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January 11th, 2019

Legal Marketing Checklist For New Law Firms

| Posted by: | Categories: Law Firm Marketing

Is Your New Law Firm Ready For Takeoff? Let’s Find Out…

Marketing Checklist For New Law Firms

Starting a new law firm from the ground up is extremely exciting. For many, it’s a lifelong dream to own and operate their own firm.

It’s a venture that, as a lawyer, you have prepared for for quite some time.

Your experience as an attorney in your area of law has developed you into an expert in the legal aspects of dealing with clients, day-to-day law firm functions, and court appearances and trials.

However, it has not, in all likelihood, developed you into a top legal marketing expert.

Whether or not you and your team have given thought to your new firm’s legal marketing strategies, the legal marketing checklist below is a great tool to keep as a reference when first launching your business. If your firm already has a marketing strategy in place, great – use this tool to make sure you have addressed everything thoroughly. If you have not yet started a marketing plan for your new firm, make sure to do so, and be sure to give serious thought to the items outlined below.

What We’ll Cover…

In this post, we’ll touch on some legal marketing concepts that you should be familiar with when first starting your practice. Brief, concise ideas that can help outline different strategies for fueling growth.

Then, we’ll provide an actual legal marketing checklist to keep handy. This will help make sure you have all your bases covered and are set up for legal marketing success.

While this is certainly not a comprehensive plan, and far from a firm-specific strategy, it is definitely a great guide to reference in the pre or early stages of your new law firm!

Legal Marketing Concepts For Startups

Establish Your Law Firm’s Brand Identity

Firms need a look and feel that communicates the essence of their brand and a message that resonates with prospects. Brand identity is what sets a firm apart from the competition and should be carried out seamlessly across all creative materials, from the logo to business cards, web design to letterhead, and everything in-between. 

For any business, branding is the first marketing / communications task that should be addressed… law firms included!

Launch A Great Website – That Converts!

It’s important to make a great first impression when new prospects land on your firm’s website. A great looking, modern and responsive website design will do just that.

But, just as important is a design that converts visitors into leads to the greatest degree possible! Firms need prospects who land on their site to contact their firm, not leave and continue their search elsewhere.

Keep in mind that the buying process when hiring a lawyer is often exaggerated. People generally do not take hiring a lawyer lightly; they are willing to put in the extra time to ensure they hire the right lawyer for them.

Will your new site have what it takes to stop a prospect’s search, pick up the phone and call your firm? Or, will prospects simply “bounce” off of your site and keep searching – making their rounds to your competitors’ sites?

Develop A Strategy To Drive New Leads Across All Channels, Online And Offline

How will your firm generate new leads to drive new cases and sustain your newly-created business?

A holistic, omnichannel marketing strategy to reach prospects across all channels, both online and offline, will help fuel early growth and maximize your firm’s ROI to help get off the ground.

Finding the right marketing mix is crucial, especially when first getting started! Gone are the days of buying ad space in the yellow pages. 2019 is just not that simple… it takes a comprehensive marketing mix to really move the needle!

Grow Your Firm’s Online Presence

With millions of law firm-related searches happening online each month, it’s imperative that prospects can find your firm online.

Make sure your firm has a plan to be found online… not just where you will be found, but when, how, and how different interactions with your brand across the web impact the entire marketing effectiveness.

Optimize Your Site To Rank On Google

Google’s a powerful tool and dominates as the world’s preferred search engine. A strong SEO plan for your law firm will get your firm ranked for relevant search terms when people are looking for a lawyer in your target market.

Advertise On Google In Front Of People Actively Searching For A Lawyer

Google Ads for law firms is a great way to drive qualified prospects, especially for new businesses. SEO is a great investment for getting found on Google but it takes time; Google Ads can provide a shot-in-the-arm by generating leads for your firm right away!

Evaluate Social Media Channels

Social Media is a great tool for increasing exposure against your target audience. Knowing how to go about it properly and identifying the appropriate channels will determine the level of success for your firm across these platforms. Not all social media outlets are suitable for all law firms… don’t waste your time (and ad spend) exploring a channel that’s not right for your business. Social media success requires diligence across the evaluation process, campaign strategy, as well as execution.

Establish A Presence In Legal Listings

Legal listings are another great way to drive new business leads. But, evaluating different contracts from all the different vendors can be exhausting. These packages can be flat-out confusing, often consist of “bundle deals,” and come with 12-month durations.

