Even with all the “buzz” about marketing in the legal industry, it may still seem like a vague or daunting concept for attorneys and their staff. You may be inclined to shy away from marketing your practice if things are running smoothly, but even if your firm is a well-oiled machine, you should embrace the concept in one way or another.
Here are some of the main hurdles you may be facing when addressing the marketing of your firm, and how to tackle them:1. Where do I start?
As with any new venture, you may feel overwhelmed by the mere task of finding a jumping-off point. As a lawyer, you may not have been exposed to many (if any) marketing courses in school and could be wondering how to keep up with the fast-paced and ever-changing trends of what works and what doesn’t.
So where do you begin?
First things first—lay out a plan. Even if it’s simply a rough guide, having an idea of who you want to reach and what you want to achieve is always better than taking a shot in the dark.
Some of the more mainstream channels through which you may want to market your firm include:a. Email
You probably get many emails a day from companies offering you their services. Perhaps you want to get in on the game and send out emails advertising your firm so that your potential clients are aware of your practice, what you do and how to reach you.
First, ask yourself “do I have a list of persons to whom I can market?” Perhaps you have built up a database with contact information compiled over the years. That is the best-case scenario because “purchased” lists may have numerous compliance issues attached thereto. If you don’t have an internal contact list, you may opt to begin to build one. Providing relevant and interesting content on your firm’s blog may be one way to attract referrals, as well as clients. By giving readers an option to subscribe to receive new content via your blog, you can start to capture their email addresses and other information usable down the road for email marketing.b. Direct Mail
If you don’t have a usable email list for marketing purposes, direct mail may be a better channel for you to reach out to target your audience as best as you can for maximum effectiveness. You don’t want your letter, postcard or flyer to immediately hit the recycle bin.c. TV & Radio
For a more traditional approach, you might consider producing television or radio ads. These channels involve much more financial considerations as there is production and media costs involved in arriving at distributing a final product. Therefore, you’ll want to seek out a local or nation media company for help throughout the process. There are vendors who specialize in legal marketing. Try inquiring with your local bar association or seek out these vendors at the next legal seminar or tradeshow you attend.d. Digital Avenues
In a world where technology is rapidly advancing, digital advertising is key. Most everyone heads to the Internet when researching products or services. Facebook advertising, paid ads within Google search results or online ads with your local or state bar association may be some of the options you’ll want to pursue. Partnering with a company who specializes in the digital world can be smart since they will best understand the nuances of navigating this high-tech arena. If that seems daunting, social media can be a low-cost place to start. Setting your firm up with company profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be low-hanging fruit along your path.2. How much is this going to cost me?
There are an infinite number of avenues in which you can spend your marketing dollars, but starting small is entirely possible for those on a budget.
Using an email client—think: MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.—can cost as little as $50/month to get started. This will buy a certain allotment of emails that you can use as you deem fit on a monthly basis to your proprietary list of recipients. From there, the world is your oyster. By utilizing direct mail, you may be able to take advantage of bulk mailing discounts. If you hire a national advertiser to assist you in the process, the costs will rise significantly. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to find a solution that fits your budget. You can adjust along the way based on what works best for your firm.3. Who will manage the marketing efforts?
If you’re going to put the time and money into elevating your firm through new marketing tactics, you’ll need someone to actively manage the effort. This may be someone internally who has the requisite knowledge to do so. Alternatively, you may be able to hire a skilled college intern who is abreast of the latest and greatest channels in the marketing realm. Or perhaps you can find a local consultant who can help you strategize and execute on your plan. If you’re ready and willing to make a heavier investment, look to a legal marketing company that knows the lay of the land and can fast-track your efforts and possibly produce quicker results.4. Ethical Considerations
Before engaging in any marketing effort to attract new clients to your firm, it is imperative that you become fully familiar with all state and federal legal and ethical regulations regarding the solicitation of clients and the manner in which your marketing is designed to reach those clients.
The first place to check is your state (and in some instances, city) canons of ethics and other local ethical regulations to assure that your marketing techniques, as well as the language utilized in that marketing plan complies with your ethical obligations as an attorney. Most states have very specific ethical rules concerning how and when potential clients can be solicited; what representations can be made; and what disclaimers, if any, must be included in the communication.
Also, be sure to check federal and state statutes, as well as local case law governing the dissemination of information via email and other forms of messaging
All in all, marketing a firm is a manageable process. How you choose to get your name out there, and how many resources you expend doing so, is completely in your hands. Don’t be afraid to start small and build upon your initial successes. Any marketing is better than no marketing, so take the first step of charting your course today.