Which are the best forms of marketing for law firms? Which marketing methods work best for legal businesses and how do you use them to attract more clients to your law firm?
Who is this advice for?
This article, and the formula contained within it, will work for anyone involved in the marketing of law firms and legal services.
The legal marketing strategies and tactics I talk about have been used for law firms of all sizes, from sole practitioners to mid-tier and top tier law firms.
However, some of the specific elements of the book are aimed very much at the law firm owner. A law firm owner might work alone, or might employ a team of 20 to 100 staff in one or more offices, but the owner is the sole decision maker.
Why do I specifically focus on this law firm owner? Well, you probably need to know a little bit about me to understand this better, so let me tell you a little about my background – and also about my impatience.
That part is quite critical.
Who Am I?
I entered the legal profession later in life than most. My impatience caused me to abandon my ‘A’ levels after only one year. I was frustrated at hearing more and more theory and not doing anything with it. I wanted to get out into the world and do something. I’d had jobs from about the age of 12 and I knew that I was a good worker, because I was constantly being told that this was the case wherever I worked, from the lovely lady at the end of my paper
round who rewarded me with a milky coffee and occasionally a cake if I delivered the papers to her hotel before 7 AM, to the hotel owner in Devon where I worked part-time but ended up being the bar and restaurant manager because I worked so hard and well, via many other jobs in between.
I knew I could turn my hand to most things and I seemed to do them well, so I was keen to do something
full time and earn a living.
So, I walked away from my ‘A’ levels, much to the disappointment of my parents, and went to work in a transport company, renting out articulated trucks and trailers. I worked my way up to the position of Southern Area Relief Manager, but really couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life, so I left to travel and see some of the world.
After spending some time in Greece sailing yachts, I returned to the UK in my early 20s and decided it was about time I chose a career. However, as I was impatient there was no way that that career was going to involve returning to education in any way, shape or form, and studying full time. I needed to be working at the same time as learning a profession. I settled on the idea of becoming a legal executive and then going on to qualify as a solicitor.
Once I had reached this decision, I just needed to find somewhere to work.
As I didn’t have the patience to wait around for a recruitment company to find me a job, I hand-wrote 64 letters (I remember each and every one) to law firm owners across the south and south west, and was finally offered an interview and then a job at a firm in Reading.
I began my remote Institute of Legal Executives studies as soon as possible, but at the same time I was keen to make myself useful at the firm where I was working. I set up a debt recovery department and quickly ‘learned by doing’ debt recovery and litigation.
Once I had started working in litigation, I decided that I would specialise in personal injury claims, which at the time seemed to be a growing area of legal services (it was, but is not so much anymore). However, the firm where I worked didn’t really have enough work to allow me to do this. I could wait around and hope that that would change, but I think you know by now that wasn’t going to happen.
When I was offered a job elsewhere, at a law firm that agreed to keep funding my studies, my current firm surprised
me by saying they would rather keep me, let me generate my own caseload – and provide me with a marketing budget.
Another of the roles I had undertaken before joining the law had been working in marketing for the former owner of a London advertising agency. I had enjoyed it immensely, so this was just too good an offer for me to turn down. It wasn’t that I didn’t like working where I was, it was simply that they hadn’t had the work that I wanted to do. Now that I was told I could create my own caseload and do my own marketing of my legal services, I was a very happy man – well, most of the time anyway.
Which parts made me unhappy? Well, as I had a knack for law firm marketing, I was soon undertaking marketing for the eight-partner firm across four locations. The parts that I found incredibly frustrating were the partner and committee meetings, where, in my humble opinion, nothing was ever achieved, or if it was it took about 300 hours longer than it should have done to reach a decision.
I used to get so frustrated with the slow decision-making process that during one of these long-drawn-out meetings I actually prepared a dossier on how to run any meeting in less than 30 minutes and ensure you came out with decisions. I found it some years later and it did make me laugh.
