Many law firms find it a real challenge to stand out from the crowd, attract new business, and to grow their practices. Legal services are a highly competitive area where you are frequently competing with several other local law firms for a share of business.

This article covers well over FIFTY tactics – both digital and ‘offline – that you can apply to market your firm, so that it is first in the queue when customers need the services you provide.

You probably already work too many hours per week – and don’t have time to be doing any more marketing. This isn’t about doing more. It’s about doing the things that work best for your firm.

It’s no longer adequate to simply have a website to supplement your traditional marketing activities. Increasingly, online marketing has become the focal point of promotion strategies and offline marketing efforts support these; but both are still valid.

Every marketing initiative should be accompanied by the questions: is it worth the time and/or expense? What’s the ROI? Does it really work for legal firms?

Many law firms waste time in the wrong areas, do not measure the success (or otherwise) of their activities, or simply do not do enough marketing to generate leads, attract new customers, and grow their practices.

Below is an exhaustive look at the sales and marketing ‘toolkit’ at your disposal. They are in no special order, though they are broadly divided into traditional, ‘offline’ methods first, followed by digital methods. Some of them require a little investment, but many require only time and effort.

We hope to introduce a few sales and marketing tactics that you may not have considered before; perhaps surprise you with some information about a few that you have discarded; and maybe confirm your views about some others. Here we go…

Generate referrals from clients

It’s possible for attorneys to generate most of their business from referrals. These can come from clients, colleagues, other professionals in your circle, or simply from speaking to people – more about that later. Let’s start with your clients.

How do you do it?

Client referrals are all about cultivating relationships and having a system in place to follow up. Many clients, for instance, are unaware that you appreciate being referred and getting new business. Specify what type of work you are after – do not assume that clients automatically know your specialist areas of law. There’s no value in them sending you criminal law cases if you specialize in commercial law. When you receive a referral, always follow up, and don’t forget to thank your client and let them know what eventuated. You may even like to offer them a discount on their next consultation. Try to contact at least three potential referral sources per week, regardless of how tight your schedule is.

Solicit referrals from other professionals

Most of the marketing techniques discussed here are aimed at growing relationships with clients; but referrals from your contemporary lawyers, and from professionals in others sectors, may be just as lucrative. Nurture relationships with top professionals in your local area, especially lawyers who specialize in complementary practice areas.

How do you do it?

Contact the top professional lawyers in your local area who do not provide the services your law firm does and try to set up referral exchange programs. They pass you leads and you pass them leads. If you do a good job first time, and send them a referral or two, trust levels will grow and regular new business can be generated without much effort on your part. Depending on your main practice areas, work on relationships with other professionals in appropriate sectors too – maybe finance, accounting, and investment broking for instance. Be sure that these professionals understand the type of cases you specialize in.

Join referral networks

Networking has always been a part of any successful business marketing strategy. Just because everything is moving online doesn’t lessen that fact. Referral networks are networks of professionals with the aim of generating new business for each other. You may have heard of Business Network International, which is the largest one. These networks can be formalized with finder’s fees or commissions, or purely mutually beneficial, word-of-mouth marketing, with no commissions involved.

How do you do it?

As a law firm you may simply connect with other local business professionals to pass each other referrals. Or you could join a group online – such as the LinkedIn Referrals Network. Focus on passing high quality, authentic, relevant referrals to fellow professionals and you should start getting the same in return.

Target a ‘vertical’ market

Are there common themes between the clients who use your services? If you work mainly with companies, is there a particular industry where you get most of your clients? It may be worth selecting one of these ‘vertical’ groups of companies to focus your marketing on for the next six months.

How do you do it?

Examine your database carefully and identify a leading ‘vertical’ that provides your clients. Do some research and identify which trade organizations and associations these companies belong to. What publications do they read? Where do they meet? What do they want to learn about? Who are their competitors? Then specifically target them with some of the marketing strategies we cover in this article.

Produce a TV ad

Many law firms wonder whether there still a place for traditional advertising media now everything is moving online. TV advertising is often considered expensive and poorly targeted, but a study published by MarketShare at the end of 2014 suggested that TV remains one the most effective advertising mediums. While national TV advertising may be the realm of large national retailers rather than smaller local law firms, people still spend a lot of time in front of the tube. Choose the right demographic and the right placement of your ad, and local TV advertising could remain a serious option.

How do you do it?

TV ads may require the services of a PR or advertising firm, and will need a script writer, actors, and film editor. Avoid the scenario of the local station producing your ad. You will have to pay for air time and decide on the placement options you have. Nothing will eat up your marketing budget quite like a TV ad, but local stations may offer advertising packages worth considering. This article provides some great tips.

Run billboard ads

This is another more traditional form of advertising that is worth consideration for law firms. It’s not just for tire manufacturers to target motorists on the highway. Almost everybody is likely to need a lawyer at some point in their lives, so many of those motorists may just be your target audience, and you can build great brand awareness. The negative is that outdoor advertising can be expensive and is not suitable for direct response: few people take down telephone numbers while driving –they may need an accident or criminal defence lawyer if they do!

How do you do it?

Before you take up this type of advertising, do your research and analyze whether the ad will be in front of your target audience. If not, it can be an expensive mistake. If you decide to go ahead, the key is in capturing attention of drivers – you’ll usually need the services of a professional advertising firm to help you do this. Your ad needs to be image-heavy, original, and VERY text-light.

