For most purveyors of goods and services, the act of marketing can be traced back in history to the very beginning of commerce when conveying the benefits of one’s products and services over a competitor’s was a practice of simple communication, using the very rudimentary of marketing tools and collateral. But for many in the personal services sector, even the most basic marketing efforts are a relatively unfamiliar, new-age endeavor. Professional services marketing and advertising burst onto mediums several decades ago when lawyers emerged from a historic social and governmental ban on advertising. Looking back, the entry into the pitching of legal services could only be described as a bit of a shock and awe experience given the social norms of the times.
Consumers are now accustomed to experiencing brash, in-your-face marketing tactics from personal injury lawyers and class action proponents. The efforts are still edgy, but with every experience the impact to the senses tends to wear off over time. And despite the overt tactics, the campaigns appear to be working, at least for some practitioners. But amidst all the activity of a few it seems as though marketing is not a priority for most law firms.
According to a recent American Bar Association report, only 46 percent of law firms even have a marketing budget, and only 14% of solo law practices have a defined marketing spend. The age tested practice of word-of-mouth referrals is alive and well amongst many practicing attorneys. But like most other industries, digital communications are providing a new opportunity for professional services to emerge from the fairways of the local country clubs, dinner parties and social halls to connect with prospective new clients before the well of future consumers runs dry. Studies reveal that 57% of consumers look for a lawyer themselves, and many perform the search via online websites. For the 13 percent of firms that admit that “no one” is responsible for marketing within the firm, it’s past the time to throw away the Yellow Pages and build a website.
Certainly, building a digital marketing strategy is more than a well-developed website, but it is a good foundation for constructing a comprehensive effort to generate solid leads and consistently onboard qualified clients who are looking for legal help. There may be a consensus among consumers that there are just too many lawyers. That premise may be flawed and inaccurate, but the American Bar Association says that as of 2022, there are 1,327,910 licensed attorneys in the United States amid 439,740 Law Firms. We can debate whether that’s too many, but the fact remains the lawyer marketplace is very competitive and noisy.
Breaking into the arena will require a digital strategy that is focused on a particular market niche with a unique selling proposition. Targeting permits a more specific message that is aimed at attracting the best customer. A well-designed and user-friendly website is the pathway into connecting with today’s consumers who are mobile, savvy, and adept at communicating through social media platforms.
Document the marketing strategy at the outset and establish metrics to measure and evaluate the strategy’s performance over time. Build organic traffic by investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and supplement the lead generation effort by utilizing a paid lead generation service. Create informative blogs, videos, and podcasts that build your credibility, demonstrate authority, and outline competencies in the field of specialty. Select social media platforms that align with the consumers you are targeting. Lawyering is a profession, so keep the message simple, short, and professional and conclude with a call for action. And now the big “it depends” question: How much marketing spend is enough?
Spending anywhere between two percent to eighteen percent of a law firm’s gross revenue on marketing is recommended but, according to the Legal Marketing Association, law firms typically allocate an average of 6.7% of revenue to marketing. The real answer will be determined by the area of practice. Personal injury lawyers spend the greatest percentage on advertising campaigns, while private and governmental agencies’ lawyers tend to rely more on relationship building.
Regardless of the specialty or area of practice, the digital communication and social media environment is the location where word of mouth conversations and relationship building is taking place. If you expect to grow a client base and be relevant in the professional services marketplace, don’t be caught in an empty room having a face-to-face conversation with yourself.
To learn more about how Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) can help craft and execute the right digital marketing strategy for your firm, call (678)686-1125.