When it comes to marketing your law firm, there are almost endless tactics one can use.
When most people think of legal marketing, they think of the mass torts TV ads scouring for potential Mesothelioma patients or billboards proclaiming “Injured, Call Us Now!”
In reality, the world of marketing offers so many alternative opportunities for a variety of budgets and preferences. There are so many options, in fact, that choosing how to market your law firm can be incredibly overwhelming.
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10 things to consider before choosing your marketing methods:
1. Who is your target market: potential clients, media, or other lawyers?
2. Will the topic or method resonate with that target market?
3. What is your cost per acquisition in total? Basically, how much can you afford to spend per lead or per client?
4. How will we OR can we track and measure the effectiveness of the method?
5. Will you have access to data that clearly shows results of the campaign?
6. How effective is the method for the others in the legal field?
7. How long will it take to see results or ROI?
8. How much time will it take to implement from idea to results?
9. How much skill and knowledge is required to implement this method successfully?
10. Does this method fit our company values and/or practice area?
After creating the list of marketing methods that fit your audience, provide ROI and results, and match your timeline needs or goals, you should run the methods against criteria to see which fit your priorities best. This is especially important if your marketing budget is limited or small for the methods you have chosen.
Sample ranking criteria for marketing methods:
TI = Time to Implement: the estimated length of time it typically takes to implement a tactic in this media. List an estimated, realistic timeframe.
TR = Time to ROI: the estimated length of time it typically takes to begin to receive a return on your marketing investment. List an estimated, realistic timeframe based on the time to implement.
E = Effectiveness: The effectiveness is based on the ability to create leads and convert potential clients into actual clients. On a scale from 1 to 5, one being the least amount, five being the largest.
C = Cost: an estimation of the money required to invest in order to utilize tactics in this media. On a scale from 1 to 5. One being the least amount, five being the largest.
S = Skill/Knowledge Required: represents the knowledge or resources you need to have in order to implement tactics in this media. On a scale from 1 to 5. One representing general knowledge, five representing advanced skills/mastery or the need to hire it out.
VM = Values Match: Does this method match up with our company values and align with our long-term goals as a company? Since values either fit or they don’t, this can be a simple check or X in the box.
The Big List of Marketing Tactics
This list was compiled with the brainstorm help of a group of lawyers who attended LabCon in August 2018.
How is this list broken down? Marketing medium, with a list of options under that heading.*
Includes all online marketing efforts. Digital marketing is an area where you need some expertise and skill to be effective. There may be additional investment into learning or using SEO platforms for keyword planning if you are tackling this on your own. In more competitive practice areas, you may want to work with professionals to build a solid SEO base. Criminal defense and personal injury firms tend to invest heavily in digital marketing to rank higher in search engine results pages, or SERPs.
- Search Engine Marketing – Google AdWords & Pay Per Click Ads
- Website & Landing Pages
- SEO – link-building & content
- Display Ads
- Local Marketing
- Reviews & Testimonials
- Email Marketing/Drip Campaigns
- IP Targeting
- Digital Graffiti
- Firm App
- Chatbot or website assistant
Referrals can come from other clients, lawyers, lists, groups, and more. This is where your networking and reputation come heavily into play. Court lists and referrals can be a great way to access a new pipeline of potential clients or build a client base while you are starting other, organic marketing methods.
- Client Referrals
- Peer Referrals
- Professional Networking
- Trade/Civic Organizations
- Court Referrals
- Court List
- Court Appointments
- FOIA Requests
- Community Groups – online or in-person
- Partnerships & Co-counsel agreements
Legal directories are a source of both admiration and frustration for lawyers, depending upon the ability to boost your profile and the ability to control the profile. Some directories are free with paid options to increase visibility. Be aware of the payoffs vs. payments for legal directories and learn exactly what you’ll get for the payment.
One other word of caution for directories is that I’ve seen a crop of new legal marketing companies masquerading as a directory and legal award services. These companies offer to list your site or give you an award (for a fee of hundreds of dollars) and then tell you they can boost your digital marketing efforts for a low monthly fee. These companies are generally scams or are practicing unethical marketing strategies, which makes sense when you consider how they bait & switch their service offerings.
Apart from the bad directories, there are many that provide valuable listings for attorneys. Be cautious and know ahead of time how much money you are spending or what your unpaid listing will get you.
Yelp and Google My Business are simply business and review directories, both of which can help give a robust branded search results page. If you do nothing else, claim and complete your Google My Business profile. As you can see from the image, it makes for a much more interesting business search result.
- Arag– Legal Insurance carrier; lawyers can become a provider in their network
- Avvo– Legal directory with a ranking factor
- Lawyer/Paid Referral Services
- Yelp- General business listing with trusted review system
- Google My Business- Business listing within Google, when people search your firm it provides a robust online profile in the search results
- Unbundled Legal Services- lawyers can become a provider in their network
- Pro Bono
- Pre-paid Legal Services
- State Bar Directory
Any visual, vocal, or written materials that are used to attract potential clients and show expertise in your practice area. Content, combined with SEO, can be some of the more effective ways to boost your online presence and search results.
Content can also help build a sales pipeline. Offering free informational webinars or downloads are a great way to educate potential clients and build trust in your expertise. Erin Levine of Hello Divorce does this extremely well and shared her process on the Clienting podcast.