Examples:

law-firm-billboard

Source: http://www.tacticalmagic.com/work.php?work_id=23&cat_id=5

law-firm-billboard-2

Source: http://www.leewardadvertising.com/whitley-law-firm-billboards-take-silver-in-graphis-2015-ad-annual/

Run a radio ad

Another ‘traditional’ marketing approach is to run a local radio ad. Depending on your practice area and target audience, this can be an effective way to generate new leads – but be careful! Radio ads are generally expensive compared to online marketing strategies. This method of advertising is typically an option for firms mainly specializing in areas such as:

  • Personal Injury
  • Criminal Defence
  • Bankruptcy
  • DUI – DWI
  • Divorce & Family Law
  • Employee Rights
  • Immigration Law
  • Wills and Estates

How do you do it?

Plan your campaign carefully. You will need to search for the right package on the right local radio station to target your audience effectively; then you’ll need to be clear with your messaging in your ad, and measure the return on your investment. Don’t allow radio station employees to write your ad – get it professionally written or you may be throwing money away.

Example:

Bus bench ads

Another way to (literally) get close to your target audience is to advertise on bus benches. It’s not for all law firms, though. Its potential impact will depend on the nature of your law firm and how well you are able to target your audience. If you are a criminal lawyer, for instance, you would need to weigh up the chances of whether someone charged with a crime, or one of their family members, would see your ad and make a note of your number. Or would they be more likely to search online?

How do you do it?

If you use this form of advertising, location is everything: where are the bus benches that have your target audience waiting or passing by? Once you have identified your preferred location, make a note of the contact details of the media company looking after the advertising there. This is normally posted on or near the existing ads. Once you start your campaign, track its success by asking people where they saw your ad or having a separate number especially for your campaign.

Example:

lawyer-bus-bench-ads

Source: www.knowleslawfirm.com

Create a magazine ad

Well written, eye-catching print ads in the right local publications and magazines are another way for your law firm to generate leads. While print advertising is more expensive than promoting your business online, you can still see a good ROI if you get it right. If your firm specializes in working with particular industries, you can advertise in the most-read industry publications; but, equally, if most of your work is with the general public, you can get extra exposure through ads placed in the magazines they typically read.

How do you do it?

Where you advertise of course depends on your target audience – you understand this by now. Work out which publications they read and contact these publications for details of advertising packages. If you specialize in real estate law, perhaps an ad in a magazine directed at home buyers would be a good strategy. The business pages of weekly periodicals might be a good option for firms specializing in business law.

Examples:

lawyer-magazine-ad

Source: http://www.cyansolutions.com/sites/default/files/portfolio_graphic_design_SW_Ad_0.jpg

lawyer-magazine-ad-2

Source: http://www.advertolog.com/focus/collection-of-divorce-lawyer-ads/9841705/

Write articles for local publications

Article writing is not just about authoring material your own blog (more about that later). There may be opportunities to write articles of interest for local magazines or newspapers – like a monthly legal column for your local daily newspaper, for instance. If you’re lucky, your work will be seen in both the print and online editions – and you’ll probably be able to include a link to your website at the very least: a great way to boost awareness of your firm and to boost traffic.

How do you do it?

Contact the editor of the publication(s) and ask how you might be able to help, or propose a plan of action yourself. Why not send a sample article to kick things off?

Sponsor a community event

As a law firm, building good will in your local community is not only the right thing to do – it is great brand-building. Helping people and being there when they need you is probably one of the reasons why you took up law in the first place. It’s easy to forget that; but re-connecting with the community and sponsoring an event can have multiple benefits for your law firm AND the community.

How do you do it?

Is there a local golf day, barbecue, outdoor event, or fundraising activity that could use your firm’s sponsorship? You should generally limit sponsorships to where you will get most ‘bang for your back’ and maximize your firm’s exposure. Be careful to align with organizations or causes that do not conflict with your values or your culture; also ensure that there is some element of exclusivity for your firm in the sponsorship arrangement; then decide on the level of sponsorship and how you can maximize the marketing opportunity.

Volunteer at a not-for-profit organization

Various legal and community groups exist that would greatly benefit from the expertise that your law firm can offer. This is an important part of building closer ties with the community and doing the ‘right thing’. The benefit to you is that you are creating local good will for your brand and are also creating newsworthy content that can see your law firm featured in the local press.

How do you do it?

Find out what types of volunteer work exist in the local community and put your name forward for any that involve legal expertise. It could be free legal advice for those who cannot afford it or some free legal lessons in the area that you specialize in; perhaps some adjunct professor work could help you reconnect with students. The bottom line is – get out there and get yourself seen in the community.

Example:

sponsorship-law-firm

Deliver presentations and lectures

Presentations, professional speaking, seminars, and lectures are some of the most powerful tools you have for raising your profile, connecting with peers, and generating leads and referrals. The investment from your side should be minimal if your engagements are hosted by a group or association.

How do you do it?

Locally, why not start by providing a monthly free seminar for business people and the public. If you are already well-established (published in industry magazines and journals, for instance) start connecting with media outlets, event organizers, and industry organizations that host events. Create a short ‘speaker profile’ detailing your credentials and submit your presentation ideas. Consider using the services of a PR specialist if you are having trouble connecting with the right people. When opportunities on the speaking circuit start to open up, make sure you are able to capture audience email addresses and consider an offer of a free consultation to promote your firm.

Attend conferences and meet ups

Other great forums for face-to-face marketing and handing out business cards are meet-ups and conferences. Meet ups are usually groups of local business people – great if you are largely targeting your local market, as you will generally find highly motivated professionals attending. Conferences could be on a local, state, or national level.

How do you do it?