Don’t get locked into a legal listing contract that is suboptimal for your firm. Make sure you have a strategy in place for evaluating and agreeing to different buys from legal listing websites like Lawyers.com, Martindale.com, Avvo, and the like. If done properly, these listings can generate great leads for your business.

The Legal Marketing Checklist For New Law Firms

Newly-formed law firms need to hit the ground running… this checklist is helpful when launching a new firm. Use it to make sure your firm is set up for success by driving new leads & cases – not getting things right the first time can be detrimental to new businesses.

Establish Your Law Firm’s Identity (Branding)

Strategy

  • Figure out how to differentiate your firm.
  • Answer the question “how do you want your firm to be perceived?”
  • Develop your firm’s positioning line (tagline)

You only get one chance at a first impression, and you’ll want to leave a lasting one. Communicating a resounding message and differentiating your firm helps prospects understand why, exactly, they should hire your firm over the countless others that are also competing for their business. 

Don’t be remembered as “just another law firm.” Or, even worse, not remembered at all.

Creative

Make sure highly-trained, highly-skilled, degreed art directors are tasked with implementing your brand identity. It’s what they do and they do it the best. These creative materials are all visual touchpoints that prospects will use to identify your brand and shouldn’t be taken lightly… cheap graphic designers can be cost effective, especially for startup law firms, but remember, there’s a very good reason why they’re cheap.

Setup Legal Marketing Software & In-House Logistics

Software

  • Lead tracking software
  • CRM software
  • Intake systems

There are a lot of benefits to diligently evaluating and getting these systems properly in place the first time. There are a lot of providers out there and the task will inevitably seem daunting, but it’s important to understand what you’re getting with each potential provider. Even more important is getting everything integrated properly from the beginning.

When selected and integrated properly, these things help (among other things) calculate your firm’s ROI across different advertising channels, increase lead-to-client conversion rates, and can also help boost referral and repeat rates (the two best kinds of clients!).

Logistics

These two are often overlooked by firms in early stages. When you’re busy running a new firm, it’s easy to simply say “no, we don’t have money for after-hours answering” or “we have a voicemail system in place for right now.”

Regarding marketing reports, new firms tend to think that Google Analytics or out-of-the-box reporting software will suffice on its own.

That’s really not the case…

With regards to off-hours answering services, make sure you really take into account the pros and cons of having versus not having after-hour availability for prospects. Do you really want to leave this business on the table? If someone got a DUI at 11pm and you don’t answer, will they simply leave a message? What if an injured worker gets home from a long day of doctor and specialist appointments at 7pm and really needs to speak to a workers comp lawyer, do you think they will just wait until tomorrow to hear back from you? Chances are, they’ll keep calling firms until they can speak with someone. 

If it is decided to utilize off-hours answering, great! But, which provider will you use and how will the calls be handled? There are many providers out there… some good, some not so good. Keep in mind that these operators are a direct extension of you, your firm, and your brand. They are likely speaking to first-time callers in need of a lawyer… you’ll want these leads handled with care.

Regarding marketing reports, some lawyers prefer to default to basic analytics providers. But, those almost never provide the full picture and rarely provide valuable insights into where your leads are coming from.

For example, basic reports typically only show the last advertising medium that led to a conversion. But what if there were other channels that played an even more critical role in driving the prospect to your firm? Overlooking those other channels can lead to drastic misappropriations of advertising budgets.

Another example – which we see quite a bit – is over-reporting phone call leads. You’d be surprised how many times we find that one prospect calling a law firm multiple times as being counted as multiple leads. In fact, one person calling a law firm multiple times is *one* lead. 

The ability to analyze these reports and give in-depth findings is critical. Get it wrong and your firm could end up doubling-down on the wrong ad efforts.

Generate Leads…NOW!

Digital Advertising For Lawyers

  • Google Ads for law firms
  • Bing Ads
  • Social media advertising

Digital advertising is a great way to generate leads, especially when leveraging search engines and all their data at full capacity. What better way to drive new business early on that to advertise in front of someone who is searching specifically for a lawyer?

Google Ads and Bing Ads for law firms allows search engine marketers to do just that! Additionally, the audience data that Google and Facebook in particular compiles can be really eye-opening and provide user insights that can bleed into other areas of biz dev and marketing and advertising.

Online Legal Listings

  • Lawyers.com
  • Justia
  • Avvo.com
  • Etc., etc.

Online legal listings are another great way to get in front of qualified prospects. These legal listing companies have spent years garnering a ton of website traffic – most of which is in immediate need of a lawyer. Figuring out a strategy for your legal listing presence and evaluating which sites to list on (and which not to) is important in landing new law firm leads. These sites provide opportunities for both website traffic as well as direct phone call or email leads.

