Running a law firm can be difficult, especially when you’re faced with various business tasks that you know little about. Marketing falls into this category for many entrepreneurs because the marketing industry is evolving so rapidly.
As an attorney, staying informed of important legal news is vital. Finding the time to stay up-to-date with the marketing industry requires a significant amount of time that many attorneys don’t have. That’s why working with a law firm marketing consultant can save you time, effort and money.
There are a number of reasons why you should consider hiring a consultant:
- They provide an external perspective, void of internal politics
- They have expertise that isn’t found in-house
- They can perform functions that an internal team cannot
Marketing is the lifeblood of every business, because without new clients and cases, you won’t keep growing at the pace you want. As your law practice grows and your time becomes more and more limited, you’ll find that getting help with your marketing is a priority if:
- You don’t have a clear marketing strategy
- You lack the time to marketing your practice – typically 5 to 10 hours a week is recommended
- You have resource gaps that prohibit you from doing the work internally
Keep in mind that hiring a consultant won’t be the total solution to all your marketing problems. There are pros and cons to hiring a consultant or an agency that you should be aware of. But if you’re ready to hire a marketing consultant, here are the steps we recommend taking.
Do your homework
While many consultants will happily educate you on their particular area of focus, it helps to have some knowledge of your own. Educate yourself as much as possible, even if you start by reading one article a day. The HubSpot blog is a great place to start. Aim to have a basic understanding of some of the general trends in the marketing industry so you are aware of what the consultant or agency representative is talking about.
It also helps to have a basic understanding of consumer trends. The concept of consumer buying behavior might sound incredibly boring to you, but it’s very important. The way your potential clients make purchasing decisions certainly affects how they research and evaluate what law firm to hire.
Analyze your needs
Evaluate the current strengths and weakness of your marketing efforts. Perhaps you’ve done a fantastic job at building a network of referring attorneys, but your internet presence is lacking. Maybe you are terrible about updating your website consistently, so working with someone who can make website updates efficiently is a priority for you. Understand where your shortcomings are so you can match a consultant’s expertise with your particular needs.
You should also start to consider your goals and what you hope to accomplish. Any consultant or marketing agency worth hiring should ask what you want to achieve, and then provide a clear solution for getting you there. Do you want to attract more qualified clients? Do you want to increase the profitability of existing clients? These are key questions you need to be prepared to answer.
As you analyze your needs, you might notice that many of these concepts are addressed with a law firm marketing plan. Take a look at this article for ideas to keep you focused as you evaluate your needs. Most projects with a consultant or agency will start with some kind of strategy, so thinking about this ahead of time will put you in a good position.
Better yet, take a pass at creating your plan so you’ve got some ideas on paper.
Set a budget
Hiring a marketing consultant or agency is an investment in the long-term success of your law firm. You can’t expect to achieve big-picture goals without making some kind of investment – whether it be your own time (which is limited) or someone else’s.
As you set a budget, there are a few things to keep in mind about how you might be charged for the work completed.
- Hourly rate
- Flat rate/project-based fee
- Monthly retainers
There are pros and cons to each option, and a lot will depend on the needs of your law firm and what you want to achieve. The investment will also vary depending on the level of expertise, business overhead, and specialization required for your project. Remember the adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies here!
Marketing consultants can range from $65 – $300 per hour. However, work in the range of $95 – $150 an hour is probably a good target.
As you look at these numbers, you might be tempted to delegate your marketing to someone internal that’s in the range of $30 per hour. While that seems like a quick fix, you’ll need to consider the learning curve that’s involved with marketing effectively.
It will take time for that individual to learn the details of marketing and then put them into practice. When you calculate the time involved with that, it makes more sense to hire a consultant who can put their knowledge into action immediately.
Research different agencies and set introductory meetings
Now that you have an idea of what you need and what you’re willing to invest, you can start to research specific consultants or agencies. There are literally thousands to choose from, which can seem overwhelming at first.
But it’s wise to focus on the companies that specialize in law firm marketing because they will likely have solutions that solve your particular problems.
You should also evaluate the agency/consultant’s own marketing efforts. What are they doing to market their business? And does it appear to be working? If you plan to take a digital approach to your marketing, do the agencies you’re speaking with have a strong web presence?
Talk with a few agencies, and understand that multiple meetings and/or conversations will be involved. You each need to get a feel for each other and understand what problems need to be solved. Then the agency will need time to put together a high-level plan for you. Detailed planning comes once the agency has been hired.
Review plans and proposals, and select an agency
With a few plans or proposals to review, there should be some great options for you to choose from. Now you need to decide which option will be the best fit for your firm. Carefully consider what each agency is proposing and how they plan to implement your project.
Budget will certainly be a factor, but remember that this is about the long-term success of your firm. You will need to make an investment in order to see a pay-off in the future.
Remember that specialization is key. The world of marketing is vast and ever-changing. A consultant or agency that specializes in traditional advertising might not be equipped to tackle a web-heavy strategy that includes blogging, social media and search engine optimization. And a consultant that’s hyper-focused on say social media may not be able to address all the areas of marketing that you need.
Typically, inbound marketing agencies are equipped to help clients develop a strategy that will increase website visitors, prospects, leads and ultimately sales. They use a variety of digital tools to help you achieve your goals. Talking with an inbound agency is a good place to start, while keeping in mind that you need to find the solution that’s best for you.
Have more questions about hiring a law firm marketing consultant or agency? Download our free e-book by clicking on the image below. Or leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to respond!