Attend events in the spirit of giving rather than taking. But develop a system for following up on any leads you do get. There is no point in gathering a pile of business cards that rot away in your desk. Make notes on the back of business cards as you are talking to the prospect (this shows interest in what they are saying – and also helps you remember them). Then divide the cards up into ‘hot’, ‘warm’, and ‘cold’ leads. Make sure you follow up with all the ‘hot’ and ‘warm’ leads within a week of the event – with an email or, preferably, with a phone call.

Two extra tips:

  • End conversations after you finish a statement, rather than when they finish one. Otherwise it may seem that you’re cutting them off.
  • Don’t buy a complete table at any events. Better to buy seats at different tables so your team can spread out and meet more people.

Example:

Create a direct mail marketing campaign

The ‘immediacy’ of impact with direct mail marketing is hard for online campaigns to replicate. Whereas emails may go unread, when somebody receives a letter, flyer, or brochure through their door, they cannot help but take a look. If you can show that you provide what they need or want, then your phone may run hot with new prospects.

How do you do it?

Direct mail marketing is more expensive than email marketing because you need to develop printed material. This makes it critical that your material speaks directly to – and reaches – prospective clients. Carefully target your audience, have a professional copywriter craft your material, send it out, and track and measure the results. Be careful to abide by your local advertising laws: usually, if you label it as ‘attorney advertising’, personal injury lawyers may send letters to accident victims, criminal defense lawyers can follow up on arrest reports, and family law attorneys may send letters to divorce case defendants.

Examples:

law-firm-direct-mail-3

Source: http://www.forecaststudios.com/print1Large.html
law-firm-direct-mail

Source: http://www.legalcommunications.com/direct-mail/

Create a printed newsletter

Emailed newsletters have become very common (see later in this article), but that doesn’t mean there is no place for a printed newsletter. It largely depends on your law firm’s target audience. More senior age groups, for instance, may prefer to read a hard copy newsletter rather than the online version; and response rates can be higher for printed material than for electronic material, which are easier to ignore.

How do you do it?

You may choose to segment your database between those who prefer to receive the monthly newsletter email and those who prefer the mailed version. Your office assistant can be in charge of printing and mailing it off to the list; but be careful to only send to people who specifically prefer the printed version, as it’s considerably more expensive.

Reconnect with old clients

Another great way to make best use of your client database is to re-generate old relationships. Are there any clients who have been dormant for a couple of years? Maybe there is something you now offer that they aren’t aware of? Why not try to reconnect with them and see if you can help them with anything – after all, you already have a relationship. It’s much easier re-open an old client file than to start a completely new one.

How do you do it?

Take another close look at your client roster and identify clients with whom you have not had much contact in the past 12 months or more. Send them cards to capture their attention and suggest re-connecting (try something new – not the same old holiday cards). Arrange a meeting to see if you can resurrect the relationship with new products and services. After all, your law firm has probably changed since you last saw them, and their requirements may also have changed.

Cold call potential prospects

While online marketing has made the need to cold call prospects less crucial, it is not time yet to abandon such an effective sales strategy: a skilled salesperson talking directly to people about how your firm may be able to help them, over the phone, will ultimately pay dividends, if managed correctly.

How do you do it?

Cold calling is a ‘numbers game’ – the more people you call, the more sales you will make. The problem is that most lawyers hate cold calling and are not particularly good at it. There are also ethical and legal considerations for law firms when cold calling. If you follow many of the other marketing tactics in this guide, you shouldn’t need to rely on cold calling at all to generate leads. If you do cold call, find out what the law is in your area. Hire somebody who is highly skilled, ethical, prepared to get to know your firm inside out, and is not put off by the inevitable knock-backs.

Join industry associations

Depending on your law firm, there are probably particular industries that you work with more than others. A great way to raise your profile in these industries is to become active in their trade associations. This is just as important as joining a bar association, because you will be in front of potential clients rather than just peers.

How do you do it?

Ask your best current clients what meetings they attend and which organizations they are members of. If your relationship with them is strong enough, they may be able to introduce you at the end of the next meeting and open the door to becoming a member yourself. Potentially, this could raise your visibility to a room full of clients; even more so if you are able to volunteer your assistance and use your expertise to help out wherever needed. This may get you on to the committee or board of directors.

Join a local chamber of commerce

Another way to grow credibility and become more visible to prospects is to join the local Chamber of Commerce. Shake as many hands as you can and get in front of other members. Marketing is often described as a ‘contact sport’ and there is much to be said for being able to look someone in the eye. When these people are local industry leaders, it’s even more important to meet them in person to expand your network.

How do you do it?

Joining the Canadian Chamber of Commerce starts with an application and a fee payment; you will most likely join your local district, as chambers are present in most areas throughout the country. Once approved, you are free to join peer-to-peer networking events, professional development sessions, business leader roundtables, policy committees, and other events arranged by the chamber. The key is to be active.

Example:

mcleod-law

Source: http://members.calgarychamber.com/Lawyers

Try other ‘offline’ events and networking opportunities

Other face-to-face marketing opportunities involve you getting out there and meeting people; combined with a solid online marketing strategy, this can be an unbeatable combination, as you spread awareness of your law firm and widen your referral network.

How do you do it?

Join bar associations that welcome you as a member, and attend their events; ask the staff of the association that hosts an event to introduce you to people who you think you should know. This can expand your network of peers and increase the chances of referrals. Lawyers only refer cases to people they know, after all. You could also arrange meet-up dinners with old law school classmates. This will provide exposure to varying practice areas and increasing referral opportunities again. Another great tip is to never eat lunch alone – always make sure that you are meeting someone to expand your network.