- Freemiums – free content, typically ‘gated,’ requiring an email or contact information to access
- Content: Games/Quizzes, Infographics, Videos, Case Study, Etc.
- Self-published Podcasting
- Guest on Podcasts
- Guest Posting
Tracking metrics from mass media can be a challenge. Targeting is also fairly difficult with this method, as one would expect with the method umbrella title of “mass.” One thing to help with tracking and targeting for mass media is to use separate phone numbers and landing pages for the different methods, to better manage where the leads are coming from.
- Bus Ads
- Bench Ads
- Vanity Numbers
- Vanity License Plate
- Point of Sale Ads – Ads printed on a receipt
Mail & Lists/Data
Lists can be complicated for lawyers, since there are a variety of ethical rules about solicitation of clients. Some states have more regulation on solicitation than others, so keep this in mind if you choose to buy lists or send mailers. If you’re worried, I would avoid this area, since the return on investment in this area is hit or miss and often has low response rates.
- Paper Mailing List
- Public Records Searches
- Data Harvesting
- Class Lists- bankruptcy, lawsuit
Teaching is one great way to educate fellow lawyers and potential clients on a variety of topics. If your practice area is niche or clients are often unaware they have a legal issue that requires a lawyer, this marketing practice can build a knowledgeable potential client base that can educate others about your services.
- Lunch & Learn
- CLE teaching
- Publishing – books/articles
- Online Community-building
- Advertorials (paid educational articles)
- Free Consultations
- Speaking (Bar Associations/etc)
This is a tried and true method for a professional services business. With scholarships and donations, your firm can create links and goodwill with potential clients. I strongly advise that your firm chooses a cause or school that is meaningful to the firm for authenticity.
On the digital marketing front, making sure it is based near the firm has a secondary purpose of helping local marketing efforts. There has been some discussion that Google is placing less stock in links related to scholarships but our marketing managers have found there is still value to be gained by incorporating them in your marketing plan.
- Public Service
- E-Spots Sponsorship
PR is great for firms who are looking to stand out in a crowd, be seen on a larger public stage, and want a spotlight. A news story can create an instant boost for your firm with links and shares but be prepared for potential bombardment by potential clients and looky-loos.
Newsjacking, or story hacking, is becoming more popular within lawyer marketing. Lawyers in a variety of practice areas are learning to take news stories related to their practice area and respond with their legal perspective.
- Earned Media/PR
- Press Releases
- Story Hacking (Twitter/News)
- Advocacy – posting on your behalf or business posts to support an organization
Using social media as a business can be tricky but using social media as a law firm is even trickier due to the e-word: ethics. Posting about clients and cases can lead to violations, depending upon what you post, so make sure to read the fine print for your state’s ethics rules when it comes to social posting about cases and clients.
A good rule of thumb is not to use a client likeness without permission, make no promises of case outcome, and do not reveal specific information about cases or clients in your posts. We advise lawyers simply state that the outcome was in their client’s favor, that the client was happy with the result, or just post about why they enjoy their job in a variety of ways or places without mentioning cases and clients.
- Paid Social Media- ads, boosted posts
- Influencer Marketing (better for B2B, like IP lawyers)
Guerilla marketing is often low cost and unconventional but may not line up with your values or those of the Bar Association. One reason companies choose this method is the idea that their advertisement will go viral.
In 2018, it can be difficult to almost impossible to make something go viral. Viral often happens organically and people rarely want to share something that feels manufactured, so trying to create a viral video will often end in disappointment.
One tactic of guerilla marketing is to deface a public building or area with artwork or signs, which is definitely not something any law firm should consider doing, at the risk of losing your license.
Guerilla marketing can simply be an unexpected or shocking advertisement which would be allowed under most state ethics rules, as long as it isn’t misleading. If you really want to try this method, stick with clever and endearing advertising in a high-traffic area but don’t expect to get highly targeted leads from this tactic.
- Viral videos, hashtags, photos
- Street art, signage, or promotion
This segment of marketing ranges from the tactical to practical and involves anything that you or your law firm put their name on. Our agency has a client with branded vehicles and has had great success with this method. Depending upon your practice area, that may be in poor taste but for their estate planning firm, it works well.
SWAG (Stuff We All Get, aka free pens) and exhibiting go hand in hand, but could be tricky to do for law firms. There may be some local business events that make sense for exhibiting but sponsorship is a great brand awareness option if your practice area wouldn’t get much foot traffic at a public event.
Client-focused marketing can be a great way to maintain a great relationship with former clients and build your client referral pipeline.
- Skinned or Branded Vehicle
- Office Signage/Building Rights
- Business Cards
- Exhibiting & Tradeshows
- Events (hosted/sponsored – i.e. Client BBQ)
- SWAG – free giveaway items with company branding
- Customer Satisfaction Calls
- Product Placement
- General Networking/Meetups
*There are a few of the listed marketing methods that can fit into multiple categories.
What to do now?
After reading all of these options, if you find yourself more confused than ever about which options are best for your law firm, go back to the beginning and put each option through the criteria testing.
Good luck executing and if you have any questions about your law firm’s marketing efforts, feel free to reach out– I am always happy to help.
You’ve made it to the end and not sure if there are actually 84 ‘tactics’ listed? Go ahead and count ’em- they’re all there! I had 85 but realized there was a duplicate.