Gone are the days where time and money could be thrown at marketing without examining the return on investment. Years ago lawyers simply copied what their competitors did to promote their brand, assuming that the other firms had made wise choices to buy a table at a charity event, purchase an ad in a program, or sponsor a conference. For decades legal marketing was similar to watching young children play soccer: someone kicked the ball to the left, and everyone on the field ran left. The ball went right, and the herd followed.
Today the role of marketing in a successful legal business has changed and is expanding faster than ever before. To get results from marketing and business development efforts we must be monitoring our actions and recording the results. Without knowing the results, many resources can be wasted. Today there are practices and technologies that can be enable law firms to evaluate the success of their investments.
Tracking information from across the channels where you and your firm participate is necessary. This can be done manually or through technology, but it is important that you are recording and reviewing all activity on a regular basis. Simply placing an ad or sponsoring a luncheon has no value if you are unsure if it created any tangible business leads or valuable referral relationships.
When we think of analytics many only think about web traffic, as Google Analytics is a commonly used tool for gathering online information. But not everything that happens is online. Of course your firm should be tracking all inbound web traffic and understand where visitors come from, what are the most visited pages, etc.... But analyzing marketing data is about more than clicks and views, as legal marketing is a human-to-human endeavor. A law firm, and the individual practices inside a law firm, should be run like a business. Law is a business. And never forget that this is a relationships business.
Too often lawyers just want to do great work, and they lose site of the softer side of dealing with people. Tracking the intangibles can be difficult, but not impossible. Often lawyers hope analytics is something that they can outsource and that they can ignore the process. The reality is that all the key stakeholders must be involved in the input, output and dissection of the information.
All inbound prospects should be asked how they found out about your services. This requires the lawyer to inquire and track the information. Over time this will show you what is having the largest impact on your bottom line. Your database should be set up so that you can record more than just contact information, as anyone you meet can eventually lead you to more business. You need to have a way to cultivate and nurture relationships over the long run, as there are few shortcuts to building a successful book of business.
When you properly review the past and study the present you will be more prepared to predict your future results. If you are unsure where your current business is coming from, then you have no way to know if your marketing and business development is working. The more you know about clients, prospects, and competitors (and yourself), the better prepared you will be to make smart decisions to engage those in your business community.
Marketing in law firms is no longer a reactionary function. Firms of all sizes need to empower their marketing staff to be proactive and allow them to be involved in the whole process of client development. As this role of marketing changes, the access to research and other information becomes more important, and thus your marketing and business development staff becomes more important.
Small firms and solo-lawyers are at a disadvantage if they do not have anyone on their team whom can be empowered to manage their marketing efforts, but that does not mean they should ignore the power of marketing analytics. The small firm lawyer has to take on the role themselves, or find a trusted outsourced option.
To be successful at marketing a legal practice the lawyers must understand that marketing is a legitimate mix of creativity and science. The connections between marketing and IT have never been more important, as to succeed we need a mix of people, process and technology. It can be overwhelming for an attorney who has spent decades focused on doing the legal work to accept that the future of his or her career is connected to how they connect to people, market their reputation, and research pertinent information. Without data, they are lost.
Marketing may seem like you are throwing spaghetti at the wall, and waiting to see what sticks (and sometimes that is the truth), but there is lots of information that backs up what the most successful firms are doing. It is not a coincidence that the fastest growing law firms are often the ones that are the most committed to the analysis of their marketing.
Have A Great Day
Thom Singer is experienced in legal marketing and business development. He regularly speaks at law firm retreats inspiring attorneys to embrace their brand and increase their sales. He also teaches lawyers ways to improve their presentation skills as the firm's secret weapon for business development success. More information at www.ThomSinger.com.