8 Steps to Build a Legal Marketing Plan and Measure ROI
According to the American Bar Association, there are 1.3 million lawyers in the U.S. For consumers, that’s a lot of choices. For legal professionals wanting to make their mark, it can be a challenge to stand out.
Legal marketing is an essential process to build and maintain a successful law practice. The objective is largely to get your name out there – and to have the right clients come to you for assistance.
It starts with a legal marketing plan. Once you’ve decided how to market your practice, you need to execute that plan. A final assessment lets you know if you’ve achieved a solid return on your investment in your marketing campaign.
Here are the steps that can help you achieve legal marketing success.
Step 1: Determine Your Budget
Before you plan any elements of your marketing, it’s important to decide how much you want to spend. It’s easy for costs to get out of control. Having a budget early on can help you to decide where you can cut expenses, such as choosing to write website content yourself instead of hiring a firm.
Step 2: Set Your Goals
Your marketing plan needs an objective. That likely comes down to your ideal client and your professional goals. You may want higher volume, low revenue clients – such as middle-income people looking for help with estate planning – or just a few high-paying clients. The latter category might include class action litigation or car accident lawsuits with seriously injured people. Once you know your goals, you can develop your plan around them.
Step 3: Know Your Marketing Funnel
Once you know your goals, you want to determine at what stage you want to meet your potential clients. The marketing funnel determines the stages a consumer goes through before making a purchase. In legal services, these can be summarized as:
- Awareness. This is when someone thinks they may have a problem that requires the help of a lawyer. Your marketing materials should respond to that curiosity by describing scenarios or circumstances where a legal issue might arise.
- Consideration. This is when someone knows they need a lawyer but aren’t sure what next steps to take. Your marketing materials should provide detailed information about how the law works and the benefits of hiring a lawyer versus the risks of handling the issue without one.
- Decision. This is when someone is ready to hire a lawyer. Your marketing materials should showcase why you’re the best option. They should make it easy for a client to contact you, through your website or by picking up the phone to call.
At any time, your marketing plan may focus on one of these three elements, or it may try to capture the entirety of the funnel.
Step 4: Pick Your Platform
The next stage is to decide where and how you are going to market your firm. There are online and offline options, from running advertisements on radio or bus shelters to paid ads on social media. Among the strategies and platforms you might choose include:
- Social media posts on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram
- Search engine optimization to send Google search traffic to your website or Martindale-Avvo profile
- Email marketing to follow up with potential client leads
- Referral marketing through colleagues or former clients
- Online pay-per-click advertising
- Content marketing through guest posts on reputable sites or as part of a LinkedIn strategy
Many law firms choose to use a few of these strategies at the same time, as they often complement one another. It’s common, for example, for a thought leadership post created on LinkedIn as part of a content marketing strategy to also be cross-posted to Facebook.
Step 5: Choose Your Strategy
After reviewing your strategic options, choose those that most align with your goals and budget. If you want to focus on the awareness stage of the funnel, you may choose to bolster your website with informative content. This is a combination of an SEO and content marketing strategy.
If you are focusing on your online presence, it’s a good idea to get all elements in place to support your website. This includes claiming your Google business listing and setting up your Martindale-Avvo profile.
Step 6: Get Help
Small firms and solo practitioners are typically tight on budget, but it may be worthwhile to get outside help when it comes to marketing. You may want to hire an expert to develop your website and SEO and to create fresh content. A public relations or marketing firm can take over strategy and execution for offline campaigns as well.
If you’re reluctant to reach out to an expert because you’re afraid of an upsell that will see you spend too much money on marketing, consider getting help only with a small test campaign. If it’s successful you can work with the same people to expand your marketing efforts. If it’s not, you can cut your losses and move on.
Step 7: Run Your Campaign
After all elements are in place, you can start your marketing campaign. It is a good idea to give the campaign a certain amount of time to work. Giving offline or online campaigns one to three months to bring you business is reasonable.
If you are working with a firm, they may be able to help you track the response from your campaign. On your own, you can discover the results of your marketing efforts by looking at the analytics from your website or by asking new clients how they found out about your firm.
Step 8: Review and Evaluate
The last step is to compare the new business you’ve gotten as a direct result of the campaign to your marketing goals. If you’ve brought in more new money than you spent, you can say you had a positive return on investment.
However, if promoting your brand was your goal – for example, simply increasing the visibility of your website – you can look to other indicators of success. Those might include getting more hits from Google searches or more incoming emails asking for information.
Create a Successful Practice with Legal Marketing
Marketing is a vital element in building a successful law practice. By developing a plan and working with experts, you can create a marketing strategy that brings new business into your firm.