Plan Now For Long-Term Growth

Brand Awareness

  • Content Marketing
  • Online display and online video ads
  • Cable TV advertising

Building brand awareness takes patience, but can be extremely effective over time. Imagine two types of law firm prospects in need of a lawyer… the first doesn’t know where to turn, so they do some research online (that’s where your paid search campaigns come in with Google Ads!).

The other, however, suddenly needs a lawyer… BUT, knows exactly who they want to hire… will it be your firm?!

Building brand awareness is an art; measuring its effectiveness is complicated. But, if done correctly, these campaigns can really boost top-of-mind awareness so that your firm is on a prospects mind the moment they need a lawyer.

Want to rule this out in favor of ad efforts that generate a more immediate ROI? Think carefully, first. Every situation is different, of course, but you might be surprised at how cost-efficient a medium such as cable TV can be. Content marketing, online display and online video even more so. If executed properly, you won’t need to break the bank to invest in building brand awareness.

Steady Growth Tactics

  • Law firm SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Content development
  • Link building

The tactics outlined above also take time to ramp up. That being the case, they should still be considered early on, as they can pay dividends over time.

While channels such as Google Ads and Bing Ads can provide an immediate shot-in-the-arm for a new firm by sending prospects almost right away, things like SEO and content development strategies take much more time but, if done properly, are well worth the wait.

Recap: How To Grow A New Law Firm

Make sure your firm has addressed all the items outlined in the marketing checklist. Your firm’s brand identity is paramount and demands a lot of strategy and attention early on – you won’t get a second chance at a first impression…

Branding For Law Firms

Branding will set the foundation for how your firm will be perceived and whether or not your firm will communicate a resounding message with potential clients.

Software And Reporting For Law Firms

Making sure your firm has the proper software in place and in-house processes is also critical – a step your firm will want to get right early on. CRM software can help your firm close more clients as well as increase retention rates, referral rates, and help streamline some day-to-day processes such as followups, email reminders, etc. It is also a critical piece in the lead tracking process, helping connect the dots between advertising efforts, intake processes, and actual cases across the sales funnel (prospect > lead > client).

For example, helping answer questions such as “how did we land this client?”

Also, “why didn’t this client sign with us?”

Finally, “which advertising sources are generating the most revenue? Can we be sure?”

Being able to answer these questions accurately is vital, and you will want to be able to do so right from the get-go. If your firm gets this wrong the first time, it becomes exponentially more difficult to right this ship as the years pass… more and more data will pile up in your software database and employees will become increasingly proficient in operating such tools which will make it very tough to transition in the future if you realize your firm has made a mistake.

Grow Your Legal Business From The Start…Getting Leads Right Away!

Getting your firm new leads right out of the gate is huge and you’ll want to make sure you have a strategy in place to do so. Making sure your firm is easily accessible during a prospect’s time of need when they are actively searching for a law firm will help the phone ring early on. A few good places to start are on Google Ads and online legal listings, to name a few.

Ask yourself, “when someone needs my services, how will they find my business?” More importantly, especially for new law firms, “how will they find my business if they do not already know I exist?”

Long-Term Legal Marketing Strategies

Brand awareness and long-term growth strategies should also be implemented in the early stages of your firm. Brand awareness takes time to build, but can pay dividends for your firm in the future. Think about it, how great would it be if when the time came for someone to hire a lawyer, they knew exactly who to call – your firm!

Other long term strategies, such as SEO, should also be launched early on, as they take time to build upon but can drastically increase qualified leads and decrease the cost per acquisition (the dollar amount it takes to acquire a new lead).

Download The New Law Firm Legal Marketing Checklist

We mentioned early on in this post that this is not a comprehensive or firm-specific strategy. Albeit an abbreviated overview, it can still be a lot to take in.

For your convenience, we have put together an even more brief, one-page PDF version of the checklist. Feel free to print it out and keep it on your desk as a helpful reminder of what needs to be accomplished from a marketing standpoint before launching your new law firm.

Check All The Legal Marketing Boxes

Running a law firm takes a ton of work… we get it. Our specialty – checking these boxes off for our clients so they don’t have to.

Your area of expertise is in the courtroom.

Ours? Legal marketing.

If you would like to have a qualified legal marketing agency check these boxes off for your firm, or if you simply want to pick our brain and discuss your plan more detail, let us know!

We’re happy to help… reach us at 888.331.0009, or shoot us an e-mail by clicking the button below…

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