Offer scholarships

Many leading law firms around the world offer to fund scholarships for students, but this is a strategy that can also work on a smaller scale. Doing so can prompt coverage in the local press, as well as earning citations and links that improve search engine rankings. But self-promotion and direct sales are no-no’s; think longer term – offering scholarships is about building ties with the community, branding your firm, building your culture, and creating awareness of what you do.

How do you do it?

Scholarships require considerable planning and commitment. First, select a scholarship that suits your law firm’s main practice area; you’ll also want to define the selection criteria for the students(s). Then, create a highly professional webpage devoid of promotional material – no call to action! Universities and colleges will be visiting, as well as prospective students; it may be shared widely through educational social media, so make sure that the page represents your firm in the best light.

law-firm-scholarship

Source: http://www.oykhmancriminaldefence.com/michael-oykhman-criminal-law-and-evidence-scholarship/

Here’s another example from Handel Law Firm.

handel-law-firm

Source: http://helpandhope.ca/handel-law-firm-tort-law-evidence-scholarship/

Enter your firm for business awards

Has your firm achieved something against the odds? If you have a story to tell, have risen up through the ranks, or have overcome great challenges to get where you are, then let the world know about it. It might be that you have achieved success at a young age, in which case entering for the Top 40 Under 40 might be worth considering. Self-promotion can go a long way here – enter your firm for some local or national business awards and set yourself apart from the competition.

How do you do it?

Contact the business media and develop relationships with journalists who may be interested in your story. Keep an eye on when submissions for the key business awards in your area are – in the press, local councils, chambers of commerce, and business schools. Put your firm forward for small business awards, legal business awards, or others that may accept you as a candidate. Even getting on to the shortlist will create publicity that can only be good for your firm.

Examples:

Public Relations: Offer yourself to the media

Local legal cases of general importance that attract public interest are a great opportunity for law firms to offer their expertise to the media. Journalists love to quote legal experts to explain complex matters and to give stories extra substance and credibility. Demonstrating your expertise in this way garners positive attention for your law firm.

How do you do it?

You can be proactive, and not just wait for a reporter to call you. When there is a story attracting interest, contact the reporter(s) in question and offer yourself for commentary or opinion, if required. It helps if you already have a relationship, have established your expertise in your field, and are comfortable talking in front of the camera, or microphone. Make sure that you always get back to reporters quickly – they are usually working to tight deadlines.

Build a website

This is a ‘no-brainer’. Every law firm should have a website – please see our definitive guide to law firm websites, which will tell you what you need to know. You’ll see that simply owning a website is no longer enough; set your law firm apart by planning and building a website that is part of a coherent marketing strategy and generates leads and new business for you.

How do you do it?

First read our guide! You will see how your website needs to be carefully planned, well-designed, and optimized for usability, search engines, and conversions. You’ll also see how using Google Analytics can help keep your website top of the rankings. You can develop a significant competitive advantage over other law firms by making your website the hub of your marketing strategy, and incorporating social media, a blog, email marketing, etc. into the plan.

Example:

See a list of 50 of the best law firm websites.

Write a blog

Blog-writing can supplement your website content, create quality leads, and improve search rankings. Regular, relevant, and informative content for your target audience positions you as the legal expert in your field, raising trust levels. Make sure that your blog articles can also be shared easily via social media, expanding your potential reach and putting you in front of multitudes of new readers. This is great exposure for your work – but be careful not to put yourself in an awkward position by discussing confidential legal matters or by criticizing anyone or any company by name.

How do you do it?

Don’t treat your blog as a direct marketing tool – using it to tell the world how great you are will get you nowhere! Instead, consider who your target audience is and how can you help them. Start by considering their main pain points, problems, and questions, and then develop content around this. If you don’t have time to write the blog posts yourself, hire a legal copywriter who can and provide detailed briefs. It will help to drive traffic to your website and start raising your profile as a go-to resource for your market.

Example:

law-firm-blog

Source: http://www.mackscriminallaw.com/law-blog/

Create a Facebook page

The potential benefits of having a Facebook page, and being connected to a community of over 1.4 billion people, are too good for most law firms to turn down. Managing a Facebook page can enable you to educate and engage your target audience, keep them up to date with what’s going on, develop a ‘personality’ and ‘face’ for your law firm, and send large volumes of traffic to your website. It’s a great place to share your blog articles and any other relevant information in your field.

How do you do it?

Most law firms do not have the time to manage social media – but that’s no excuse for ignoring it. Keep your law firm’s Facebook page separate from your personal page and hire a professional social media manager from one of the many freelancing sites to manage it. Train up your professional in the type of content you want to promote and how to keep your audience engaged and informed. The aim is to both grow your following and improve your search engine rankings. Your page needn’t take up much of your time.

Example:

lawyer-facebook-page

Create a Twitter account & run ads

Twitter is another social media channel able to raise your profile, put you in touch with your target audience, and potentially drive large volumes of traffic to your website, as well as improve search rankings. The impact of a well-managed Twitter profile can be boosted by running affordable, targeted, Twitter ads that put your law firm in front of a potentially very large audience.

How do you do it?

If you have not yet set up a profile, do that here. Keep your tweets original, relevant, and informative, and include links to your own blog posts and other relevant, high quality content. Re-tweeting from other credible sources reflects well on you too. Tweets can be scheduled using a social media management tool like Hootsuite, or Buffer which can share information across all your social media platforms. Tweets posted between 1pm-3pm eastern time receive the highest click rate, according to Mashable.