My impatience was at the fore again when I started my law firm marketing consultancy in 2003, and I was quickly reminded of the frustrations of my practising days whenever I started working with any firm that had more than one partner.*
* If you are operating in a partnership where every marketing decision needs the approval of all partners, you absolutely have to fix this. My solution is simple. One partner, that is probably you as you are reading this book, is given responsibility for all marketing for one year. He or she is given a budget, and carte blanche to make decisions and take action. At the end of that year the other partners look through the results. If the marketing has put more money into the bank than it took out (by a ratio of at least three to one) then let them carry on. Problem solved!
Suddenly, what I had advised my clients was the best course of action would lead to a two-, three- or six-month debate, back and forth from meeting to meeting, about whether they should do what I was suggesting. It wasn’t that they weren’t paying me during this period – that wasn’t the point. My joy from doing what I do comes from agreeing a course of action, implementing it, and then seeing the results and my clients’ happiness with these results as new clients are consistently delivered to their law firm.
This is what drives me and keeps me going. The idea of taking six months to make a simple decision came close to driving me insane.
As Einstein so eloquently said, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes is the definition of insanity, so I knew that this could not continue.
I therefore made the decision to work in a law firm marketing consultancy capacity only with decision makers: people I could agree a course of action with knowing that they would instantly say yes, and that if they did so they wouldn’t come back to me a few weeks later to say that their other partners had pooh-poohed our agreed plan of action.
These people are as keen as I am to see results, and as they are not shackled by other partners they are able to take fast action, often leaving their competitors scratching their heads about how this once-small law firm now seems to be bigger than they are, yet still has only one equity partner.
It is not that I don’t work in some capacity with larger firms; I do. I run AdWords campaigns for some of them, but only if the person I am working with has the power to make decisions on behalf of their department. I also have many larger firms that are members of my Marketing4Solicitors service, using my ideas to grow their law firm.
But in a consultancy capacity I will only work with someone who has the authority to make decisions and see them through to the end. Therefore, the advice on this page is geared firmly towards law firm owners, because I know from many years’ experience that I can transform their firm for them, and make their life a lot more enjoyable.
How do I do this? By getting them only to focus on the best forms of law firm marketing. The methods of law firm marketing which I have tried and tested ad nausea and which I know will lead to new client instructions.
The good news for you is this: there are actually only four forms of law firm marketing which will consistently deliver new clients to your legal business each and every month.
The even better news is that these forms of law firm marketing can be automated and outsourced once you have a strategy in place and suppliers to help you. This is what I teach my best consultancy clients to do.
Let’s look at these four forms of law firm marketing in a bit more detail, but first let me talk you through my New Client Flowcast model.
The New Client Flowcast
In the diagram above, look at the main river: it represents your profits, and it is filled by your flow of new client instructions.
What makes these clients come to you? Your marketing arteries and capillaries.
There are four marketing arteries. These are the four most effective marketing methods for solicitors in my automated marketing strategy for growth; here they are:
- A website that is designed to make your telephone ring and grows consistently;
- An email marketing database and monthly email;
- Google AdWords; and
I also call my automated marketing strategy With Or Without You (WOWY) marketing, because just like one of the great Irish rock bands more famous songs, it keeps on bringing new clients to your door every month With Or Without You. WOWY marketing is crucial to the savvy law firm business owner because it allows them to scale up their law firm without making themselves a slave to it.
My mission in life is to enable solicitors to have a thriving law firm at the same time as being able to live a good and full life. So often over the years, I have met law firm owners who come to me at the point of ‘burn out’, caused by trying to grow their law firm or even by just trying to keep it going. That is absolutely no way to live. In my opinion, we get just one shot at this planet earth thing, so why make it a long, hard slog when it can be a blissful jog?
It doesn’t have to be like this. You can grow your firm and live a good and happy life if you spend some time implementing the right WOWY marketing for your law firm. This is what I help my law firm owner consultancy clients to achieve. It does take time and some energy, but with my guidance it is not as hard as you might think (and I know a lot of shortcuts and how to avoid you spending time and money in the wrong places).
Download my book by clicking the link below for a detailed outline of these four methods, plus two extra pieces of the puzzle which will ensure that you achieve long term success when it comes to marketing your law firm.