How Short Term Marketing Best Practices Can Kill Your Law Firm In the Long Run
I am going to take a brief moment to rant about marketing and advertising best practices as a general concept and philosophy. This is actually something that I get fired up about more frequently nowadays and I hope you’ll forgive me if I step up onto ye old soapbox for a moment to address my concerns with your attorneys.
In fact, I feel that most attorneys, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, and small business owners in general, do anything they can to shortcut proven systems. In other words, if it is a best practice—the thing that you probably ought to be doing to benefit your business with proper marketing—then you tend to avoid it. An example could be something like paying for leads using advertising platforms such as Adwords or Facebook Pay Per Click. Let’s say best practices are,
A.) DO advertise to the best of your ability,
B.) Optimize, and
C.) Follow up with your leads.
I have found many that just aren’t willing to do the fundamentals that grow their business because they make excuses like, “I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.” So I ask them,
A.) “What kind of advertising did you do or what kind of leads did you buy?” and then
B.) “Did you split test the ads, or otherwise work to improve them once you had data from the initial trials?”
C.) “How well did you work the leads immediately when you received them?” and finally,
D.) “Did you have a follow-up system beyond the initial 10 days? Did you send them text messages, emails, postcards, birthday cards, thank-you cards, or include them in retargeting for six months, a year, two, or even three years? Did you have that system in place when you bought your leads or paid for advertising to get leads?”
“No? You don’t know? You didn’t really think carefully about any of those things? You never bothered testing or tweaking anything and you only tried it once for a month because you are too impatient to even think twice about it? Okay, well maybe that might have something to do with it.”
There are no expert marketers. Only expert testers. If you are not testing, then you aren’t a marketer. You need to go back to being a lawyer and hire people who will do the testing for you.
Instead, they say “We only do what all the other attorneys are doing, because it’s just how things are done.” I find that the activities that qualify in the mind of the lawyers as status quo marketing behaviors that “work” for them (they delude themselves into thinking) are the short-term, quick-fix instant gratification type “name-rank-serial-number” marketing which is what everyone else is doing and that feeds their lazy habits and creates a self-perpetuating feedback loop.
They like to see themselves on billboards (I am not saying that under certain conditions billboards can’t work), but they don’t want to experiment online, even though that is where everyone is. Case in point, you are most likely reading this article online, and I don’t have a billboard. They get on the billboard and they pay for a fancy website, and all the other attorneys leave them alone, so they feel fine about it, and they’d rather avoid the discomfort of looking foolish in front of other attorneys, rather than find something wildly profitable. Being different is too risky, so they’d rather settle for mediocrity.
Unfortunately, this boring me-too marketing is stuff that they’re willing to pay for over and over again, often because it just seems like everyone else is and they avoid being criticized by the other lawyers at the association meetings. Sadly, those other lawyers do not pay your bills and frankly don’t care about your business.
Another ridiculous example I see all over the industry is that nearly everybody is paying their digital agency seven-thousand dollars a month because lawyers are all vying for a bigger and badder website with bigger pictures of the partners prominently displayed on the main page.
True, prospects and even referrals will go to your website and check out your online reviews in their research phase, but if you’re really trying to grow your business, you need to do everything imaginable to reach your ideal prospect before your competitors so they even make it to your website in the first place.
The only way to bring in more and better clients to produce revenue consistently is to get new people in the digital door (i.e. to find your digital billboard in the desert means to get people to be aware of you before your competitors so that you are in the running, can be seen, can be considered, and start the conversation). If you aren’t doing everything to be first, then it doesn’t matter how fancy your website is because the prospect already signed with another attorney.
So if it’s best practice to pay for ads or pay for leads, why aren’t you paying for them? “Well, we haven’t had luck in the past when we tried it that one time.” Over what period did you thoroughly test, what method, what source, and how did you adjust your approach to get a better result before giving up? Did you bother to determine what your ROI is long-term on the leads, or did you give up after a month or two when you didn’t get immediate payback? If you want to be a successful lawyer and build a truly profitable longstanding law firm, you have to stop playing the short-term game and start playing the long-term winning game.
Stop playing not to lose and start playing to win.
Another example is the typical law firm’s (lack of) videos on social media. I hear things like, “Well, I would do it. I heard it’s good, but I don’t want to do it.” Why? “I don’t like being in front of a camera and I don’t like being on social media and I don’t like posting anything,” he says.
Well, find somebody to help you then! Stop asking “How?” and start asking the more powerful question, “Who?”
None of this would drive me nuts if on the very next call the attorneys didn’t turn right around and complain about not having enough growth. “We just don’t have the growth that we want. We’re not getting enough new clients. We’re too busy with all of this logistic garbage, and we’re not making any more money, and it seems like we’re spending more, but we’re not making more… blah, blah, blah.”
The truth is, if you don’t do the things that will set you apart from the crowd if you don’t get to the leads before the other law firm, and you aren’t first, then you are going to get to those leads 2nd, 3rd, or even last. If you are only capturing 3% of your market share, you are NEVER going to capture 4% by getting to the people who are looking for an attorney in any position other than first. That’s why a few firms end up dominating a market. Are you going to be one of them, or are you going to fight for table scraps?
If it’s a best practice, you’ve got to do it. Figure out how to do it and how to afford it, and then figure out how to make your lead generation efforts actually pay for themselves. It’s not whether or not to do it, it’s how to do it, how to make it work, and make it pay for itself and profit from it over the long haul.
At Stoddard Agency, we take pains to make sure we are not only helping you grow your business quickly, but profitably. We understand it’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep that is the ultimate measuring tool for your firm’s success. For a free discovery call, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at