Create a LinkedIn page

Whether your law firm specializes in working with businesses, with other professionals, or is dedicated to helping anybody who needs legal assistance, a LinkedIn presence is a must. This is the largest network of professionals on the planet. Not only should your firm have a LinkedIn company page; each partner should set up his or her own individual page. Remember that clients hire lawyers rather than firms.

How do you do it?

Make sure that your LinkedIn page includes a headline that covers the key benefits you provide to your target audience; then complete a Summary that tells your audience how you can help, and an Experience section that shows results and benefits. Then seek endorsements from other professionals to add credibility (offer to write endorsements for them). Don’t just treat your LinkedIn profile as a CV – use it to market your firm. If you do not have the time to do this yourself, professional LinkedIn marketers can write your profile and optimize it for keywords, so that you show up in LinkedIn searches for law firms.

Promote yourself in LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn groups are a wonderful networking tool for demonstrating expertise and for connecting with other professionals and peers; but be careful not to use them as a direct marketing tool as you are likely to be black-listed by other group users.

How do you do it?

Join a few of the tens of thousands of groups of professionals present on LinkedIn – and become an active contributor on the best ones. Find groups that are well-moderated, do not tolerate spam, have interesting topics related to your field, and which are very active with high quality posts. They don’t have to be full of lawyers. In fact, groups without lawyers still provide a great opportunity to connect with other professionals, discuss issues that affect you all, and to demonstrate leadership in your field. This will automatically generate interest in you and your firm, and marketing opportunities will normally follow; there’s no need to force the issue.

Create videos and publish them on YouTube

Developing content is not just about writing legal articles. Let’s face it – these can be hard work for most people to digest. We are surrounded by multimedia in everyday life, so as a law firm why not start using it to connect with your audience? Video is a relatively inexpensive, high-impact way to get your messages across.

How do you do it?

What image do you want to portray of your law firm? Professional? Dependable? Knowledgeable? Approachable? Find a decent local video-maker to help capture this. Start with answering some of your target audience’s FAQs on camera. It’s possible to record your own video but some professional guidance is usually advisable, as low quality does little for your image. Your videos can be uploaded to your firm’s YouTube account and embedded on your website. This will raise your profile and aid search rankings: Google owns YouTube, so these videos often feature highly in their SERPs.

Examples:

Create an SEO campaign

An SEO campaign is designed to send more traffic to your website by improving rankings for specific search terms. This is a constantly evolving area of marketing, but following a few fundamentals will stand you in good stead.

How do you do it?

First, take a read of the Law Firm SEO: The Definitive Guide. This covers all you need to know about search engine optimization for your website. Research and planning is always the starting point: keywords are the fundamental ‘building blocks’ of successful SEO campaigns. First make sure you do your keyword research; then optimize around them with on-page SEO, create original content, and build relevant links, citations, and other indicators of credibility and trust – and you will see traffic increasing to your website.

Run Google AdWords ads

Google Adwords is the largest and most successful Pay-Per-Click (PPC) online advertising platform. Advertisers compete for keywords to display brief advertising copy to web users, which then results in traffic landing on their site. Advertisers only pay when a user clicks through from the ad.

How do you do it?

PPC campaigns generally need some expertise to set up, but there are also plenty of online resources to guide you. You need to carefully identify the keywords that you are going to target in the campaign – or PPC can prove a costly mistake. Make sure that the traffic that lands on your webpage has the best chance of converting. This usually requires a professionally designed landing page geared towards convincing users to take the required action (book an appointment; get a free legal consultation etc.)

Create a Facebook ad campaign

Facebook ads can be highly targeted to a large, but specific audience, so they are worth considering for almost any law firm. These ads appear down the side of members’ Facebook feeds, encouraging click-throughs to a landing page on a website. Like all good marketing tools, it’s easy to measure the success of campaigns with the built-in sales tracking tools that show you what each click is costing and earning you.

How do you do it?

It’s relatively easy to create a Facebook ad. This Facebook Ads Manager page tells you exactly how to do it, from choosing what you want to advertise, to targeting your audience and deciding on a budget. If you prefer, here is a video tutorial that can help you. To create the images and text of your ad it may be best to hire a freelancer experienced in creating advertisements that make an impact.

Host a webinar online

Another excellent ‘inbound’ marketing technique for law firms is to host webinars online. These are basically online ‘seminars’ that enable you to distinguish yourself from other firms by demonstrating expertise and authority first-hand. You can charge for attendance or make them completely free. They have the potential to leave a strong lasting impression on prospects, and plants you front and centre in their minds when they are looking for legal assistance.

How do you do it?

Several specialist online services will help you set up your webinar. For instance Go To Meeting offers webinars for up to 1,000 people at a time. This is where your database of prospects comes in very useful. Simply schedule a date and send customized invites out for people to register. On the scheduled date, you start the webinar, attendees join, and afterwards you receive the tools to evaluate its success. Not sure about presenting a webinar? You can even hold private practice sessions first to master your presentation style.

Create an eBook

Creating ‘lead magnets’ is one of the most effective activities in law firm marketing; a well-written, original, and informative eBook that speaks to the pain points of your target audience, presented as a free giveaway on your website, should capture many potential leads. It can also establish great credibility for your firm, especially if you make a more substantial book and sell it on Amazon or provide it as a free download in the ‘Resources’ section of your website.

How do you do it?

If you don’t have time to write it (or you are not the most talented of writers) get your eBook professionally written. Create a detailed brief of what you want, including the purpose of the eBook, an outline of the structure, and links to resources to help the writer out (he or she may not have a legal background). Once written, get your eBook designed professionally – it must reflect your firm’s unique brand and be of the required quality to make a strong statement.

