How to Market a Law Firm on a Budget

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Legal Marketing on a BudgetMost lawyers try to shy away from marketing themselves and their law firms.  Many attorneys simply want their work to speak for itself. 

Others may be concerned that aggressive marketing techniques will make their firms look unethical.  For whatever the reason, lawyers are not known for getting the word out about themselves or their law firms.  Now with the country facing economic uncertainty, more and more attorneys have another excuse for not marketing their firms. 

They say it is just too expensive.

However, marketing is not an expense.  It is an investment in your firm’s future.  If you don’t get clients, you don’t make money.  If you don’t make money, you can’t continue to practice law.

Marketing does not have to bust your law firm’s budget.  You don’t have to buy a television commercial during the Super Bowl, but you do have to do something.  Not marketing your law firm, especially in a challenging economy, is like waving a white flag.  Don’t convince yourself that there is nothing you can do to get more clients in the door.  Even law firms who have limited budgets can see significant results.

Here are a few ideas that you can use to effectively and efficiently attract new clients:

Don’t spend it all in one place.  When trying to market your solo practice or small law firm, you have to be sure to pick a budget and stick with it.  One rule in marketing is that clients need to hear about your firm seven times before getting the message about your firm.  If you spend too much money in one area, you won’t have enough left over for repetitive advertising.

Use your face to advertise.  Put your face on your business cards, printed materials, and your website.  Facial recognition technology is so complicated that it is actually its own field of science.  When potential clients see your face they see more than just your law firm’s name and specialty, they see a person.  They are much more likely to remember you if they have the opportunity to put a name to a face.

Don’t get cheap business cards.  Flimsy business cards that start to fall apart before potential clients can get them into their wallet are definitely not good for your image.  Don’t decide that you don’t need business cards.  You never know when you will meet someone who might require your services.  Simply having business card with you at all times can lead to getting new clients.  Make sure that your business cards are up to date.  Pulling out your business card only to scratch off an old phone number and write a new one makes you seem disorganized.  Disorganization is a quality that no client wants in an attorney.

You can blog your way to new clients. Blogs for small firms are usually free or very inexpensive.  A blog can be uploaded to your current website and can be formatted to match your overall color scheme.  You can use your firm’s blog to let clients get to know you.  One of the wonderful things about blogs is that they let search engines know that the content on your website is constantly being updated.  This will increase your search engine rankings and may lead to more potential clients finding your firm through its website.

Send out email newsletters. Email newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with clients and potential referral sources.  Email newsletter accounts can be as inexpensive as $30 per month.  You can use email newsletters to position yourself as an expert and a friendly legal resource.  Newsletters can be sent out each month with a detailed article about changes in the law or the importance of using an attorney for certain life events, etc.  When someone who receives your firm’s newsletter wants to refer you to a friend, your contact information is already stored in the most recent newsletter they received from you.

Find inexpensive ways to maintain relationships with referral sources.  While it is always great to take a referral source out for lunch, the cost and the time can add up.  Save the lunches for the referral sources that are most likely to land you large clients.  Use less expensive and less time consuming methods to stay in touch with other referral sources.  Send inexpensive birthday cards, or better yet, call your referral sources on their birthdays and on other holidays.  This will only take a few minutes out of your day, but you will have made steps in cultivating an important relationship without the cost of lunch.

Join online directory listings. Potential clients will often scroll through a long list of lawyers in search of one who specializes in the area they need help with.  Simply being listed in many of these directories is free because they rely on advertisements for revenue.

Consider using a pay-per-click advertising. Have you noticed that when you do a search for something in Google, Yahoo, or MSN that there are usually listings to the right or in a top banner for certain businesses?  Sometimes these are called “sponsored links” or “sponsored ads”.  The way that it works is that you select a certain set of key words, maybe “tax attorney” and then your firm’s zip code.  Every time someone types in that particular key word combination, your firm’s website will be listed to the left or in the top banner.

Track the effectiveness of your firm’s marketing campaign. Traditional marketing was all about guess work.  Law firms would put their message out there and hope to see the business rolling in.  However, if a firm ran a print campaign, an online campaign, and a radio campaign, they had no way of knowing which one was brining clients in the door.  Now, with unique landing pages on your website and proxy phone numbers on your mailings, you can know for sure just how your marketing dollars are working for you.

Don’t let a small budget keep you from doing some basic marketing for your firm.  As this article shows, there are myriad of marketing options for firms operating on tight budgets.