Law firms exist on a spectrum in terms of size. You have the large law firms with dozens of attorneys on staff, all the way down to the solo practitioner. At solo and mid-sized firms (around five partners under the same roof), lawyers tend to get a little leeway when it comes to how they market their services. But marketing at law firms with two partners is a unique case.
These law firms with two partners often operate in a truly shared business environment. Resources are shared. Cases are sometimes tag-teamed. One law partner’s decisions directly affect the other’s business.
Because of this intimate environment, investing in vital operations like marketing for the law practice frequently leads to heated discussions. Then delays in action. Then, inevitably, one side wins out and law firm marketing gets put on the backburner again.
We’ve said it before - professional services businesses, including law firms, that see sustained profit growth are investing an average of 9.1% of their profits back into marketing efforts. As a two partner law firm in a competitive space (because let’s face it, pretty much every field of practice is competitive), you just can’t afford to put marketing on that backburner again.
What you need is a stronger argument and more evidence. Part of the what makes a strong argument in this context, however, is following the right steps. Here’s the process our own team has used to earn marketing buy-in at firms that have one partner who just won’t budge.
Making Your Case for Marketing at the Two Partner Law Firm
Step One: Set a Hard Number for Investment Dollars
Budget is a sore subject for any business, but it can often be the breaking point for a two partner firm simply because it’s unknown. What does “moving forward” actually cost you? And is it worth it?
When you don’t know what marketing activity is going to be effective for your client audience, it’s easy to dump more funds than necessary and write the entire effort off as a failure. Different marketing channels have different costs, however, and yield different results. Meet your partner halfway between caution and necessity and set two budget numbers:
- A testing budget. Your spend will be a little higher to start, but law firm marketing experts can find the activities that will offer the best return for you after just one month of investigation.
- An ongoing budget. After testing for the right law firm marketing methods, every dollar can carry your client generation efforts a little further. You may be able to drop your spend and relieve some of that investment pressure.
By setting those firm budget numbers, you show your partner that you’re not just rushing into the marketing game. It also gives you a little more negotiation power, since you can essentially set two ceilings for your spend.
Of course, those budget conversations become even easier if you can prove that law firm marketing works in the first place.
Step Two: Show That Law Firm Marketing Works
At a fundamental level, we already know that some form of marketing activity works. We know that because if you do nothing, you get nothing in return. Simple.
But since doing “something” usually involves spending money, you might as well do something that pays off well.
We’ve put together some case studies detailing the success of Practice Alchemy members to demonstrate that. Their lawyer marketing campaigns were specialized based on their goals and practice models, but results are results. Even though your law firm will require a special touch, use these case studies to show that client generation can and does happen with the right plan:
- Liza Increases Engagement by Over 60%; Signs Nine New Clients
- Dave Sees One Month Return on Investment from Law Firm Marketing
Since we’ve made a few references to actually having a marketing plan, it’s probably important to know where you can get one.
Step Three: Confirm That, Yes, There Is a Plan
Different law firms have tried different marketing tactics. Some methods have failed in the past. Some have worked pretty well, but still could use some improvement. Discovering that information requires some research, discussion, and a trained eye, though.
At Practice Alchemy, we begin our member engagements with a free Law Firm Marketing Assessment. That’s the research-only phase. We have a detailed conversation about your law firm’s short- and long-term goals, learn what actions you’ve taken so far, and whether they’ve worked (or not).
After the Assessment, you get to choose if you’d like to go through a Practice Audit. During that Audit, the Practice Alchemy team analyzes the information you’ve given us, reviews your immediate competitors, your website, and your general practice structure to identify your biggest growth opportunities. Then we tell you exactly what steps to take to achieve those goals.
From methods to messaging to choosing your prospects, we hand you the roadmap to marketing success.
With your Practice Audit in hand, you have the power to go back to your partner and indicate exactly how you plan to spend the budget you previously agreed upon. But you’re still not quite going to have full buy-in unless you can prove that you can stay on top of it in the weeks and months ahead.
Step Four: Keep the Results Coming
You’ll need a reporting structure to demonstrate accountability as you launch your marketing campaigns. Any time your partner comes to you and asks what those marketing dollars have brought back to the firm, you’ll want to be prepared with the numbers.
Practice Alchemy members receive weekly updates on marketing campaign performance, which is usually enough to indicate positive progress and diagnose opportunities for improvement. We also deliver concrete numbers on how many high quality clients have been generated from each campaign so you know exactly what your ROI looks like.
Ready to Pitch?
Our goal is to help attorneys achieve their dream profit levels. What are you hoping for? $400,000 profits per partner? $500,000? It’s going to take some marketing work to get you there. Let us help you get the ball rolling with your free Law Firm Marketing Assessment, and we’ll go from there to set up your law firm for success.