Create a free email series

Another possible giveaway for site visitors is a free email series. This is usually a short series of emails for which they need to sign up and leave their name and email address. This allows you to capture and nurture leads by providing valuable information to the target readers – perhaps answering some of their key questions. ‘Calls to action’ planted carefully in the emails can encourage a particular action, such as clicking through to a landing page or booking an appointment.

How do you do it?

Email marketing is an art form. Get it wrong and you can turn those hard-fought leads against you; get it right and you can have them eating out of your hands. Create a brief, including information about the target audience, the purpose of the emails, and the desired end result, as well as links to information and resources to include in the series. Then hire a professional email marketer to craft your emails and organize an automated ‘drip’ campaign.

Offer free templates on your website

Free resources are a great way to attract traffic to your site. Bringing traffic creates awareness of your law firm, allows you to capture details and expand your database of prospects, and provides opportunities for future marketing. Legal forms and templates are a good example of the types of resources you can provide visitors.

How do you do it?

Legal forms and templates are extremely varied. Depending on the nature of your practice, you could offer forms for:

  • Power of Attorney
  • Rent and lease
  • Divorce
  • Affidavit
  • Release
  • Warranty deed
  • Will and trust
  • Work statement
  • Business law
  • Family law
  • Name change
  • Probate

Decide on the templates most suitable for your target audience, get them professionally drawn up, and create a resources page with downloadable PDFs.

Create a monthly newsletter

By creating a monthly newsletter you can keep your database of customers and prospects up to date with legal matters that affect them, answer their key questions, and keep them across what’s going on in your law firm. It’s a valuable long-term marketing tool that helps to build closer relationships, raise credibility, and engender trust: this means that, when readers need legal assistance, you will be uppermost in their minds.

How do you do it?

Newsletters don’t have to be long. A few short articles will usually suffice. It does not have to take up much of your time: the writing can be outsourced if you provide your copywriter(s) with clear briefs of what you need each month. Settle on a newsletter template that suits your business and automate sending of the newsletter each month to an up-to-date database of contacts: include existing clients, new referrals, people who you have met at events, and others. Always provide an unsubscribe option, so that they can opt out if they choose to do so. You can encourage sign ups to your newsletter through email marketing, website, Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on.

Get reviews on Google+

Generating online reviews from clients is an important part of establishing your law firm’s presence and becoming more ‘visible’ online. Requesting Google+ reviews not only improves your reputation and provides the social proof that is so important these days; it also help with search engine rankings. Reviews can also flag problems that you don’t know exist – so this can help you improve your business.

How do you do it?

First you need to ask your customers for a review – few will do it voluntarily. It’s quick and easy but they may need instructions: go to Google Maps, sign in with their Google account, and then leave a review below the search box. You can instruct them how to do it with a link to this page – don’t assume they know. Make sure that you always respond to reviews in a timely manner – to do this you will need to ensure that your business information is verified.

Advertise on Lawyers.com

lawyers-com

Most law firms are aware of Lawyers.com: the largest lawyer ‘aggregator’ site designed to help people find a reputable and trusted lawyer to assist with their particular legal matter. There are over one million lawyers on the site. Ultimately, the Canadian version of this site attracts a large captive audience of people looking for legal assistance – so it may well make sense for your firm to advertise there.

How do you do it?

In order to advertise with Lawyers.com you’ll need to first register with the site. On inquiring about advertising rates, you will be quoted a fee that will get you a listing high on the page for a particular practice area and location e.g. family law, Ontario. This will provide not only direct leads, but will improve your organic search results due to the back-links and citations you receive from the site.

Advertise on Avvo.com

avvo

Avvo.com is a competing site of Lawyers.com, offering a similar service. Like with the latter site, it can take a while to develop enough top reviews to rank high in the free listings for your practice area and location. So another option is to pay for your listing, a little like Google AdWords Pay-Per-Click service.

How do you do it?

You can choose between two paid options on Avvo:

  • Avvo Pro –  customized profile options starting at $49/month
  • Avvo Advertising display ads that get your firm in front of more searching customers starting at $99/month.

For $99/month, if your display ad generates one lead that turns into a paying client then it may represent very good value. Again, the improved SEO power you get from your listing should also provide added value.

Answer questions on Lawyers.com and Avvo

Both Lawyers.com and Avvo have free question and answer communities designed to help out visitors with legal questions for free. Attorneys provide the answers – and it may be an option for you or someone else in your law firm to provide assistance here.

How do you do it?

On Lawyers.com go to the ASK A LAWYER section and check the type of questions people ask – they can search by location or by legal topics. You will also see that the page features links to the profiles of the Top 10 contributing lawyers each day. Some of these have provided hundreds of answers to questions. Featuring in this list needs no introduction as to the credibility it provides you and your firm. If you are logged in, it’s easy to start answering people’s queries.

On Avvo, visitors can click on ASK A QUESTION. Again, they post questions for free legal advice and if you have a listing on the site and are logged in, you can respond with assistance.

Pay ‘Outbrain’ to distribute your content

outbrain

Outbrain bills itself as “the world’s largest and most trusted content discovery platform”. Essentially you can use it to promote your content and make it more visible to your target audience. Outbrain uses behavioural targeting to recommend articles, slideshows, blog posts, photos or videos to users browsing the web, and is a good way to ensure all your best legal content gets in front of those who are searching for what you offer.

How do you do it?

