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ABA Shows Easy Ways to Out-Market Your Competition

Posted by Larry Bodine | Nov 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

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Fewer than half of law firms even have a marketing budget, according to a new Legal technology Survey Report by the American Bar Association. This statistic is shocking and creates an opportunity for you to out-market your competition by simply setting aside funds for marketing.

Forty percent of firms of 10-49 lawyers, over 60% of firms of 2-9 lawyers, and over 80% of solos do not take the time to make an annual budget for marketing. “This suggests that solos and small firm lawyers do not intentionally plan marketing activities and instead engage in “random acts of marketing”—if, indeed, they market at all,” the ABA report says.

How much?

Law firms (except for personal injury firms, who must spend more) should plan on spending about 2 to 5 percent of gross revenues on their marketing efforts. That percentage does not include the salaries of any of the people that you may have hired to perform the work in your firm. If you're not spending 2 to 5 percent, you're not being serious about marketing, and you're not going to get any results.

According to the 2019 Survey, “Only 47% of firms overall have a marketing budget. The largest firms are the most likely to report having such a budget (94% of those from firms of 100+ lawyers), and 61% from firms of 10-49 lawyers. But only 31% of firms from 2-9 lawyers and 17% of solo respondents have firm marketing budgets.”

Where should you spend it?

  • An engaging website. More clients find attorneys online than from referrals – see for example, the Shouse Law Firm in California gets a lot of business online. For a sound web platform, I recommend that you use LawLytics, which is used by many of the most successful law firm websites in the US. I personally love using LawLytics because it is the easiest system to use, and they have the best support because they are founded by attorneys and the whole system is designed with lawyers in mind.
  • A lively blog with useful information. Does blogging really bring new clients? Yes. It's true that the more you blog, the more clients you will get. The ABA found that among lawyers who maintain a legal topic blog, 49% have gotten clients as a result of blogging. Competitive opportunity: 2/3 of law firms do not have a blog, and almost ¼ of attorneys who maintain a legal blog have stopped posting to the blog.
  • Start posting videos. Video has taken the internet by storm.The ABA numbers do show an increase in the adoption of video as a marketing tool in 2019. In 2019, 26% of respondents said their firms use video as part of their marketing, and 65% have not yet adopted video. For ideas, visit 7 Habits of Effective Online Marketers.
  • Use social media to get positive reviews and online recommendations. Law firms that do use social media focus on LinkedIn (79%) followed by Facebook (54% and this number is dropping), says the ABA. Check out Why Blogging is So Much Better than Facebook
  • For free: check your analytics. All LawLytics websites come with a on-demand reports, displaying traffic statistics and top articles. Surprisingly, more than 60% of lawyers either do not have access to or do not know whether they have access to web analytics. This would provide insight into the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts. Of the 38% who do have access to these analytics, over 40% never view them.

For more great ideas check out my 10 Most Effective Law Firm Marketing Techniques.

How to save money

If you have a budget, what are money-wasting techniques that you should cut?

  • Social media.
  • Paying for leads.
  • Print advertising.
  • Ads in charity programs.
  • Pay per click advertising. Only 7% of lawyers buy Adwords, according to the ABA. Only 9% of lawyers an expensive consultant or agency for AdWords or pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
  • Directory listings.

The rule is: if you can't measure the results, eliminate it.

“The best results are obtained by creating a marketing plan focused on reaching the firm's ideal clients and referral sources and ensuring that all marketing efforts are working together toward common goals,” the ABA report says.

“The 2019 Survey results show that law firms—and especially solos and small firms—have a long way to go. Unless they begin to develop marketing plans and budgets, establish an online presence and regularly analyze whether their firms are reaching their targets, they will continue to face increasing difficulty competing for business.”

About the Author

Larry Bodine

Attorney and journalist Larry Bodine is a member of the Attorney Advisory Board at LawLytics law firm marketing.

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