Google “attorney marketing” and you’ll get more than 14 million hits. Narrow the search to “attorney marketing blogs” and you’re looking at under seven million.
This is not to suggest that none of those Websites are worthwhile, because some of them offer good insight and guidance on how to build and sustain a law practice – for a price. Indeed, the proliferation of Websites on the subject would seem to indicate that there’s a real demand for such stuff.
So here, in a series of brief statements, we make our own contribution: “10 Absolute Truths for Attorney Marketing.”
1. No matter how much money you spend or how you spend it, the majority of your “A” clients will always come from your referral base. Ergo: the more attention you pay to building and nurturing your referral base, the bigger your payoff will be.
2. Every attorney worth his/her salt has “hot-hand” periods. If you have a good marketing plan in place before those periods hit, they can be extended by weeks — or months.
3. If your marketing strategy is advertising-based, your commitment will be mostly financial. If it’s PR-based, you’ll spend less of your money, but more of your (personal/billable) time. Either way, you have to make a significant investment in staff time, and it usually will be several months before you’ll see tangible results.
4. Bar rules on advertising are complex, burdensome, expensive, time-consumptive, and often, ambiguous. There are none for PR in most states.
5. Marketing is a management function. Almost anyone can (occasionally) produce cute slogans, frothy news releases and slick brochures, but those are just byproducts of marketing. Marketing is the strategy that sets the goals, drives the budgets and shapes the elements of a program, and it is management-based.
6. Websites are no longer optional. But a Website by itself is no more a substitute for a marketing program than practice management software is a replacement for a legal assistant. Your Website must continually be updated and freshened; and traffic has to be driven to it, just like it does to your phone.
7. The same fool who represents himself in court does his own marketing. Like carpentry, sewing or plumbing, even if you’re really good at it, DIY marketing inevitably will cost you more than it saves because for every hour you spend doing it, you actually lose two hours doing your real job.
8. The Yellow Pages may be a necessary evil, but it shouldn’t consume your marketing budget, or even be its centerpiece. How much you should spend depends on the size of your firm, the scope of your market, and whether your strategy is ad-based or PR-based. This is true for on-line directories as well as print versions.
9. Much too much is made of brochures. And law firms spend far too much time and money on fancy brochures that are out of date almost as soon they’re printed. All you really need are tightly written, consistent bios and a solid practice description that can be transferred across a variety of formats.
10. The single greatest obstacle to effective attorney marketing is the inherent conflict between firm promotion and individual promotion. It is an inevitable, omnipresent reality, and it must be resolved before strategy can be laid.