In surveys by organizations serving the law firm industry, one of the areas studied is marketing activities and spending.
Utilization of Marketing Tactics
Historically proven marketing tactics (yellow pages, legal listings, and client entertainment) are giving way to more focus on Internet-based strategies (Web sites, Search Engine Optimization [SEO], paid search advertising, blogs, and newer forms of social media) to grow their practice. Firm size drives decisions as to what degree various marketing tactics are utilized. Smaller firms are most likely to use yellow pages and legal listings, but larger firms are more likely to rely on client entertainment. However, while client entertainment is still the leading choice among firms with 11-20 attorneys, it has been dropping off as a primary tactic. Web sites remain the preferred means of marketing over a multi-year period.
Significance of Internet Marketing
Law firms continue to use the Internet to promote their practice, and are using the latest techniques to attract potential clients. Search engine optimization increased throughout the period of 2005-2010. Additionally, more firms began using online legal sites to attract clients. Blog use soared during the same time period. This reveals a latent desire to explore new methods in addition to traditional tactics to attract potential clients.
Perceived Value of Marketing Tactics
Networking and word-of-mouth continue to be integral to building a law practice; however, online activities are also prevalent in integrated marketing campaigns. Web sites and related tactics are considered a primary marketing tool for growing a firm’s practice, and more money is allocated towards this tactic than ever before. Though blogs have been on the rise in efforts to develop clients, it should be noted that very little revenue is allocated towards this activity (1%).
While face-to-face interaction with potential clients is still important, client entertainment is decreasing in its value to attract potential clients, and less money is being allocated towards it than five to ten years ago.
Who Does the Marketing?
Solo practitioners increasingly use outside consultants and administrative staff members (office managers, assistants and secretaries). Mid-size firms (2-5 attorneys) have also increased their reliance on administrative staff members.
Larger firms (6+ attorneys) rely less on marketing consultants and more on other staff members, including marketing managers and related positions.
How Big is the Marketing Budget?
In relation to firm revenues, about one firm in four spends less than 1% on marketing activities. Interestingly:
- More firms with 11-20 attorneys skimp on marketing than solo practitioners and smaller practices.
- 39% of solo practices spend over 5%
- 27% of practices with 2-5 attorneys spend over 5%
What does all this information mean to you as an attorney? I suggest the following:
- When small, spend bigger (%-wise)
- As you grow, curtail the spending (by %), but spend more wisely
- Look for Internet-based marketing strategies to fuel your growth
- Decrease your reliance on (but don’t do away with) client events
- Explore blogging and social media–either through in-house or contract resources