Law Firm Marketing, Business Development & Branding
Law firm marketing is about becoming a better hunter.
Law firm business development is about finding new hunting grounds.
Law Firm Marketing Plans
It’s a bit of a pet peeve of ours: Law students attend law school and learn all about doing legal research, writing pleadings and motions, and how to behave in court. Law schools teach nothing about legal marketing or law firm marketing.
But law firms are not hiring like they used to. The dream of making partner in 8 years at a large, well established law firm are over for many. Today, if newly-minted lawyers want to practice law, the odds are greater than ever that they will need to set up their own law firms. Young lawyers can still be the managing partners of their own law firms—but they will have to build them from the ground up.
And, what is the most necessary skill for building a brand new law firm? We believe it’s law firm marketing. There’s no getting around it: young lawyers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. And yet law firm marketing can be the difference between a thriving law firm, a middling law firm, or a struggling law firm.
Law Firm Marketing: It’s How You Get Business
At The Legal A Team, we have found that our law firm clients are very bright and dedicated to their clients. We have not found that many of our law firm clients are gifted and natural marketers. Fortunately, our law firm marketing process and law firm marketing templates make it really easy for law firms and lawyers to be better legal marketers. Law firm marketing is how you get business.
We have found that law firm marketing is a skill, one that lawyers and law firms can learn and adapt to their practice whether they practice Family Law, Wills & Estates Law, Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury, Tax Law, or any other practice area.
We at The Legal A Team believe that effective legal marketing is based on two very simple premises:
Business is always about who is willing to give you, personally, the business, rather than a competitor law firm. And everyone has competition; it is foolhardy to believe even in niche practice areas that you will have no competition.
When you’re in charge of running your own law firm, you “eat what you kill,” so-to-speak. When you’re self-employed, nothing happens unless you take initiative. With law firm marketing, lawyers must drive action, every day. Law firm marketing is an ongoing process, not a destination. There is always more to do.
We have helped many law firm marketing clients become the leading lawyers and law firms in their respective practice areas and geographies including:
Basics of Law Firm Marketing
We use our decades of experience to help lawyers and law firms write effective marketing plans that meet their business goals, financial goals, emotional goals, and growth goals. Here are some of the important elements we look at to help you write your law firm marketing plan:
Your vision: Where do you want your law firm to be in 2, 5, and 10 years?
What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Market trends and challenges in your practice area: Is the type of law you practice a mature/saturated market; a growth market; or a new law/fledgling law?
Who, by name, is your competition?
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analyses of your firm and your competitors. If you’re going to compete in legal marketing, you need to know what you’re up against.
What does your ideal client look like? We like to get inside the heads of your prospects. This yields all kinds of useful information.
Who are the opinion leaders and influencers in your practice area?
Support, development needs, and your law firm marketing budget.
Small Law Firm Marketing: 5 Ways We’re Different
Strategic, simple, and repeatable. At The Legal A Team, we believe a law firm marketing plan that is strategic, simple, repeatable, and measurable is better than one that is strategic yet complex and with too many steps. Everyone can implement simple and repeatable steps; people tend to wiggle out of (or postpone indefinitely) the complicated. Simplicity wins out over complexity, every time.
We understand that while legal marketing is important to you, you also have to run a law firm. We get it.
We believe there is great value in writing down your law firm marketing plan. Any legal marketing plan can be changed—it is a living document and not written in stone. But the act of writing down your goals, timelines, and specific activities that you will do to drive business is hugely valuable. In our experience, lawyers and law firms that don’t have a written down law firm marketing plan are not taking their success seriously enough.
Track your legal marketing results. Writing down your law firm marketing plan also makes it easy to measure your results: are you on track, or do you need to course-correct? Measuring progress is critical. And we hold you—and ourselves—accountable.
Take action every week. You will get a list of activities to drive your business forward, and an implementation timeline. At the end of the law firm marketing process, this list of activities is what you will do every week, to advance your law firm marketing plan. A marketing plan is a living document; activities are completed and new activities are started. It is ongoing and you are never done because there is always more to do.
Spend 20% of your time marketing. We believe that this is what it takes to run a successful practice. Twenty per cent is one day a week, which we like to divide this way: one working breakfast, one working lunch, and one coffee meeting or cocktail per week. Legal marketing is much more effective when you incorporate it into your week, rather than dedicate one day per week to marketing.
