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Is a Local Marketing Agency Really What Your Law Firm Needs?

7 mins

“Keeping it local” may be a good slogan for grocery stores, but for law firm marketing? Not likely.

The Practice Alchemy team has encountered a common theme recently with attorneys seeking to outsource their marketing services. They realize that law firm marketing is important, and that they also don’t have time to juggle client work with that marketing activity. We love seeing that - it means these lawyers are ready to take their practice to the next level.

But then we learn that they’re considering using the local marketing agency. That news puts a raincloud over the whole situation because even though they took two steps forward, they’re still not considering the full potential of marketing.

To these attorneys’ credit, their reasons for staying with their local marketing agency seem rooted in good intention. Upon closer inspection, however, it’s clear that they’re only going to provide some short-term value. In the end, the law firm is going to keep spinning its wheels, unable to reach its bigger revenue and client generation goals.

Here are some lawyers’ real reasons for choosing local marketing agencies that actually present more practice challenges in the long run.

Misconceptions About the “Local Marketing Advantage”


“By having my agency nearby, I’ll have more control over the process.”

Face value: We know that every attorney’s brand is unique. Your ethical commitment and dedication to hearing and understanding clients’ needs to come across in your marketing materials. Getting some face time with your outsourced marketing team means (in theory) that there’s a better opportunity for them to really understand how you want to present your legal services.

Why it’s actually a problem: Let’s walk back the reasoning behind getting outsourced law firm marketing. First, you want to meet new levels of profit at your practice. Second, you need some help balancing the workload because you don’t have time to handle it all.

Related Article: Can Successful Attorneys Have Work-Life Balance?

If you were truly working with an elite and professional law firm marketing team, you’d be receiving the strategic advice, not giving it out, and the work would be truly done-for-you. The only face-to-face meeting you should need to have is when you get an update on how many new clients have been brought in from the latest marketing campaign. And that news sounds just as good over a video conference call.

A good marketing partner saves you time instead of taking it. And we find that travel time for face to face meetings is rarely worth it for improving both your time and your ROI.

“My legal clients are local and the agency knows how to connect with them.”

Face value: The local marketing agency knows the local market. They know what kind of messages they listen to, the content that they care about, and have a good idea about demographics data from past campaigns they’ve run for other local businesses. That’s all the background you need for marketing, right?

Why it’s actually a problem: There’s one vital quality check that lawyers should always make with a marketing agency, regardless of where they come from. It’s not about whether they can attract an audience, it’s whether they can attract the right audience for your law firm.

Law firm marketing isn’t the same as marketing for a local dry cleaner. There are ethical standards to adhere to and different value statements to emphasize. On top of that, your law firm marketing team needs to know what it’s like when you work with a client and understand how your practice runs.

Outsiders just don’t get it, and if you want to hit the ground running and get results quickly, you need to work with someone who truly knows what they’re doing for you, not just who they’re targeting.

“The local marketing agency’s prices are a better fit for my law firm’s budget.”

Face value: Pretty self-explanatory. You’ve done your homework and know what you’re capable of spending on marketing. If the local marketing agency is willing to come down on price to secure your law firm’s marketing contract, then you’re going to take advantage of those savings.

Why it’s actually a problem: You get what you pay for.

That burger was probably cheap,
but won't be particularly satisfying.

The local marketing agency is going to use the same methods they always have for their clients. When it comes to marketing, they hold true to the idea that “that’s the way it’s done.” They’ll make it feel like the marketing plan is personalized to fit your specific needs, but in most cases, they’re cookie cutter plans that aren’t ideal for a law firm. The plan is inexpensive because they’re working off of a template. Isn’t the point of partnering with an expert to receive a plan and services that are going to best fit your business?

Furthermore, look at the limits of their own business. They opted to work locally. They picked the safe, standard structure for their marketing services. There could be bigger implications in that decision. Are they really staffed with national-level talent that knows how to react and achieve a variety of objectives? Maybe they’ve stayed local because they’ve truly reached the limits of their skills. When you work with an agency of limited skill, you limit the potential of your own legal practice.

Law firm marketing is like an iceberg. By sticking with obvious, surface-level marketing tactics, you’ll never see the wealth of profit opportunities left unused. Local marketing agency plans aren’t as effective as they could be because they just aren’t as creative, whereas a nationally-operating law firm marketing company will have seen a much wider variety of strategy. They can help bring those varied plans back to your law firm, break new ground with your local market, and differentiate you from your legal competitors.

You get what you pay for.

“The agency assured me they have a local contact network and can secure new clients for me in 3-4 weeks.”

Face value: Everyone loves being able to see that their investments pay off. If it happens in a relatively short time period, that’s even better. Plus, if the local marketing agency is relying on their known network, they have some idea of the quality of those contacts and whether they fit what you’re looking for.

Why it’s actually a problem: In a word, relying on a finite network is unsustainable. To use the old adage, is that local marketing agency serving you a fish now, or are they teaching you to fish so you can generate business well into the future?

Most marketing firms operate on a monthly retainer. Depending on the size of the local agency’s network, they might be able to justify the spend for the first month, the second, and maybe for some months beyond that. But what about when that network is tapped out? Then what is your law firm paying for? Furthermore, what was it paying for in the first place: a marketing strategy or just a list of local contacts? If all lawyers are looking for is some names to reach out to, there are less expensive ways of obtaining that information.

The real value in working with a law firm marketing team is knowing that they’re continually developing and refining a sustainable engine for bringing the right clients to your practice. With the right system in place, lawyers can focus on what they actually want to do - practice law - and stop worrying about when their profits will peak, plateau, and fall.

See the Difference Between “Small-time” and Professional Law Firm Marketing with Practice Alchemy

The Practice Alchemy team consists of marketers who specialize in law firm promotion and client generation. Our approach to law firm marketing includes a thorough investigation of your practice and the proposal of a solution that will work specifically for you. We think outside of the box to pick the marketing channels and messaging, identify your ideal client prospects, and develop a strategy that will consistently deliver at least a 200% return on investment over the course of our engagement - and well into the future.

Getting your law firm to the next level of profitability is possible and sustainable, and it starts by partnering with the right team of experts. Schedule a free Practice Assessment with our team today to start forming your law firm marketing plan.

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Raj Jha