Small and mid-size law firms have a unique place in today’s legal industry ecosystem, including being able to provide a more personalized experience and a nimbler organizational structure to the table. Small and mid-size firms also have lower overhead and pricing advantages.
On the marketing side, some of the advantages of mid-size law firms include the ability to quickly pivot with market changes, launch niche practices, service lines and industry groups, onboard laterals and bring new ideas to market due to that nimbler structure.
When you’re not a household name, you MUST invest in marketing. You also need to be creative about doing more with less. It’s not enough to be a great law firm with great lawyers in a crowded market.
Big firms have more money, more resources, more press mentions, more deals and more lawyers. And mid-size firms have limited time, budgets, staff and lack some internal resources (such as data stewards, marketing specialists, in-house trainers and IT) and often less experience implementing marketing technology, as well as more manual systems and processes.
Marketing is important so that you are top of mind when a reporter, conference organizer, prospect or lateral is looking for someone like you. It is also important so that you have strong SEO when someone does a Google search about your firm and lawyers.
So, what does this mean for small and mid-size law firms?
You must know where to invest your time and money and focusing on technology, social media, email marketing, outsourcing of staffing and data quality is strategic and smart. You must also know when to outsource certain key functions. It’s also important to know on what to prioritize because you simply cannot do everything.
Bad data has become a big problem for marketing technology projects of every kind as well as the ability to reach clients and prospects via email marketing. List quality is making communication challenging and as people are changing jobs often and so their contact data is becoming outdated quicker. Also, many people are not working in the office so they can be harder to reach, making some invitations ineffective.
I presented a session at the ARK Mid-Sized Law Firm Summit earlier this year on effective marketing and business development strategies for mid-sized law firms. I discussed the unique opportunities that mid-size firms have and how to use them to their advantage in their marketing efforts. These strategies can be applied to small law firms as well.
Here are some key takeaways from my presentation on the tech trends and hurdles facing small and mid-size law firms.
- Attorneys are busier than ever and don’t want to spend time on technology without value. Busy professionals don’t have time for data entry so outsourcing is significantly increasing.
- More firms than ever are switching CRM systems to move to the cloud and taking advantage of enhanced business development features (dashboards/pipelines). Many attorneys no longer use Outlook so ERM (enterprise relationship management) has become mainstream and indispensable for busy lawyers who aren’t entering in contact information into Outlook.
- Email marketing has increased in importance – it is still the most direct way to reach your clients and referrals – as long as your lists are clean and segmented and your content is helpful and value added.
- Firms are realizing the importance of having strong, updated websites with useful content as it is often the first place prospects and laterals go to research a firm.
- They’re also realizing that social media is important as everyone Googles things and they’re seeing results from having a consistent online presence on LinkedIn, a low-cost channel.
- Webinars are here to stay and a great way to reach your clients and prospects with value-added content.
So, what do mid-sized law firms do now?
- Assess their technology and staffing needs, and requirements
- Assess data quality and take steps to improve the quality of your data
- Outsource data resources and other functions
- Prioritize and conduct a cost-benefit assessment of your martech and other wish-list projects
- Smart firms are leveraging relationships with alumni. Keep in touch with alumni and create an alumni relations program (find your alumni first!)
- Focus on growth practices and align marketing with core areas
- Write strategic content (client alerts, repurposed webinars, videos, etc.) and maximize distribution using a syndication channel such as JD Supra
- Focus on building a strong social media presence on LinkedIn for your firm and your lawyers
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