Week 4: Your Marketing Plan

How to Get the Work to Sustain Your Business

By Peggy Gruenke, owner of Legal Biz Success

Find her on Twitter @PeggyGruenke

It’s the last week of our Solo Business Plan course and this last piece of the puzzle is really the engine that makes growing your business work. One thing they do not tell you in law school is that in addition to being a lawyer you are actually a salesperson too. Yikes! Those are scary words for someone who just wants to practice law – right? But it is reality.

The financial health of your law firm or any business is ultimately dependent on three simple concepts:
1. Getting the work (selling your product – yes, you are a salesperson disguised as a lawyer))
2. Doing the work (building the product)
3. Getting paid for the work (collecting the money)

But it starts with getting the work. So for your 2015 plan, we have looked at these pieces:

Week 1 we took a look at the big picture of who you are, who your business and what you want to build.

Week 2 we stepped back into the present and helped you define a plan of action for finishing the year strong to create momentum heading into 2015.

And last week was the financial piece, where we helped you create a plan with real numbers to provide a guide to follow through for the year.

Now we are finishing up with the section that will drive your success. You won’t build your business sitting behind your desk? And you won’t keep a steady flow of business without your marketing plan.

You need to keep a steady flow in all three components and monitor your results to make sure your business is financially healthy. Envision a pipeline with a steady flow of water. At any point in the pipe when the source of the water slows down, a clog occurs in the pipe or even a leak, the output will be affected. All 3 have to work together in order to keep a steady flow.

Keeping an eye on the flow is essential to making sure you are maintaining a profitable business. But in addition to keeping an eye on things, the ability to measure the flow is an important metric for profitability. So you marketing game plan will consist of the following:

1. Identify initiatives that fit your business
2. Understand the power of brand awareness and how to create it
3. Measure the success
4. Can’t ignore online marketing
5. Marketing action plan

Keys for an Effective Marketing Initiative

• Creating name recognition

– Your law firm should become increasingly known within your practice areas and geographic vicinity, to other lawyers outside your practice areas, to professional associations, to local businesses and to the general public for what you do, who you are, and why you are the best firm to handle prospects’ legal representation. Potential clients should have your law firm top of mind when they or their friends/family/colleagues need your services.

• Educating the public about your work, new ideas, and professional perspectives

– Share information about what makes your law firm unique, including diversity, community involvement, your speaking engagements, and your blog, you speak Russian.

• Securing a clear understanding of your target market and referral sources

– An effective marketing initiative will require clarity around your niche practice areas, who and where your clients are located and potential referral sources. It is advisable to collect data to be used in making informed decisions and tracking business growth.

• Spreading knowledge about your law firm and its capabilities

– If no one knows what you do, who works for you, where your offices are, or what results you get for your clients, the phones might grow a little quiet. Consistently convey the info and keep it fresh.

• Generate positive buzz

– Not all news is good news. Diligent marketing will keep any negativity at bay (as much as possible) and promote the positive, leading the legal community and your potential target market to view your law firm favorably. The pool of potential clients will believe that your firm has the capability to understand and solve its problems.

Creating Brand Awareness for Your Firm

Below are key areas, which will enhance brand awareness for your firm and attract potential clients:

1) Create logo and add to website and other existing sites to accurately reflect mission statement and value proposition
2) Network through BNI and other local business and community networking opportunities.
3) Ensure an engaging web site that offers accurate, timely and complete information and communicates your unique ability to serve your clientele
4) Create campaigns using Google Ad Words and other Social Media to attract future clients
5) Build an online presence through SEO, setting up local directories and social media profiles
6) Create a regular e-newsletter to serve as an education tool and stay in front of existing and potential clients
7) Build a system/database to collect prospects clients and referral sources
8) Develop a referral network of colleagues, associates and friends who understand your target market and will consistently and positively refer clients
9) Produce promotional products that serve to keep your firm top of mind
10) Become involved in your community through volunteer work and charitable activities
11) Be involved in and a voice to the local political community

Measuring Success

When spending time and money on marketing to become an industry thought leader and to acquire new business, you must quantify the success of your expenditures and continue to adjust and optimize them to maximize your return on investment.

** Recommendation

With an understanding of your firm and its place in the market, draft a comprehensive marketing strategy to drive new business. The plan should include a 12-month strategy with tracking incorporating all components of the plan:

• Branding
• Online marketing with local directories and online profile sites
• Social media plan
• Blogging schedule
• Speaking engagements
• Association memberships and events
• Establishing and tracking referral sources
• Prospect tracking and conversion
• Networking

Additional recommendations

• Review the strategy every quarter, studying metrics associated with how much time was invested or money spent on each particular form of advertising/marketing/networking, and make adjustments according to target market, practice areas, and financial investment.
• Develop an internal system to track results and collect data
• Nurture existing prospects until they become clients
• Track referral sources and gather statistics associated with each type
• Nurture referral sources; show continued appreciation for their referrals
• Set marketing budgets and track expenses

Build a strong Social Media strategy:

Social Media Channels

LinkedIn

Your firm will benefit from having a strong individual profile on LinkedIn, as well as a firm presence in various industry-related groups. Also, we will use LinkedIn’s new Publisher Tool and re-purpose existing blog content.

Google+

Because Google+ is associated with THE giant in search, adding a Google+ page for your firm will provide additional exposure on local searches. Additionally, a personal profile on Google+ will help to ensure that Google sees your blog content as something that is created by a verified author.

Facebook & Twitter

These social networks have been grouped together because although they provide access to a larger market. These avenues are relevant but will take a little more effort in order to produce results. Additionally, due to the maturity of these social networks, they have saturated the market. However, if you choose to purchase advertising on FaceBook, you can target incredibly specific and small markets based on a number of criteria. This is a very effective way to spend your advertising budget.

Local Directories

The use of local directories cannot be underestimated. There are several directories that essentially amount to online yellow pages. These include sites like Justia, Yelp!, Merchant Circle and YellowPages.com. The good news is that your firm is likely already listed on many of these directories. It is partly a matter of claiming these pages and optimizing them with additional specific information, and partly a matter of getting your clients involved in posting reviews. A solid target to set is to have your firm listed on 30 -40 local directories, as a starting place.

Blog

Consistent implementation of your blog should be the foundation of any social media plan. Search engines reward consistent, quality content that is relevant to the individual who is searching. In order to ensure that the content schedule is consistent, it is advisable to create an editorial calendar, which will be customized for local and industry events so that you are aware of items and topics that are important to mention in your blog in a timely manner.

Newsletter

Another tool that should be utilized is the keeping of e-mail contact information on current and past clients. There are easy ways to import your client list into mass e-mail services and maintain the database by allowing potential clients to add themselves to your database. This provides yet another outlet to send reminders, content and updates to clients or anyone who could potentially be interested in your services.

Taking action

What we have provided is a broad overview of the many channels involved in successful marketing. Obviously, you won’t have time or the skillset to work on all of them.

What’s important is not to focus on the different tactics involved, but to keep your eyes on the end goal. What are you trying to accomplish? And what is the best way to get there?

That’s why our financial projections are important. They can help us determine how many sales we need to get, and what our opportunities are for trying various marketing efforts.

To help you focus, we have created this simple worksheet to provide an action plan for your marketing over the coming days, weeks and months.

Use it to keep you on track to get your firm where you want it. Use it to create new ideas to meet new potential customers.

Download the sheet here.