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. The most successful law firms today focus on their marketing, but if one or more of your law firm’s partners are responsible for marketing, then your firm is making a bad trade - you’re wasting your partners’ time.
Partners are high-value professionals whose areas of expertise lie in practicing law and running the business. If a partner is in charge of your marketing, then they’re either not spending enough time to make your marketing strategies a success, or they aren’t spending enough time doing what they do best… practicing law. Either way it’s a problem.
The time cost of marketing
You can roughly chop up “law firm marketing” time into the time spent on your marketing channels. Think of the split for a hypothetical marketing strategy for multi-partner firm as:
- 10+ hours Paid Search + Social
- 5+ hours Social Media
- 5+ hours Email Marketing
- 7+ hours Writing Content
- 1+ hours Website Design & Maintenance
- 3+ hours Thought Leadership Positioning
- 3+ hours Marketing Analytics
Do your partners have 36+ hours a week to spend on marketing? If you think they do, what’s their hourly rate? Having your partners involved in marketing wastes your time and your money. This is compounded by the fact that each of these channels is specialized, and there are few generalists who can do well with each.
Marketing is harder at multi-partner firms
For multi-partner firms, launching a marketing strategy is even more difficult. At the same time, marketing initiatives have a much greater impact on larger firms. First and foremost, all partners need to be bought-in to having a comprehensive marketing strategy. Competing priorities can lead to heated discussions about resources.
Once a marketing strategy begins, the most difficult decisions are behind you but the work is ahead. Worthwhile marketing initiatives require constant optimization based on the firm’s objectives and changes in your business environment. This means that marketing takes even more time out of your partner’s day if they are owning all of the work, but more importantly, it means that your partners need to receive crystal clear reports of the return of any strategy. These reports keep partners both aligned and informed on the health of any initiative for your firm. Generally, gaining buy-in across your partners involves:
- Agreeing on a budget
- Building goals for the strategy
- Forecasting the return
- Measuring the return as the strategy is implemented
When you have agreement across partners and the reporting structure is in place so that any partner can know the status of your marketing strategy, all that is left is to execute.
Your Options: Hire Internally or Outsource
Once all of your partners agree on a direction, you’re left with two basic decisions: Are you going to hire someone internally to run your marketing program, or are you going to outsource it to a team of experts.
Hiring internally has its perks. They will be in your office everyday, they can have specific specializations, and they know when your firm holidays land. However, the issues with hiring a marketing manager internally are many. In an urban area, a marketing manager could easily cost $70,000-$90,000 in salary. Stack on the tools and software that they will need, along with any additional benefits, and you’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag for a marketing manager who has never worked in the legal industry. At that point, you’re stuck with a specialist whose specialty is only a tenth of what you need. After all, do you really need a digital designer, ad specialist, or SEO expert for 40-50 hours a week?
The imagined drawbacks of outsourcing sound all too familiar. Firms wonder how an outsourced team could possibly know what the firm needs when they aren’t physically at the firm every day. Or, firms think outsourcing is too expensive… how could they possibly pay $5,000-$8,000 a month for an outsourced marketing initiative? When you stack an outsourced marketing team against an internal hire, the stark differences appear… and quality outsourced teams win in a landslide.
We’ve already gone through the cost of an internal hire. Even if the internal hires produced the same quality of work, which they don’t, outsourced marketing comes in significantly cheaper than an internal hire. Then we have to look at specializations. With an internal hire, you can get maybe a handful of specializations. An outsourced team has an entire legion of specialists that you can use. And that’s not a group of skilled generalists, but a company of industry leading experts in their field... all for less than the cost of one internal hire.
The fact that your outsourced team won’t be on-site everyday matters a lot less than you think. For one, a quality outsourced team can be reached at any time you could reach an internal hire. Additionally, an internal hire cannot benefit from marketing experience or tests run across the nation, while an outsourced marketing team can gain experience from every practice area, across every state, and using every technology that their clients use.
Before your partners waste more of their time, do yourself a favor: Check out a quality outsourced legal marketing team.
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