisition. If you got 10 new cases from a $10,000 marketing investment that is, $1,000 per new case. If you got a total of 5 referrals, repeats, and word of mouth from that $10,000. That would mean that now your investment to acquire is now only $666.67 a 33% reduction! Over time the saving is the entire $10,000 and even be a net positive. What other investment could even come close?
Marketing Can Be Scaled Instantly
With the proper partner working with you on your marketing, your efforts can be quickly scaled, by scaling you will be able to not spend as much time internally marketing and networking. This scalability will allow for more billable hours to you or the firm and a better bottom line.
Law Firm Marketing and Growing Your Practice Effectively
We hope you enjoyed today’s article about law firm marketing and growing your practice effectively. Yes, we want to sell you service. And yes, we do have a vested interest to tell you things that we believe will entice you to buy from us. So, do your homework. Talk to lots of different law firm marketing companies. Ask all of them, including us, lots of questions. The more you know, the more information you have, the better decision you can make.
Today, we touched on lots of ways you and your firm can improve your ad campaigns. We strongly believe that you need to change the way you view your marketing spend. You are investing in your firm, and if you build and manage your campaigns correctly, you should receive a very favorable ROI. We can help, this is where you pick up the phone and call us and let us “WOW” you with our law firm marketing skills.