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Not unlike the law firm marketing challenges seen in small and medium sized markets, firms in large metro areas also face their own set of obstacles when trying to effectively advertise their legal services:
- How to spend, but not over-spend in advertising
- How to most effectively hit wide target audiences
- How to focus messages on clients while addressing firm success stories
- How to allocate funds toward support mechanisms like intake and eCRM
And that’s just the short list. The size of a market, organization, and depth of practice areas certainly adds some complexity to law firm marketing in today’s legal landscape. Even if you have a sufficient war chest of funds, the competition is fierce and you must ensure are spending your resources wisely, in the smartest, most effective marketing channels.
At Network Affiliates, our greatest insight as a long-time legal marketing agency comes from right here—in the trenches with some of the largest law firms in the country. We see every day what’s working and what’s not. As the avenues for marketing evolve, we work proactively to stay ahead of the curve and develop smart marketing strategies for law firms.
Do you really want to know how to market your law firm? Let’s learn from some of the most common mistakes we see with large-scale, large market firms (DMAs 1-25) when it comes to advertising their legal brand.
We won’t tread too lightly here, because it’s common knowledge that with high-profile cases, big money and powerful attorneys can also come big egos. Sometimes a confidence and chest thumping is acceptable, because when your lawyers win massive cases your law firm’s reputation as a whole goes through the roof. And inevitably that perception can lead to more referrals, more cases and more profit. The cycle of success is set in motion.
However, becoming too comfortable or complacent that your law firm is already the “big gun” in the market is not always advantageous. Big-gun lawyers are not always keen marketers. When you begin to rest on your laurels, assuming you’ll just always be better lawyers than the competition is the exact moment another law firm will pounce with a new marketing tactic to steal market share or a better message that pulls on the heartstrings of clients far and near.
When it comes to large law firms and spend on marketing, there’s an equally large misconception. Many lucrative lawyers think the only way to garner share by always spending more money than competition. While large, highly competitive markets make things more challenging, attorneys shouldn’t have to consistently blow the bank to effectively reach their audiences. In fact, cost-effective digital marketing has made this truer than ever before.
Budgets of the top law firms in the country can be enormous, unattainable, and even sometimes unsustainable. Legal advertisers need to be educated on different spending scenarios, including a highly diverse mix of traditional and digital marketing, to remain competitive in a large market. Believe us, there are numerous ways to work with what may seem like a limited budget when compared to the big spenders in over-saturated markets.
On the same topic, it’s not a stretch to say that some firms may be overspending in marketing and advertising. Sometimes clients reach a point of diminishing returns, where they are spending more and more and have the greatest share of voice, but the leads don’t increase along with spend. Often it’s not about adding more, but considering allocating parts of the budget elsewhere and being open to new targeted tactics or trying new channels, such as digital display, eCRM and SEO or PPC strategies.
Creativity also goes a long way to leverage budgets with limits. Law firms would be well served to remain broad-minded and creative about how they’re spending marketing money. That starts with really studying what the competition is doing. Once you gain a better understanding of what the big spenders are doing in terms of messaging, media placement and integrated campaigns, you can find the weak spots—the ways and places where your legal brand can insert itself.
Staying competitive in crowded, over-saturated markets takes some serious thought about the power of your legal brand messaging.
- Are you really saying what your prospects want to hear?
- Have they heard your message a thousand times from other firms?
- Are you connecting with and appealing to clients emotionally?
- Are you distinguishing your attorneys from others who handle the exact same types of cases?
One of the biggest legal marketing mistakes we see across all markets, regardless of size, is not understanding the creative competitive landscape. Those who grasp this important aspect of marketing can appropriately tailor messages that stand apart from the competition, rather than making messages that fall in line with what everyone else is doing. Apple said it simply: Think different.
Remember, you don’t always have to be the biggest spender. Just be smart about creative. Understanding the messaging in your market goes a long way toward making each dollar count. The right message, at the right time, that’s truly different, will do a lot more for intake than just throwing more money at the task. Identify your competitive advantage; then figure out a strategy to exploit and attack it. Amazingly, this approach to messaging is something most legal practices miss entirely.
Of course what always follows standout messaging is super-strategic multi-channel media planning. Your exceptionally different TV ad spot will hold little value if it’s not broadcast to the right people at the right time. No one will remember you if they never see you. Smart placement plans on TV and in other channels get your message on air where the competition is not and builds frequency to make an impression—and ensure you’re not drowned out in all the noise.
We’ve said it a thousand times, because it’s an area of legal marketing that Network Affiliates is truly passionate about, but a media buy is not simply spots and dots. It is a science. It should be strategic, targeted, tracked and evaluated so it’s an efficient driving force in growing new business for your law firm. Only the best media buyers know the secrets, and there are many. One of the biggest is that we can no longer base media-buying decisions on relationships with the local representatives; they must be determined by hard data—rates and ratings.
To truly close the loop in strategic legal marketing, large law firms cannot afford to neglect intake. Surprisingly this is one of the most notorious mistakes big lawyers make: not paying proper attention to intake. That means not tracking or tracking archaically; not having a managed intake system or software in place; not following through immediately with callers; etc.
Legal clients pay so much money to get leads from marketing and then often drop the ball through poor intake practices. We’ve touched on intake extensively the past, but it’s undoubtedly an area where law practices, big and small, fall flat.
Don’t fall flat—in any measure of marketing. Let us help your firm generate cases and increase your bottom line. Our large-market legal marketing experts are available for a free and confidential marketing evaluation right now. (888) 461-1016