Register with Outbrain and your content can be recommended to web users through sponsored links, which are payable on a Pay-Per-Click basis. There is an excellent FAQs and video tutorials page that will answer most of your questions about getting started on the site.

Press release marketing

Press release marketing has grown over the years but law firms have been slow to take advantage of it. Developing relationships with the media and writing informative press releases about legal cases can be an excellent way to add visibility and credibility to your firm; even a small mention in a widely distributed publication can garner considerable interest in your firm, improve search rankings (through inbound links), and drive traffic to your website.

How do you do it?

Hire a professional writer to craft press releases. Keep them succinct (usually under 400 words) and focus on notable verdicts and settlements of public interest, legal honours (such as bar association awards), upcoming events of interest, non-profit board memberships, etc. Email your press releases to the news sections of local media outlets, legal publications, business publications, and alumni magazines. If the news involves a specialized area of the law, try also submitting them to blogs that cover these topics.

Guest blog on popular niche websites

Article writing in your specialist area of law can help considerably with marketing your firm. If you are able to regularly write articles on legal topics, you can ‘guest blog’ on popular niche websites. Not only does this demonstrate expertise in your field; the back-links you create will boost search rankings and help improve website traffic.

How do you do it?

Don’t have time to write articles? Why not have them ghostwritten for you? You can edit them before sending them off. Contact legal niche websites and ask if they would be interested in receiving an article from you on a given subject – or ask them what subjects they would be interested in accepting. Your articles could also be sent to relevant trade associations, whose members will be interested in the topics you discuss.

Create a podcast

Let’s not forget the medium of sound. Podcasts are perhaps overlooked by law firms as a marketing method, because they do involve considerable planning and execution. But they can be a great way to develop a loyal following and to position your law firm as a thought leader. Typically podcasts are either broadcast by lawyers for lawyers or provide legal advice for people in need.

How do you do it?

What’s your angle going to be? The best legal podcasts specialize in certain aspects of law that resonate with the target audience. How are you going to help answer their key questions and solve their main problems? If you are looking to set up your own podcast, first understand what’s out there. This page covers some of the leading legal podcasts. Decide on your own niche theme and make sure you have the right sound equipment and resources at hand; then record a sound file, make it available to the public, and start promoting it. This page shows you how to do all of that.

Sponsor a podcast

Don’t fancy creating a podcast yourself? The amount of time people spend plugged in to their phones means that sponsoring podcasts can still be a great way to reach your audience. Short sponsorship ads are typically run at the beginning and a longer one in the middle of the broadcast.

How do you do it?

Consider sponsoring one of the many legal podcasts that relates to your specialist area and target audience. Find out which are the most popular podcasts that tick both of these boxes. Those with a large following probably already have a sponsor program set up – simply find out what the deal is; if not, most podcast creators would be happy to earn a little more income for the great service they provide, and you can suggest a sponsorship program.

Implement marketing automation

Marketing automation software is increasingly being used by organizations to expand reach and to better target customers without increasing the workload (preferably reducing it). It allows you to plan campaigns and automate many of the tasks associated with running them, integrating data across multiple media forms (website, email, social media etc) to present a ‘unified front’ in your marketing strategy.

How do you do it?

While marketing automation is presently used mainly by larger firms, we are likely to see it extend to smaller firms with more limited budgets as the approaches become more affordable. At present, results from marketing automation are rather mixed. Start by researching online. Because of its rapidly changing nature, searching for ‘law firm marketing automation software’ will throw up different results almost every week. Check what your options are – maybe you can arrange a free trial of some software to assess if it’s right for you.

Buy sales leads online

There is a way to find immediate leads and build an instant database for your law firm. That’s to buy mailing lists and sales leads online, which you can then use to email or call. This is a rather ‘old hat’ method though and, if you are applying some of the other methods described in this article to generate leads, you probably won’t need to resort to this method.

How do you do it?

The problem with buying leads is that you cannot be sure whether the information is up to date, or whether the leads really encompass your target audience. You will find online services selling millions of leads and promising high accuracy rates; usually you can arrange packages by the month, year, or as one-off deals. Just make sure that the leads are targeted for your business.

Create an infographic

Infographics are visual depictions of information that make it easy to read and digest. They are effective at simplifying complex information and communicating it to your target audience, so they can be particularly useful in simplifying the complexities of law. This can be a great way to demonstrate authority in your field. Infographics are also very ‘sharable’; they have the potential to go ‘viral’ across the social or business networks, and can generate considerable interest in your website, as well as back-links to help SEO.

How do you do it?

Infographics need to be engaging; find a topic of interest to your target audience. Here are 15 examples of legal infographics. Make sure that yours is created professionally, using a copywriter and graphic artist. You would normally supply the concept or the hard data and they would create the text and design it in an eye-catching format, displaying the key concepts and messages very clearly. Make sure that you cite all sources and include a copy and paste link so that other website owners can paste the code to embed the infographic into their own content.

Write an academic paper or white paper

Law firms constantly need to consider how they can differentiate themselves from the competition. Especially important is establishing credibility, authority, and thought leadership in your field. A great way to do this is to author an academic or white paper in your specialist area. You can use it as a lead capture for your target audience, or allow people to access it from a ‘resources’ page on your website. Shares across social networks can create prestige for your firm, as well as useful back-links.

How do you do it?

Brainstorm a series of topics in your specialist area of law; then consider how you can frame these topics as questions that will be of particular interest to your target audience. Once you have decided on a theme and title, create a detailed brief and hire a professional writer who is comfortable with the subject matter. Include relevant resources for your writer to refer to. Once you have the completed text, get it professionally formatted using a graphic artist and then start promoting your new content.

