The big M+E+M=P roundup

It’s 2015, and Law Firms can no longer presume that simply practising law is enough to survive. In an ocean of competition, the rise of ABS’ and the shrink in demand, marketing in this profession has never been more crucial in standing out. Yet, marketing is often thought of as the ‘art class’ of the business world. So when times get tough and finance gets tight, what happens at school? Art class gets cancelled. And in your firm? The marketing budget gets sliced and diced. “We don’t really need marketing,” we heard you cry, and in pantomime-like fashion we shouted back “Oh yes you do!”

At M+E+M=P, you found out why. Marketing isn’t just that guy you hired to tweet some legal news from your Twitter account every few hours.  Sure, he’s a part of it. But it’s so much more than that. Marketing is any method you are using to generate new business. If you didn’t think that your dinner dates, all day golf sessions and meeting with your clients for tasty tapas were marketing, what did you think they were?

However...

"If it’s not measurable, it’s probably not worth your time."

This was a point made by Trish Kinahan, Head of Legal at Hazlewoods when talking about the visible and invisible costs. Arguably, invisible costs such as client entertainment for example, are immeasurable. Arguably. But during this seminar, Trish explained in length how they can be measured. All we need to do is calculate the time spent on the activity, the charge out rate and the recovery rate. So, if you’re spending the entire day wining and dining clients but at the end of the day you aren’t making anything back from them, consider new methods. (Or maybe consider who you’re sending to these meetings…)

So spend wisely. But do spend. I know you’ve seen those flashy websites from the top firms and thought “Hey it’s okay, we don’t need that, we’ve got heart, we’re not just a fancy page.” That’s your brain trying desperately to justify why your firm hasn’t spent much on marketing. By the way, if you’re going to spend less than 2.5% of your gross revenue on marketing, why bother? Take yourself seriously. Sit down, work out a budget and be productive. Don’t drop a big bomb of cash on designing a website to then let it collect dust. Treat your website like it were your office, or your sharp new suit, because it’s now the first impression that your firm is giving off.

Get everyone involved in marketing. When it comes to marketing and business development, a strong plan must be implemented. Create an identity that sets you aside from the others and use this consistently in all external communication: business cards, brochures, newsletters. But it isn’t just a logo made in Photoshop. It’s a mindset. Everyone at your firm must live and breathe this mindset, and be involved in meetings. It’s about self discovery – why do your clients trust you and keep sending you work? What’s that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that keeps them coming back? That, my friends, is your brand. Now live it.

These days, people want to do 3 things: find you, phone you and look at you. What happens if I search for you on Google? What about Maps, or Yelp? Is your correct information displayed? If not, you may be turning potential clients away. These factors are increasingly important in the digital age, and while ‘mobilegeddon’ wasn’t the doomsday we expected, it was a huge warning sign. Since 2013, people are 23% more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimised website. Let me put it in real terms. If you were searching for a local hairdresser, and the first website you clicked on in search results was process heavy and not mobile optimised, you would probably just hit ‘back’ on your browser and try the next one. If the next one loaded quickly and looked great, the first hairdresser would have lost themselves a client.

Guess what? The same applies to you. When considering marketing, it’s all about remembering that you too are a consumer, and you are attracted to the attractive. There’s just no denying it.

Now lets consider workflow, because you can’t talk about profit without talking about efficiency. How long is a process taking in your firm? How many people does an inbound enquiry bounce between before it’s connected to the right person? Sarah Oliver of Advanced Legal used the example of the Frank Bunker Gilbreth to illustrate her point during her section on Efficiency. Frank Gilbreth watched each of his 12 children undergo a tonsillectomy, and for every single operation, he noted how the surgeon and the nurses could be more efficient – from the amount of time spent, to the passing and cleaning of the utensils. The same can be applied for your firm, and in order to understand how you can cut down on unnecessary processes, you must time record. Every little task must be logged, and not just for increased efficiency, but also to understand what your staff members are doing and whether they can account for 8 hours every working day. (Note: check staff members’ browser history for ‘funny cat pictures’ as this can be scarily time consuming.)

So we now know that Marketing + Efficiency + Money = Profit. However, the main point here is that in fact, there is no simple straightforward formula that works for every law firm. Some will generate work through referral fees. Some through their digital presence. Others through client entertainment. It’s down to you to find out the key ingredients that make your law firm strive. Stop looking at The Joneses’ and look at your own firm. Think about what it is that makes it unique. Which methods of marketing are generating income and which simply just don’t work for you? Make a plan. Make a budget. Spend seriously, not stupidly. And, as always, be different, not better.

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