Law firms of different sizes face different marketing challenges along their paths to success. During more than 30 years of designing marketing strategies for law firms, we have worked with law practices of every size. We understand that clients in medium-sized markets need solutions that deliver the right balance of budget and competitive advantages.
We can all learn from our mistakes, and just like any other business, law firms make them too. In effort to address some of the most common legal marketing mistakes—so you don’t make them or repeat them—we surveyed our in-house crew of traditional and digital media experts about what missteps and opportunities they see most often.
Some issues apply to markets of all sizes; others are specific to legal marketing for firms situated right in the middle. All are helpful to know about if you want to move your business forward. Here’s some advice on how to market your law firm—and how not to:
Jeff Feierstein, Vice President of Production Services
I think the biggest law firm marketing mistake we see creatively within all marketplaces, regardless of size, is not understanding the creative competitive landscape enough to tailor messages that truly stand apart from the competition. Most firms are making messages that just fall in line with what the rest of the competition is doing.
Remember, when marketing your law firm you don’t always have to be the biggest spender. Simply understanding the messaging in your market goes a long way toward making each dollar count. The right message, at the right time, that’s different, will do a lot more for intake than just throwing more money at the problem. Identifying your competitive advantage and then figuring out a strategy to promote and build it is something most legal practices don’t do.
Alex Dodge, Account Director
The first mistake I see is not paying attention to intake! This includes not tracking and not following through immediately. Clients pay so much money to get leads, but then drop the ball with poor intake practices.
Second, would be inconsistent messaging. Legal clients need to be careful that their brand message and look is consistent not only on their commercials, but in all of their efforts—website, billboards, digital campaigns, etc.
Third is spending too much money. 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. Sometimes the best marketing strategy for a law firm is not adding more, but rather looking at allocating some budget elsewhere. Be open to considering new tactics or trying new channels such as digital display, eCRM, or your SEO or PPC strategy.
Tammy Kehe, Vice President
There are plenty—and many apply across markets of all sizes, but here are my top 10:
- Allowing a “new advertiser” to come into the market and steal share
- Thinking the only way to garner share is via the biggest spend, which can be enormous and unattainable
- Looking at creative as an expense rather than an asset
- Not understanding the value of creative in terms of differentiation and emotional connection with the viewer
- Not making intake a priority—and therefore missing and dismissing potential clients
- Not tracking or tracking archaically—or still believing direct response drives behavior
- Making the marketing message all about the lawyer or the firm and focusing on showing they are better lawyers than the competition
- Underestimating the consumer “purchase process” and missing opportunities due to that lack of knowledge
- Not acknowledging the law firm website as the most important “employee” and conversion tool—and treating it as such
- Seeing a media buy as “spots and dots” rather than a strategic, targeted, tracked and evaluated driving force to grow business
Cindy Kallman, Associate Media Director
One of the biggest mistakes I see is bypassing competitive spending intelligence. While this type of media information can be harder to get in smaller markets that aren’t fully monitored by media-spend tracking companies like Kantar, it’s still important to know who your competition is and how much is being spent in your specific market. Smart and committed media buyers who work closely with local station representatives can often obtain this key information.
We also see many clients missing out on media opportunities by not participating in local community events or causes. We know from new studies and experience that law firms with a cause build better brand awareness and find that a local commitment leads to better reviews and more business.
Todd Kuhlmann, Chief Operating Officer
I second everything our other team members have said so far. Adding onto the attorney marketing mistakes they’ve already cited, here are six more that are all too common:
- Not identifying or knowing what success looks like. Aka, not knowing how to measure success (ROI) from your marketing and advertising campaign
- Not identifying, measuring and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) consistently
- Putting too much emphasis on single channel metrics (looking at website metrics only). Not understanding that all channels work in harmony with each other.
- Spending too little on TV for an initial, TV advertiser and/or not staying on air long enough. With case cycles averaging 12-18 months, cash flow becomes an issue quickly if your TV advertising budget is not adequately funded up front.
- Ignoring the value of your database – Your best case comes from former clients (the referral case). Many law firms do not market or stay in touch with their database.
- Not understanding your audience. Letting your preferences rule creative and messaging vs. your clients and what resonates with them
Network Affiliates works with many attorneys in medium-size markets and we know what it takes to market these types of firms effectively. Let us help you generate new cases and increase your bottom line. Our media and digital teams welcome the opportunity to conduct a free and confidential marketing evaluation for your firm. (888) 461-1016