Create a SlideShare presentation

SlideShare is a widely-used platform for sharing presentations. It is owned by LinkedIn, has considerable ‘weight’ behind it, and usually achieves good search rankings, so it is worth your law firm creating a presence there. Most firms have stacks of presentations tucked away; uploading them to SlideShare can get your content working for you again. Just be careful that any sensitive information in presentations is removed before the presentation is made available to the public.

How do you do it?

If you have a LinkedIn account you already have a SlideShare account linked to it. Making an existing PowerPoint or PDF presentation available to the public is as simple as clicking the UPLOAD button and selecting the file from your hard drive. If you need to first create a new presentation, select a subject that will resonate with your target audience and will attract as many views as possible; choose PowerPoint, Adobe PDF, or OpenOffice and keep it less than 300MB in size.

Build a ‘Google My Business’ page

A ‘Google My Business’ page is free and an essential part of any law firm’s online marketing. You may remember ‘Google Local’ or ‘Places’? This has replaced it. Your ‘Google My Business’ listing will be viewable by people whether they are using Google Search, Google Maps, or Google+, and on whichever device they’re using.

How do you do it?

This page tells you all about ‘Google My Business’ and there is a link to get you started with listing your law firm, if it is not there already. You simply find your location and then complete all the information that you are prompted for – business name, address, telephone numbers, opening times, and so on. You can also gather reviews here, with customers able to show their appreciation with ratings and endorsements of your content.

Add live chat to your website

Another way to differentiate your online presence from other law firms is to include live chat on your website. This provides real-time answers for people with questions and problems. It is not only a great way to provide a stellar service and make life ultra-convenient for your visitors; it means you are able to capture visitor details so that you never miss a lead; you may even be able to reduce phone expenses.

How do you do it?

Nobody is expecting you to be there online waiting for questions. You can outsource your live chat to one of the many services that specialize in this. They will get to know your business and be able to channel queries to the right place so that you capture more potential leads, and convert more visitors into paying customers. Obviously, with legal matters, there is a steep learning curve for most live chat assistants, but even being able to listen and make a commitment to get back to the customer with answers is good customer service.

Join online legal forums

We have mentioned the question and answer forums on Avvo and Lawyers.com already. There are other websites where people go for legal advice and to discuss legal matters. It may be a good idea to take a look at some of these forums and see if any of them resonate with your practice. Helping out the community with free legal advice is excellent PR for your firm.

How do you do it?

Take a look at websites like the FreeAdvice Legal Forum, the World Law Direct Forum, AdviceScene Canada, and Lawstudents.ca. See whether you can be of assistance in answering legal questions on any of these; if not, keep searching – maybe there is a local forum or a forum specifically for your main practice area that is more appropriate for your firm to help out with.

Develop an engaging elevator pitch

Some lawyers’ idea of an elevator pitch is “Hi, I’m a lawyer. What do you do?”. This is unlikely to grab attention or make you very memorable. Lawyers are sometimes wary of boring people, so they change the subject quickly, but actually explaining what you do in a concise, engaging and even entertaining manner is likely to achieve a better response.

How do you do it?

Elevator pitches should be very short – if it’s over 5-10 seconds it’s too long. An employment lawyer, for instance, may say: “I help employers avoid and resolve employee issues.” A family law specialist may say: “I help people and their families get their domestic affairs in order”. This is far more likely to get a conversation going without the listener’s eyes glazing over. Work on developing your elevator pitches; try out a few different ones with different audiences. It may feel a little awkward at first, but practice does make perfect with these.

Final Thoughts

It’s not enough to be good at what you do – though that helps; the best and brightest law firms actively market their businesses well too.

The strategies covered in this article include a wide range of digital and more traditional marketing methods. It’s important to note that one method is not ‘better’ than the other and there are few hard and fast rules; the only thing that matters in marketing is the results – and these will depend on how well your marketing strategy is matched to the decision-makers in your target audience.

Most law firms are best off mixing up their marketing to find what works best for their target audience. It’s important to find something that works for you so that you don’t end up throwing good money after bad. Measure every marketing tactic and see whether it’s producing results.

Some of the best marketing strategies don’t cost a cent. It’s about you as the expert getting out there and doing the face-to-face marketing in your community, consistently among your target audience, being genuine, demonstrating authenticity, credibility and expertise, and being successful. You should be having fun in the process too!

Beyond this, online marketing has become increasingly important and can develop your reach exponentially, if the right activities are performed consistently. Remember that news travels fast online – it can take a whole lifetime to build up a reputation and only one negative incident to destroy it.

Budget-wise, some legal marketers suggest you should spend at least 2 – 5% of your gross revenues on marketing. It certainly does take some investment if you are serious – because you will need professional writers, website designers, SEO people and PPC marketers for online marketing, plus a budget for some print advertising and/or other traditional media marketing.

If your law firm does not yet have a marketing plan within your overall business plan, then it’s probably time to write one. Detail the marketing strategies that are most likely to achieve your longer term business objectives. What do you want your practice to look like in 12 months? 3 years? 10 years? Aside from developing your marketing plan around what you think will work, factor in what you enjoy doing – because if you enjoy doing it, chances are it will be successful.

Once you press GO’ on your marketing strategy make sure that you measure and track its success. Almost everything is measurable nowadays – work out from the beginning how you will do this, and record it.

You can’t do it all. Find out what works best for you and do it consistently.

The best-marketed law firms don’t necessarily get it right the first time, but they tweak their strategy based on results, and this constant monitoring and adjusting process gradually improves results: more leads, more sales.