We also teach our clients to market while they are busy. In fact, that is THE best time to market. When your law firm is doing well, people read the energy and enthusiasm in your voice and language. People are drawn to success, not failure.
From a practical standpoint, marketing while you're busy prevents the problem of the hanging-off-the-cliff syndrome: by the time your business is in crisis, there is less money and energy do affect a turnaround.
Review your law firm marketing plan monthly. We also recommend to all our clients that once their law firm marketing plan is complete, that they keep a printed copy handy and review it monthly. Your law marketing plan is a living, breathing, document. This is a great and easy way to be accountable to yourself. This gives you 12 chances to make sure you’re on track—or to course-correct.
Lawyers: Your Personal Marketing Plan
We believe the fastest way to alienate a lawyer or law firm client is to tell them to do something they don’t want to do. Legal marketing should not be like cod liver oil: good for you, but terribly unpleasant.
At The Legal A Team, we work with our clients' strengths, not badger them about their weaknesses. When you’re good at something, you tend to enjoy doing it. And do more of it. And the reverse is true: when you’re not good at something, you tend to avoid doing it. We know that this is the secret to the great law firm marketing that we do on behalf of our lawyer and law firm clients.
Like to network? Great! We’ll find you the best and most important networking opportunities. That’s effective legal marketing.
Like to write blogs and articles? Great! We’ll work with you to come up with topics that your prospects will want to read—and ones that will also improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your own website by boosting your authority level through valuable backlinks. That’s effective law firm marketing.
Are you great on-air? Can you deliver great content with style and flair on television and radio? We arrange the best possible television and radio opportunities.
Like to speak in public? We work with our law firm clients to first establish their reputation in print publications and on websites. Next, we work with them to arrange public speaking opportunities at seminars and conferences. That’s win-win legal marketing.
Get our “A Game” working for you and your law firm. Call or email us now to get started on your law firm marketing plan.
Law Firm Business Development
The term "business development" has been around for more than two decades. Big Bay Street law firms used "business development" because it was more genteel than "marketing." The principal means of business development was cross-selling legal services from another law firm practice area, to another part of a corporation or enterprise.
We define "business development" more broadly, as looking at ways-and-means to expand your practice or law firm, with current clients and new ones:
Can you add a complementary practice area?
For insance, if you practice family law, does it make sense to add family mediation, wills & estates, residential real estate, or estate mediation?
Can you expand your practice by opening a second office?
Are there geographic areas of a city or region, that are under-served by the type of law you practice? We have done in-depth feasibility studies, working with Economic Development offices, to open additional offices for law firm clients.
How do charge for your services:
Contingency fees/Success fees?
Will you accept shares in a business, as payment?
Will you keep working if the retainer runs out?
Will you work for Legal Aid Certificates?
How can you take advantage of improving Access to Justice (A2J) for Canadians?
Can you offer unbundled law services in your practice area?
Can you offer a limited scope retainer?
Can you leverage technology?
Can you help automate traditional paper-based tasks in a law practice, that you could take to market?
Can you create more streamlined legal services that can be sold to more people? (Lower profit margin per client, but higher volume of clients.)
Law Firm Branding
Branding is what you want others to think of you. Branding is how you want your prospects and clients to remember you. Branding is distilling the essence of a law firm to one, memorable, knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark idea.
Why brand? In an over-communicated marketplace, it is easier to be known for one big idea. One idea is easier to remember for clients and prospects.
Branding is a covenant with clients and future prospects. It is what a law firm stands for in the minds of clients and prospects as well as how you are perceived in the market. Effective branding correctly reads the cultural context it operates in, as well as appealing to primal emotions.
Clotaire Rapaille, a pioneer in neuromarketing, has created The Culture Code, which can be applied to both products and professional services, including legal services.
Great law firm branding extends to everything at a law firm, from how work is delivered to clients, to human resources, to training, to finance, to marketing, graphic design, and more.
The Legal A Team's Jana Schilder has been on the rebranding teams at some of Canada's largest organizations, including law firms. See our branding work here.
Ready to rebrand your law firm? Give us a call or email us.
Need More Than Law Firm Marketing?
Learn about our Law Firm Turnarounds.
Learn More About Law Firm Marketing